Hi everybody, it’s Brian from World Music Supply again, to bring you more guitar and gear reviews. Today we’re going to be looking at something new to the blog, and that is classical guitars, sure they don’t have the raw attitude that an electric does, and they lack the stage presence and power that a good jumbo steel string acoustic has, but they do have their own special voice, and no guitarist should be without one or two in their arsenal. The three classicals we’re going to be reviewing today are from our good friends at Washburn, and the models in question are the WC150SWCE, the WC750SWCE, and the WC760SWCE, all of which use all solid woods, and are equipped with a fishman 501T preamp system.
So lets get down to business, with the first guitar on the list, the WC150SWCE, which is an all solid wood guitar, with a spruce top, and nicely figured mahogany back and sides. The WC150SECE also features a nice rounded cutaway, that doesn’t take too much away from the natural speaking voice of the guitar. The inside bracings are scalloped to help reduce weight and increase volume, and the neck is nice, flat and comfortable to anyone used to the thicker neck of a classical. The gold open gear tuners with their ebonite buttons are a nice and handsome, and the heavily carved headstock is an elegant touch. The inclusion of a two way trussrod is very useful, as it helps stabilize the neck when traveling from areas of high humidity to low.
Just playing it acoustically, it certainly has a nice, warm classical voice. Playing through the few purely classical pieces I know, it was clear that each string had a very distinct and articulate voice, playing quick finger style passages, it was clear where the bass notes sat, and where the treble notes sat. Playing chords the WC150 had almost piano like clarity, however, when you really dig into the guitar, it darkens up immensely, now whether this is because it is a spruce top, or because of the way the bracing is laid out internally I don’t know, but what I do know is the harder you play the WC150, the darker it gets.
Amplified this guitar has a very true voice, as in it really sounds a lot like its acoustic voice. The low strings had that nice zip that is so characteristic of classic guitar, with a high end that is chimey and bell like. It doesn’t seem to have the same increasing darkness the harder you play it when it’s properly amplified, through an acoustic guitar amp, or a decent powered P.A speaker, but it still has a nice mellow voice. The WC150SWCE really does have a voice that can do it all, with a timeless, and well outfitted form. This guitar is great for classical, and any kind of finger style playing. It’s for that jack of all trades style that the WC150SWCE gets a 9 out of 10.
Next up is the WC750SWCE, which is a lot like the WC150SWCE, except it features solid, and highly figured Ovangkol back and sides as opposed to mahogany. This imparts a slightly different tonality, which is a little more vocal, and a little bit mellower and slightly darker. The note definition is a little more laid back on this guitar, which means playing chords on it sound a bit more homogeneous, and playing quick finger picked passages tend to have a more uniform voice than the WC150SWCE.
This meant that playing big runs across the fingerboard sounded a lot more together than when you played them on the WC150, and while the WC150 is great for playing classical passages where something like that is important, the WC750 is great at playing more flamenco or quick classical lines. The reason being, is that as you race up the neck, it sounds like one continuous run, rather than a run across six different strings, the 750 just blends easier than its cousin the 150.
Playing harder does still bring out that dark quality on this guitar, and in a much more pronounced fashion than its siblings. This is still very musically useful, but you have to be aware of it as you’re playing, or else you could make an entire line or sequence sound muddy just by attacking the strings too hard. Knowing when to play hard, and when to play soft is a skill that most fingerstyle players, and especially classical and flamenco players know all too well. However, if this is your first classical style guitar, this might be a rude awakening, as this guitar is very dynamically expressive.
Amplified however, this guitar is a beast, as its electronics seem to work with this guitar in a lot more dynamic way than the 150. This was interesting, as its tone still retained the darker character even when amplified, which was interesting as that piezo sizzle really added a lot to the smooth, dark tone of this guitar. Whether it was the way the top was cut, or the different tone wood for the back and sides, this guitar was definitely a cut above. For its ability to have a distinct voice, acoustic or plugged in the WC750SWCE gets a well earned 10 out of 10.
Last up on the chopping block today is the WC760SWCE, which is a lot like the 750, except it features a cedar top, as opposed to the spruce of the previous two guitars. This change alone completely altered the voice of this guitar. Suddenly the guitar had a lot more mids to its voice, which brightened up the sound, and also gave it a more aggressive attack and far more definition. This made playing lightning fast a pleasant surprise, as the added definition made each note ring out in a very clear fashion, that was almost lute like.
Playing aggressively also was a nice change, as it never got darker, just more aggressive sounding. This meant that playing fast flamenco lines was always bright and articulate, and playing heavy with an aggressive rasgueado still retained all of the snap and power of its normal voice. Amplified, this guitar has a real power about it, which is unique all its own, it really does have an almost lute like tone to it, and when playing quick flamenco lines the guitar stayed taught and resilient sounding. The action was low enough that I could still play with my normal techniques, and yet it never buzzed or felt wrong in any way.
If the WC750SWCE was a cut above, than the WC760SWCE is a giant leap ahead, granted it doesn’t have a voice as well suited for classical as the 150 or the 750, but it does have a more modern sound to it, which is far better suited to flamenco playing, and if need be even playing with a band than its siblings. The WC760SWCE certainly has its own voice, and its electronic voice is worth its weight in gold, for that fact alone the WC760SWCE earns itself a10 out of 10.
So there you go three guitars, all with very distinct voices, which are all amazing, but at the same time varied and useful in their own way. The WC150SWCE is great for anyone who needs a lot of string to string definition, but still wants a big, dark tone from their guitar. It would be great for classical, playing around with folk guitar, or even just an entry level instrument for the rock guitarist trying to expand their horizon. The WC750SWCE is great as a classical guitar, with plenty of control over dynamics, and a very clean, homogeneous tone. For a player who plays mainly lead lines, or just wants to lay some classical sounding lines over their existing work, this would be a great guitar for you. Lastly the WC760SWCE is great for the flamenco player, or just someone who loves that sound. It has plenty of snag and bite to it, so if your going to be playing a nylon string onstage, this might be the wisest choice, as it will help you stay above the mix, without stepping on everyone else’s toes.