Brian from World Music Supply here again, bringing you your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews, and today I got the chance to test out some more acoustics from our friends over at Washburn. The guitars in question are the WG026SCE, and the WD015SCE, these guitars are unique within the Washburn family in that they both feature unique super thin open pore, and open grain finishes. These thin finishes allow the guitars sound board to vibrate far more freely, as there is less weight and material across the soundboard holding it still. This means the guitars both sound livelier, and far more resonant than their gloss finished counterparts.
First up to bat in today’s review is the WG026SCE, which is part of Washburns woodline series, and is available in an electric acoustic cutaway (the version being tested today) as well as a non cutaway, and non electric non cutaway version. The combination of the solid cedar top, and the grand auditorium size are just perfect together, as they create a guitar without too much low end boominess, and just enough top end bite to help this guitar really sing out. The thin, open pore finish really does change the way this guitar sounds, which is something I honestly questioned before I actually got my hands on it. You hear claims about thinner finishes making guitars sound worlds better in almost every issue of almost any guitar magazine, and most of the time, it seems like a ton of hog wash, but in the case of this guitar, and likewise with the WD015SCE, I honestly believe it.
The reason I say that it usually seems like hogwash, is because it just seems like one of those magic guitarist things, you know the ones where a guitarist is asked how they get their magical tone and they lists everything from their hand ground titanium tremolo bar, to the tuning keys that were designed and built by some aerospace company in Switzerland. The honest to goodness fact is, that guitarist will probably have their “magical” tone plugged into almost any decent amp, with any decent guitar. Thin finishes on electric guitars do contribute a bit to the overall tone of the guitar, and they contribute to it aging in interesting ways, as the finish and the paint in certain areas will wear through much sooner than a guitar that is just coated in the stuff, but the over all tone of the guitar will still be there, just a little more muted. This thin approach does have a much more dramatic effect when it comes to acoustic guitars however, as suddenly the guitar just comes to life so to speak. Any satin finished acoustic I’ve ever played just had that big, worn in sound, like a guitar that had seen a hundred shows, with big bold bottom end, sweet singing highs, and a sustain that just rings and rings.
The action on this guitar was just fantastic, and playing quick lines on it was simple and comfortable, as the mahogany neck is smooth, easy to play, and not too big, but not too small. The WG026SCE sounds great plugged in too, as the Isys+ preamp translates the electric voice of this acoustic amazingly well, nearly perfectly replicating the natural voice of the instrument. Overall the WG026SCE is one amazing instrument, with a unique finish that helps it sonically stand out from the pack, that combined with its easy playing neck, and sweet electrified tone, earns this guitar a solid 10 out of 10.
Next up is the WD015SCE, which is a limited edition version of the WD15SCE. This guitar also features a unique thin finish, along with its open grain spruce top this guitar has a very distinct sound to it. The WD015SCE has a lot of booming low end, and a lot of crisp, bell like high end, with a tiny bit of glassy midrange kick that helps it project out through a band a little bit better. This guitar has a much different sound than the WD026SCE however, far different than a typical cedar guitar and spruce guitar usually differ, which I think is impart to the lack of heavy lacquer making them sound similar, as these two guitar are like night and day.
The neck is just as fast and sleek as the WD026SCE, with a similarly shaped, and as such similarly comfortable neck profile that is just not too thick, but not too thin to where you start losing tone either. This guitar is also amazingly loud, and resonant too, with far more sustain than any acoustic guitar should have. The sound is quite warm, with the perfect blend from high to low, which is enhanced more by the Fishman Isys+ electronics. The voice of this guitar through a good P.S system or acoustic guitar amp, is just spectacular, although the lack of weight or dampening finish on the sound board does make this guitar a little more susceptible to feedback than normal, although a sound hole cover solves this problem easily.
At the end of the day though, the WD015SCE is just amazing, with tones that are distinct, without being strange, and visuals that are conservative, without being boring. This all comes together to make one amazing guitar, that easily earns itself a 10 out of 10.