REVIEWED: WASHBURN WLO10SCE ACOUSTIC GUITAR

Musical Merchandisers | musicmerch.com.au | Expect To Pay: $699

I dunno about you but I can’t look at a Washburn acoustic without thinking of Nuno Bettencourt. That’s bonkers, of course, because Washburn has a long history of great acoustic instruments, and they’re highly respected in the bluegrass world. The guitar on review here is part of the Woodline 10 Series, which is designed to be both affordable and elegant. Often when a company designs to a price point they tend to strip down the designs to be quite standard and non-flashy, but Washburn knows that we’re visual creatures and the way we feel about an instrument can affect what we play on it. So the Woodline 10 Series maintains the visual flair the company is known for, without sending your wallet screaming for mercy.

The WLO10SCE is an orchestra cutaway model, although to my eyes it seems to skew just a hair closer to a dreadnaught shape than many orchestra guitars. It has a solid Sitka spruce top with mahogany back and sides, and it’s a shame that you can’t play this guitar backwards because that mahogany back looks beautiful. There’s a depth and shimmer to the grain that really deserves to be seen instead of squished up against your gig-sweaty t-shirt. The internal bracing is a cathedral-peaked advanced scalloped X shape and the rosette is a faux-wood overlay that gives the impression of intricate inlay work without making you pay for all those extra craftsperson-hours.

 

The neck is made of mahogany with a satin finish, and reinforced with a two-way truss rod. The fingerboard is rosewood with 20 frets and an engraved Washburn ‘W’ on the heel is a nice touch. The nut is Graph Tech NuBone synthetic bone, and there’s a Fishman ISYS+ 301T preamp system with onboard tuner plus controls for volume, bass, treble and phase.

 

This is quite a smooth-sounding guitar. The top end is nicely rounded and very sonorous. The low end rolls off well before the guitar becomes boomy, and the midrange is full but not honky. This all adds up to a guitar that is perfect for fingerstyle players because it almost sounds like it’s been mixed and mastered before leaving the soundhole: individual notes knit together nicely within a chord unless you consciously hit a particular string harder than the rest for emphasis. If your playing style veers more towards complex Tommy Emmanuel stuff, you’ll find the neck is very comfortable for those extended fretboard excursions. And if you play with a pick, this is a surprisingly powerful guitar even though it doesn’t have the upper-end slice and low-end wallop of a dreadnaught. And that sweet, round treble makes it great for single-note jazz playing, too. The preamp does a good job of capturing the vibrance of the top and the even-ness of the string-to-string volume, but to get the most out of this guitar you really should mic it up and enjoy its natural sound.

 

This is a deceptively flexible guitar that sounds great acoustically, pretty darn good electrically and incredible when mic’d up carefully. Washburn has really gone out of their way to make a guitar that’s as playable as possible, and while they’ve cut corners in the cosmetics to keep the price down, they have not sacrificed style and identity to do so.

Hits and Misses

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Very comfortable neck

Nice tidy fretwork

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Preamp could use a midrange control

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