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Review

Washburn HD10S & WL10S acoustics

Issue #41

Washburn has launched not just one, but two new acoustic guitar ranges in recent months, both seeking to compete in what must be the most fiercely competitive of all sectors of the guitar market - the lower/mid priced acoustic box. Washburn has a great reputation in this area - but is there anything anyone can bring to the market that can give it an edge? Lewis Turner finds out.

Washburn has recently added two new ranges to what was an already extensive line-up of solid spruce topped acoustic and electro-acoustic guitars - the Heritage and Woodline series. The Heritages offer a choice of four very familiar body shapes and a choice of mahogany, rosewood, tamo ash and flame maple backs and sides. The Woodlines only come in Dreadnought or Orchestra sizes. Like the Heritages, body sizes are denoted by a letter (D for Dreadnought for example) while the back sides combinations are indicated by numbers: 10, 20, 30 and 40 revealing the more extensive choices offered in Heritage and just 10 and 20 for Woodline models.

We elected to go for the same basic formats from each - a Heritage 10 in and a Woodline 10, in other words both guitars featuring mahogany backs and sides, and both in the very familiar Dreadnought size.  

Washburn HD10S

Washburn's new Heritage Series is big, comprising 16 new models with four body shapes. The Heritage 10, 20, 30 and 40 offer different wood options at an increasing price range. The 10 is the cheapest in the series, and at this price it's fair to say is aimed at the slightly upper entry level market. The HD10S is a Dreadnought sized guitar (that's what the D stands for) with a solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany back, sides and neck. Ours had a beautiful natural finish and top attention to detail throughout. The Sitka spruce top delivers bright highs with a mid-range heavy voice, the Mahogany bringing some warmth and depth into the tonal spectrum. A mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard gave yet more bottom end, making the overall sound, resonance and dynamic range of this guitar very pleasing.

Being a Dreadnought sized guitar there was plenty of acoustic volume with limited attack, so it's a guitar that responds to how you play, making it very versatile for many different styles. Die-cast tuners are fitted to the classy looking headstock, which were solid and held everything in tune. The neck was a very comfortable shape feeling much like a standard electric neck. This guitar was set-up really well, with a low enough action to make Barre chords and lead playing a breeze but not so low as to cause fret-buzz or intonation issues.

There is no pre-amp on this guitar, but other models offer a Fishman 301T tuner/preamp but the size and build quality make this a great guitar to mic up, which is exactly what we did, and none of its warmth or character were lost.

Overall, the Washburn HD10S is a very good, reasonably priced acoustic that offers great playability, looks and finish - there really is nothing to fault about this very pleasing instrument.

However, it falls slap bang in the middle of possibly the most competitive and over-subscribed area of the market - mahogany backed entry-mid level Dreads with solid spruce tops - and, as such, though it is definitely one of the best of its kind we have seen, it isn't radically different from many other guitars out there. There are other considerations, however. Washburn has a great reputation, so you'd rightly feel pretty secure buying one of these and it will have a better resale value as you move on, thanks to having a well respected name.

If this is the kind of guitar and the kind of price you are considering, make sure you audition one of these. Hopefully the tone and playability will win you over. It's a very safe bet and a very nice guitar for the money.

Washburn WLD10S

The WLD10S is part of Washburn’s brand new Woodline 10 and 20 series of acoustic guitars. As with the Heritage series there is a wide option of shapes and styles available. This series is slightly more expensive than the Heritage range, but still falls into the higher entry level price sector. Like the HD10, the WLD10 is a Dreadnought acoustic with no pre-amp. The spec sheet is almost identical to the HD10, in fact, with just a few additions to take it up a notch. The same wood configuration is used, a solid Sitka spruce top with mahogany back, sides and neck, with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge.

So what is the point of having two near-identical ranges? Well, it does seem to be mostly a visual thing. Both feature scalloped bracing though the specifications imply they are of slightly different types. Then again, being realistic, on a guitar at this price that is a pretty refined detail to worry about. All the same, there is a slight tonal difference between the two, the WLD10S felt slightly more resonant with increased sustain. Still, the difference as mostly visual. The Woodline guitar has a handsome maple binding and a beautiful custom sound hole rosette, with no scratch plate. These little additions possibly make the WLD10 a slightly more classy looking instrument than the HD10.

As with the HD this is a great sounding, nicely playing guitar, and at this price you would be very hard pressed to find fault. Perhaps the thing to bear in mind is just how good both these guitars are for such affordable prices. Both have solid tops, so in theory they will improve as they 'play in' both are from a trusted brand and both are very well priced and sound great from new - what more can you ask for? All you have to do is choose whichever you prefer the look of.Washburn's new Heritage Series is big, comprising 16 new models with four body shapes. The Heritage 10, 20, 30 and 40 offer different wood options at an increasing price range. The 10 is the cheapest in the series, and at this price it's fair to say is aimed at the slightly upper entry level market. The HD10S is a Dreadnought sized guitar (that's what the D stands for) with a solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany back, sides and neck. Ours had a beautiful natural finish and top attention to detail throughout. The Sitka spruce top delivers bright highs with a mid-range heavy voice, the Mahogany bringing some warmth and depth into the tonal spectrum. A mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard gave yet more bottom end, making the overall sound, resonance and dynamic range of this guitar very pleasing.

Being a Dreadnought sized guitar there was plenty of acoustic volume with limited attack, so it's a guitar that responds to how you play, making it very versatile for many different styles. Die-cast tuners are fitted to the classy looking headstock, which were solid and held everything in tune. The neck was a very comfortable shape feeling much like a standard electric neck. This guitar was set-up really well, with a low enough action to make Barre chords and lead playing a breeze but not so low as to cause fret-buzz or intonation issues.

There is no pre-amp on this guitar, but other models offer a Fishman 301T tuner/preamp but

the size and build quality make this a great guitar to mic up, which is exactly what we did, and none of its warmth or character were lost.

Overall, the Washburn HD10S is a very good, reasonably priced acoustic that offers great playability, looks and finish - there really is nothing to fault about this very pleasing instrument.

However, it falls slap bang in the middle of possibly the most competitive and over-subscribed area of the market - mahogany backed entry-mid level Dreads with solid spruce tops - and, as such, though it is definitely one of the best of its kind we have seen, it isn't radically different from many other guitars out there. There are other considerations, however. Washburn has a great reputation, so you'd rightly feel pretty secure buying one of these and it will have a better resale value as you move on, thanks to having a well respected name.

 

If this is the kind of guitar and the kind of price you are considering, make sure you audition one of these. Hopefully the tone and playability will win you over. It's a very safe bet and a very nice guitar for the money.

 

 

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Tosin Abasi

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