: Washburns, along with Stellas and Sovereigns
: (made by the Oscar Schmidt Company) and a
: host of others used on most prewar
: recordings, were ladder-braced guitars.
: Martin introduced X-bracing and was copied
: by Gibson. This changed the sound of the
: guitar drastically giving more sustain and
: more harmonic overtones. These qualities
: seem to have been more favored and actually
: changed how musicians approached playing the
: instrument, as recording created a more
: homogenized sound in popular music. Today
: luthiers are once again building
: ladder-braced guitars as players such as Ari
: are resurrecting the music of early
: recordings and want to be able to approach
: playing as those players did. By googling
: you can find a wealth of info and opinions
: about these different sounds and playing
: Note: modern Wasburn labeled guitars have
: nothing to do with the original makers or
: --Previous Message--
: I'm not an expert on the subject or I
: be asking this. Washburn guitars were first
: manufactured back in the late 1800s. With
: that kind of history and tradition, why
: don't they have the same appeal among
: professionals as Martin and Gibson acoustics
I've only just come across this string on the message board, but just in case anyone out there is interested, Wax's response is probably well-meaning, but is totally inaccurate and just recycles the myths and misinformation that surrounds both Martin guitars and the Washburn brand guitars built by Lyon & Healy from 1883 to September 1928 (and, subsequently by J R Stewart & Co from September 1928 to March 1930 when Stewart went bankrupt). The Washburns built for Tonk Bros by Regal from April 1930 till 1939 look similar until 1935, but are not in the same class.
Despite the myth of being "handmade", pre-war Martins were mass-produced on an industrial scale (in 1925 alone, for example, Martin produced 5,743 guitars, over 6,000 mandolins and approximately 13,000 ukeleles).
Although Lyon & Healy dominated American guitar production by 1900, the vast majority of guitars produced were sold through Montgomery & Ward or Sears & Roebuck (mail order catalog retailers), or under a hierarchy of different brand names (Lyon & Healy, Arion, Marquette etc) at distinct price and quality points in the market. A lot of these were "budget" instruments, but all of them were well made and well designed.
Washburn was the company's "Flagship" brand, and these instruments were made in a separate workshop by a separate team of craftsmen, using the finest materials at the rate of less than 500 instruments a year, to design specifications developed by Lyon & Healy's Chief Designer George Durkee and his Assistant Designer, Walter Kirk, both of whom were experienced and qualified Engineers..
A friend of mine has a 1929 OO-40 Martin and I have a 1930 Washburn 5238 Deluxe Grand Concert and the Washburn is so far in advance of the Martin in design terms, it's a one horse race.
No professional guitarists play pre-war Martins or Gibsons, these days, because they can't afford the ridiculous prices collectors have driven these instruments to, or the insurance costs of touring with them, quite apart from the fact that they're inaccurately intonated,relatively unresponsive and have necks like baseball bats.
Martin and Gibson custom shop instruments are far, far better made and designed (at a fraction of the price) than anything that ever came out of Nazareth or Kalamazoo, pre-war..