Folk, Jazz, Rock
Three new guitars from Washburn showed up at the Guitar.com offices recently: a Nuno 7-string, a Jazz Box and a Dreadnought Acoustic. I put them through their paces and got in some “style practice” at the same time.
Strum and Pick
The dreadnought model is the WD160SW, part of Washburn’s Solid Wood series. Made in China, it sports a solid Cedar top and solid mahogany back and sides with a rosewood fingerboard. The neck has a light satin finish, was straight with a comfortably low action right out of the case. That goes a long way when it comes to getting a new guitar.
The body has a gloss finish and upon first impression, you'll note that the construction looks and feels solid; no messy glue or sloppy finish work here, and the rosewood-capped headstock and abalone rosette add a nice touch of class to an affordable guitar.
I found the WD160SW responded better to fingerpicking than strumming, as cedar top guitars in general do not have the projection of spruce and do not respond to more aggressive playing as spruce typically does. It has a slightly scooped-mid sound, great for recording or vocal accompaniment, as it keeps the guitar out of the way of a singer.
Comp and Vamp
The Washburn J600 is a lovely Jazz Series model with a flame maple body and spruce top, with a rosewood fingerboard. The finish is called “Vintage Matte”, which looks like an old French lacquer finish and is quite attractive. A round venetian cutaway allows access to the upper frets, and the ebony tailpiece, bridge and pickguard nicely offset the finish, as do the distressed brass hardware and Grover tuners (with ebonite buttons).
Headstock, neck, top, back and f-holes are all bound in white, with complimentary mother-of-pearl inlay. The guitar sounds good acoustically, which is always a promising sign, and plugged in, the floating mini humbucker gave satisfying jazz box tones. Action was comfortable and the adjustable bridge had plenty of room to go up or down. It came strung with a set of round wounds (with a wound G), but I put on a set of D’Addario chromes and got closer to the sound of my L-5. Overall, the J600 is an affordable and classy jazz box.
Crunch, Dive and Wail
Nuno Bettencourt was always a bit different form the shredders he came of age with. Always tasty and melodic - with a ripping talent for rhythm guitar – Nuno also had a unique Washburn Custom Shop signature model, the N4, to match his musical personality – stripped down and loud.
This new Made in the USA model, the N7, is a 7-string version of the popular N4. It sports an aged alder body with a 22-fret, 5-bolt maple neck and ebony fingerboard. Pickups are Seymour Duncan Distortion in the bridge and ’59 in the neck. The Floyd Rose trem and Grover tuners are chrome.
The defining feature of the Nuno models is the Stephens extended cutaway, a neat luthier trick to give access to all of the frets comfortably. The headstock is pitched at 14” and the Buzz Feiten tuning system helps make every note you play in tune, everywhere on the neck.
Both pickups seemed bright and sparkling, with the neck pickup retaining its clarity even with the tone rolled off a bit. They handled the low B string with ease, never getting too wooly or muddy. Plugged into my Goodsell 2x12, rhythm parts were crisp and cutting, leads were fat and punchy with plenty of sustain. This guitar, although seems perfect for the metal crowd or the drop d audience, would be a great guitar for any experienced player looking to jump into the 7-string fray without worrying about quality of tone and feel. The N7 has what all 7-string guitar should have - tone, access and quality of feel.
Watch the guitars in action: