The History of Washburn Instruments


Washburn: American Roots


With roots going back before the Civil War, Washburn began as a partnership between George Washburn Lyon and Patrick Healy. The year was 1883, in the city of Chicago, Illinois. A pivotal year in terms of innovation of musical instruments. George Washburn began what would become a legacy of greatness by introducing the first Washburn guitar. Setting out with a simple goal in mind, he wanted to bring professional instruments that were priced for everyday musicians. Additionally, he produced banjos and mandolins. In 1889, just seven years after its inception, the company became the largest mandolin producer in America. By leading the market on the innovation of guitars, banjos, and mandolins, Washburn continued to advance and evolve.


A little bit of a jump to 1912, they begin to really shape the future of guitars with the release the Lakeside Jumbo. This was the first dreadnought guitar produced. The dreadnought is one of the most popular and often times standard body shapes to this day. Fast forward to 1930, Washburn merges with Tonk Brothers and release the Solo Deluxe. The Solo Deluxe was the precursor to the auditorium guitar body shape, which today is one of the best-selling guitars created. Many of the biggest names in folk, rock, and blues have played a Washburn at some point. Additionally, some of the most significant music has been created on a Washburn.


An Acoustic Beginning

With the onset of the 1970s, came great new music and the rise of the electric guitar. This is when the Wing series, their first electric model came in. The Wing series was a continuation of the standard by which they have delivered thus far, show quality instruments at a home artist price. In the 80s and 90s, the Festival series revitalized the art of acoustic performance. Additionally contributing to the rise of “unplugged” performances and bringing some more intimate and emotional elements back to the music. Such as the famous Nirvana Unplugged Concert. As a result, one could say that Washburn was partially responsible for some of the best music of the ’90s.


Traditional Values, Modern Technology

First of all, they have been a company for over 135 years, and have been committed to providing the highest quality instruments. Second, regardless of your skill level, they have something for everyone. Therefore one could argue that Washburn is one of the most artist-friendly companies. High quality and versatile prices across the board. If you are in the market for a new guitar, banjo or mandolin I would suggest checking them out, because again they bring professional quality at a home musician price.


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