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Washburn Style 101 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar, c. 1888, made in Chicago, serial # 7686, natural varnish finish, Brazilian rosewood back and sides, spruce top; Spanish cedar neck with ebony fingerboartd, original black coffin case.

Back when C. F. Martin & Co. were a small shop building (at most) a few hundred guitars a year, Lyon & Healy in Chicago were sending thousands out of them into the world annually. The best and most expensive of these were branded Washburn, and most at the time would have agreed that -- apart from a genuine Martin -- Washburns were the best that could be had. They were certainly the best promoted; Lyon & Healy were innovators in marketing as much as instrument building. Still their products were very much the standard of the day, and well over a century ago Washburn was one of the top prestige instrument brands in America.

This little guitar was the least expensive Washburn branded piece of its era, which is some 140+ years ago now! The Style 101 may have been at the bottom of the Washburn line but is still a very nicely made, plainly ornamented but high quality instrument. This small (12 1/2" wide) "Standard size" guitar is built with nicely bookmatched Brazilian rosewood back and sides with some very nice graining, back when this was a common wood. The Spanish cedar soft V-profile neck is capped with a genuine ebony fingerboard. The top is solid spruce, braced in an early version of the "canted ladder" pattern specific to Chicago made guitars. A single brace on either side of the tiny bridgeplate is set at a shallow angle, while the third brace just behind the soundhole is straight.

There is no binding at all and the backstrip is simple three play of contrasting wood. The soundhole is trimmed with several concentric wood circle inlays. The fingerboard has pearl dots at the 5th and 7th frets only, the headstock is unadorned with a rosewood overlay. The backstrip carries the trademark "George Washburn" stamp alongside "New Model" (used from the later 1880s) while "Style 101" is stamped on back brace.

This is a lovely sounding guitar, with a delicate but surprisingly robust tone for its diminutive (by modern standards) size. It is very responsive and sings sweetly under a delicate touch, but is also capable of some volume if pushed. As with all Washburns of this era, it is recommended for Nylon or gut strings ONLY; steel stringing is well more tension than it was ever designed for.

Overall length is 36 3/4 in. (93.3 cm.), 12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 in. (10.2 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 1/4 in. (616 mm.). Width of nut is 1 13/16 in. (46 mm.).

Considering this guitar has been on Earth for something like 145 years it remains amazingly well preserved and fully playable, with nothing that detracts from its sound or original character. The all-original very thin varnish finish remains intact with surprisingly little micro-checking or discoloration. It shows minor dings, dents and scratches overall, but hardly any actual play wear.

There are several repaired spruce grain splits to the top behind the bridge, neatly sealed up with a couple of internal cleats but no added finish. The back lower edge of the body shows some evidence of regluing on the seam, with a small split in the endblock inlay under the endpin. The back and sides appear crack free except for one tight rosewood grain split just below the center seam, which was likely resealed in a few spots.

The neck appears to have been reset the fretwire is original with hardly any wear. The ebony bridge is original, even the pearl-inlaid ebony bridgepins appear original or at least period. Internally the original bracing and bridgeplate are in tact and unaltered. The unplated brass tuners strips are original as well, and still fully functional. This is a superb example of a very early 20th century Washburn, as plain as they come but a sweet sounding and very playable instrument. It is housed in a lovely if slightly battered but solid original Washburn-branded coffin HSC with the label under the lid which is even rarer than the guitar! Overall Excellent - Condition.

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Listeda month ago
ConditionExcellent (Used)
Excellent items are almost entirely free from blemishes and other visual defects and have been played or used with the utmost care.Learn more
  • Style 101
  • natural varnish
  • 1888
Body Shape
  • Parlor

Retrofret Vintage Guitars

Brooklyn, NY, United States
Joined Reverb:2015

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