~ Washburn ~

George Washburn started making guitars in 1864 .. the company has changed hands many times since then ..Washburn guitars had a fire sometime in the 1920's that destroyed everything, including all records and paperwork that they had prior to the day of the fire ... then the same thing happened again in the 1950's !! ..

From 1988 on ... on some models (but not all) - the first two digits of the serial number is the year the guitar was made ...

On all limited editions ..the year will be in the "Model Name" of the guitar ...
(example) ..."D-95 LTD" = 1995 ..."D-92LTD" = 1992 ...etc...

The above info was given to Dr.Duck from the Washburn Guitar Company ...the following letter was sent into us from a Washburn owner .... we assume that he has done quite a bit of homework on the subject and have published his letter here for your evaluation ...


I wanted to correct some misinformation you have published in your "Washburn" page of the web site (http://www.ducksdeluxe.com/washburn.html) concerning Washburn Guitars. As the proud owner of a turn of the century Washburn, I have done quite a bit of research on the company.

Your page states:

"George Washburn started making guitars in 1864 .. the company has changed hands many times since then ..Washburn guitars had a fire sometime in the 1920's that destroyed everything, including all records and paperwork that they had prior to the day of the fire ... then the same thing happened again in the 1950's !!"

First of all "George Washburn" was George Washburn Lyon - Washburn was his middle name. He was not a guitar maker - he was a businessman. His partner, P.J. Healy, was the guitar maker. The Lyon & Healy Company was the Chicago branch of the Oliver Ditson Company - a very large sheet music distributing company. They did found the L&H company in 1864, but the company didn't start manufacturing guitars until 1888.

L&H started as a music publisher in 1864. They later marketed several brands of instruments - Lyon leant his middle name to the fretted variety. Healy supervised the factory, which during their peak production years, turned out as many as 100 guitars per day! They were the main supplier of stringed instruments for the various mail order catalogs, such as Montgomery Ward and Sears, until Harmony and Kay assumed that distinction with lines of considerably lower quality instruments in the late 1920s.

The Washburn brand was sold to the Tonk Brothers - who also owned the Regal brand, in 1928 or 29. Regal made guitars under the Washburn label for a few years after that, then the brand was discarded. As far as I can determine, early Washburn serial numbers were pretty haphazard and never gave any indication of date of manufacture.

By the way - my research indicates that the fire happened before the turn of the century (in the1880's). The original Washburn brand disappeared in the 1930's. There was no fire in the 1950's because there was no Washburn Company then. In fact, there never was a Washburn Company until the brand name was revived in 1964. There is no connection whatsoever between the current Washburn brand guitars and the Washburns of the 19th and early 20th century.

Thanks for listening.


Earl Oliver

Jump City Productions
"The Walkin' Blues Man"
The Jump City Trio
Earl Oliver & Friends

Another letter from another WashBurn Owner Aug 13, 2004...

From: Philamoss@aol.com
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2004 10:35:00 EDT

Subject: Washburn...

To: ducks@ducksdeluxe.com

I own several Washburn guitars and recently had contacted Washburn seeking information on a particular one that I have, a 1980's stage series A20-V. This model was manufactured from 1979 to 1985 and released as a re-issue in 1995.

I have seen many of these guitars and it appears as though the first two numbers of the serial number represent the year of manufacture on this model, for example 800123would be a 1980 model. 830421 would be an 83 model.

The instrument that I own is serial number 000331. I'm not sure what year this was made and Washburn insists that it was 1980.

The Washburn distributor who I purchased the guitar from had two of them serial # 000133 which I purchased and # 000135. They were identical instruments and I had thought at the time that they were numbered by production order a process that Washburn disputes.

My Overall assesment of Washburn is that they are a superior company who manufacture a superior product at a great price. A company of this caliber should at the very least have a customer service dept. that is knowlegable in the products which they have sold, and this they are not.

Wasburn should consider hiring and training customer service reps who know the product of the past ( 1970's to present) or at least are willing to research and learn the information. An educated answer is alot better than guessing or responding to customers with incorrect information, which sadly is the current state of things at Washburn. ... John Moss

Date: Oct. 12, 2004

Subject: Washburn...

To: ducks@ducksdeluxe.com

I checked back to see if anyone has clarified the dating issue for Washburn guitars. I guess the answer is no.

For what it is worth, I have a Japanese-built Washburn F-25 acoustic, s/n S804025. The system mentioned says that this should have been built in 1980; unfortunately I purchased the guitar new in 1974.

Back to the drawing board.

Steve Smith
Glenview, Illinois

I don't understand why the builders don't just start off a serial number with "2004-" for an instrument that was made in 2004 to settle the date of manufacture issue once and for all ...

The ones who only use the last 2 numbers of the year of manufacture are blowing it real bad too, when their 20,30,40, 50 years of production come up for a date of manufacture... all you're going to get from them is ...Duh !!!

You're right about Washburn ... one of the best deals in town , a great instrument from a bunch who know very little about the history and passion that naturally follows the love of the builder ... none of the builders should ever take this passion for granted ...it's part of what keeps buyers coming back for more

Enjoy ... Dr.Duck ...

Here's the contact info for Washburn that I have ...

Washburn Guitar
Corporate Affiliate - U.S. Music Corp.
444 E. Courtland
Mundelein, Il. 60060

fax= 847-949-8444

e-mail = info@washburn.com

Good Luck ... Enjoy ... Dr.Duck ...

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