Guitar companies tread a fine line when designing a single cutaway guitar. One certain company pretty much cornered the market with a design dating back to the early 50s, and anything you try to do will either come off as trying too hard to do something different to that instrument, or will just look like a mere copy. Washburn have attempted to find the middle ground with the WIN STD, part of their Idol series. Its outline is a little more squared off than that other instrument, and there are plenty of other cosmetic touches that make sure you know it’s a Washburn, but there are enough echoes of what came before that the guitar feels like it has a bit of that history flowing through it too.
The Washburn WIN STD features a mahogany body with a maple cap, but by its very nature it’s not a particularly thick slab of maple. In fact, the guitar itself is very thin and light, one huge point of contrast to that old design from the 50s. The set neck is also mahogany, with a rosewood fretboard carrying 22 frets. The scale length is a to-be-expected 24.75″ length, while the strings pass over a Tune-O-Matic bridge on their way to a stop tailpiece. At the other end there’s a NuBone nut and chrome die cast tuners which turn terrifically smoothly and are great at holding their tuning. The fretboard inlays are pearl ‘wings’ and the headstock inlay is borrowed from Washburn’s classic acoustic guitars. The electronics consist of a three way pickup selector switch and a volume and tone control for each pickup. Those pickups, by the way, are a pair of Duncan USM humbuckers – the Duncan being Seymour Duncan, and the USM being US Music Corp, the parent company of Washburn.
Not surprisingly, that tone is much more ‘SG’ than ‘LP.’ That makes total sense when you look at just how thin and light this guitar is. There’s a classic high end ‘chirp’ to the pick attack that a heavier mahogany/maple chunk of wood just wouldn’t be able to replicate, and which plays especially nicely with my Marshall DSL50. The bridge pickup has a little more character than the neck ‘bucker – it has plenty of bite and attack, whereas the neck sounds a little bit indistinct. A juicier-sounding neck pickup would really kick the WIN STD up a notch, but it’s already a fine little guitar in terms of both tonality and playability.
The WIN STD manages to be its own instrument while hinting at its inspirations. The bridge pickup in particular sounds great, really taking advantage of the lighter, thinner body and its particular influence on the tone. And the tuners perform really well, which is one of those little things that counts so much. Replace that neck pickup with something with a bit more character to match the guitar and you’d really have something.