Washburn is celebrating its 135th anniversary with a limited release of 135 Revival Solo Dreadnoughts inspired by the original 1937 Washburn #5244/#5246 Solo Dreadnoughts. To represent the company’s history, the new guitars’ serial numbers begin at 1883 and continue through to 2018. GP’s review unit was 1943, making it number 60 of 135. It arrived in a fancy hard-shell case, with a certificate of authenticity and a hardcover copy of John Teagle’s book Washburn: Over One Hundred Years of Fine Stringed Instruments. The tome documents the company’s legendary roots as Lyon & Healy and chronicles Washburn’s development using oodles of catalog clips, photos of classic and modern guitars, and accounts from signature artists through the years. The aroma that wafts up when you open the case reeks of a hearty woodshop. You can smell that the guitar was crafted in Washburn’s American custom shop.
The Revival Solo strikes the eyes with pure throwback loveliness. The D-135 is designed to be historically accurate to the size and shape of the original 1937 models, and it features broad, rounded shoulders and a full waist. Other classic Washburn inspirations from the original include a “smile” bridge, a Revival 30s-style headstock with open-back tuners and butter-bean knobs, and a uniquely shaped faux-tortoise pickguard. The solid Sitka spruce top is stained a light tan and complemented by bindings that flow naturally into the rich grains of solid mahogany neck, back and sides. A peep inside the body reveals cathedral-peaked scalloped X bracing made of high-alpine European spruce, and all the interior bracing appears neat and robust.
The D-135 strikes the ears with a true, time-honored dreadnought tone that’s pleasantly balanced — not too boomy down below and not brittle up top. It doesn’t come at you like the cannon fi re of many modern dreads but with a more open, inviting sound. It’s plenty loud, but not so much that it’s difficult to sing over, making the guitar ideal for singer/songwriter-style accompaniment and perfect for the campfire. The Revival Solo practically calls out to be strummed with a plectrum, and it responds well dynamically to everything from a feather-like touch to a Pete Townshend hammer-fall attack.
The factory setup is player friendly, and barre chords are easily fretted on its C-shaped neck. Fingerstyle passages sound great as well. The relatively easy action comes at the expense of some fret buzz when digging into melodic runs with a pick, particularly on the fourth string with this instrument, and there was no truss rod to adjust, as far as I could see. However, this isn’t a guitar designed for lighting-fast, linear flash licks; it’s built to be like a Ford Model T, not a Ferrari. Heck, it doesn’t even have electronics, although modern touches, such as the GraphTech Ratio machine heads, are a welcome addition.
Washburn’s Revival Solo 135D is a great value, considering all the goodness you get for about two grand. Washburn fanatics will appreciate the historical authenticity, and traditionalists will dig its time-honored look and tone. But anyone in the market for a quality American-made dreadnought that won’t break the bank better act quickly, because 135 guitars is an exceptionally limited release indeed!
Revival Solo D-135 Anniversary
PRICE $1,999 street
NUT WIDTH 1.75", bone
NECK African mahogany
FRETBOARD Ebony, 25.5" scale
TUNERS GraphTech Ratio, open back
BODY African mahogany back and sides, solid Sitka spruce top
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario EXP Phosphor Bronze Light .012–.053
WEIGHT 4.2 lbs
KUDOS A natural chord strummer with strong value, time-honored design and pleasant tone
CONCERNS Some fret buzz