Washburn EA16

Combining a metallic paint job with a ’70s-style “butterfly” bridge, the EA16 is well suited for those who aren’t seeking a traditional looking acoustic-electric. The dark grey body is complemented with neatly installed black binding on the top and back, and the rosette is comprised of a thin strip of simulated abalone with a thin white line on either side. The EA’s neck has a comfy “C” shape and is edged in cream-colored binding. It plays well too, thanks to a fairly low action, and chords sound amazingly in tune when played in various positions. The EA16’s workmanship is good overall. The chunky nut fits well and doesn’t have any knife-sharp points to jab your hand, the frets are competently worked and sport even and non-sticky ends, and the interior is very clean. The battery is housed in a slide-out holder in the plastic jack plate.
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The knob-style controls are cool and all, but the Volume control doesn’t have a center detent. The tuner is activated when you hit the Power button. The output is muted in this mode and whatever string you pick is indicated numerically in the small blue window and given sharp/center/flat readings via a trio of LEDs. Pressing the Note button repeatedly allows you to specify the string you wish to tune—which seems completely unnecessary—and you can even select a non-existent seventh string (ha!). Despite the muting, a very audible buzz can be heard whenever the Power (tuner) or Note buttons are engaged. Fortunately this disappears when you exit the tuning mode and start pumping signal into your amp.

A heavy finish on a smallish body isn’t exactly a recipe for crispness and detail, but the EA16 delivers a decent acoustic sound that’s fine for jamming and songwriting. Plugged in, the EA16 sounded a little boxy with all the controls set flat, but rolling down the Middle knob and increasing the highs opened up the tones pretty well. Boosting the Treble tends to bring out the piezo harshness—which is pronounced when you dig into the strings—so I preferred using the Presence control to brighten things up while keeping the Treble knob in a cut position. This configuration yielded the smoothest tones, and from here it was just a matter of adjusting the Bass control (usually attenuating it) to get the balance dialed in.

The EA16 has a lot going for it in terms of playability and amplified performance. This guitar scores for its slick playability and ability to get quite loud without feeding back—qualities that make it a good choice for stage use.