WASHBURN HAS BEEN STEADILY BUILDING ITS REPUTATION AMONG shred and metal players, offering such things as the U.S.-made HM Series guitars, which are designed from the ground up to satisfy the most demanding shred-oholics. In that spirit, the WM24 Renegade is a well-equipped ax that sports a thin, bolt-on neck with a relatively flat phenolic fretboard and 24 carefully shaped frets. The black hardware consists of a Floyd Rose-licensed double-locking trem system, a set of mini Grover tuners, and a pair of Randall-made humbuckers. Master Volume and Tone controls and a 3-way selector complete the package. In keeping with its sleek design ethos, the Renegade dispenses with fretboard inlays and limits the bling factor to a sharp looking transparent redburst finish that beautifully highlights the figuring of the maple veneer top.
The lightweight Renegade has a comfy carve on the backside of its body, as well as a generous lower cutaway and rounded neck joint that make it easy to reach the high frets. This guitar arrived with a good setup and superb intonation—a result of the Buzz Feiten Tuning System—which allowed chords to sound extremely tuneful in all regions of the fretboard. And with its glass-smooth synthetic fretboard and polished frets, the playing feel is quick to say the least. The trem took a little while to settle in, but once the strings had been fully stretched, it was possible to work the bar to its extremes without going out of tune. One bothersome thing, however, was excess play in the arm. This can be eliminated with some adjusting, but it’s not something you want to hassle with on a new guitar.
The Renegade’s slightly dark voicing made it easy to get thick sounding tones from all of our test amps. The Randall pickups have their own thing going. They are strong and punchy, with a naturally “brown” response that was particularly noticeable on the bridge unit (possibly due to a higher number of wire turns). Some players may like this quality more than others. If you’re into buttery high-gain tones, the Renegade may have just the sound you want—if you like a lot of highend bite on your pick attack, it may not. Nevertheless, with its excellent playability, solid construction, and hip features, the Renegade is a pretty smokin’ deal for $399. You could certainly spend a lot more on a U.Sor Japanese-made guitar of this type, but the Renegade proves that you don’t have to.
Washburn (847) 949-0444; washburn.com
MODEL HM Series WM24 Renegade
PRICE $399 street
NECK Mahogany, set
FRETS 24 standard
PICKUPS Randall Ultra XL (bridge), Randall UL (neck)
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, 3-way selector
BRIDGE Double-locking Floyd Rose Licensed
TUNERS Grover die-cast
FACTORY STRINGS Vinci, .009-.042
WEIGHT 7.3 lbs
KUDOS Killer shred guitar for a low price. Plays well.