1890s Washburn Style 205 Parlor Guitar

Old x-braced Washburns of this caliber (most Washburns are ladder-braced) are really hard to find. A consignor of mine picked this up a long time ago and sent it here for resale but I've had many more pressing projects of his to get to  ahead of it because this one was a major project when it came in. Still, it's a fascinating guitar and a real gem of a gut-strung parlor now that it's fixed-up. I've long had a buyer for it (pending repair), so this one is anticipated to be pre-sold (sorry, folks).

Internally, it's similar in bracing pattern and lightness-of-build to the 1840s Martin I worked-on in May and it actually sounds quite a bit like it, with a lush, warm, sweet voice that's very responsive. The neck is somewhat slim front-to-back and with a comfortable board radius, too, and so post-work it handles like a fairly modern instrument. In just a few years after this build, though, the Washburn line would be overhauled and big, clunky, hard-V-shaped necks would be standard.

While the "Washburn" book states that x-braced guitars of this time were intended for steel strings, that's simply not true. The build on this is so light on the top that I can't imagine anyone at the time thinking it was built for anything but gut (these days: nylon/fluorocarbon/what-have-you in the classical strings department).

I've deduced that it's a Style 205 and its serial number dates it to the mid-1890s thanks to the "Washburn Book" from CenterStream.

Anyhow, it arrived in quite the state. A quick external glance showed an extremely-bellied/wavy top, a neck that needed a reset, and a bridge pulling-up with bolts knocked through it. Oh, yes -- and tons of cracks needing to be addressed. Click this link to see what the repair job looked like on the bracing inside.

Work included: back removal, removal and regluing of all top bracing, new upper-bout main ladder brace, crack repairs to top and back, brace repairs to back, new side reinforcement cloth strips, reinforcement to a paper-thin and damaged top (oversize bridge plate install, basically), a neck reset, fret level/dress, bridge reglue, new bone saddle, new fancy bridge pins, cleaning, and setup.

Setup: Action is spot-on low and fast at hair-under 3/32" at the 12th fret and with room to spare on the saddle for action adjustment. The neck is straight. Strings are LaBella Gold 900 nylon classicals.

Scale length: 24 11/16"
Nut width: 1 13/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 1/2"
String spacing at bridge: 2 7/16"
Body length: 18 1/2"
Lower bout width: 13 1/8"
Waist width: 7 3/4"
Upper bout width: 9 1/2"
Side depth at endpin: 4 1/4"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: solid Brazilian rosewood
Neck wood: Spanish cedar
Bracing type: x-braced, one tonebar
Fretboard: ebony, pearl inlay, bone nut
Bridge: ebony, bone saddle, pearl inlay
Neck feel: medium soft-V shape, ~14" board radius

Condition notes: many repaired top cracks, one long repaired back crack, replacement bridge pins and saddles -- but otherwise original. The finish looks good throughout but does show small scratches and whatnot all over. The top is the most-worn with some playwear and plenty of usewear in evidence.


will said…
wow, beautiful. I'd love to have one of those