'Washbu'rn (full name: Washburn Guitars) was established in 1883 in Chicago, Illinois. Washburn is known for many innovations in guitar building and marketing: for example, it was the first guitar manufacturer to use artist endorsements and build a large-bodied acoustic guitar. They are all hand built (some in Indonesia however) and run the gamut in price from very low to several thousand dollars. The budget lines are marketed as Lyon by Washburn and Oscar Schmidt by Washburn.
Washburn is a part of U.S. Music Corporation.
The Washburn guitar company started making guitars in 1883 in Chicago. The factory would later be involved and located near a musical movement in Chicago in the 1920s. The movement was a “Delta Blues” movement, which came as a result of an influx of African Americans to the area. This type of blues would change the way blues music was played, and would also change rock and roll. This blues movement helped in the success of Washburn guitars.Washburn guitars were very popular during the 1920s. The musicians played the guitars as well as making them by hand. The Washburn guitar and the blues movement that it was involved with are associated with Maxwell Street. This street is only a few blocks from the factory, and where Washburn guitars were first embraced. Today, Washburn guitars have embraced the image from its origins and the blues movement. Many famous and successful artists play Washburn instruments, and endorse Washburn instruments. Musicians like the guitar players for Matisyahu, Sum41, Avril Lavigne, CKY, and The Allman Brothers are all endorsed by Washburn.
Washburn makes electric guitars, acoustic guitars, electric basses, acoustic basses, banjos, mandolins, travel guitars, and amplifiers. The company also makes accessories including guitar cases, clothing, and other parts lik
e tuners, pick ups, and straps. Washburn is mostly known for its electric guitars and acoustic guitars. The company makes eight different styles or “Series” of both electric and acoustic guitars .
- Hollowbodies – well suited for Jazz because of its lighter and more resonant sound.
- Ian Series – very artistic guitars made of mahogany and maple wood.
- Idol Series – a newer addition to Washburn guitars.
- Maya Series – designed by Dan Donegan based on the Disturbed’s CD "The Sickness".
- Paul Stanley Series – guitars designed by Paul Stanley.
- N Series – guitars that make a pure rock sound.
- X Series – rock and roll guitars. mostly played by gelatin Head guitarist Thomas Elliott
- Anarchy Graphic Series – guitars featuring the anarchy symbol.
- Lyon Series - named after George Washburn's family name, moderately-priced guitars and basses with classic features and styling borrowed from Fender's most traditional electric guitar designs, catering for mainstream tastes and affordable pricing.
- "ML",Stealth, or 333 designs made for Dimebag Darrell of Pantera and Damageplan. Signatures are available today.
- HM series (discontinued) - Heavy Metal series, aimed at shredders and heavy metal guitarists. Featuring innovative fretboard materials such as phenolic and carbon glass epoxy. These guitars are of very high quality and very few were made; ergo they are highly sought after.
- USA – guitars made in the Mudelein, IL factory.
- Jumbos – better and louder projection.
- Dreadnoughts – good value acoustic guitars.
- Folk Style – best quality for sound recording.
- Classical – mellower tone, as a result of nylon strings.
- Acoustic / Electric – acoustic guitars that can be plugged into amplifiers as well.
- Travel Acoustic – small, travel friendly guitars.
- Paul Stanley Series – guitars designed by Paul Stanley.
Notable Washburn innovations
Over the years, Washburn designed (patented and trademarked) several prominent guitar construction features:
- Buzz Feiten Tuning System — a corrected temperation tuning formula, which uses a compensated nut and saddle to correct the inherent intonation problems of the Western tuning formula. This system comes standard on all USA made Washburn guitars and basses and is featured on select imported models .
- Stephen's Extended Cutaway — special modification of bolt-on neck joint, allowing very smooth and easy top fret access, which comes useful while playing fast leads.
- Voice Contour Control - a special coil structure that allows a blend between a humbucker mode and a single-coil mode on the same pickup 
Washburn was the first company to use the mechanism of endorsements: instrument manufacturer and famous artist secure a contract that states:
- Manufacturer provides custom-shop instrument that suits the artist best, for free (or even paying artist).
- Artists promotes his usage of that instrument and advertises manufacturer company.
This process greatly promotes the whole industry. Beginning artists often try to copy the sound of their favourite artists and thus try to use the same equipment. Endorsements help both manufacturers and consumers: beginning artists get to know what kind of equipment their idol uses and can copy their sound easier, and companies raise sales.
The whole list of Washburn endorsers is very lengthy, most notable artists that have signature models are listed here:
- Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme, Mourning Widows and solo) — N series
- Pete Dee Davison (The Adicts)
- Nick Catanese (Black Label Society)
- Roger Waters (Pink Floyd and solo) - RW 300
- Jonathan Donais (Shadows Fall) — X81FE Face Eraser
- Steve Kaftal (Etoufee, San Diego blues guitarist)
- Dan Donegan (Disturbed)
- Scott Ian (Anthrax)
- Joey Plesh & Jordan Church (Creep)
- Dimebag Darrell (Pantera) (Damageplan)
- Don Clark (Demon Hunter)
- Bakithi Kumalo (bassist to Paul Simon's Graceland album)
- John Bell of Widespread Panic plays a HB35 electric and a NV100 acoustic
- Bootsy Collins
- Patrick Fannin Bass (Litter)
- Ben Champagne Rhythm (Narcism)
- Thomas Elliott Lead (Gelatin Head)
- Rick Savage Bass (Def Leppard)
- Paul Stanley Rhythm (Kiss)
- Daveit Ferris Pilsen Idol, Hb35 and Nv300 the mascara story
- Steve Stevens ([Billy Idol]) (Vince Neil Band and solo) SS80-SS100
The fictional character Wayne Campbell (played by Mike Myers) in the Saturday Night Live skit Wayne's World also played a Washburn.
- Nuno Bettencourt models are flagshipped by the American hand-made N4. The N4 guitar is a small reverse headstock super-strat which features the unique Stephen's Extended Cutaway neck joint for easy access to the higher frets. It also contains Bill Lawrence and Seymour Duncan pickups, and a Floyd Rose licensed tremolo. The production budget models of this guitar which are machine built in Korea are known as the N1 and N2 which feature standard bolt-on necks and lower grade pickups and tremolo systems. The N3 (discontinued) was also produced in Korea and sported the Stephen's Extended Cutaway but used lower grade pickups. Nuno has also endorsed several Washburn acoustic models.
- Nick Catanese Signature Model (1999) Idol Series for Nick Catanese.
- Dan Donegan Signature Model (2003): Maya Series for Disturbed guitarist Dan Donegan, named after his daughter. There are currently two models of this guitar, both using Seymour Duncan pickups.
- Bootsy Collins Space bass (2006): Signature model for Bootsy Collins. Features Fender Jazz Bass pickups.
- Dimebag Darrell ML body style Dimebag Signature series. Washburn's Dime 333 was the most popular.
- Steve Stevens Signature Model (1993) SS80 and SS100 models made in Chicago Custom Shop. The SS40 was mass produced in Korea The [[SS80 was produced in black with gold hardware and a Schaller liscenced Floyd Rose tremelo,Seymour Duncan JB model pickups. The SS100 featured black hardware and a Frankenstein monster graphics.
- Washburn Idol Series