By Adam Perlmutter
If you haven’t received the memo that sensibly priced modern guitars are way superior to the budget offerings of past decades, spend a minute with Washburn’s new Woodline 10 Series (model WLO10SCE), selling for well under 500 bucks. This 14-fret Orchestra cutaway model—a total winner for the price—has an easy playability and a tight, focused sound that lends itself equally well to strumming and fingerpicking.
When I first strum an open-E chord on the Woodline Orchestra cutaway, I’m pleased by the guitar’s warmth, likely owing to its spruce-and-mahogany build, the cathedral-peaked advanced scalloped-X bracing (Washburn has switched to scalloped X bracing this year), and its balance. No register crowds out another—the bass is firm, the mids barking, and the trebles sparkling. The guitar sounds clean and clear, and has just enough projection and sustain.
I put the Woodline Orchestra through its paces. For Tommy Emmanuel’s “Ruby’s Eyes,” with its flowing arpeggios, the ringing notes cascade together beautifully, and, thanks to the guitar’s modern C-profile neck and a tip-top setup, it’s easy to execute the piece’s numerous slides and slurs.
Playing the Carter Family’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”—a good test for the strumming potential of any acoustic guitar—reveals that the Woodline Orchestra stands up well to
the boom-chuck school of rhythm, although some might find the bass just a tad lacking in this context.
To see how it fares in a nonstandard tuning, I try Orville Johnson’s reading of “God’s Gonna Ease My Troublin’ Mind,” in open D minor (D A D F A D). The guitar doesn’t lose any of its luster in this slackened tuning, and Johnson’s cluster chords, heard more commonly in contemporary classical than fingerstyle blues, have impressive definition and note separation.
When I plug into a Fender Acoustasonic amp and play the same three tunes, the Woodline Orchestra’s onboard Fishman 301T preamp does a good job of conveying the guitar’s natural sound. As a plus, the preamp’s digital tuner is intuitive to use and easy to read, even in a darkened room.
And then there’s the Woodline Orchestra’s smart design and execution. The ornamentation is minimal but classy, with rosewood binding and a wooden mosaic rosette. On the body,
the gloss finish is smoothly and thinly applied, and inside the box, things are as clean as a hound’s tooth.
With a street price of only $369 without case, the Woodline 10 Orchestra model is clearly pitched at burgeoning songwriters and fingerstylists.
But given its excellent performance all around, the guitar wouldn’t disappoint a more seasoned player.
14-fret orchestra cutaway
Solid spruce top with quarter-sawn scalloped spruce bracing
Mahogany back and sides X-bracing
Cathedral-peaked advanced scalloped-X bracing
Natural high-gloss finish
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25 5/16-inch scale
43mm (1 11/16-inch) nut
Chrome die-cast tuners
Fishman 301T preamp with tuner
Graph Tech NuBone
nut and saddle
Cleartone 7412 strings (12–56)
Hardshell case sold separately
$659 MSRP, $369 street
Made in China