guitar—or his foreman’s [initials] at the time,
And on the Tacomas?
Chuck P. Thornton.
US-made Washburn models from 1974 to 2008.
They have a stamp that appears on the neck
heel cap: it has “TG” on it. They also have
the bolt-on neck that is distinctive to them.
Terry Atkins, who is the current Washburn
production manager, started the production
team for Tacoma in the mid-1990s, so I have
firsthand information from him.
And the John Stover Washburns?
They have his handwritten signature
on each one.
Do you play every guitar before you put
it in the vault?
Yes, I do. When an instrument comes in, I look
at it, I de-string it then I clean the instrument
up and make minor adjustments to it. We try
to buy instruments that are at least in excellent
condition, and most are mint. Then we photograph them and we put them in the vault. We
take them out about once a year to make sure
there are no issues or problems with them.
They say no two guitars play or sound the
same. I think by owning and playing over
500 acoustics, you would be someone who
can say that with great certainty.
That probably is true, especially with hand-voiced instruments. The Dana Bourgeois company is all about hand-voicing—the woods,
the bridge. I am assuming Dana still hand-voic-es each instrument by himself. I don’t think he
delegates that responsibility. I think he makes
the choice on woods, so any two guitars—like
the four Paramounts he made for Washburn—
probably all sound slightly different.
Are they the most precious guitars in
Yeah, the five Bourgeois guitars are probably
the most precious of the contemporary ones
made after 1974.
Do you care to put a price tag on them?
[On the Paramounts] I would put a price
tag of about $8000 [each] because they are
irreplaceable. And the Presentation, I believe
there were only two of them made, I’d put
those at around $5600.
Have you been to the Washburn factory
Yes, I’ve been there twice. I was curious
because I was having so much difficulty find-
ing out about Washburn guitars. The owner
of Washburn [Rudy Schlacher] and I had the
opportunity to talk, and he’s been involved
with the Washburn trade name since about
1976. I think he was one of the original
people that bought the trade name from
1976 Washburn WN- 60 (1976), Beckmen Musical Instruments.
Beckmen Music in Los Angeles, so he’s been
involved with the company since then.
Where did their imports come from?
It started in Japan in 1974 with the Yairis,
[Sadao and Hiroshi] who were a father and
son team in that started making guitars for
Washburn in ’ 74. I think they did most of
the product line through the mid-1980s until
their factory burned down. And then after
that Washburn was looking for the cheapest
vendor with the best quality. After that it was
probably Korea, starting around 2000.
Any weird stuff in your collection?
There’s a lot of weird stuff! Probably the Jimmy
Page Double Neck 6/12-string is the weirdest.
It’s an EA220 that they made from about ’ 95
or ’ 96 to about ’ 98. It feels like a tank when
you wear it. It’s a heavy guitar but definitely an
interesting one, and a fun one to play.
Any other odd ones?
Well, Washburn made so many prototypes and
they’re floating around God knows where. I
know they’ve got three or four hundred hanging on the wall in Mundelein. I’m trying to get
my hands on one that I saw specifically for
their 2003 anniversary. It’s an unusual acoustic
guitar and it actually has an embossed front—
it’s really hard to describe. I’ve never seen
anything like it before, and I don’t know why it
didn’t go into production. And it’s a laminated
guitar. It’s almost like they took the top of the
guitar and put it through a press.
Out of the 500 plus, how many acoustic-electrics are in your collection?
I’m just taking a guess here, as I don’t have
the list in front of me … probably about 100.
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