Become a Supporting Member


Go Back   The Gear Page > Instruments > Acoustic Instruments

Notices


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10-03-2008, 05:33 PM
BigDoug1053 BigDoug1053 is offline
Senior Member
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Pensacola, Florida
Posts: 996
Hands-On Review - Washburn R314K Parlor Guitar

When I was a young rake in the late 70s, an old girlfriend had an original busted-up 1905 Washburn parlor guitar lying around her place. After a buddy reset the neck and dressed the frets, it played and sounded great. The wider neck and funky tone were perfect for blues and fingerpicking. I had been playing it for awhile and gotten really attached to it, and then the girlfriend's daughter decided she wanted it - so goodbye cool parlor guitar! I have missed that funky little v-neck slot head guitar ever since.

After some helpful advice and input from our illustrious forum, I recently pulled the trigger on a Washburn R314K 125th Anniversary Parlor Guitar. The R314K is a fairly accurate reproduction of 19th century parlor guitars made by Washburn, and is an economy model in the Chicago series of anniversary reproductions. The fancier parlor models have rosewood back and sides, ebony fretboard and bridge, and gold plated tuners. The simpler R314K lacks the "125th Anniversary" inlay present on the fancier rosewood versions of this guitar, which I prefer.

I love and admire old guitars, but if someone is offering a credible reissue, I prefer buying a new instrument. I would rather not buy an old acoustic on eBay and then have to put several hundred more bucks into a re-fret, neck set, and likely crack repairs. I am more interested in the playability, design, materials, and sound as opposed to antique credentials. And while I would prefer to buy from an American or Canadian luthier, a Martin 2-18 slot head custom order (or equivalent) is way beyond my budget. A parlor is also a niche instrument for me, rather than a primary guitar, so cost mattered even more.

This Washburn was made in Indonesia, and it was an irresistible deal that was exactly what I was looking for. I paid AMS $500 and it came with free shipping and a funky angular (coffin-like?) hard shell case. The well-packed shipping box arrived today and I just got through putting the guitar though the paces. Here's the pic from the Washburn (via AMS) site.


Materials and Specs
- The R314K has an x-braced laminate spruce top, laminate koa back and sides, koa (maybe mahogany) neck, rosewood bridge and fretboard, and a bound flat slot head. The retailer description said it had a solid spruce top, but this only applies to the more expensive models in this series of parlors from Washburn. The tuning keys are metal open gears with ivoriod buttons. The adjustable truss rod is accessible from inside the the soundhole - a nice modern addition that is not period accurate. The prominent V-shaped neck joins the body at the 12th fret, with a width of 1 7/8 inches at the nut that widens to 2 3/4 inches at the body. The fretboard has a slight radius. It has a 25-inch scale length and a compensated bridge (another practical modification) on a carved rosewood bridge base with 2 metal pins. The body has a 9 1/2-inch upper bout, a 14 1/8-inch lower bout, and the depth tapers from 3 1/2 inches at the neck join to 4 3/16 inches.

Bling and Finish - The appointments are very nice - triple ivoriod body binding with "rope" or "half herringbone" marketry inlay around the top, sides (upper and lower borders) and back borders, and a different thicker inlaid marketry joining the 2-piece koa back. My guitar has nice light and dark stripes in the koa - really pretty wood. The soundhole inlay is really sweet - an outer rope inlay with 2-ply binding, then a 2-ply bound abalone circle, and an inner 3-ply binding circle. The 1-ply bound fretboard and peg head has well executed and fancy MOP inlay with a variety of common antique shapes - diamonds, tulips, and rosettes. The head has a tulip arrangement crown inlay - very sweet. The 12th fret inlay has little dragon curls on both sides of a dot.

The antiqued satin finish is applied to a mildly scuffed and dinged top to simulate a well worn instrument. I personally do not understand or care for this finishing concept as I like to rough up my guitars by playing them. But this particular scuff job does not look bad, and lends a funky vibe, I suppose.

Construction Quality - Other reviews I had read suggested that some of these guitars have build quality issues; however, my guitar seems very well assembled (whew!). I inspected the fit and visible glue joints and it appears clean. No blobs along the purfling inside the body. This very lightweight guitar feels very solid and there were no buzzy or ill-fitting components. Frets were cleanly dressed with no file marks on the fretboard and no tangs protruded into the edge binding. I could see a small amount of wood filling around a few of the neck inlays, but it was very well done and the small amount of fill was only visible when tilted against a bright light. The body inlay was very well done - the soundhole inlay was impressive. Overall, a very good build job and quality on this instrument.

Playability and Sound - After the light gage strings were tuned up and stable I started playing. The intonation was perfect and no frets buzzed or clinked all the way up the neck. Notes bend easily and sound very cool and bluesy. Arpeggios and scales played up the neck were in tune. The nut is properly cut and the action is fairly low - but not so low that a slide can't be used. The wide fretboard, not quite as wide as a classical guitar, feels very comfortable.

Parlor guitars are very small, so they lack the full bodied bass you would expect in a larger guitar. However, the sound is pleasing and woody with a pronounced mid-range timbre similar to other small mahogany guitars like a Martin O-15 or OOO-15. Memory may be an unreliable witness, but this guitar's tone reminded me very much of the antique Washburn parlor guitar from my youth. It is a perfect sound for fingerpicking and blues, and the volume from this baby is impressive. It has a killer sound with a slide. Very greasy! I imagine it will sound very good indeed when recorded. String volume is fairly uniform across and up the neck and there are no unusual resonances.

Conclusion - This little guitar is a good value for a well made parlor guitar, and it plays as well as any similar sized Martin or Santa Cruz I have played. Soundwise, I suppose a solid top might sound better, but not dramatically so. It really does have the feel and sound I remember from the antique solid wood version I fell in love with. The build quality is very good, the the appointments are impressive but not gaudy. My only knock is on the antiqued and scuffed finish. If you are looking for a fun blues or fingerpicking guitar with tons of vibe, the Washburn Parlors are worth checking out.
__________________
Doug Craft
View Artwork | MP3 Music | Peak Oil Essay
Number Ones: HSH Steinberger GL, NS Design Omni Bass 5
Gear:
Tech 21 guitar amps, Gallien-Krueger bass amps, GK+SWR cabs, POD XT Live, Ableton Live, Acid Pro

Last edited by BigDoug1053; 03-07-2010 at 12:21 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 10-03-2008, 05:37 PM
Lawn Jockey Lawn Jockey is offline
Senior Member
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 5,758
Awesome review Doug!!

Glad you are enjoying the new Parlor!
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 10-03-2008, 06:39 PM
The Pup The Pup is offline
Supporting Member
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,579
Thanks...plays as well as an SC...wow.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 10-03-2008, 09:13 PM
doc doc is offline
Senior Member
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Middle Tennessee
Posts: 3,693
Hope you don't mind me tagging along on your thread, but I have a beat up vintage Washburn parlor-like guitar I'm curious about. It needs some repair, and if its worth much I'll probably take it to my tech, but if not I may try my hand at a neck set and bridge replacement myself. Its a small body, probably about an O size. Looks to be probably a low to mid level instrument, but possibly Brazillian back and sides. Ornamentation is very basic. Its a slot head and has a label that identifies it as a Model 1923-24. Anybody able to tell me anything about these?
__________________
What did 0 say to 8? Nice belt!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 10-04-2008, 04:21 AM
Lawn Jockey Lawn Jockey is offline
Senior Member
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 5,758
!!!Happy Birthday Doug!!!

:BEER
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 10-10-2008, 11:50 PM
BigDoug1053 BigDoug1053 is offline
Senior Member
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Pensacola, Florida
Posts: 996
Fresh Quick Pics of the Washburn R314K

Here the first pics - with the camcorder - not high res












__________________
Doug Craft
View Artwork | MP3 Music | Peak Oil Essay
Number Ones: HSH Steinberger GL, NS Design Omni Bass 5
Gear:
Tech 21 guitar amps, Gallien-Krueger bass amps, GK+SWR cabs, POD XT Live, Ableton Live, Acid Pro
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 10-14-2008, 07:41 AM
belair belair is offline
Senior Member
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 397
I'm only quoting what I was told by Washburn customer service, so don't kill the messenger. But while I was researching the soft fret issues with the 316 series, they told me that regardless of contrary copy by some of the retailers that the 314's were all laminate-not just the sides and back but surprisingly the top as well.

The Washburn guy (I think his name was Tim McCarthy) even sent me Excel order sheets from the firm in Indonesia that built them for U.S. Music Corp. to prove his point. I was having trouble differentiating the various 125th Ann. Parlors and I remember being surprised that he would share internal documants like that. Had all build specs except whatever price they paid for them!

I believe the others were also avaiable in either Koa or rosewood back and sides.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 10-16-2008, 11:21 PM
BigDoug1053 BigDoug1053 is offline
Senior Member
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Pensacola, Florida
Posts: 996
Quote:
Originally Posted by belair View Post
I'm only quoting what I was told by Washburn customer service, so don't kill the messenger. But while I was researching the soft fret issues with the 316 series, they told me that regardless of contrary copy by some of the retailers that the 314's were all laminate-not just the sides and back but surprisingly the top as well.

The Washburn guy (I think his name was Tim McCarthy) even sent me Excel order sheets from the firm in Indonesia that built them for U.S. Music Corp. to prove his point. I was having trouble differentiating the various 125th Ann. Parlors and I remember being surprised that he would share internal documants like that. Had all build specs except whatever price they paid for them!
Thanks - I adjusted my review - you are correct that the low end models in this series do not have a solid top. The more expensive Washburn parlors do come with a solid top; however, in this size guitar, I doubt it will make a huge difference in tone.
__________________
Doug Craft
View Artwork | MP3 Music | Peak Oil Essay
Number Ones: HSH Steinberger GL, NS Design Omni Bass 5
Gear:
Tech 21 guitar amps, Gallien-Krueger bass amps, GK+SWR cabs, POD XT Live, Ableton Live, Acid Pro

Last edited by BigDoug1053; 03-07-2010 at 12:05 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03-05-2009, 07:36 PM
JackButler JackButler is offline
Supporting Member
Feedback Score: 6 reviews
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: NW Ohio
Posts: 3,288
Bumpo.
I want one!
__________________
There are a few JackButlers on here, but I'm Scott.
AKA:Scooterguitar
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 03-07-2010, 12:09 AM
Devi Ever Devi Ever is offline
Senior Member
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 227
Epic bump.

Just happen to run into one of these by chance at my local music store and fell immediately in love. Never even heard of Parlor guitars before this... going back and putting it on lay-a-way tomorrow!!!

rawr!
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 03-07-2010, 08:27 PM
JSeth JSeth is offline
Senior Member
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Corvallis, Oregon... "Heart of the Valley"...
Posts: 2,112
What a cool looking little guitar!!!! Thanks for the review and the pix - I bet it's a ball to play!

Although I've picked up a parlour guitar at friends' homes from time to time, I've never owned one. During the last year, I have had occaision to make the aquaintance of James Goodall, luthier-extraordinaire (!!!), and to play a number of his fine instruments. At first, I only played his Concert Jumbo and Grand Concert shapes, with a 'dread thrown in there, as well... then, on my second or third visit, James pulls out this... AMAZING parlour guitar!!!!! Brazillian Rosewood b/s, really pretty stuff, "old growth" is what James called it... the top was "sinker" redwood, very interesting looking wood; a little dark, a little purple-ish, with streaks that ran the length-ways of the guitar. When I played it, I COULD NOT BELIEVE how sweet and big it sounded! First time I ever went "hmmm.... a parlour guitar..."!!! Of course, the one that James built had a price of $10k on it - he did say he'd let me have it for $7k, but... -

Looks like you found a sweetheart of a deal and guitar - I'd be interested to read your "post-purchase" addendum, after the "honeymoon is over", so to speak.

Thanks for the post!

play on................................................ .................>


John Seth Sherman
__________________
"Let's go down by the grapevine, drink my Daddy's wine... get happy... HAPPY!!!" (Laura Nyro, "Sweet Blindness")
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 03-08-2010, 07:48 AM
pickaguitar pickaguitar is offline
Senior Member
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: TEXAS
Posts: 15,943
Will it take a good strumming? If so...I'm onboard! (for the solid top version)
__________________
Dirty Irby & The Plow Kings
"...I enjoy making noise as much as I enjoy playing acoustic guitar." - Jimmy Page
"He'll have to deal with his own moronic, racially-insensitive, misogynistic, and sophomoric demons."
Teh Gear Page
Electrics: Strat Relic, Pine Tele Relic
Amps: '84 Marshall JCM 800 Combo, '05 S2 Micro-Plexi
Acoustics: '05 Martin D28 Marquis Amberburst, '95 Washburn D10

Last edited by pickaguitar; 03-08-2010 at 08:23 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 03-08-2010, 10:05 AM
zombywoof zombywoof is offline
Senior Member
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 3,573
I know someone who has the all wood version of the 314 and if I recall correctly he said only some 500 were made.

With a laminated top the key is how the laminate is made. With the cheapest guitars what you often get is thin sheets of spruce or some wood surrounding a layer of a cheap filler wood. On the other hand, there are laminated tops made up of layers of say good hard line grain spruce plys each of equal thickness. While neither is the best way to go for a guitar top, the latter will transmit far more vibration than the former, especially if it is well braced. I don't have a clue what kind of laminate the R314K is made of but it does appear to be decently braced.

The one thing that both have in common though is that in 20 years the guitar will sound just as it did the day it first rolled off the assembly line. There ain't no "opening up" about it.

Anyway, congrats on your new member of the family and have fun with it.
__________________
"I play so rough - I stomp 'em"
Bukka White on playing his National
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 07-13-2012, 01:57 AM
markleehunter markleehunter is offline
Member
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Paris is my home.
Posts: 40
Many thanks for a great review. I'm looking ofr a parlor git and will check these out.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:58 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©1999-2014, The Gear Page, LLC, Brian Scherzer
All rights reserved.
Banner Design: Chris Sileo