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Though the name might not be as famous as Fender or Gibson, Washburn’s history in the instrument manufacturing world stretches back over a century. In recent years, the company’s revamped acoustic guitar lines have become known for their sound and quality in the affordable acoustic market.
The company’s Heritage series — of which the D10SCE is a part — offers solid Sitka spruce tops along with a variety of tonewoods for the back and sides. These guitars, ranging in size from smaller concert models to larger dreadnoughts, are aimed at beginner and intermediate acoustic players looking for a great strumming guitar on a budget. Let’s take a closer look at the details and find out why the D10SCE is one of the best acoustic-electric guitars around — especially for its sub-$400 price tag.
One of the greatest features about this guitar is the solid Sitka spruce top. As the soundboard for the guitar, the top is the most important piece of wood in the entire instrument. Solid wood is prized for resonating much better and providing extra volume and articulation when compared to laminate woods; spruce in particular offers a clear and distinctive tonal palette that’s become the standard in acoustic manufacturing.
The back and sides of the D10SCE, sometimes referred to ass the HD10SCE, use laminated mahogany. Though the wood is just a surface laminate rather than a solid plank, Washburn has still found some absolutely stunning cuts of wood — this guitar is one of the most attractive instruments you’ll find in its price range. Speaking of attractive styling, the large dreadnought body shape features smooth, broad shoulders and a sloping cutaway. The extra area in the chamber promotes better resonance and volume.
The neck, like the body, is made of mahogany. It’s assembled with a scarf joint near the headstock to make use of multiple different pieces of wood; the satin finish makes the seam imperceptible to even the most discerning players. An ovangkol fretboard sits atop that neck — it’s a smooth, oily wood that’s similar to rosewood in both color and feel.
The D10SCE comes fitted with a Fishman Presys II electronics system. This package is both a pickup and a tuner in one. It works great for plugging your guitar into an amplifier or direct input box, and it saves you from needing to buy an outboard tuner to boot.
A small black panel on the upper bout gives you access to all of the controls for the Fishman. Five small knobs control volume, bass, mid, and treble frequencies as well as phase (this one operates somewhat like a tone switch). In addition, a small backlit panel displays the note you’re tuning and whether or not you need to adjust the frequency.
When you do need to tune your guitar, the D10SCE features a set of sleek die-cast chrome tuners. While they take a bit of effort to adjust at points, they’re remarkably sturdy and hold your tuning in place exceptionally well.
The nut and saddle are both fashioned from Graphtech NuBone, a composite bone sound-alike that gives a significant tonal edge over plastic. Inside the guitar, you’ll also find hand-scalloped X bracing. It’s a surprising touch on a guitar in this price range, and it helps the top resonate for increased sustain.
This guitar is obviously built for strummers and flat pickers. It’s loud, boisterous, and sustains well. With booming bass frequencies, a punchy midrange, and a supple high end, guitarists who play hard and love a more upfront, percussive sound will be rewarded on this instrument.
However, that’s not to say that the D10SCE can’t be delicate as well. The body size may be difficult for fingerpickers to adjust to, but the guitar itself produces a warm and mellow tone. For a dreadnought under $400, it adjusts surprisingly well to the lighter touch.
Another key aspect of this axe’s versatility is the electronic pickup. While it gets the job done, it’s not an outstanding sound — the guitar’s natural tone is covered in a sort of “electronic blanket,” and it can sound harsh and slightly jagged when you cut off or mute your strums. If you have access to one, an external microphone will convey a drier, more accurate sound on stage than the onboard pickup.
All in, the Washburn D10SCE combines upscale looks with booming sound and sturdy construction. With the pickup included in the package, it’s an outstanding deal considering its sub-$400 price tag. New players looking for a quality acoustic option should definitely put this model on their list.