Washburn 'New Model' Style 101 3/4 | This is a very sweet, original and quite rare guitar from the venerable Lyon & Healy company in Chicago. We date it to between 1886 and 1896 based upon information provided in the book Washburn Prewar Instrument Styles by Hubert Pleijsier. He reports that the 'New Model' stamp appeared in that time period from 1886-96. Plus, the ink-stamped serial number on the heel - 67303 - conforms with Pleijsier's research on guitars produced in this time frame.
Lyon & Healy was known to have produced 3/4-size guitars in a variety of styles. In fact, this blurb appeared in the 1896 catalog: No. 3/4 Three-Quarter Size - Intended for the youth of either sex and having the smallest neck and shortest scale used in the Washburn Guitar. Also a favorite size for ladies who desire a small and light instrument for home use. The tone is exceedingly sweet and clear, though of course not so powerful as in the larger sizes.
The catalog of the period lists this guitar as a Style 101 and quotes these finish appointments: Rosewood, with plain finished edges, handsome colored wood inlaying around sound-hole, and inlaid stripe down the back, oval finger-board with pearl position dots, Three Quarter Size $20.
The body is Brazilian rosewood with a ladder-braced, spruce top. The neck is cedar and the head stock is overlaid in Brazilian. The body is unbound, but the sound hole sports multi-color rings, and a marquetry strip is inlaid down the back center seam. The original tuners are brass with fancy ends. The bridge is ebony, in the 'flat pyramid' style, and original to the guitar. The bridge pins appear original, too.
The body measures 11 1/8" across the lower bout. Scale length is 21 3/4" and the total guitar length is 32 3/4" (think carry-on luggage). Even though the guitar was marketed to children and women, the neck has the feel of a full-size guitar. The fingerboard measures 1 3/4" at the nut, and has the full 18 frets. Check the image of the Washburn next to a typical parlor guitar as a reference.
Repairs include a recent neck set, a number of top cracks glued and cleated, and the bridge re-glued. Frets are good, action is smooth and the top holds tension with light bronze steel strings.
The neck is a soft 'V' shape and feels like a full-size guitar in the hand. The tone is very clean, open and bigger than one would expect, and like the catalog stated, not so powerful as the larger sizes. This would make a great travel or camping fingerpicking guitar, or a serious guitar for youth or players with smaller hands/body.
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