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c.1935 Washburn Model 5255

Serial #: 1382, Tonk Bros. Chicago label

Body size at lower bout: 15" Body depth, heel to endblock: 3 3/8"-4". Scale length: 25 1/4" Nut Width: 1 3/4" Neck depth, 1st/10th frets: .86/1.17

Materials: Solid carved spruce soundboard, solid figured mahogany back and sides, solid multi-ply mahogany neck, solid ebony fingerboard with pearl dot inlay, abalone peghead inlay, bound body.

Hardware: Original nickel hardware includes Grover open back tuners, trapeze tailpiece, compensated adjustable ebony bridge, bound Bakelite pickguard.

Notes: In their 1892 catalog, the Lyon and Healy Co. of Chicago reported production of some 100,000 instruments per year. Even allowing for a bit of puffery, it still would have made them the largest producers of musical instruments in the world.

The original Washburn guitars (not to be confused with the import brand of recent decades) were the pride of the Healy firm, and were produced in the company's giant Chicago plant by Regal after 1930. Founded in 1908, Regal maintained a Custom Shop to produce hand-carved archtops of professional quality, for brands such as Bacon and Day, Stewart and others.

By 1928 the Washburn brand was acquired by the Tonk Brothers, one of the nation's largest musical distributors, who continued production at Regal. This rare example of the Washburn Model #5255, is a hybrid design, featuring a carved arched soundboard with a round soundhole, and a slightly arched flat back of solid ribbon figured mahogany. Fusing design elements of Gibson's popular L-4 model and the legendary Larson Brothers guitars, Washburn created an instrument of exceptional versatility and responsiveness.

At scarcely 3lb 12oz, the instrument is almost impossibly light in weight, with a distinctly clear, open, and resonant voice, enhanced by the finely graduated X braced soundboard, as used by the Advanced Model Gibsons of the prewar era.

The compact 15" body is easy to hold as well, with a tapered depth ranging from 3 3/8" at the heel, to a full 4" at the endpin. Unique as well is the scale, at 25 1/4", it is significantly longer than most guitars of its size, adding power and projection to the voice. Finally, the lightweight mahogany neck is crafted with a unique seven ply construction, whose stiffness has kept the solid ebony fingerboard ramrod straight throughout the instrument's long career.

This distinctive guitar has been maintained in exceptional original condition, and retaining its gleaming dark sunburst lacquer finish. The instrument is remarkably free of pick, thumb and fingerboard wear, and shows no more than some incidental scattered finish nicks. Neck angle and bridge height are both excellent, with ample room for string height adjustment up or down. Action is smooth and low, with a fresh high-precision setup over the prewar style V profile neck. A single tight hairline crack near the tailpiece has been soundly resealed, and the pickguard is bound in a lustrous black Bakelite.

The original bar frets remain in excellent condition: famously durable, they are unlikely to be worn out by any player of this generation, or the next. The voice is notably open and vibrant, with distinctive natural reverb: a versatile player for a wide variety of styles. This rare prewar find from the Windy City is the first example we've had the pleasure to present, and we're not expecting another any time soon. One only: call now.

Setup: Bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge radius inspected and recurved as necessary; bridge wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.

This instrument is strung with medium gauge bronze strings. The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 4/64" to 5/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.

Case: Recent brown deluxe plush lined hardshell case.






















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