Washburn has over 130 years of experience building acoustic guitars, and the Chicago manufacturer has rightly established itself as one of the premier names in electro-acoustic models. The C5CE combines that electro-acoustic versatility with traditional classical guitar tone and style. Let’s take a look at why this guitar is a solid choice for musicians looking for a budget classical guitar.
The body on the C5CE is made from laminated wood – the top is layered spruce, with the back and sides constructed from catalpa. A North American tonewood similar in tone to spruce, catalpa is often used on entry-level acoustic and classical guitars for its focused, clear tone and lower costs.
A flat cutaway adorns the upper bout of the guitar, allowing easy access to all 19 frets across the full-length 25.5” scale. The neck is made of mahogany, with an engineered wood fretboard.
While it’s not specified, the engineered wood designation typically means the fretboard is made out of either lower-quality lumber (often blackwood) made to look like rosewood or a synthetic material engineered to play like a genuine wood fingerboard. The body is finished with a natural gloss (though it does have a strong orange hue), while the neck has a smooth, fast-playing satin finish.
The C5CE has traditional classical guitar appointments – a rosewood bridge, Graph Tech NuBone nut, and chrome tuners in the slotted headstock. The 2.04” nut width is standard for many classical models, and gives players slightly more room to maneuver around the fretboard.
However, this axe’s most unique features are its built-in pickup and EVT preamp. With volume controls and a tuner onboard, the C5CE gives players the ability to amplify their sound into any amp or PA system with just the included cable. The sleek housing on the body’s upper arch allows for easy adjustments and maintains the guitar’s clean styling.
For its laminate body, the C5CE offers great unplugged tones. The range is fairly balanced, with plenty of classical smoothness. Bass notes are rich and full, with strong projection and long resonance. The trebles on this guitar are especially clear and bright for a classical model, with a shimmering quality when strummed.
Plugged in, however, the sound grows harsher and more biting, especially on the high end of the register. Bass notes retain some character, but the higher notes sound pingy and carry an electronic hue. While it’s not an awful sound – especially factoring in the price range – players will need to seriously adjust their EQ settings to get a gig-worthy tone out of this guitar when amplified. If possible, gigging guitarists might opt to mic up the unplugged guitar rather than plug directly into an amp.
Modern players demand versatility when picking out new axes – especially players on a tight budget. The Washburn C5CE satisfies this need while still offering traditional classical tones at a modest price. Its smooth, warm unplugged sound is great for beginners looking to pick up the instrument, or for more advanced players looking to try out a classical guitar for the first time. The electric capabilities, while less than perfect, make this guitar one of the most flexible models in the price range.