Meet Rosetta, my Washburn A-20. I purchased her from a pawn store in Pontiac, Michigan, but it wasn't love at first sight, it took a few times to finally go in and put her on lay-away. After finally sitting down with her and giving her a test play, we kicked off a bond that has only grown stronger since that day, for many reasons.
I frequented a hobby store just down the road from this pawn store so I always wandered in to see what was new, never really buying anything but I did want quite a few things. It was just your normal, everyday "Mom and Pop" pawn store, and guitars were never in short supply, but rarely did they have one worth the price they were asking. Although decently priced, I had passed this Krylon green granite veiled guitar a few times before, but finally the intrigue of the explorer-ish body shape took a firm hold of me and forced me to plunk down $20 to hold her and eventually pay her off and take her home.
By the time I got her home I had forgotten what she sounded like during my test drive, but I plugged her in and expected a rage of tone and sustain from the lone EMG 85 she had installed. My expectations were quickly dashed, turned into "Why is there a dying cat in my amp?". Since the guitar had absolutely no tone, for a yet unknown reason, I quickly set her aside for my other guitars, but months later I wanted to know exactly what guitar she was.
The headstock was covered with the same paint that covered the rest of the body so I had no clue as to what company made her; I never thought to start removing the paint, something I would later find out wouldn't do me any good anyway. I went online to see if I could find guitars that looked like this one, but running on a body shape alone is damn near impossible. After a lot of searching online I found very few sources of information on the Washburn A-20, but what images I did find assured me that was exactly what I had just bought, but things were extremely, EXTREMELY wrong.
The information shown above proves, without a shadow of a doubt, Rosetta is a Washburn A series, not only that but from the features list I can deduce that she is specifically an A-20. With all the evidence I had collected online, what little there was, I knew that this guitar was missing some holes; I knew it couldn't be a custom order, who in their right mind would order a custom guitar and cover it in Krylon green granite paint? Stupider things have happened, trust me, keep reading to see them!
As you can see in the initial picture I started to slowly strip away the paint and see what was truly underneath, which turned out to be a bondo nightmare! I first removed the control plates and easily popped out the bondo plugging the holes for the pickup selector switch and the additional tone/volume pots in the main cavity. Then I uncovered the neck pickup route, but once I thought I had everything uncovered, I quickly learned I wasn't done just yet, the previous owner redefined stupidity and took it to a whole new level.
The images above are old and I apologize for their lack of quality, but you can clearly see where there once was a hunk of neck-thru wood and a top veneer, there is now a DRILLED route for what I can only assume to be a Kahler the size of the Titanic, strike 1! You can also see that this too was filled with bondo, strike 2! Not only that but you may also be able to see the original, beautiful, top peaking out from under the death shroud it was given, strike 3, you're certifiably a fucking moron, previous owner of this guitar!
To be quite honest I put the guitar away and left it alone for a few years before I even got the desire to look at it again. Its not Rosetta's fault her previous owner's IQ couldn't be any higher than double digits, in the low range I'm sure. I simply couldn't look at what was once such a beautiful guitar now sit in a horrifyingly mangled, perhaps decaying, state as this.
Throughout the few years after I finally decided to pull her out and finish stripping her, yes it took a few years, I finally uncovered the full beauty that was underneath. It was stunning, it was breath taking, it was pitiful that someone gave this guitar to that idiot in good faith that they wouldn't fuck it up, and they failed in every way possible. You want to see how beautiful she once was? Take a look!
As the spec sheet shows she has brass inlay, ebony fretboard, ash body and a 3 piece neck-thru design. The back had some slight overspray on it, but it wasn't too hard to clean up. My only real issue with the back is the dozens upon dozens of dents and dings that she has sustained, but look at that sexy neck and back!
I'm unsure of who, myself or the previous owner, scraped off the headstock logo, but from the way the paint is caked to the side of the missing clear coat I can safely assume it wasn't me. Sadly I can't get a replacement, Washburn won't issue me one because they no longer make this headstock design. Of all the features I wish this guitar had back, the headstock logo is the most important to me.
(Rosetta's headstock, followed by what the original logo looks like.)
I remember calling Washburn one summer and asking them if they could date the production of a Washburn through its serial number, which turned out to be 1980. But when I specifically asked about the Washburn A-20 the guy on the other end of the phone gave me stunned silence for a few seconds before telling me he was pretty sure they never made anything remotely like what I was talking about. Funny story, considering about 2 years later they reissued the A-20 in a beautiful orange-burst flame top!
Time has come and time has gone and the only real change has been a set of after market pickup rings I bought her to make he feel more beautiful about herself, which don't really fit, but I love her so I had to do something. I'm not skilled enough to repair this kind of wound, so I won't even dare try, out of fear I'll only make it worse. But for the past 4 years Rosetta has sat in her box, quietly, while in a perfect world she should be singing her heart out through my amp.
I don't know why the previous owner decided to make such a mess of this guitar, or make such a fool of themselves. I truly wish I could restore her to her former glory, with the orange-burst of the reissue. Sadly, all I can do is leave her to herself and feel helpless to bring her back to life.