The most painless entry point into the Washburn acoustic range is marked by the stage-ready cutaway sister the D9CE. Review by Jerry Uwins
The most striking thing about this electro version is the modest increase in price against its acoustic stablemate.
For a mere £35 more, not only do you get a cutaway and pickup system, but a hard case is thrown in as well! Aggressive marketing, or what?
These enticing incentives aside, it’s not surprising to find that save for the Venetian cutaway the CE is constructionally and cosmetically the same as the D9, and just as cleanly made.
There are a couple of very minor variances: on the acoustic the neck’s heel is formed from two pieces of wood, while on the electro it’s three. Minimising timber wastage is clearly high on Washburn’s agenda, and why not?
Also, the CE’s neck profile is a shade fuller along the crown, though not enough to make any practical difference – it’s an equally good player, just a bit more old-fashioned in the palm.
The D9CE’s preamp is a WT-92 which, on a semi-recessed panel with nicely tactile, knurled rubberised knobs, provides four-band EQ (with centre-notched controls) and a preset tuner. The tuner works efficiently, but not being chromatic it doesn’t cater for open tunings that might involve sharps or flats, and you’re restricted to simply calling up the string numbers on the main LED read-out via a Note select button.
Strangely, the numbers go not from 1-6, but to 7, the last being a low B. I can’t think of many seven-string electros, but the tuner is operable acoustically and there’s plenty of EQ scope, which are the main things.
A bonus is the provision of both jack and XLR outputs, the latter enabling the guitar to be DI’d to a desk.
The cutaway has a minimal effect on the CE’s unplugged performance, and the sound is nigh-on the same as the D9’s. Fired up, the WT preamp supplies abundant gain, and proves to be versatile thanks to +/-12dB of boost or cut available on each band.
Our sample’s undersaddle balance isn’t helped by a weak G string and a slightly dominant low E string, and Treble and Brilliance are best set below flat to avoid brittle highs, but considering this is a budget system, it really does perform very ably.
This Washburn takes over the D10S's entry-level baton and hare away with it. The case-inclusive D9CE offers stonking value too.. As a well-made, easy-playing beginner or second instrument, it looks hard to beat.