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Electric Instruments currently produced in suburban Chicago, IL, China, and Korea. Previously produced in Japan between the late 1970s and 1990s. Acoustic instruments previously produced in Chicago, IL between the 1880s and the 1940s. Washburn is currently a division of and distributed by U.S. Music Corporation in Buffalo Grove, IL.
The Washburn trademark was originated by the Lyon & Healy company of Chicago, Illinois. George Washburn Lyon and Patrick Joseph Healy were chosen by Oliver Ditson, who had formed the Oliver Ditson Company, Inc. in 1835 as a musical publisher. Ditson was a primary force in music merchandising, distribution, and retail sales on the East Coast. In 1864 the Lyon & Healy music store opened for business. The late 1800s found the company ever expanding from retail, to producer, and finally distributor. The Washburn trademark was formally filed for in 1887, and the name applied to quality stringed instruments produced by a manufacturing department of Lyon & Healy.
Lyon & Healy were part of the Chicago musical instrument production conglomerate that produced musical instruments throughout the early and mid-1900s. As in business, if there is demand, a successful business will supply. Due to their early pioneering of mass production, the Washburn facility averaged up to one hundred instruments a day! Lyon & Healy/Washburn were eventually overtaken by the Tonk Bros. company, and the Washburn trademark was eventually discarded.
When the trademark was revived in 1964, the initial production of acoustic guitars came from Japan. Washburn electric guitars were re-introduced to the American market in 1979, and featured U.S. designs on Japanese-built instruments. Production of the entry level models was switched to Korea during the mid to late 1980s. As the company gained a larger foothold in the guitar market, American production was reintroduced in the late 1980s as well. Grover Jackson (ex-Jackson/Charvel) was instrumental in introducing new designs for Washburn for the Chicago series in 1993.
In 1998, Washburn adopted the Buzz Feiten Tuning System on the American-produced models. The Buzz Feiten Tuning System is a new tempered tuning system that produces a more "in-tune" guitar.
Early company history courtesy of John Teagle in his book Washburn: Over One Hundred Years of Fine Stringed Instruments. The actual history is a lot more involved and convoluted than the above outline suggests, and TeagleĀ“s book does a fine job of unravelling the narrative.

From Blue Book Publications:

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