Washburn HB-35 Hollowbody Electric Guitar Review

washburn hb-35 hollowbody guitar

Washburn puts just enough spin on the HB-35 to make it both a strong contender for the Gibson ES-335 customer and a viable alternative to the ES-335 clone. The body’s cutaways are a shade wider and less like the “mouse ears” of standard ES-335s, and the extra headroom really does provide greater access to the upper frets.

The body is covered front, sides and back with the deliciously tight-flamed sycamore (a close relative of maple) in a pale golden yellow natural finish (tobacco sunburst and whine red finishes are also available). The rosewood fingerboard, ornamented with variations on split block inlays, has an open grain that is sealed, leaving a surface that’s attractive and silky smooth. The gold hardware (including Grover Tuners and a Tune-O-Matic bridge) is an appropriately regal touch, making the Washburn the most handsomely appointed guitar of the batch.washburn hb-35 hollowbody guitar

The attention to detail extends to the workmanship and playability, too. The neck is a solid-maple affair, with a wide, mildly V-shaped contour. A scarf joint at the headstock is added for strength. The frets are medium-tall and somewhat triangular, and the sides of the fingerboard are slightly rounded for a friendly “played-in” feel.

washburn hb-35 hollowbody guitarThe setup, with .011-.049 strings, including a wound G, was perhaps the best of all the guitars straight out of the case from our Hollowbody review models. The action was boldly low, yet free of buzzes, and the heavier strings and triangular frets contributed to a firm and precise feel.

Clean amp settings unveiled a somewhat dark neck pickup and a refreshingly open bridge pickup that country players will love. The pickups work well as a pair, but I suspect a pickup swap would add some fresh air to the neck position. On the other hand, the pickup combination made perfect sense when sent through overdriven amp settings. The pickup growled on command, and the neck pickup had a smoky jazz tone that cleaned up well. The combo position retained its identity even as high-volume leads sent the responsive tope into resonant feedback.

washburn hb-35 hollowbody guitar

The End Line

Looks great, feels great, sounds great. You could cover a lot of gigs on this axe. If it sold for close to two grand, I’d call it a great guitar. At a list price of $949, it’s a bargain to boot.

Washburn HB-35 Hollowbody Video


  1. the Washburn HB35 Red wine is one of my favorite sounding guitars it has a rhythm all its own Peter Frampton plays lead on the grammys for the beatle’s the other night and I’m not saying this because I own one but his red hollow body sounded better then the others and the others had fenders sorry! Yes fenders were used in some of the key guitar riffs ever! there is no denieing this fact the same for Gibsons but imagine if they would have done what Frampton did! seems that this Guitar is being pulled out by more and more famous guitar players who like me just love to play lead on it and one stumbles across something that words just cannot discribe

  2. I have owned THREE of these over my 50 years of playing experience. It is a stunningly beautiful instrument. The pickups on the newer models can be disappointing since they stopped using the “Duncan Designed” pups. However with good aftermarket pups (I prefer alnico ii classic, low output) and a proper setup this guitar is easily the equal of any 335-style guitar on the market for around $1000 total! It is beautiful, plays very smoothly, sounds wonderful, and is very reliable. What’s not to love?

  3. Own a Washburn HB35 in natural flame maple.
    Beautiful guitar and a great playing rock and blues instrument. Owned several Ibanez 335 style guitars and they’re very good but this model is better. Can easily be found used under $500USD. Friends drool when they see and hear it.

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