Collectable Guitars

Collectable Guitars pt 32 – Washburn A-20V Stage Series

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481The Washburn A10-A20V Stage series of guitars were produced between 1979 and 1985.

Washburn A-20V Stage GuitarShaped like a truncated Gibson Explorer with a chunky slanted headstock, the high quality Stage series found homes with a fair number of rock guitarists in the early 1980’s. They were produced in Japan in the highly regarded Matsumoku factory, which also built guitars for Ibanez, Westone, and a host of other manufacturers.

The lower model A10 has a bolt on neck, while the higher priced A15 had a set neck, leading up to the top of the range A20s which had through necks.

Washburn also made a bass version, the B20 which sells for around the same prices as the guitars.

  • Features included dual humbuckers with independent tone and volume
  • Push/pull coil splits
  • A three-piece 22 fret v-shaped maple neck,
  • Ash body wings with flamed two-piece maple top
  • Ebony fretboard with brass washer-shaped inlays
  • Strat-style tremelo with string-thru-body
  • Sealed tuners
  • Brass nut
  • Full binding

Washburn released them again as a re-issue in 1995. Prices are fairly low for such a well made guitar, but I guess the shape is an acquired taste, not suitable for everyone.

I have recently seen a couple of A10s for sale on GBase for $5-700, so I have to assume that the A20 will be a little higher, probably $800-1000, which I think makes them pretty decent value.

53 replies on “Collectable Guitars pt 32 – Washburn A-20V Stage Series”

Matsumoku built Ibanez guitars?
What makes you think so. Can you prove this?
Name your sources, or think again.
Myths keep everybody guessing and add to confusion.

Thanks for Info on this site, I have been searching for a long time to find out what my Washburn is…..It’s the exact A20 you have in the picture. I bought it in 1984, used, for $300.00 bucks. Unfortunatley I beat the hell out of it gigging for about 25 years! (If I only knew) My question is, I have alot of paint damage from sweat, bumps and bruises. Is there any one who can restore this valued guitar? I gotta say I’ve played alot of guitars in my time and I always came back to the A20 (The Guitar Rocked). I’d love to restore it and retire the thing. P.S. Should I have it restored?

Hi Jeff, glad to be of help! Whether it is worth restoring depends on how bad it is I guess. Originality is always worth maintaining if possible, but if the guitar is unplayable it may be better to make it working guitar again. Why don’t you post a picture on the guitar collecting facebook group so we can see what the condition is like? Even better, if you decide to restore it, take some more pics and write a restoration diary for the blog!

Thanks for the quick reply. No, this guitar is very playable it just been beat up over the years. It still plays great! I live in the Chicago area and know the Washburn Company is close by. I’m going to try and contact them and see what they have to say. I will post some pics of the guitar in the near future.

There is another truly collectable A series out there that is not listed here. That is the super rare USA built Chicago Custom A-30 that was built only 1 year in 1996.
These guitars are works of art and have a Shaller Floyd trem, Honduras Mahogany neck and body, AAAA Quilt Maple top and headstock overlay, Braziian Rosewood Finger board, triple ply binding around the neck and headstock, 6100 Jumbo frets, carved smooth neck heel, a Duncan JB Trembucker in the bridge and a 59 in the neck. These are so rare I have only seen 2 the one pictured in the 1996 Washburn catalog and the one I own. Mine is a Cherry Sunburst Quilt topped MONSTER!

1 correction to the article:
The Washburn A-10 had a set neck, too.
I bought one of these new in 1981.

Hey Jeff,
Let me know how it goes contacting Washburn. My first guitar was an A-5 that I recently pulled out of a basement where it’s been for about 15 years, and it is pretty banged up. I would love to know if they still have some parts kicking around (they neck is pretty worn out)and if they do any sort of restoring.

Hi, I own an A-10-12, the 12-string on which 6 strings are strung normally, and the other 6 the ‘wrong’ way round, with tuners at the base of the body. The neck is definitely not bolted, I cannot say whether it’s set or through; probably through, as the tension of the strings is considerable.
Apparently it has a double truss rod to deal with the tension. I have it strung / tuned as an open-G baritone guitar (open d but a fifth lower), and it is capable producing the most stunningly rich, lush low-end. Additionally, I thread one or two light, unwound strings through the other tuners, for eerie sound effects. Great guitar. Any idea how much this model would be worth? Mine is in good working order, sounds beautifully, looks OK, but isn’t exactly in mint condition. It’s been played a lot and, in a previous life, used in sound-installation works.

I own an A10 that I purchased brand new in 1980. It is Black with cream colored pickups and a set or thru neck. It is a great playing and sounding guitar. Very well made. It has had very few repairs or mods done to it over years other than a Seymour Duncan JB pick up in the bridge positon 20 years ago. This guitar is not mint. It is well worn and has alot of paint chips and dings. All components are in great working order still.
I will never forget the excitment of picking it up off lay away from the music store 30 years ago. She was beautiful to behold. Great guitar!

I have a A-20V, had it for about 13 years,how do I track down when and where it was made? Any suggestions?

I have what I believe to be Washburn A10 or A20. It has a Head Crasher Trem. Is this a stock trem system? Or after market? Anybody know how to figure out what year I have? there is a serial number on the Headstock. Does anybody know what years match up to serial number patterns? Or serial numbers match up with Model numbers? Any feedback would help. Thanks in advance.

Ian, Yes and no. There are copies with 3 pickups available, but they are quite rare to find and the general consensus is that they are prototype guitars.

Pi, It usually comes down to two japanese factories. Matsumoku or Yamaki. The only way to be even remotely sure of which factory produced yours is by looking at the craftmanship as well as the original electronics. Even then it’s not a 100% guarantee. As to when it was made, that can be found out with your serial number.

Skeety, Head Crasher does not sound like a stock trem to me. There were a few different trems used: Wonderbar(Shift), Kahler, strat-trem, floyd copies and finally another one I do not know the name of but it’s basically their normal hardtail bridge converted to a tremolo.
With your serial you can find out which year yours was produced(to a 98% certainty).
I don’t think there is any correlation between serials and model numbers.

If any of you have more questions feel free to mail me at: washburn (at) elegic (dot) com
I’m always looking to buy more of these old Washburns as well, so if you’re looking to sell, do feel free to contact me

I have an A20v stage,1982 in pink with cream binding,totally stock immaculate. Im interested in selling it,but need it valued first. I posted pics on the washburn guitar forum, but got no replies at all. I have the original case too. SW

Simon, The pink A20 is one of the more rare A20’s(right up there with the BBR versions). I managed to dig up your images on the washburn forum(I’m a member) and it looks really nice. It looks like an exact copy of Howard Leese’ A20 apart from the brass inlays(he had pearl hearts).
Image of Howard Leese’ guitar:

As for value, I can’t really help you ’cause frankly, I haven’t seen a pink A20 for sale.
The normal burst A20’s go from £250 to £380(as an average).
The BBR ones usually go for £300 oddly enough.
All A20’s are usually more expensive in Europe than in the US.
If you find a collector that is also a Howard Leese fan I bet you could get quite a fair bit of money for it.

I have an A20V sunburst with original case in show room condition serial #831973.
Mine seems to be a bit darker sunburst than the one pictured. I bought this guitar new back in the mid eighties because of Carlos Cavazo of Quiet Riot. I didn’t play it much because of the weight. I later ended up using it for a studio guitar because of its great sound. I have babied this guitar ever since and glad I did, not a scratch on it.
I love the versatility in the push/pull coil splits and is one of the only guitars that require little effects to produce a great sound.

So I seem to have a problem… I have a Washburn A-10 stage series reissue, but mine has the set neck… Is it a custom, a rarity…just wondering cna anyone help?


The A-10 always had the set neck, both original and reissues.
It was only the A-5 that had a bolt on neck.
The A-20(original 80’s) are available with both set neck and neck-through constructions.

Dang!!!! I just saw one of these getting dropped off at the pawnshop today. From what I can gather it was an all original BBR A 20V but the bar was missing. I knew I should have just offered him some cash for it. We were both there for loans so maybe it isn’t over yet.

Hi, i have a Washburn A-20 Reissue with the egnators replaced with a SH-1 in the neck and a SH-7 in the bridge and the previous owner put on gold grover locking pegs…anyone interested in buying it feel free to email me at


I have a sunburst A20 I bought about 20 years ago when I was learning the guitar for AUS$260. I loved the A20 the moment I saw it but new, they were around AUS$1000 back then so I never thought I would own one. Then this one came up second hand from a guy who bought it but couldn’t play. It was my #1 and in most cases only guitar for 15 or so years. It has a beautiful low action and awesome neck. It is still in extremely good condition with only a couple of nicks and a bit of scuffing. I have had the frets redressed once and have upgraded the pick ups in it twice. Firstly SD Custom Custom bridge and SD Jazz neck. I recently installed a bridge pick up made by Mike Brierley here in Adelaide South Australia which is the best sounding pick up I have heard.
I am not much of a guitarist but this makes me play better than any other guitar I have or had. I bought an American Standard Strat and after a year sold it. Just couldn’t handle the neck. I also now had a PRS CU22 which is magnificent but the A20 holds its own against tit.
I also have a black A10 with the set neck. While it is nice it is a different guitar from the neck through A20.

Funny thing with the A20 is that I get very differing reactions to it. Some people absolutely love it while the more “traditional” Strat and LP guys just turn their noses up. Personally the Explorer shape is my favourite and I rekon the A20 take on it is the best.

i have a 83 a5 in red and rosewood frett board double hummbuckers kayler tremola with fine tuners and added locks on head stock upgraded pots it is the baddest guitar in my line up setting in the corner it will play itself its so easy to play i had it tuned up and was told sombody did about a thousand dollars worth of work in mods to it the finish is perfect exept for 1 small chip on the top back corner i bought 20 years ago in a pawn shop for $90 and didnt even know what the hell it was lucky me the rythem guitar player and singer in my band plays it at our shows it has one hell of a sound im would like to find a matching bass to go with it i wish you could see it i will se what i can do so you can there is something really special about this fine guitar thanks for reading Gene Russell jr

I have a really nice BBR on ebay for sale, I hate the fact that I’m selling it but I am working towards getting a les paul custom and I need to sell some guitars to get it.I’ve been playing yhis thing for quite a while and I got to say it is one of the easiest guitars to play that I’ve had and great sounds just a shame to get rid of it.I don’t know If someone doesn’t bid on it soon I might take it off.

I have a Stage that I bought in 1983 or 84 for £60. The serial number is 810418. It has a through neck and Di marzio pickups. It also has an extra little switch which boosts the bridge pick up. I love this guitar but it now needs some work on the electrics. I`m not sure what model it is though. Anyone got an idea?

Thanks for putting up this tribute
My first A20V was with me for 20 years , Purchased in1980 for $200 from a pawn shop in Kings Cross here in Sydney. It was stolen about 10 years ago
Decided to look for another
and found a A-20 Tobacco finish, pretty much immaculate. It came from an employee who worked in the Chicago factory
who was given the guitar in the 70’s when they were still developing the model. He didnt play guitar and it just sat there for all those years. Gave it to his younger brother who decided to sell it via ebay. I corresponded with the older brother who remembered it being worked on / manufactured in Chicago.
It differs in that it has a normal
neck profile, doesnt have the acute V shape that the guitar is known for. He didnt talk specifically about the neck profile but said it was given to an endorsed player ( didnt know who ) & was a prototype. For whatever reason it came back and ended up being given to him. Its a tone monster ,plays beautifully as a “normal’ guitar but I set it up for slide, heavy string 12 14 18r-52 and either tune it to open tunings or keep it in standard tuning and tune down 2 frets ( DGCFAD ), It didnt have its original pickups, but a great old Di Marzio in the neck and I loaded a SD 78′ Custom for the bridge. Its one of the
most “organic’ sounding instruments straight into a descent amp creates classic rock tones , Zeppelin , heavy blues etc. Then a few years later I found an A20V a bit battered and totally fret worn , all original pickups, electronics
and that too is a gem. Its a cherry burst finish, from 79′ I just invested quite a bit to have it referetted by a luthier here in Sydney, who did a wonderful job. He said the guitar drew some interest while it was in the shop. Anyway that Pink one sounds interesting, I have never known of one ,
I did try one of the mid 90’s re-issues with aFloyd Rose but just didnt have the same feel or tone , very different instrument. All the best from Oz

I have a gold A20v that I purchased new in about 1982 for about $600AUD with case in Sydney from Venue Music in Druitt Street (now long gone). The A20V does not have the tremelo arm, has cream binding with cream split coil pickups. This guitar still plays very nicely though it has a few small dings in the body. I have not seen an image of a gold finish although I do remember a silver A10 in the store when I bought the gold one. The image of the pink one has a similar finish to my gold one. Of interest, this guitar does not have a visible serial number on the outside and it does not have the A20 logo on the truss rod cover next to the nut. I wonder if the gold finish was a limited run. The truss rod cover is in timber, not plastic as well as the switch and pot covers on the back.

I found a A20 for £150 pounds in auction I was bidding against someone but I got it! It had a reserve of £100! The neck on mine is joined to the neck (continually don’t know what that’s called!) and I love it! It is the orginal 1980 one! I am only 14 and the only guitars I have used are lones from my teacher and a acoustic from my sister, this one is my first guitar that I actually own! I have been playing for under a year and i am very proud to own this!

I just re-bought a A10 I had owned in 1980 and the knobs have been changed..does anyone know where to find a gold set of speed knobs with the groves around the top of the knobs…they look like little 4 wheel drive knobby tires..?? I can’t find them for sale anywhere. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

Todd you are really lucky! I wish I could find my 1982 A 10 I sold in the mid 80’s. And kicking myself ever since.

I love my A20v, I bought it back in the eighties brand new and have kept it in near show room condition with its original case all these years. The guitar has such a great sound and the machine heads are the best I have ever used. No doubt the best Ibanez produced. I use this guitar mainly for studio work and use my USA Guild electric (another great guitar) for the road.

i have a red with black trim A-15V guitar fantastic to play low action, made in japan about 1981-83, got it from secondhand shop in east london for about £120 15 years ago, has origional sticker freedmans music shop in high rd leytonstone east london on back of the head, now with a few war wounds, but still sounds great, anyone know how much it’s worth now, thanks.

I have the same A-20 Pictured above as well ! I love it and can’t even play any other guitar comfortably after owning it ! Anyway I would like to know where to find the serial number ! I checked all the typical places every guiatar would have it and can’t find one anywhere !

I have an A20V BBR neck thru version with binding around the body, neck, and head stock but it has no serial number anywhere!? I’ve even checked in the back of the guitar inside and also under the truss rod cover but can’t find anything. Does anyone have any ideas as to the year and factory of it? I purchased it in about 91′ It has the black Washburn branded Wonderbar tremolo system which appears to be original along with original pickups etc. Thanks. -Ryan

These were not built by Matsumoku. These, along with the entire Washburn electric guitar catalog, were built by Yamaki.

Ray… your A20V BBR was built in 1984 or early 1985. Washburn transitioned away from Yamaki factory at about that time to one of a few possible other factories including Kasuga.

My story seems common: I bought my A-20 in the early ’90s for $200. Just found this comment area because I wanted to find out a couple things.

1. My case has become rusty on the hinges and latches; is it a big part of the overall value? I was just considering scraping it and buying a generic new one.

2. What is the difference between the A-20 and the A-20v?

3. What is the approximate value of my guitar? Assume it is in “good” condition.

I have an A20-V which I bought second-hand in 1988, same colour as the one above, but with the strat-style 2 post trem. No locking nut, so I blocked the trem and since then tuning stability is great. Still play it a lot today

Heya, Tyler Erickson. I happened to be browsing past (researching a topic for the Washburn Forums), & hope I can help your questions. I don’t work for Washburn, but I’m a longtime fan.

(1) While Washburn has always had decent-enough cases, OHSC doesn’t bump the value as would vintage Gibson, Gretsch, Fender, etc.; a new decent-enough generic case (Musician’s Gear or similar) would IMO add just as much actual value. But you might consider putting the old case on eBay or Reverb in case there’s some hardcore who’d be happy to finance your upgrade a little.

(2) Generally, a “-V” suffix on a Washie indicates some sort of “vibrato” bridge. The earliest Stage & Wing series guitars were generally hardtails, & this recurred on some reissues.

(3) Though Washburn has made some now-classic workhorse guitars in the past 40 years, as a whole the brand is severely undervalued. A Fender with a Book value of $1,000 would likely take about $1,000 to replace, & fetch you at least half that if you went to sell it. A Washburn, on the other hand — unless it’s a USA or a particularly hot signature model or some such — can (in my experience) be found for 1/4 its Book value, or less.

Setting value on an A-20 is a potential can of worms, depending on when it was built, where (Matsumoku, Terada, Korea…), how fancy the finish is (lately the red-bound blacktops have outpaced the flametops), & random demand.

And what a guitar’s “worth” depends on whether you are insuring it, replacing it, selling it to a Guitar Center, selling it to a high-end shop, selling it on Craigslist, & how quickly you need the cash. Also, what you mean by “good condition”: 9 out of 10, or 6/10? With no missing or broken parts, no chips showing wood (or roughly 8/10), I’d expect to see a 1980s A-20 (Terada build) with ebony fretboard & brass inlays & sunburst flametop online for $900 at most, & I’ve seen them go out for under $500.

I bought a Washburn A20 V BBR and need to find a tremolo bar. Any suggestions? I want to keep it stock as possible.

well this is the first time i posted on here, so here goes. i bought a washburn A10v. i got it at a pawn shop in columbus ohio. at first i thought it was matte black, it turned out that it was it that shop for 20 years, and covered in dust and soot, the guitar turned out to be purple metal flake. it took me four days to clean it. so i get to looking for a serial # and there is not one, on this guitar it should be on the fret board on the very top fret. so i find out that it is a proto type a10v. so i need to find nos locking nut tabs and a tremolo bar for this guitar.
i also want to add that i talked to a person at washburn and they said that the color of this guitar was never a production color and that he ran the service dept at that time and he would have known. so in closing does anyone know where to get vintage nos for this stage series guitar.

This is a truly great site, congrats.
I’ve come across a bit of a rarity.

A left handed Av-20
Seial # 842136

Black body Red binding, neck has red binding as well with red dot markers.

Needs a bit of work but in generally good
condition. Most notable is corossion to tuning pegs. The trem system of a beast but could be some type of Kaylee prototype.

I’m figuring the lefty had got to be even more obscure.. Never seen one before but I’ve seen
and played a few 1st gen A-20V’s.

Any ideas or feedback would be appreciated.

Regards, Brad

My first guitar was an A-10 , boughtbit brand new in 81 for $499 with hard shell case, red with black binding set neck, chrome hardware. Like an idiot I traded it for a an Ibanez blazer with a tremelo. I’ve regretted it every since I did it and have searched for 35 years for another one. Can not find one.
Don’t think I’ll ever find another.