It’s safe to say that Washburn guitars come with a serious pedigree. Founded in 1883, by the 1940’s Washburn had become the largest manufacturer of guitars and mandolins in the US. Today, they have over 130 years experience of making high quality, affordable guitars.
The Apprentice G-mini 5 model (AGM5K) is a 7/8 size grand auditorium mini that “balances cosmetics, durability, geometry, stability, playability”.
Its all-plywood construction ensures durability while keeping costs down. Its small size also makes it a great option for beginners, smaller players or those looking for a travel guitar.
All told, its a versatile instrument suitable for most styles and its also comes with a decent gig-bag as well, which sweetens the deal all round.
- Excellent acoustic guitar for beginners
- Great balance of tone and playability
- Excellent value
- Comes with a travel bag
- Laminate body improves durability
- Lacks a cutaway so hard to reach the higher frets
- No in-built tuner or electronics
Things to consider when buying a small acoustic guitar
Generally, a small acoustic guitar in this price range makes a great cheap introduction to guitar, and can often be the preferred option for bedroom players, beginners or people with smaller hands.
A smaller size and laminate body make an ideal guitar for travellers or those on a budget. But they can sometimes come at the expense of sustain, tone and general sound projection. But that isn’t usually the main consideration when jamming around on the beach.
While its not cheapest guitar available, the apprentice G-mini 5 is an affordable guitar that can stand up to some rough treatment.
It won’t be the right choice if you’re looking for a full-size guitar or one with in-built electronics. Other guitars in the Apprentice range cater to those needs. And its not the best option if you’re looking for a higher-end axe.
Body & Neck
The body comprises an all-laminate construction in a typical combination: a spruce top and mahogany back and sides. Combined with the quarter-sawn scalloped bracing makes the guitar light-weight, durable and affordable.
The ⅞ size makes it more portable and good for smaller players, while the Grand Auditorium shape maximises sound projection.
The narrow nut is ideal for small hands, while the shorter scale length reduces the tension on the strings so it’s more forgiving for beginners.
As you’d expect at this price point, the components on the G-mini 5 are good enough without being outstanding. The tuners are die-cast chrome which aids durability and the gearing is fine. I didn’t have any problem with the guitar staying in tune.
The bridge & saddle are unremarkable and are made out of “engineered wood” to reduce costs.
The sound is nice and bright with good projection for a small guitar, thanks to its Grand Auditorium shape. There’s also enough bottom-end and mid-range to stop it sounding too thin and twangy. This makes its versatile enough to lend itself to almost any genre.
Its not going to win any awards or feature on the next studio albums from your favourite artist. But the G-mini is good enough for the bedroom or the beach and should keep all be the most ardent of tone snobs happy.
Action, fit & finish
At this price point you can’t expect a perfect set-up straight out of the factory as it’s and easy way to keep costs down. But Washburn have a strong reputation for quality so you should’t have any major problems.
I found the action to be a little high for my taste so you might want to adjust the neck. That is easily done via the truss rod if you’re comfortable making that tweak yourself.
I’ve also seen a few reports of some guitars shipping with the odd uneven fret but not enough to make any real difference. You can address this with a fret file or, if you’re going to keep the guitar for years, your local guitar tech can set it up exactly as you need it.
The matte finish looks great and improves the resonance due to there being less lacquer to absorb the sound.
Generally, the G-mini benefits from a good quality set up and finish, with occasional minor issues that you’d expect for the budget.
Reliability & durability
While no guitar should be thrown around, the scalloped bracing provides excellent support so the guitar should stand up to a lifetime of use.
The laminate woods on the G-mini make it lighter than a solid-body guitar while also making it much less prone warping. This guitar is built for travel and rough handling, so you can be confident that it will serve you well for years to come.
Washburn knew their ideal customer when building the Apprentice G-mini, and that is clear in the design and construction. Of course at this price point, there are bound to be compromises. In this case its the components and the body materials, but Washburn haven’t been cheap for the sake of it.
They’ve paid plenty of attention to the balance of price, durability, sound and wrapped it up in an affordable package. This should be in reach of all but the most cash-strapped guitarist.
As there’s also a gig-bag included, its hard to conclude this is anything but an excellent value small guitar.
What others are saying
The final verdict
There is no shortage of options for beginners, smaller players or those looking for a travel guitar. But to find a high-quality guitar that caters for all those without breaking the bank can be really difficult.
The Washburn Apprentice G-mini 5 ticks is a versatile workhorse, so if you’re one of those, it may be a great choice.