Hey guys Brian from World Music Supply here again to talk to you all about a few cool guitars designed by our friends over at Washburn for another one of our friends, Mr. Nuno Bettencourt. Nuno Bettencourt, most well known for his time as the lead guitarists of Extreme, and recently as the touring guitarist for Rihanna, has had a long standing relationship with Washburn who has produced his signature series guitars for the past 22 years, many of them carrying similar or identical features with one or two things changing, while the rest of the guitar remained the same, those being the locking tremolo system, Natural finished body and the Bill Lawrence bridge pickup. Other common features include the Stephens Extended cutaway, and the occasional use of Padauk wood.
In today’s review I got the chance to review one of the higher end models, the N4-Vintage, which was built right here in the good ol’ US of A, and it comes decked to the nines in any and everything Mr. Bettencourt could imagine. The Matte finished aged alder body feels comfortable and smooth, and the aged hardware looks just grungy enough to make you feel important with a guitar like this, like you were carrying around a guitar that really had seen that much time on the road. But not so grungy that it felt unclean, or maltreated in its tenure on the road.
Plugged into our resident tube amp, the glorious RT503, The N4 sounded exactly as I had imagined, biting, but with clarity for days on the bridge pickup, and smooth and soulful on the neck pickup. The action on the neck was super flat, but without even a hint of string buzz, and the response from the Floyd Rose was just divine. Clean, this guitar had everything you could dream of in one simple package, and for the most part, the absence of a tone control didn’t seem to bother me, although it made comping jazz tones a little more difficult. Granted, not many people with this guitar are getting it to play smooth, crystal clear jazz licks; most of them are getting it to play rock, really, really hard rock.
Through a distorted channel, this guitar just sang, with the bridge pickup driving the amp into a blistering grind, and the neck pickup taking it to a soulful, smooth singing lead tone. I understand why a guitarist like Nuno would want something like this around his neck all day, with its light body, its resonant singing tone, and its lightning fast action, for what it was designed to do, play like a dream, and look handsome doing it the N4-Vintage gets an EASY 10 out of 10.