Price paid: $ 699
Purchased from: Funky Munky Music
Sound — 8
This guitar is very versatile with it's souds due to the coil tap, essentially giving 6 pickup options from the two pickups (if you are unaware of what a coil tap is, it essentially turns off one coil of a humbucker giving you a single coil instead) The BL USA L-500 is a great pickup, to me gives quite a harsh cutting sound compared to others i have, not mellow like my Epi Les Paul. The Washburn neck pickup mellows everything out, again comparing it to the Les Paul (a good stanard a lot of people will be able to compare to) brighter than the neck but not as much as the bridge. Taping to the single coils doesn't give a significant drop in volume, but does 'Strat' things up a bit, each pickup retains its own character, but I guess tends to be a little more middly. The volume pot unfortunately doesn't perform particularly well, winding it down doesn't really clean things up, just muddies things a little before seroing out.
Overall Impression — 9
Obviously a large proportion of the people buying any of the N series guitars from Washburn are going to be fans of Nuno Bettencourt and Extreme, and this one has actually been played and signed by Nuno, it coveres all of the basses there! The L-500 is a versatile pickup, can cover the metal side of things with chunky palm muted sound, and clean up nicely for a punchy single coil sound. It's a very versatile guitar, good range of sounds, and plays fantastically, definitely the best guitar i have (and a long way from being the most expensive) Of course there is the added reach of the SEC neck joint, this is going to be a big bonus for a lot of lead players. While it's not an N4, it is a very good budget option if you can't quite afford one. The neck feels the same and the sounds are the same as the current Indonesian made N2, so if you can't get your hands on one of these, try that and then decide if you want the SEC.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Currently this guitar is only two months old, so no chance to really see how durable it is so far. Everything does feel solid, tuning is very stable, and is essentially an N2 with the SEC, made in the same factory. Previous experiences with the N2s made in Indonesia would be a good comparrison.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The guitar was supplied with a great setup, despite it's Trans-Atlantic trip with USPS, have only had to make two slight adjustments. The bridge needed raising a little on the bass side to remove some buzz, and the neck had rotated slightly (a common problem with the SEC neck joing) and easy fix of slightly loosening the neck screws and holding the neck in the correct position while retightening the screws. The frets appear to be finished perfectly. Action is nice and low, plays very very well. This guitar was used at the summer NAMM for 2009, so one would hope it was setup well as it's the first time it was seen by anyone!
Features — 9
Made in 2009 in Indonesia, this specimine is actually the prototype (not released at the time of writing) so may vary to the actual production model. Maple neck with 22 Jumbo Fret rosewood board, 3 Piece alder body, Grover 18:1 tuners, Washburn licensed Floyd Rose trem. The pickups are a Bill Lawrence USA L-500 in the bridge, and a Washburn humbucker in the neck position (unsure as to which model), volume control, but no tone, 3 way selector switch, and coil tap. And of course the most important feature, a Stephens Extended Cutaway neck joint.