Whatever happened to the Washburn Nuno Bettencourt N4 guitar?
This guitar used to be a really big deal, but not-so much these days.
Or is it?
We have to go back about 30 years here to see just what made this guitar desirable to begin with.
In 1990, the song Get The Funk Out was released by a band called Extreme. I'm going to mention the year again, 1990. I'll tell you why this is important in a moment.
Extreme (or the marketing department for the label they were with) decided to do whatever they could to get noticed by going the almost-vulgar route. The album this song was on was called Extreme II: Pornograffiti, and of course the word "funk" in the song is supposed to be interpreted as cursing. Like I said, almost vulgar but not quite.
Where the band really made their money was with the smash ballad song More Than Words. Every single high school couple said that was "their song" in 1990.
The guitarist in Extreme is Nuno Bettencourt. Nuno played a signature Washburn guitar and it was called the N4. This guitar is in fact still made today, although the "true" version is N4 Authentic because it has aging done to it and whatnot.
All the guitar players back in the day thought the N4 was some amazing feat of engineering specifically because of the extended cutaway, known as Stephen's Cutaway. The extra top piece above the neck at the body is not just for decoration. It secures the neck so that more wood can be taken away at the body under the neck. On the back of the guitar is a curved plate securing the neck in place. And yes, this actually works. You get ridiculously easy fret access because of this design...
...but does anyone care?
Now I'll talk about that year again, 1990. This was the very last year of glam rock, which was Extreme's style. In 1991, Nevermind happened from Nirvana, and uh-oh, glam rock is dead as a doornail...
...but Extreme soldiered on through the '90s regardless up until '97 when the lead singer decided to try singing for Van Halen. We all know how that turned out.
I could go on for what Extreme has done after their reformation 2004, but do you care? More importantly, do you actually care who the hell Nuno Bettencourt is at all?
Washburn hopes that you do.
But even if you don't, the N4 is in fact a very good guitar.
Although the N4 is not my style of axe, it is built how most soloists prefer their guitars. Volume only, no tone control, no fancy wood crapola, no wacky graphics. It's all-machine, so to speak.
Nuno himself explains it best: