Epiphone Dave Navarro Signature

An agile electro-acoustic that combines graveyard glitz with rockstar hardware

Dave Navarro is one of those guys it would be easy to hate: devilishly handsome and a fiendish guitarist to boot, he's torn it up with some seriously bitchin' bands, including Jane's Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Now here's the child of his collaboration with Epiphone - a versatile acoustic with 'pro' touches that promise to make it more than a toy for wannabes.

"The first few strums reveal a light, rapid action and and a pleasant C-profile neck."

Whatever else it might be, the Epiphone Navarro model doesn't lack presence. The review model comes in a hard case so deep and robust you could rig it with a mast and sail the Atlantic.

Opening the coffin-like lid reveals a darkly luxurious axe; its hexagram fret markers, abalone inlay and roosting-crow artwork have an understated, graveyard cool that will definitely turn heads.

The first few strums reveal a light, rapid action and a pleasant, C-profile neck. The Navarro is made out of decent wood, with a solid sitka spruce top and mahogany back, and is loosely based on a Gibson Hummingbird. That's why it's all the more disappointing that the tone lacks the richness and sweetness you might expect.

The bell-like, sustaining bass is nice, but north of that is a noticeable hole in the mid range, while a clear but slightly antiseptic treble tops the sound off. The overall effect is modern, articulate and useable - if a trifle 'lite' on charisma.

Things are rosier on the hardware side. As well as genuine Grover machineheads, the Navarro boasts an eSonic preamp designed and made by pickup specialists Shadow. This has a master volume, simple bass and treble EQ, and a phase switch that helps to quickly suppress feedback during play.

There's also a Dynamics slider that alters the vibe of the tone from zesty and resonant to flat and focused. The built-in chromatic tuner is accurate and easy to use. Engaging the tuner mutes the output, so you can spare the audience your tune-up noises in between songs.

The Shadow Nanoflex pickup is intriguing, too, because it isn't the usual piezo unit. It's built around seven layers of what Shadow coyly calls "selected materials" located beneath the guitar's saddle. This arrangement is designed to capture more of the natural tone from the guitar's body as well as the strings.

Plugged in, the Navarro does in fact sound a little more detailed and airy than your average piezo-equipped plucker, which could give it a useful sonic edge in bar room gigs.

For the gigging rock guitarist, there's plenty to like here: the fast action and generous cutaway mean you can go from nought to Nuno in the twinkling of a diamond ear-stud, while features like the Nanoflex pickup and gig-friendly preamp promise a smooth ride onstage.

If you play in a metal or prog band and need an agile acoustic for mascara-melting ballads, this could be the axe for you - but it's not the answer tonehounds will be looking for, especially at just under 500 sheets.

MusicRadar Rating

3 / 5 stars
Pros

Lightning-quick playability. eSonic preamp tuner.

Cons

Tone lacking in richness and charisma.

Verdict

In terms of raw acoustic sound, the Navarro Signature adds up to slightly less than the sum of its parts.

Fingerboard Material

Ebony

Back Material

Solid mahogany

Guitar Body Material

Sitka Spruce

Hardware

Nickel

Available Finish

Gloss Ebony

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.

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