Nuno Bettencourt couldn't get himself arrested when Washburn launched his first signature model in the 80s. Then Extreme hit paydirt, his axes went supersonic and the partnership kept on rolling.
The entry-level N2 pilfers the foundations from Nuno's USA Custom Shop N4 and packs them into a play-anywhere workhorse. Corners have been cut, but Washburn reckons the vibe remains intact.
Nuno's guitars have always looked the same – a double-cut design with a reverse headstock, a floating tremolo and a blade humbucker in the bridge. The N2 retains all these features and though the timbers are cheaper (alder body and maple bolt-on neck), you can't knock the L500 Bill Lawrence pickup, nor the responsive 600S Floyd Rose.
There are only 22 frets on this axe, but the physical performance is fast, effortless and perfect for egotists.
The neck humbucker delivers thick output and a rounded voice, but Bill's blade is the best for what we're after, offering the tonal bite that's so important for defined single-note runs, along with more character than you'll get from most go-faster axes at this price point.
Our one criticism was that the N2 didn't offer much scope for tweaking, that is, until we pulled the master volume and realised it was also a coil tap, leaving us no option but to admit that this is a truly cracking axe for the price range.