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Extreme hottie Nuno has barely aged a day since he became Washburn’s highest-profile poster-boy in 1990. Not so his trademark Washburn N4 - a grizzled old warhorse that provides the visual inspiration for this aged version, if not the spec.
Alder is swapped for the disconcertingly vague ‘solid wood’, Bill Lawrence and Seymour Duncan pickups are downsized for Washburn items, and the Floyd Rose goes MIA. Nobody is going to be fooled by the aged ‘relic’ finish, but physically the N1 is right on the money, equipped with the kind of fast, unfussy neck that Washburn does so well, and a body that manages to do a decent impression of a Strat, even if it doesn’t have as much meat behind it.
It’s hard to get as enthusiastic about the sounds though. Thanks to a coil tap there’s good versatility here, but the output feels slightly uneven, and when you strip away the distortion, the tone is sometimes a little flat and lacking in character (a by-product of the undistinguished timbers).
At this point, we should stress that any criticism of the N1 Relic must be taken in context. It’s only £229, for God’s sake, but it’s still plenty good enough for first riffs, solos, bands and gigs, not to mention a lifelong post as a reserve live guitar. If that’s what you’re looking for in an axe, then dive right in. Equally, though, if you want to record or gig extensively, then we’d urge you to find the cash and push a little further up Washburn’s N Series.
Pros: Great feel and price.
Cons: Forgettable tone, iffy finish.