Nuno Bettencourt's new Washburn signature gets extreme with 6-way switch

Nuno Bettencourt is a player who knows what gear he likes and he sticks with it, but that doesn't mean he's not open to a few tweaks – and his new Washburn Nele signature guitars certainly deliver on that front.

The custom-built, US-made guitar marks 30 years of collaboration between the Extreme and Rihanna guitarist that includes his N4 signature. Now Nele brings a 6-way 'Freeway Ultra' switch into the equation for its single-coil pickups. 

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(Image credit: Will Ireland/Future)

Rig tour: Nuno Bettencourt

Bettencourt was inspired by the tones and immediately put it to use for the forthcoming Extreme album that's due for release later in 2020 – the band's first in a decade. 

“I’m excited about the new Nele and its multitude of tones,” he says. “In addition to taking a traditional approach with single coils, the 6-position switch opens up new creative possibilities and gives me more granular tone control. Washburn has been with me through thick and thin, and fans will hear this guitar on the new Extreme album.”

(Image credit: Washburn)

The 6-way Freeway Ultra switch allows players to select from the neck pickup, bridge pickup, bridge and neck, both pickups in series and in phase, both pickups in series and out of phase, or both pickups parallel and out of phase. 

Yes indeed, that's a lot of sounds from the Seymour Duncan Vintage Stack neck and Bill Lawrence L-250 bridge pickups.

(Image credit: Washburn)

The new Nuno Bettencourt Nele Series will be available in standard and deluxe versions, both with a natural-grain swamp ash body, extended cutaway and 22-fret fingerboard.

While the Standard version uses a maple neck, birdseye maple fretboard and acrylic inlay, the Deluxe version includes a birdseye maple neck, ebony fretboard and pearloid inlay. 

The Deluxe version also features a figured maple cap on the swamp ash body. Both models utilize an extended cutaway and 22 fret board for maximum playability.

The Nele series is available now, with MSRPs of $3,600 for the Nele Standard and $4,370 for the Nele Deluxe.

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Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.