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1984 Navigator by ESP Char Signature Model CM-160 Black, Japan


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Up for sale, a 1984 Navigator by ESP Char signature model CM-160 custom in excellent condition and in perfect working order. Introduced in 1975 as the first subsidiary brand to be offered by ESP, the Navigator Series are finely crafted in Japan with select tonewoods and components. This specially-ordered model is based on ESP/Navigator’s collaboration with Char, one of Japan’s most influential guitarists, featuring a Fender Mustang/Swinger-esque body, loaded with a pair of Bill Lawrence-designed L-250 blade single coil pickups.

The custom tonewood complement includes an alder body with a one-piece padauk neck; there’s decidedly few reference materials available for this model, and it features custom order marking on the neck heel and pocket. The neck could also be crafted from bloodwood, sharing the coloration and pronounced grain of that particular wood, but there’s no mention of bloodwood in any Navigator catalogs.  The Bill Lawrence L-250 pickups have a blade pole piece design, offering single coil sparkle with enhanced midrange heft and additional warmth. Both pickups meter at a whopping 12.45k ohms; the neck is full-sounding, articulate, and harmonically complex, and the bridge has a touch more twang and top-end intensity. This guitar weighs 7lbs 9oz, professionally setup here at Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar with 10-46 strings, low action, and spot-on intonation.

The neck has a slender C-shaped profile carve with well-rounded shoulders and lightly rolled fretboard edges, measuring .815” deep at the 1st fret and .900” at the 12th. The 22-fret fretboard has a 9 1/2“ radius, and the medium jumbo fretwire only exhibits light wear beneath the plain strings on the crowns of frets 1-7. This guitar plays cleanly up the 25 1/2“ scale with a straight neck and a responsive, optimally-adjusted truss rod, and the replacement bone nut measures 1 5/8“ in width. The matching headstock retains the gold silkscreen Navigator logo, and there is a small, professionally-addressed split extending to the edge of the peghead from the low E tuning machine. The Kluson-style ESP-branded single line tuning machines turn smoothly and hold accurate pitch.

All of the electronics function as intended, with the pickups governed by a three-way selector switch and Master Volume and Tone controls, and the original full-size CTS pots date to the 49th week of 1984. The chrome plating on the ESP-branded vibrato is notably clean, and the vibrato design is virtually identical to that of a Fender Mustang, actuating smoothly and bouncing quickly back to pitch. Plastics comprise the three-ply pickguard and the original pair of knobs.

Cosmetic wear on the gloss Black finish is limited to a handful of minor nicks and finish scratches on the body as a whole, largely relegated to the lower bout perimeter, and some light scuffing on top along the bass-side of the strum path beyond the guard. There’s no grain filler whatsoever on the neck profile, giving the smooth gloss a unique, textured feel.

The original ESP-branded faux leather padded gigbag is included.