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ESP Nuno Bettencourt SE-280N Electric Guitar Japan, Stephens Neck Joint, N4


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Up for sale, an ESP-made iteration of the Nuno Bettencourt N4 model in excellent condition and in perfect working order. One of only a couple ESP Nuno-style instruments ever to surface, this ESP was sourced direct from Tokyo with build quality, hardware, and neck heel markings consistent with ESP's domestic Japanese production. The most direct clue as to the guitar's origins is the ESP tuner set on the unbranded headstock, with the handwritten ESP model designation SE-280N on the neck heel. The singular CTS pot has the same prefix and source code sequence seen on early ESPs, and the TRS-101 Floyd Rose-Licensed vibrato is a component also used on select ESP instruments. Presumably an early ESP build (an assumption in part cemented by the 1984 potentiometer code, matching early CTS-made ESP source codes, as these pots were seemingly ordered en masse in the mid-80s and used for the better part of the ensuing decade), the production of this instrument likely coincided with the very first Washburn N4s which were released in 1990, the same year as Extreme's Pornograffitti album with Nuno's shredding front and center.

The tonewood ingredients are consistent with Nuno's N4, featuring an alder body, maple neck, and thick slab ebony fretboard, and of course the Stephen's Extended Cutaway neck joint is a must-have feature. The pickup compliment includes a Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates PGNJ humbucker in the neck position and a Dimarzio DP104 Super 2 at the bridge. A reverse engineered iteration of Billy Gibbon's neck pickup from his favorite 1959 Les Paul, the Pearly Gates is a PAF with a unique tonal character and more midrange content than most. This pickup cuts through with strong tailored mids, yet retains the open and airy treble attack of the Alnico II bar magnet. The DiMarzio Super 2 is built on the classic Super Distortion platform with a brighter top end and more taut bass to balance out darker, overtone heavy information in the fretboard's higher registers. This ESP weighs 7lbs 2oz and has been professionally setup here at Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar with 10-46 strings, fast action, and spot-on intonation.

The one-piece maple neck has a slender rounded C shape with good shoulder and a silky smooth satin finish, measuring .795” deep at the 1st fret and .855” at the 12th. The thick slab ebony fretboard features large pearl dot inlay and stock jumbo fretwire which has plenty of meat and height, showing light wear beneath the plain strings on frets 1-5. The guitar plays well up the straight neck with an ideally adjusted truss rod and a flat 14” radius on the fingerboard. The scale length is 25 1/2“ and the locking nut measures 1 5/8“ in width. The reverse headstock features a chrome set of ESP tuners that turn smoothly. On the neck heel, the SE-280 model designation is handwritten next to a Japanese signature.

On the body, the straightforward electronics work as they should, with a three-way selector switch and a single Volume knob with a full-sized CTS pot governing the pair of humbuckers. The chrome hardware is clean, and the stock arm is intact on the Floyd Rose Licensed TRS-101 tremolo. Cosmetic wear includes targeted buckle rash on the back of the bass side body horn and a few additional scattered nicks and dings on the body as a whole. The neck profile is quite clean with just a tiny bit of chatter central to the profile carve behind frets 9-12.

A fitted faux leather gigbag is included.