Nuno Bettencourt has been exploring lower registers for years by tuning to Eb and sometimes dropped C#, and he’s never been shy to stomp on an octave pedal for some truly earth-shattering rumble. But recently Washburn announced the N7, a signature seven-string version of the Extreme guitarist’s N-series model. It features the same basic specs as its six-string cousin, the N4 – an aged solid alder body (a Padauk version is also available), a 22 fret maple neck with an ebony fretboard, an Original Floyd Rose tremolo, and the revolutionary Stephens Extended Cutaway neck joint. But although Nuno always used a Seymour Duncan ’59 humbucker in the neck position of his guitars, he’s opted for a Seymour Duncan pickup in the bridge position of the seven. Nuno’s pickup of choice: the Duncan Distortion.
Bettencourt says the decision to pick up a seven-string was driven by a desire to expand his musical horizons within the band, and it’s already made its way into rotation for the writing phase of the next Extreme album. “I’ve always wanted to do a seven-string but it took me a while. I’m actually still in the process of adjusting to it,” Nuno says, before adding self-effacingly, “I never thought I’d actually play one because I have enough trouble as it is with six strings, so when you start adding a low one it’s always a bit confusing to me!” When it’s suggested that audiences are already used to hearing him play guitar way down in the deeper register through an octave pedal, Nuno laughs. “I know, but that’s why I needed a seven-string! That was my frustration with the octave pedal. It was cheating!”
Nuno and the Duncan Distortion appear to have hit it off quite well. “It’s cool,” he says. “Y’know, it’s different for me because I’m so used to the Bill Lawrence, but I’ve found that with the seven-string guitar, the Distortion just has the right tone for the low B string: how deep it is and how it needs to grab what it needs. It feels like that’s where it needs to go, and it sounds kinda …kickass! I’m really happy with them.” Bettencourt is still a fan of the ’59 in the neck position, and it’s been a part of his tone for more than two decades: “It sounds nice and warm,” he says. “It’s got a little bit of beef to it still.”