Back around 1990, I laid hands on a very early model Nuno N2 model. It is black, no signs or references to the Extended Cutaway, a 3-way slide switch, a vol and a tone. There aren’t many finer details that relate to the N2 models that are more commonly known. I laid out a few upgrades, put a L-500 in the bridge, and it’s been a great guitar.
I do have to say that I’d always had an interest in the Nuno series with the Stephens Extended Cutaway and a natural-looking finish. A few years ago, I stumbled on a smoking deal on the N-24F model. F? Yeah, the F is for a flamed maple veneer. These appear to have been available between 2009-2010. This one has a 2010 serial number.
Let’s just get this out of the way. It is not the beautiful N4 model, made from the higher quality components. It has a Floyd Rose Special, an OEM neck pickup, a budget switch and a budget potentiometer. That being said, it has good potential. It also comes with a rosewood fingerboard with 22 frets, chrome hardware, and Grover 18:1 tuners.
The real standout is the neck. With the R2 nut, it’s a step more narrow than that older 1990 model. The SEC does take a neck to a next level. It can take a moment to get used to that much access up the neck, but it’s a good feeling once you get to ripping it up. And the way it’s mounted looks and feels more secure than the standard 4-bolt method.
The body is made of agathis, which many consider to be close in tone to alder. I find the guitar to be on the bright and snappy side. The slightly undersized body keeps the weight comfortable, and the 25-1/2″ scale neck keeps it from feeling small. The setup from the factory was a little askew, but all easily remedied. There is a convenient access for the heel mounted truss adjustment.
The Buzz Feiten Tuning System was a bit of a surprise. I knew it came on the N4, but it was not advertised on the retailer’s website as having it, and I figured they would not go to the trouble on a lower-end guitar. Well, they did. As the only guitar that I have with the BFTS, it takes a little longer to get everything just right. When it is just right, it sounds great. Some people like the BFTS. If given the option on this guitar, I’d have taken it without the feature. But that’s just me.
While there is no tone knob (my personal preference), the guitar is quite versatile. The Bill Lawrence in the bridge is hot and clear. I’ve loaded a few different pickups in the neck for a very nice pairing. You can run the range from heavy blues to searing metal. Being a bit of a tinkerer, I have thrown in a few upgrades like a German Schaller LockMeister trem, a thick brass sustain block, some TiSonix titanium mounting studs and inserts, a nice Bourns 500k push-pull pot, a good Switchcraft 12120X 3-way toggle and Switchcraft #11 1/4″ jack, and totally re-wired it with aircraft grade hookup wire.
If you are a habitual tinkerer, you’ll most likely have the things on hand to take this guitar up a few notches without any hassles. If you are a new player, this guitar is a better starting point than many of the other options out there.
Darth Phineas is a long time music industry insider who provides his readers with unbiased reviews on musical instrument and guitar gear. You can read more of his reviews and check out industry news on his Facebook community Darth Phineas, Twitter or his website is darthphineas.com