ESP Navigator ST-Style Burgundy Mist Metallic 1998

$ 1963.55

Navigator Strat style, burgundy mist, made in Japan 1998. Navigator was the first brand of guitars ever produced by ESP, launching in 1975. Navigator was quiet for a while in the 80s, but the brand was re-launched as a custom-builds-only operation in the 90s, produced in ESP’s small Tokyo based workshop completely by hand. This gorgeous example dates to 1998 by serial, which places it right in the middle of their golden era. It’s an absolutely sublime guitar to play, it’s no exaggeration to say it’s one of the top handful Strat-style models I’ve ever had in my hands. The neck is a soft-V style profile, neither thick nor thin, with a modern style 12″ radius, similar in shape to the high end Fender Clapton signature models. It’s carved from quarter-sawn lightly flamed maple, finished in a well-played satin and it feels absolutely magic in the hands. The body is lightweight and naturally resonant, so you feel every little note you play pulsing through the alder. The burgundy mist finish is perfectly executed: it’s got a fine gold pearl through it that lends it some depth, and the thin gloss nitro topcoat has yellowed an mellowed beautifully with a couple of decades of play on the clock. It’s the kind of finish quality you might expect from Fender Custom Shop or a USA PRS. The pickups has been switched out for a set of Duncan Quarter Pound single coils, which are a high output passive single with oversized pole pieces. The tone on deck is a big, thick, full take on the classic Strat spank. The low end is rich and full with a huge, walloping attack, while the midrange is creamy and smooth and the top end is sweet and clear. With the volume rolled back to 7 or so it cleans up beautifully, or you can max it out and really get your amp singing in full voice. It’s hard to exaggerate just how good this is, it becomes abundantly clear in the hands why Nav stuff attracts such a loyal cult following. Take it away before it comes to live in my (already crowded) house!

Model: ESP Navigator ST-style custom build
Made: Japan, 1998 approx (serial 30012)
Finish: burgundy mist metallic, gloss nitro, single ply white guard
Body: alder
Neck: hard rock maple, one piece inc board w/ skunk stripe, 12″ radius, 25.5″ scale, soft-V shape
Weight: 3.535kg
Mods: back cover removed, pickups replaced
Pickups: Seymour Duncan SSL-4 Quarter Pound x2 (neck, middle), SSL-7 Quarter Pound Staggered (bridge)
Case: basic non-original gig bag

Cosmetic condition notes: mild finish wear. The headstock has some dimples on the end and bottom edge. The neck is clean and smooth in the hands, just some dimples on the back and rub wear on the edges of the board. The back has widespread minor dimples and light scuffs around the whole body, no major marks though. The sides have no major marks, but there’s some tiny dimples on both horns, near the jack and in the elbow area. The front has a few minor dimples near the jack and in the elbow area as well as some standard play wear on the guard and horns. Overall: very good condition (8/10).

Playing condition notes: Neck is straight, action is low, intonation is good, truss rod works. All electronics tested and working properly. The frets have some normal wear but are pretty even with no major buzz issues, 7/10 for fret life left. Setup with fresh 10/46 Mooonshiners strings.