Dense silicon nitride (Si3N4) composites with various amounts (0-8.6vol%) of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) are electrically characterised by combining macroscopic dc-ac and nanoscale conductive scanning force microscopy (C-SFM) measurements. In this way, a coherent picture of the dominant charge transport mechanisms in Si3N4/MWCNTs composites is presented. A raise of more than 10 orders of magnitude in the electrical dc conductivity compared to the blank specimen is measured for MWCNTs contents above 0.9vol%. Semiconductor and metallic-like behaviours are observed depending on both the temperature and the MWCNTs content. Macroscopic measurements are further supported at the nanoscale by means of C-SFM. The metallic-type conduction is associated to charge transporting along the nanotube shells, whereas the semiconductor behaviour is linked to hopping conduction across nanotube-nanotube contacts and across intrinsic defect clusters within the nanotubes. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.