Review – Vintage V100 Icon Lemon Drop

Neal Beedie August 6, 2010 20

Time to review the latest guitar to grace the LeftyFretz guitar rack – the Vintage V100 Icon Lemon Drop.  I’ve had this guitar for exactly one month now so I have had plenty of time to get suitably acquainted with it.

For those who have never heard of them, Vintage is a UK brand which is rapidly gaining respect within the guitar playing community. Vintage worked with acknowledged guitar industry guru Trevor Wilkinson to produce their current range and this really comes across in the quality of the instruments.

The guitar was purchased from Reidy’s online store for the bargain price of £265 ($400ish) including next day shipping so it’s really verging into beginner guitar money.  You’ll also be glad to learn that Vintage does not charge extra for their left handed guitars.

I’ll give you a quick sum up of the main features, but head over to the Vintage website for the complete low-down.

  • Mahogany Body
  • Flame Maple Top
  • Mahogany Set Neck
  • Rosewood Fretboard
  • 24.75” Scale Length
  • 22 Frets
  • Wilkinson Hardware/Pickups

The reverse-fitted neck humbucker and out of phase centre position wiring creates one of the most recognisable guitar sounds of the genre – real “Black Magic”.  The guitar is also extensively reliced to give it that authentic ‘used’ look which so many players are lusting after these days.

So there’s the skinny on features, now for my thoughts…

Out of the Box…

The first thing I noticed when I received the guitar was the weight; this is easily the heaviest guitar I have ever owned.  It isn’t uncomfortably weighty, but I did think twice before hanging it on my homemade guitar rack for the first time!

Vintage Icon V100 Lemon Drop Guitar Review

The relicing on the guitar is very well done, it genuinely looks very authentic and there is plenty of attention to detail.  For example there is extra wear underneath the high E string to simulate years of pick wear and on the back of the headstock there are screw holes where the old tuners would have been installed!  Likewise on the front of the body there are the screw holes for where the pickguard would have once been – I really love all these little details they’ve added.  All of the chrome hardware has been artfully abused and the tone and volume pots are even dissimilar to suggest that the originals have been lost somewhere along the guitar’s lifetime.  The guitar really comes out of the box with a ton of built-in mojo!

The wear and tear on the finish is generally well done but I felt that the back of the body was a little overdone.  There’s an absolutely massive worn patch on the back to simulate years of wear against belt buckles and what not but I just don’t see how something like that could happen!  It seems like a quick paint job, but meh, no one sees that bit anyway!

Quality Issues?

Unfortunately the lemon drop had a problem straight out of the box.  One of the bridge pickup wires had either come loose in transit or simply hadn’t been soldered on, so my bridge humbucker was non-functional – bummer!  A bit of a pain in the arse to spend your first 30 minutes with a new guitar soldering, but hey, it’s a minor niggle as far as guitar problems go!  I think this highlights a problem with the store I bought it from rather than Vintage themselves, this should have been checked before sending the guitar out to me.

Vintage V100 Icon Lemon Drop Left Handed Guitar

Another minor issue is the quality of the general finish on the guitar.  There are several areas on the sides where there are visible small lumps in the finish, where the spray-paint has spattered and dried hard.  This could be intentional to try and suggest touch-ups over the years however.  Nothing to complain about though, any minor imperfection with these reliced guitars just adds to their mojo.  This is really a guitar where you’re not going to be too troubled if you accidentally thump it off your desk!

Playability and Sound Quality

I honestly have no issues here; the guitar plays as well as any guitar I’ve owned and the sound quality is excellent.  The stock Wilkinson humbuckers are truly superb (if a little trebley) and handle most genres without breaking a sweat.  I’ve also got to point out that this guitar produces artificial harmonics TO DIE FOR!  The lemon drop is my attempt at replacing my rather lacklustre Ibanez ORM1. You may remember my issues with the Ibanez ORM1 were that it had poor harmonics and sustain.  This guitar is the polar opposite – the heavy mahogany body will sustain for hours; it truly is outstanding.

V100 Tuners Close

Minor Details Add Mojo!

The only minor niggle I have with it is poor access to the upper frets, but this is generally an issue with all Les Paul style guitars so nothing to fret over.

The unfinished neck is super smooth to play and easily allows me to execute lightning fast runs and soulful solos alike.  The Wilkinson tuners are also a step above what you’d usually find on guitars in this price bracket.

I honestly cannot fault this guitar.  My main axe cost over ten times the price of this one…I’ve barely touched it this last month! I have also read several reviews where owners have chosen these over their Gibsons, believe it or not!

Conclusions

What is my conclusion?  BUY THIS GUITAR…..NOW!

Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, this is the best guitar I have ever owned.  How’s that for a conclusion?  I absolutely adore this guitar and if I don’t buy another I will certainly be checking out some of Vintage’s other left handed offerings.

If you aren’t a fan of the reliced look the standard V100 series are EVEN CHEAPER!  The only difference besides the finish is that the standard V100s have slightly inferior pickups, but chances are you’d be replacing them anyway.  I had no qualms with adding the V100 to my beginner left handed guitar list this week.  It’s truly frightening, the quality of guitars which can be had for under £300 these days!

I feel genuinely lucky that finally I’ve found a great UK based company who aren’t afraid to produce left handed guitars.  For years I’ve been lusting over trying some Agile guitars but it just isn’t worth it to import them from the States.  Now it seems that we finally have our own version of Agile in Vintage Guitars!

Here’s a great quote from Trev Wilkinson on the concept behind Vintage guitars…

“If you can’t build a great guitar for £3000 then you shouldn’t be doing it, but to build a great guitar for £300 – that’s a challenge.”

This one is a keeper folks! :)

Leave me a comment if you’ve also discovered the magic of Vintage guitars!

20 Comments »

  1. Jane Paisley August 11, 2010 at 11:48 am - Reply

    I have a lefty V100 Lemon Drop as well, it's soooo good! I agree with you thought, it's very heavy! ^^

    • LeftyFretz August 11, 2010 at 1:47 pm - Reply

      It's a great guitar isn't it. I'm toying with the idea of buying another and making it into a Zakk Wydle bullseye style guitar.

  2. Gregg November 2, 2010 at 5:54 am - Reply

    Lefties are better off finding lefty Tokai or Greco Les Paul "lawsuit model" guitars from the 80's. These two companies used vintage DiMarzio PAF humbuckers and built guitars to vintage Gibson Les Paul specs from the 50's and 60's, otherwise why would guys like Billy Gibbons and SRV seek them out and play them. Videos on YouTube can be found to prove this particular fact.

  3. peter lawton February 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Hi, yep I agree, a great guitar, hard to get stuff when you are a lefty. I have the straight V100 in cherry sunburst, not too sure about relics, mine get like it over years, but not as much. I have a 35yr old American Tele and a 1964 Burns Nu Sonic, would you believe they used the right hand bridge, you really have to slope it to get the intonation right.
    Couple of points re your review, it's not heavy, a shade lighter than a pre chambered Gigson LP, also other than the reverse phase on the centre position, and the top picup reversed the pickups are identical, if you dont belive me go to the JHS website.
    I knew the guywhoused to ( maybe still does) own PG's guitar, it was not as distressed as the Vintage

    • Neal February 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      Thanks Peter, the website does indeed claim that they have the same pickups. When I bought the guitar I had read that they were different so either that information was incorrect or they've since upgraded the standard V100. I'd love it if Vintage would make the new AFD guitar left handed, I'd be all over that one!

      As I said above, it's not uncomfortably heavy, but it is definitely heavier than any of my other guitars. Not an issue though. It weighs on average ~1kg more than my others. To be fair I don't have any other similar guitars to compare it to though :p

      It's still my favorite guitar for the money, but I've a new single-cut coming in soon….

  4. Dennis drumm February 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    Hi, Dennis Drumm, MD of Vintage guitars here!!

    Just a comment on the pickups on the "Lemon Drop", the reason they sound soooo good, is that we use exactly the same bill of parts and materials, as the inventor, Seth Lover, specified. even down to a solid nickel silver cover and base plate.

    It's an interesting back story; Seth Visited Trev one day, in California, to see an old armature winding machine that Trev had picked up at a swapmeet, turned out to be the very same machine the "G" guys had used to wind those early PAF's, The exact "recipe" for a PAF was give to Trev by Seth during that meeting, and it's that recipe we use to-day on the Lemon Drop. No rocket science, no smoke and mirrors, just doin' it right because we can…..ENJOY!!

    • Neal February 4, 2011 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Dennis, really interesting to hear about the pickups! Every time I pick up this guitar I'm more and more impressed by it, and now i'm having the same experience with my new V6. I'm really looking forward to seeing Vintage's next left handed offerings… FretKing too :)

    • Akshay February 5, 2011 at 11:49 am - Reply

      Hey Dennis, are Vintage guitars available in India, by any chance? I've not seen them around here. So is there a chance that they will be available? I'm looking forward to trying them out after all the praise I've heard about them! Thanks. :)

  5. Dave February 19, 2011 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    I got a Vintage 'Lemon Drop' Peter Green/Gary Moore tribute guitar off ebay for £200. I can't believe how much this didn't cost me – it is superb! I am mainly bass player and have two Gibsons, but also own a Fender Strat with Lace Sensors and an Epi Goldtop with upgraded Jason Lollar P90's. This guitar is as good as any of them and actually knocks spots of the Epi before I upgraded it (the Epi cost me twice as much before the upgrades). The finish for a guitar of this cost is astounding. Very, very impressed and will definitely be going back to Vintage for my next purchase – looking at the Thomas Blug signature model….

    • Neal February 19, 2011 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      I hear the Thomas Blug model is superb, too bad they don't make that one left handed (or maybe that's a good thing – my G.A.S list is already a mile long!). I picked up a standard V6 over Xmas and I've got to say that I'm equally impressed by that, easily better than at least a MIM strat and that's near three times the price.

      The company itself is equally impressive in terms of customer service. Unlike some companies they actually reply to your emails and they actually sound like real people when they do. Last month I sent a query to Mr Dennis Drum (comment above) and he actually spoke to Trev Wilkinson in order to give a proper answer – fantastic!

      These guitars have really opened my eyes, I used to be a complete gear snob…not anymore. I'm now looking at their acoustic range to complete my Vintage holy trinity :)

  6. david Terror April 6, 2011 at 3:45 am - Reply

    Do they have a lefty version of their white falcon look alike or not that one?

  7. Rob Grant July 16, 2011 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    I’ve just bought a brand new Lemon Drop and had a problem with the tuning stability – it just kept going out of tune every few minutes of playing. A new set of strings solved the problem and now it’s sweet! Ernie Ball Regular Slinky .010 – .046. I love this guitar! Excellent value and great fun…

    • Neal July 17, 2011 at 10:33 am - Reply

      Yeah, the Lemon Drop is the most stable guitar tuning-wise that I own. I swear I can leave it alone for a month and it will still be in almost perfect tuning when I come back to it. Enjoy the new guitar :)

  8. darren January 12, 2012 at 7:35 am - Reply

    Hey there…
    Regarding your email chat with Trevor Wilkinson about modifying the neck joint,
    I just found this
    http://geminiguitars.com/HPLP.html
    Looks like it would be pretty simple to do.
    Ive just got the AFD Paradise model and Im considering this mod at some point down the line.
    anyway just thought id drop you that link.

  9. GLENN February 14, 2012 at 1:48 am - Reply

    I PURCHASED A LEMON DROP AND I AM VERY PLEASED WITH THE PERFORMANCE OF THE GUITAR. PICKUPS ARE REALLY LIVELY AND BIGGEST PLUS IS THE PETER GREEN OUT OF PHASE SOUND IN MIDDLE POSITION GETS GREAT TONES . FOR THE PRICE IT STANDS UP WELL AGAINST OTHER HIGHER PRICED LES PAUL COPIES .WOULDN’T SHY FROM GIGGING WITH THIS GUITAR. ALSO I OWN GIBSON LES PAUL AND FENDER CLAPTON STRAT. THIS GUITAR IS A FORMIDABLE WEAPON.

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