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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!