Price paid: $ 592.5
Purchased from: Vintage Music Calgary
Features: *BOUGHT USED*-owned for 3 months now.
These guitars are completely custom, built entirely on selected hardware from the buyer!
I'm told it was made 1990-91. Built in Calfornia at Valley Arts. 22 frets, one volume and one tone control with a 5-way pickup selector for the S/S/H pickup combination. It came with 3 ACTIVE EMG pickups though there was a choice for seymour duncans in these guitars as well. Two EMG-SA's and an EMG-85 is what they are. Birdseye maple neck with a rosewood fretboard. Came with a Kahler Double-locking gold tremolo. Neck is fat like a Strat with jumbo frets. // 10
Sound: I play anything from classic rock (hendrix, zepplin) to light metal (metallica, ozzy) new rock, alternative, blues... I use it through a Fender Ultimate Chorus (solid state) with NO effects right now. Dial up a clean tone and put it to the neck pickup and you have a classic Strat blues tone. I should know I have a Fender USA Strat that I play too. Dial up some distortion and flip her to the humbucker and you get this tonal boost of treble and it sustains notes and harmonics forever. Definate bright sound, very trebly like a Fender. But with the emg's you get that extra boost that gets a more chunky sound for the low end heavier stuff that I play ie. the metal. Very versatile setup I put aside my distortion pedal cuz it has the tone and power right through the amp. And the pickups are virtually noiseless, no humming or feedback on the single coils no matter what angle you face the amp :D // 10
Action, Fit & Finish: Well considering I bought the guitar used, I cant comment too much on the action fit and finish, partially because it was built to somebody elses specs, which I dont know what they were or how they've changed since it was built. The paint is chipping away at numerous parts on the guitar, but that bothers me not, because it's just adding character to it. It has been well played obviouslty from the worn paint (or lack of care) but the EMG emblem on the single coils is fading as well. Ive adjusted the pickups myself as they come loose every now and then. // 8
Reliability & Durability: The guitar will defiantely survive live playing as soon as I get a new set of lock nuts (I stripped a partially stripped one so now im ho0ped). The hardware will definitely last as it is still very secure other than the humbucker pickup screw coming loose every now and then. The finish is coming off like I mentioned but I think that jsut depends on how much you clean it compared with how much you play it. Strap buttons are solid and i would gig on it without a backup but I would still bring a backup for good measure. The tremolo is also the best that I have ever played with, the arm screws on VERY solidly unlike many I have played in the past. // 10
Overall Impression: I think I got a real steal on this thing. Valley Arts told me the Custom Pro guitars of that time go for about 2000USD and I picked this thing up for 750CAD which is ROUGHLY 600US. Other than the wearing paint it is perfect condition and working order. I was thinking of upgrading my Ibanez with EMG's and a better tremolo which would have cost me the price of this guitar and a bit more. I've never seen another Valley Arts ever and nobody around here has even heard of them. But when I picked up this guitar and played it at the shop I just had to have it. If you like the playability of Fender strats but seek something that will better handle low end distortion this is it. If you see one play it. Feels exactly like a Fender on the neck/fretboard and also the volume knob is further away from your picking hand so you wont accidentally turn your volume down when you are jumping around and playing all out. I used to hit my volume knob on the Fender when palm muting and hated it. Not an issue here. Definate good compromise between the classic Fender trebly sound and the chunky low end Gibson humbucker sound. The best of both worlds :D // 10