Price paid: $ 405.72
Purchased from: Caravel Music
Sound — 8
The sound is probably the best thing about this guitar. I'm planning to play an acoustic based, clean, progressive rock and I can forsee plenty of chances to use it (think King Crimson meets Opeth meets Jimmy Page, Marc Ribot and Jethro Tull here). I'm currently using a Laney HCM30 (nothing too destructive but powerful enough to get members of the family irritated)and a Danelectro Blues Paisley pedal, but usually play it unplugged. Its sound is nothing short of amazing, the basic sound is a deep echo with the first and second strings sound a lot like Dave Gilmour playing Shine on You Crazy Diamond (especially when plugged into an amp), 3rd and 4th sound like an overdriven strat and the 5th and 6th strings have a rich deep metal-like ring to them. When I first brought it home the rest of my family (especially the parents) were pretty much outraged since I'd bought "yet another" guitar, but by day two I couldn't hear any more complaits (yes, the sound is that good, especially when you consider that these people are total idiots when it comes to guitars). Its 3 band EQ doesn't allow for much experiment, but then again whats the use of having more than 3 bands on a guitar when I can easily buy a full-sized equaliser? Unfortunately it does tend to dish out disproportionate amounts of feedback if I forget to point it away from the amp, so a low volume is usually a must when playing through an amp.
Overall Impression — 9
I can say I've been playing (properly) for about 7 months, and also own a Fender Strat, in my case, this was a match made in heaven. I'm playing a wide variety of styles at the moment ranging from genres as varied as Jazz, Folk, blues, grunge, classic rock, progressive and metal. A word of warning, this guitar is an all or nothing affair, as in, you either love it or hate it. My friend tried a right-handed model of this guitar at the shop and couldn't stop complaining while I played it non-stop for two hours, which is saying something considering that the guitar is quite large and I have small hands, and am a rather small guy so try it out before buying. Overall however, in my case it was a great bargain, Vintage have some good acoustics for people on a budget.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Built like the proverbial brick. Very solid (too solid, almost) It will probably outlast me. Very solid tuning, I've regularly played it for days on end without having to retune it. Nothing too fancy with regards to the finish but properly done, as it should be. I'll be gigging it this summer in London in front of a rather sizeable crowd (at 200 or so, the biggest I've ever had so far) and I'm sure it won't let me down. I'll have to use it without backup anyway, because there's no way I'll be able to get there carrying two guitars.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Extremely well built and set-up model. I've been over it plenty of times with a fine-toothed comb and haven't found any defects except for a small unpainted area at the top of the headstock. The action is surprisingly low and the neck is amazingly smooth. My other guitar is a Fender Stratocaster, very famous for its smooth neck. This acoustic actually has a smoother neck and I personally found it more playable than a Strat (note, this is just my personal opinion, other people might play it and find it totally unplayable, do not take my word for it).
Features — 7
Made in the US, left handed, 21 Vintage frets, a Martin-style headstock. Solid spruce top, nato laminate neck, body and sides, multi rosewood fingerboard and bridge. The spruce top means it will age relatively quickly giving it less of a unique sound than had the body been, say, Cedar. I'll replace the fingerboard in a few years as rosewood tends to wear. The chap behind the counter gave me a gigbag to go with it. The features are more or less what you'd find in your average to slightly above average eclectro acoustic. All in all a good package for its relatively cheap price.