Price paid: C$ 300
Purchased from: Long & McQuade
Sound — 7
When starting out on the guitar, my music style could best be described as 'rubbish'. Nowadays, I'm playing mostly British-indie-style guitar: bright distortion (if that makes sense) and snarling with attitude. Sadly, this guitar does not fit that style at all. First things first, it's much more suited for a blues player. Not being generic or whatever, but that's how it is. The pickups are twangy, and it arrives all wet and pleading for your blues licks and fingering. Hell, it even comes with hilariously light strings. I broke the 1st string after 10 minutes of handling it. Durrrr I tested it through an Orange Crush 10 amp, first directly, then through pedals: Big Muff Pi, Screaming Blues, Vox Wah. To my surprise, it sounds terrible with the Screamin Blues. The Classic Vibe, you see, suffers from being too twangy. With the highs dialled down, it turns into indecipherable sludge. With the highs turned up, it screeches like Maria Ozawa. Seriously, there's a not-so-fine line between a roaring treble and shrill shrieking. The Classic Vibe crosses that line with gusto. In my opinion, skip the bridge pickup or switch it out for something else. It's piercingly annoying to listen to. The neck pickup is a lot more toned down, with interesting hints of warmness. The middle one is nothing much to talk about, subdued without being warm and just completely underwhelming. The best bet (other than switching pickups) would be to set the pickup selector to the neck and middle pickups, and dial down the tone knob for the middle. Unless you like that piercing wail, of course. It sounds good with a slight touch of the fuzz pedal - very crackly and bitingly sharp. Ironically enough, the Screamin Blues pedal works much better with my Les Paul. My advice would be to skip sharp overdrives and distortions with this guitar. Try hitting a warm tone with the rest of your gear and pairing it up with the natural twang the Strat provides.
Overall Impression — 8
Oh, I forgot to add this earlier, the sustain you get on this guitar is pretty damn good. I sense it's more because of the pickups than anything else. With all that being said, the Strat fits a tonal space that I don't generally venture that much into. Definitely worth purchasing if you like teh bluez and I doubt you'd find a guitar this good in this sort of price range. The Yamaha Pacifica 112V is a bit more well-rounded, but that shit is dull. The First Act Lola has a meatier sound, but there are better LP-clones for slightly more money. In the land of mediocre beef, the Classic Vibe 60's Strat is a well-cut chunk of grass-fed steak. Lathered victoriously in red wine, naturally.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I've only had this guitar for about a week and played it at gigs twice, so I'm really in no position to comment on its durability. From first impressions though, it seems pretty solid. Well-built without being a back-breaking like Les Pauls (took some time getting used to something so light), sturdy strap buttons and surprisingly dependable knobs. I usually fiddle with the knobs and selector a lot, and they seem better built here than on my Gibson LP Studio. As I said, it came glossed-up to hell. And it's pretty much stayed that way. I give it wipe-downs after playing, but I've never had to touch my guitar polish so far. Good stuff. Shame though, I'd have preferred it being more roughed-up. My other guitars are already polished. I look like a dandy.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
I haven't got the guitar set-up yet, but only because I haven't seen the need to. It came pretty damn well set-up from the factory (as opposed to the Epiphone Les Paul Special I bought a few months back, and even my Gibson LP), but that might just be my model. The action's pretty low, so I might be getting that adjusted a bit if I go for even heavier strings. I'm trying to find the heaviest strings I can get to avoid having to listen to the shrill highs again.
Features — 8
While made in China (I cringed when I saw that on the back of the neck), this guitar is surprisingly good. Here are the specs to get you drooling: - Vintage two-colour sunburst finish - Pastel-coloured tone and volume knobs - 3 Alcino III single-coil pickups - 5-way pickup selector - Glossy maple neck - 21 frets of awesome - Strat-style body, mainly because it is a Strat Decent features, pretty much what you'd expect. Crazily glossy, presumably to Shine light off during your solo in a music video. Would have preferred a more 'vintage' look, since, you know, it's called Classic Vibe and all. Also loses points for being made in China, just because. I know eventually it's going to be the death of me.