Price paid: £ 249
Purchased from: Guitarbitz
Features — 10
Looking the serial I have to assume this was made in 2014, and appears to be made in Vietnam looking at the manufacture card language. 22 frets of Rosewood, others have noted the scale length.
Body is all Mahogany with a Flame Maple veneer finish. Les Paul style body shape. Tune-O-matic Wilkinson bridge, all passive electronics, 3-way selector plus 2 each of volume and tone knobs. Neck and bridge humbuckers, all Wilkinson standard stuff. Tuners are vintage style Wilkinson tulips. No accessories included (or expected).
Sound — 9
I'm into plenty of different styles when it comes to listening - acoustic folk right through to pretty heavy metal. The stuff I'm looking to play with this guitar is obviously on the rock-ier side of that taste.
I'm using a Vox DA-5 with the V100. As it's a modelling amp it can produce a ton of different sounds. I especially like the Clean and Blues amp sounds, which are the same as the Valvetronix series too, minus the full names. Add delay/reverb to taste and it produces some lovely sounds for me. The variety of tone you get from the pots is pretty decent. I've opened my V100 up to discover they've improved the electronics over the years - possibly since they started manufacturing in Vietnam. Older photos of wiring in V100's was pretty sloppy, with tiny pots, or at best 250k pots. Mine appear to be 500K's, with what looks to be an "Orange Cap" capacitor. Obviously tone will vary based on amp, but you can get a nice variety with the selector switch and tone combined in my opinion. Warm and harmonic to a bright and aggressive. I find playing in the middle position is preferable to get the full range, and then control sound with the amp or pedal.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The action on mine was a bit off, pretty high out of factory/shop but it's hard to say where it was actually set up. Most people say theirs had low action so it's hard to say. Either way some people may like it high like that. Pickup height wasn't well set up either (way too low) but both of these things took all of about 15 minutes to correct and would expect to make some adjustments anyway... it's usually down to preference.
Finish is lovely, really great "decorative" elements, like the binding detail, the joins are lovely and smooth, no sharp edges on the fretboard as it's bound too. Gloss is very well applied, even, no noticable blemishes. The maple veneer is lovely, you really get that nice 3d shimmer effect in the light, and the colours are rich and deep cherry red to a sort of bright amber colour. The Mahogany body and neck have a lovely grain. Mine is made from 3 joined pieces. (1 half and 2 quarter pieces).
Nut and frets appear and feel smooth, fret work seems nice generally but I'd need to buy a fret rocket to really see. All the fittings are pretty solid - nothing loose, everything seems decent quality. Pickguard is probably the weakest point but it's strong enough to do the job. On the whole this is a very, very solid guitar. The only real bummer for me is that I got a Silk-screen printed gold logo headstock. I really prefer the pearloid inlay there (like the trapezoids) but it's simply not enough of a problem for me to warrant sending it back. This just seems to be somewhere they've decided to save some money, and I can't complain given the overhaul of the electronics - a good tradeoff.
Reliability & Durability — 10
It would definitely be as fine as any other for Live playing. The hardware is extremely solid, looking at the electrics, the quality of the wood and other materials, I would expect this guitar would be good for at least 10 years with no mods. Strap buttons on mine are solid as a rock too, I know others said they had problems... another problem possibly rectified since they moved production. I expect the finish will hold up as well as any other component on the guitar. Everything is well made here, no doubts at all. It would take some serious work to "relic" this guitar, especially through natural use.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall impressions are extremely good. This is just an outstanding instrument, regardless of the price. You'd have to spend double the money to find something better, and even then that might not be enough. It's biggest issues are pretty much cosmetic for me, the headstock thing being the biggest letdown, but I was then also pleasantly surprised by the quality electrics job they've done on it. Given the choice of going back in time and deciding once again on a new guitar, I would make the same decision with no regrets. If it were stolen, I'd probably buy the exact same one again too.
What I love about this guitar is that it didn't kill my finances to buy it, but it looks and feels special, substantial and sexy. It wills me to pick it up and practice. It's really a beautiful object. Before buying it, I was considering a few difference Epi Les Pauls, but I couldn't spend the same money and get the same quality and features from them. Vintage has them totally stumped at the 250 quid price point. You would need to spend 350 at Epi to find an equal. Only thing I think could make this guitar better is bringing back the pearloid logo on the headstock. It's superficial but a lot of us buyers are ;) Other than that, wow, what a cracker of a deal. Outstanding work to Vintage/JHS.