Price paid: £ 320
Purchased from: BBZ Guitars, High Wycombe
Features — 4
This guitar was made in china in 2008. All of the specs measurement-wise are pretty much standard for any Les Paul. 22 frets, 24. 75" Gibson scale, rosewood fretboard, solid mahogany body. The bridge is a Wilkinson tune-o-matic which does an average job. The electronics are passive, featuring the standard LP layout of 2 volumes and 2 tones with 2 humbuckers and a pickup selector. The humbuckers are both Wilkinson PAF clones which I'd rate at maybe 6/10. The tuners are non-locking vintage Kluson copies by Wilkinson with plastic buttons. Nothing was added, not even an allen key for the truss rod. It's some sort of weird mix of a Les Paul Custom and a Standard, which may turn some people off, to me it looks wrong. The inlays are the standard trapezoids while the body is a full-on custom clone. Imagine merging a white Les Paul Custom with a white Les Paul Standard neck. The neck on this guitar is very comfortable, a good medium-sized thickness one.
Sound — 6
This guitar is a pretty decent all-arounder. It'd make an okay backup for when you just don't want to risk your beautiful Heritage at a new jam session/cheap bar gig. I use it for many styles, but usually the more bluesier side of things and anything that has strong blues influences. The target market for this guitar is obviously the classic rock/blues player, however it'd do quite decently in a jazz setting. I have also been able to receive satisfying reggae cleans on it and some okay "Exile" era stones Open G sounds on it (say the intro to "Rocks off") with a quite convincing tone. The sound is really in the player and amp, but this gives you a decent tool to work with to achieve what you want. The guitar is quite noisy at times, the controls are responsive and the switch works... Most times. The sound is muddy at times, with a balance more towards the mid-rich sounds of the early rock n' roll era. This guitar is a bad choice for anyone who wants to play mostly high-gain stuff, although a pickup upgrade would help (though who would invest so much in such a guitar? Just get something better.) It'll do alright for the earlier NWOBHM sounds, but not for the modern vision of metal.
Action, Fit & Finish — 5
The factory setup was alright, with a little bit of buzz and a low quality nut. The store owner was very nice to quickly set the guitar up for some better playing. The pickups were setup flat and low with the body, so I had to set them up. The finish is pretty poor. Paint stains, bleeding and flaws are all over the guitar. The frets are of the lowest quality possible. The pickup selector is noisy and works I'd say 95% of the time. The switch tip just... broke off quickly after barely any use. The gold plating on the hardware wears off and oxidizes easily. The tuning pegs are pretty loose, the nut is garbage, the control knobs kept falling off.
Reliability & Durability — 3
I assume that most people who buy this new buy it as a first "proper" guitar and thus have nothing better to use live. In that case, yes it will work, but a friend of mine gigs with his and has been disappointed with it more than once. Mostly the electronics give you trouble. However when it works it's pretty great actually. The hardware does not and will not last. The frets were used up after 3 (Not joking. THREE!) months, with huge dents all across after moderate playing with 10-46's. I have a feeling that they'd be more reliable if they were made of clay putty, because whatever they're using is seriously useless. A refret costs almost as much as this guitar, and so it's pointless to fix it. I don't trust this guitar and would not recommend it as a "main guitar" for a long time. If you get it, some adjustments and upgrades will be needed. The pickguard... Just fell off, including the screws that were used to screw it one. I swear, I'm not making this up. It just randomly... fell off.
Overall Impression — 5
Overall I am disappointed in this guitar. First of all I must point out that THERE IS NO CUSTOMER SERVICE from Vintage guitars and JHS in general. They have ignored my many attempts at emailing them, with questions, feedback and support requests. The one reply I have received was on Facebook and it was something like this: "Please do not use our Facebook page to post negative feedback (I attempted to bring up the awful fretwire problem), contact us about any issues." Incredibly annoying. A company that doesn not care about their customers does not deserve their customers' money. If it was stolen I guess I'd still get another one because it's still way better than most guitars at that price, especially the awful Epiphone Les Paul Standards. I own 11 guitars now and this is my least favorite, my favorite being a Japanese ESP Les Paul Custom clone. With that said, most are Les Paul types and I consider this the "entry" model or a beater/travel guitar.
For anyone looking for a good, "cheap" Les Paul as an alternative to the Vintage, my suggestion would be a Hagstrom Swede (not the Super Swede, it's slightly different) and a switch replacement for it. In my opinion it's the best one available on a budget, though the body is slightly different and bigger.
In its defense, and despite the low ratings I would still recommend this guitar for anyone on a budget looking for a decent first LP-type the neck is amazing on it and the pickups are really excellent for their price range. It goes well with a good tube amp and will be a great beginning to the wonderful world of the electric guitar. I am disappointed in the "Les Paul mutt" look, but it doesn't apply to all models, the sunburst ones are fine.
If you are considering this over an Epiphone, this is a much better deal and a better-made instrument. Oh, and as of 2014, the shape has been changed to be much less Les-Pauly, but a bit more ergonomical. I wish It came with all the necessary tools and a gig-bag and any customer service.