Price paid: € 256
Purchased from: M&C Music, Bucharest, Romania
Sound — 9
V6 Icon's sound can be described, in a few words, as the right Fender Stratocaster sound: bright, colorful, versatile, crispy in intermediate pickup positions. However, as you know, there are many kinds of Strats: this one's sound is close to the sound of Strats from the '50s. It's warmer and mellower than a regular Strat, although its pickups are made in Alnico V, instead of Alnico III, like Fender's Vintage pickups of the '50s. I guess its extra warmth is due to its Eastern Poplar timber, whose resonance is warmer than Alder's, when playing the guitar unplugged. I must admit I had my doubts about the wood: Fender has used Poplar only occasionally, once every 10 years, but Wilkinson pickups do justice to the guitar, extracting from the wood everything it has to offer. If the wood doesn't have Alder's bright resonance, its excellent pickups make the V6 Icon sound brilliant. I chose this guitar because I needed a Strat. I've gave away a good one, at the end of the '80s and, until now, I didn't manage to have a new one. A genuine American Strat is very expensive, though, so I sought after its best copy, because of my budget and of my limited needs. Vintage V6 Icon is one of the best copies available nowadays, at least in my country. When I took the decision to buy it, I also considered a Squier Classic Vibe '50: a very good Strat, with just about the same sound and playability as my Vintage, but more "basic" (no staggered polepieces, no Wilkinson trem, no E-Z-Loks etc.). I'm not very fond on the Worn finish, but the sound and the playability of this V6 Icon worth every cent I've paid for it. My music style is floating between Progressive, Classic Rock and Blues. It's obvious the V6 Icon suits this kind of music perfectly, as any good Strat. It "collaborates" perfectly with my amp - a Vox Night Train + Vox NT cabinet - and my pedals (see the list in my profile). When playing Prog, I use quite a few pedals, but when playing anything else, and especially Blues, I plug the V6 Icon straight into the amp: that's when I like it the most. As any Strat provided with Vintage single coils, it is noisier when playing in position 1, 3 and 5, because of the inevitable 60' cycle. When playing in position 2 and 4, obviously, the reversed polarity cancels the hum. But its hum is the normal hum of any Strat and it has already become a part of our musical culture. I measured it against the hum of a Fender Classic Player '50, and its hum is perfectly equal to Fender's, so I guess Wilkinson has done the right job. V6 Icon's sound is rich, bright (but warmer than in most Strats, as I've said), sometimes crispy, with excellent highs and good harmonics. It has decent lows too, but this isn't its strongest point. I guess it's the only feature a little under the standard of a regular Strat. You can get all the sounds you expect from a good Strat, from David Gilmour to Eric Clapton, from Jeff Beck to Eric Johnson. Due to its warmth, it doesn't reach to Yngwie, though, and, to my surprise, it doesn't do Buddy Guy so well neither: its warmth don't allow you to get that crunchy tone, characteristic for the Chicago Blues.
Overall Impression — 8
As I've said, I play Progressive, Classic Rock and Blues (occasionally doing some Heavy Metal too). It's a perfect match for Prog, Classic and Blues. I wouldn't recommend it for heavier styles of Rock. I play for about 30 years now, I own some other guitars and gear - check the list in my profile - and dare I say it's one of the good Strat-type guitars I've played in my life. It can compete against any Squier, and none of the MIM Standard Strats I've played on recently was strikingly better overall than V6 Icon. It's strange how Trev Wilkinson succeeds to give a personal touch to classic designs, like the Les Paul, the Tele or the Strat, but still retaining all their classic vibe. V6 Icon is an amazing axe when you reach to that combination of Strat brightness and Vintage warmth, so rare on recent Fenders. Its sound and playability are V6 Icon's best features, IMHO. I also depend on its versatility, and I don't dare to think someone might take it away from me, because such models are rare on a small market like my country's, hence the odds of getting another one are small too. As I've said, it can be compared to Squier Classic Vibe '50, also to Squier Standard Stratocaster, and I can say these axes are pretty close. V6 Icon has some extra features I appreciated, like the staggered polepieces, the E-Z-Loks and the vibrato made by Wilkinson. It's also cheaper, even without the discount offered to me by M & C Music. I've also heard Tanglewood makes a pretty similar axe, but it's much harder to find one in my country, and I'm not a fan of Entwistle pickups neither (reviews for the equivalent Tanglewood are mixed, btw). As a conclusion: if you don't afford a Fender Stratocaster - or you just don't want to pay so much on a guitar -, but still want to indulge yourself with that unmistakable Strat vibe, Vintage V6 Icon is one of the 2-3 axes you have to consider.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I didn't play it live yet - no gigs during last two weeks, - but it surely withstands any live action, with the condition of replacing its thin strap buttons by some good straplocks. The hardware, being genuine Wilkinson, is very solid and the Distressed finish doesn't have any impact on its life expectation. The paint seems to make it too, but it takes time to appreciate it more accurately. Of course I depend on it! It's my fifth guitar, but my only Strat. I can't play it without a backup, because I use to change guitars while playing and I always have all of them on stage. I don't recommend playing live without a backup anyway, no matter which axe you play on. Axes are made by humans and are alive too: they might give up when you expect it the least. Being a Strat and being carved in Eastern Poplar, I'm sure it's more sensitive than my Mahogany-made Vintage V 100. I wouldn't use it for stunts on stage, but, again, this is not a criterium for me personally (I never made stunts, but music).
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I've mentioned buying it from a reputed music shop, whose regular client I am. The guitar was flawlessly setup, well intonated, the action was as it should be (not too law, so it doesn't affect fingers' dynamics, not too high, so it doesn't affect playability). The guys at the music shop said it came like this from the factory, they've only kept it in tune. However, it had two finish flaws I have to mention: 1) the vibrato's arm is a push-in type, but the small screw behind vibrato's block, that keeps the arm tight, was unscrewed: it took me an hour to find the clue and 10 seconds to fix the problem, and 2) a screw fixing the 6th tuning peg case was half unscrewed: another 10 seconds to fix it. An issue are the stock strings too: Vintage has this peculiar approach to the price tag; the guys up there think it's better to deliver the guitar with the cheapest strings available on Earth, thus lowering the price by 8 euros or something. If you're not experienced, you might just give up buying the axe, because the stock strings sound and look terrible. Pickups were not only properly adjusted, but also staggered, for an excellent sound consistency across all 6 strings. Bridge was perfectly routed, its springs are neatly calibrated, so if you use the same strings gauge, you can re-string the axe without adjusting the vibrato. I must also say frets are perfectly polished and the general quality of the guitar is extremely satisfactory, regardless its price. On the other hand, I've found some spots on the fretboard, after fret 17-18, where the low E string sounds slightly more silent than it should, but since I didn't notice it when checking and double-checking the axe at the music shop, I assume it might be a problem caused by the new GHS Boomers strings. Of course, I'm aware it's not a Strat. It probably has cheap electronics, its shielding is an average one, wire inside is cheap as well. I didn't encounter any problem yet, but in this price range it's impossible to buy a masterpiece. I'm glad nothing buzzes or screeches and the guitar works just fine. The Worn - or Distressed - finish is excellent. Once again, it can't compete against Fender's Time Machine: for instance, the push-in vibrato arm isn't consistent with the finish, being so contemporary. There are also some emulated aging marks in spots unlikely to get any marks at all. All in all, though, it's an impressive job done by the Koreans.
Features — 8
I've aquired a Vintage V6 Ico about a month ago, from my regular music shop. It's made in Korea, in 2010. 22 medium frets on a standard Fender scale of 648 mm. It's basically a copy of a Fender Stratocaster, with some modifications, like the body's timber - Eastern Poplar -, a graphite nut, Wilkinson E-Z-Lok tuning pegs, Wilkinson WVCCR vibrato bridge with push-in arm, 3 Wilkinson WVS passive single coils. All the rest is like in any Strat: Rosewood fingerboard (very smooth), Hard Maple neck, 1 volume and 2 tone knobs, 5-way pickup selector. The special thing about it is, as you already know, its Worn (or Distressed, in Trev Wilkinson's British English) finish. Pretty well done. It came with an Allen key and a useless cable, all packed in a cheap cardboard box. A normal thing, I guess, given its price range. Btw, I got it at this unbelievable price because I've been offered a generous 15% discount, so its initial price was higher. I would have bought it anyway.