Sound — 9
Personally I play chunky guitar chords and spend a lot of my time writing chord-based songs rather than soloing, but in my new band I have had to change my style slightly and the solo's are starting to emerge. My friend Who plays a lot more solo's and SRV style playing had a go on it this morning and was really shocked that it could compare to his Peavey Rotor EXP in terms of flexibility. All the amps I had tried it with (Peavey bandit 112, Marshall 100w HDFX+4/12, Orange crush) have utilised the bags of gain that the pickups throw out. It is an immense sound, though there is only one "humbucker" it is still very versatile and the tone/volume combination is very well graduated, compared to some guitars that I have played in the same price bracket. The sound is not super bright like other Vintage models, for example the SG style has a very bright sound, that the Zip cannot recreate, but it's a different guitar, and so maybe that can be forgiven. The sustain is just enough, it's not going to bring gary moore round to your house, giving it all that about challenging his record times, but I've had it hold a single note for about 25/30 seconds, with a bit of distortion ladeled on. The loudest I have had it need to go is no more than about 5/6 on the gain settings on the amp, and the blend it generates when bending/hammer-ons/pull-offs is like listening to gooey crystals of noise. The harmonics come fast and fresh too, but the strings on this do prefer to be clean to favour the harmonic, so a regular set is required (in my experience). This is a beautiful sounding guitar.
Overall Impression — 10
This is a fantastic guitar, I think that the only reason I'd sell it is if I needed to buy myself a new kidney and someone was offering a trade. I would like to update the pickups a bit, emg's would sound better, but then again they'd sound good in anything, and I can make do without for now. if I get some spare money I might get another and really go to work on it for professional upgrades. I thoroughly recommend this guitar to anyone. It is an extremely capable guitar, for an extremely good price.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Reliability and durability is fab. It can be played like a basta*d and it will still stand up to the test of time. The strings that I comes with are really quite good, but they don't last too long so it might be worth sticking a new set on before too long.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
From new, it needs a bit of setting up, i.e. the action could be improved and the bridge could do with lowering a bit, however other than that it is very well aligned, the whole feel of the guitar is one of a quality far above the price tag. The weight is lighter than you might think, but that can owe to the semi-hollow structure.
Features — 8
Vintage, a name that could be associated with starter quality guitars, but the build quality is astounding. One diagonal Wilkinson double singlecoil pickup provides so much tone and gain, with a bit of tweaking can provide the same grunt as a low budget EMG. The Wrapover tailpiece holds it's tune with phenomenal prowess, even new strings can't phase it; you can tune up once, play a set's worth of songs and maybe, but probably not, have to tweak it once. The action is perfect, though not professionally set-up from purchase, was relatively easy and hassle free to adjust. The hard maple neck has a very playable feel, maybe not ideal for the die-hard shedders of the world, but you can get a good hand on it, meaning you can take either and Angus or Malcolm style to it and it will cope with both. The body is cut in the LP shape, and apparently is semi-hollow though I haven't put mine down for long enough to open it up yet. It's a 22-fretter which is standard for this style of guitar, it's light weight, it's shiny (coming in a variety of 6 colours, from gold to pink), a very good all round guitar that would suit most styles of player and would be a fantastic first or second guitar for beginners-intermediate. It doesn't come with any accessories, which is a let down, but the looks and style more than make up for that.