Price paid: $ 256
Purchased from: Musicians Friend
Features — 9
It's a double cutaway solid body, ash top on mahogany body. Please check wood if you're buying one, all the colors use different woods. Specs from Vox website: Scale Length: 638mm (25.125"), No. of Frets: 22, Nut Width: 43mm (1.7"). It has two "coaxe" pickups, which are aimed at eliminating hum by wrapping the hot coil inside another instead of side by side like a HB. Cherry red finish with beautiful grain showing through. Highly sculpted body and neck joint; very light, I'd say 6.5 pounds max. Custom Vox hardware, tuners and bridge; the bridge is something else, take a look at one online, it's like a TOM with no tailpiece. Has a pickup selector, 1V 1T and a coil tap switch, 6 different combinations. Came with a well-made padded gigbag. 9 because nothing's perfect, but this is pretty original and well-realised gear, and at the price I paid it's an incredible feature set. In fact, it's almost the same feature set as the Virage, a $1500 Vox guitar.
Sound — 9
Bear with me: Though the guitar is very versatile stock, and the 500k volume and tone pots have good range, I think it sounds too bright and thin in any setting. It sounds that way to me on the online demos I've seen, too. It won't matter if you play very loud, but I play at low to moderate volumes in small rooms. I considered swapping out the coaxe pups for some high-end P90s - they're the same size - but then decided to try a trick I learned from Joe Naylor, tone and design guru at Reverend Guitars (my favorite axes). Joe suggests putting a.038 pica farad capacitator across the poles of the output jack to take the edge off the high frequencies. It worked very well on this guitar. It still has good highs, but not as brittle to my ear. Someone using lots of distortion would no doubt leave the axe alone to have that high end bite through the drive. But what I play is R&B, soul, blues and Delta, usually with a slide, and I need more warmth and grease. With this simple, 20-minute, 25 cent mod, the guitar sounds great to my ears, and retains all its versatility. I'd say 6 before the mod, but I'd rate higher if I played metal. After the mod, it's a 9, because I would not hesitate to use it all night on a gig. The double- and single-coil sounds are clear and ringing. The only thing missing is the in-between sound on a Strat, so one point off.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I wanted this guitar after playing one in a store; then it was just waiting for the right price. It's a little neck heavy, and a wide leather strap fixes that right away. It seems to wrap around your body, and it's so light you hardly know it's there. The high fret access is typical of double cuts, but the neck joint is something else - there's nothing to stop your hand. The finish is gorgeous; great looking guitar, and it doesn't look like your average SG clone at all. There was a slight discoloration beside one fret on the top side of the neck, which is surely why MF sold it so cheap. You have to be playing the guitar and looking for it to notice it. 8, because it's a $1000 list guitar that looks like it.
Reliability & Durability — 9
It's still pretty new. I played it out twice, it worked. Buttons are nice and big, the strap won't slip off. Stays in tune well. Frankly, once you've said that the guitar is well made, what's there to say? If you lean it against an amp and it falls over, the neck will break. Duh. I opened it up to see if I might want to swap the pots and saw that a) Whoever wired this didn't waste one mm of metal, b) there are atypical switches behind the switches. I thought I might rewire but that scared me off, looked mighty complex. Bottom line, it's not luxury goods, but it's top quality. I usually play solo, with an amp I can carry in one hand, and one guitar. This could certainly be that guitar.
Overall Impression — 10
This is a $1000 list guitar, I paid $256 for it new, with a very small stain no one but me will ever see. It's one of the best deals I ever got on a guitar. I was hungering for a SG, because I'm a slide player, and a lot of great slide players like 'em. They're light, with great access. You cannot get a SG of this quality for what I paid for the Vox, period. If you had $500, which is the current street price new, you could buy a new low-end Gibson SG. That would be a tough call. The SG is a classic axe with good resale value. It sounds fine, even if you don't swap pickups. The SG finish wouldn't be in the Vox's league unless you paid about $1000, though. For $500, I'd take the Vox. For around $300, you can find the Vox used, and it is a flat steal. With one small mod, this guitar suits me perfectly. I wish it had the electronics of the 555 and Virage series, which give the coaxe pups three settings each. But really, who cares? I've been playing nearly 50 years, and I have owned good, great and crap gear. My amps are mainly Peaveys, combined with Tech 21 Character pedals; great combination for what I do. My main guitars are Reverends, likewise great value, versatile sound and original design - that's what I care about. If it were lost I might not buy another, just because I don't need another guitar. But if it were the only guitar I had, I would feel confident relying on it. That's my test for a keeper. No, it's not the ultimate awesomest coolest greatest axe in the universe. But for what it is, and what it costs if you look around, you won't find better.