Vintage V52 Icon
The U.K.-based distributor John Hornby Skewes offers guitars under the brand Vintage that cater to a market interested in traditional sounds and old-school looks.
The V52 is the company’s take on the ’50s-style Tele. A striking guitar that hearkens to the days of pompadours and early rock that rolled, it has two custom-designed, vintage-voiced Alnico pickups designed by Trey Wilkinson, along with an intonatable bridge with three brass saddles and a steel baseplate, one Tone control, one Volume, a three-way pickup selector, and aged hardware.
The body is made from two-pieces of American alder, while the neck is a bolt-on piece of maple with a 251/2″ scale and 22 medium frets. The butterscotch version has a maple fingerboard, while the blond-finish ash-body has rosewood. The neck has a C profile and 10″ fingerboard radius. The Wilkinson Deluxe vintage-style tuners are also relic’d and the black pickguard even has light scratches.
Out of the box, our tester was cool-looking – lightweight, but substantial. Plugged into a reissue Fender Deluxe Reverb, the guitar produces bright, cutting tones with copious spank and cluck. The bridge pickup was powerfully perky, the middle position had a distinctive chicken-fried twang, and the neck pickup was warm and ultra clean.
As one might expect from a guitar in this price range, the V52 cannot compete with aged sophistication and subtle overtones of 64-year-old Tele it attempts to emulate. Running a hand along the edge of the neck reveals light fret finishing is in order, as well.
Minor gripes aside, though, it sounds awesome – equally suited for hybrid picking, pedal-steel bends, and blues extrapolations. In terms of workmanship, it’s sturdy enough to be manhandled. The builders cut a few corners to keep price down – inexpensive pots and switches – but all componentry works just fine. We had no issues with noise or rapid pickup switching. The pickups are clear, clean, full, and vintage-sounding, and responded superbly to pick attack and bare fingers. The Volume and Tone controls were smooth and even, and the tuning pegs succeeded well against wild overbends and brutal contrary motion.
Exhibiting a strong, singular personality, the Vintage V52 Icon is a great player’s guitar with cool cosmetics and lots of charisma. It’s also a great rock rhythm guitar with a lively top-end that just might compel you to create your own Nashville fire.
This article originally appeared in VG July 2014 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.