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Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V75-SVB, V6H-SVB & V100-SVB review

Three very smart Silver Burst electrics to celebrate 25 years of Vintage and its cost-effective lookalikes

Vintage 25th Anniversary series
(Image: © Future / Neil Godwin)

Our Verdict

With top-quality Wilkinson hardware, excellent playability and a very attractive price, these 25th Anniversary Vintage guitars are a validation of the lookalike market – they make very attractive candidates for modding, too, if that's your bag.

For

  • The V75 has setup and playability with the sounds to match.
  • It has a tidy build, quality hardware and pickups.
  • Nice neck shapes.
  • Good weight on all three.
  • The V6H has a great classic-to-heavier rock voicing.

Against

  • V100 is a bit one dimensional.
  • Cream plastic parts look at little ‘wrong’ on the V6H.
  • It has some slightly sharp edges to the body contours.
  • Originality aside, at this price we can’t moan.

Whatever you think about the copy market, so long as makers respect a few key features – and those names, of course – it’s pretty much open season and has been that way for a number of years. 

In fact, the always affordable Brit-owned and designed Vintage brand might well have helped to force open the doors for many more prestigious brands to follow over the past 25 years. Like it or not, this whole ‘inspired by’ market is central to today’s industry. 

Owner John Hornby Skewes (JHS), one of the UK’s largest and longest-running distribution houses, is tight-lipped about exactly how it’s survived in this market, so perhaps it’s best to let the guitars do the talking… 

We can’t remember a previous limited-edition Vintage range but that’s what we have here: three models in one colour only, 100 pieces of each. Case candy? Well, we get a 25th Anniversary canvas gigbag and a numbered and laminated certificate. Let’s go. 

What the V75 lacks in originality is certainly compensated for by a very tidy build

Starting with the V75 model, and what it lacks in originality is certainly compensated for by a very tidy build and, importantly, some very well-designed hardware by Trev Wilkinson, who worked directly with JHS to generate new Vintage designs until 2019.

Vintage 25th Anniversary series

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V75-SVB (Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)

It’s a good weight for starters, there’s an attractive vintage tint to the high-gloss neck finish, and that celebratory Silver Burst finish is immaculate. Key hardware is the Wilkinson WTB bridge made with the proper materials, string-through or top-load string anchorage, and compensated brass saddles.

Then you notice the thick steel neckplate and Electrosocket-style circular output jack. The control plate is a heavy gauge and clearly well chromed. Yes, a little rounding on the quite sharp edges of the single-ply black scratchplate would raise the detail level… but we’re not going to throw the V75 out of bed for that.

The E-Z-Lok tuners are a typically ingenious Wilkinson design. Basically, they’re vintage-style Kluson-alikes but you’ll notice two holes at right angles in each string post. The idea is to thread the string through either then lock it off through the other hole.

It certainly works but it can mean the string wraps look a little messy. You can, as here, simply use the top hole with your wraps underneath.

You’ll have to get used to some pretty odd/obvious letter codes for the pickups, though: if only Mr Wilkinson would give us names! Here, the WVTB (no prizes for guessing this one!) at the bridge has raised magnetic poles, although they’re all of the same height, and the WVTN (likewise) at the neck is completely hidden under the usual chromed cover, which is a little wonky-looking as delivered.

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Vintage 25th Anniversary series

(Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)
Image 2 of 2

Vintage 25th Anniversary series

(Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)

As ever, Wilkinson logos are everywhere and outnumber the actual Vintage-brand logo three to one… and that doesn’t include those stamped tuner legends. If the V75 comes across as a generic T-style in smart dress then this V6H appears a little more harder rock-aimed with that zebra-coiled humbucker in the bridge.

The cream plastic of that screw bobbin, switch cap and the control knobs is a little visually jarring – keeping things black might have been smarter – but it does have some hot-rod vibe. You can feel a slight edge to the body contouring in places, notably on the rear ribcage cutaway, but you’ll notice a rounded heel and matching neckplate.

Vintage 25th Anniversary series

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series 6H-SVB (Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)

Interesting, too, is that although the V75’s neck is standard slab-sawn, this one is as near as dammit on the quarter and very straight-grained. It’s very rare to see wood stock like that in this price area. The vibrato is one of the best low-cost units this writer has used over the years with pressed steel saddles and top plate, a die-cast block with deep-drilled offset string holes – the D and high E are slightly forward of the others.

There’s a plastic sleeve for the black-tipped arm and tension adjustment, too. Again, we have those E-Z Lok tuners, though here the top three are lower, bringing the strings down at a steep enough angle – just – to do away with any string trees. Here, the pickup names excel: a WOHZBb humbucker at bridge and a pair of WOVaS at neck and middle. Ideas on a postcard, please. Finally, the V100.

Vintage 25th Anniversary series

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V100-SVB (Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)

The silver/black ’burst finish ties in very nicely with what is a credible-looking modern single-cut. It’s a pretty good weight and while only the fingerboard wood is visible, it’s made of the right stuff. Or so we’re told. One obvious change to the hallowed recipe is the radius’d body heel and much sharper treble horn.

The headstock tip avoids that classic lip shape and is a little flatter in terms of its back angle than Gibson’s classic 17 degrees. It’s more of a Custom style – inlays aside – and the multiple purfling inside the white binding on both top and back is well done. To our eyes, the silver/black colour is much more consistent here, with the rather sloppy exception of the gold rhythm/treble legends on the toggle switch surround.

You wonder why they bothered with that at all? Hardware is different but seems perfectly functional. The tuners are Grover in Rotomatic-style but the buttons are quite sharp-edged, while the stud tailpiece seems a little oversized.

The ABR-1-style tune-o-matic has a wire retainer for the saddles and handy-to-adjust slot-head posts. The pickups are covered Wilkinson WOCHB ‘hot ceramic’ humbuckers with a slightly wider polepiece spacing on the bridge unit, again a nice detail at this price.

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Vintage 25th Anniversary series

(Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)
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Vintage 25th Anniversary series

(Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)

Feel & Sounds

If we were able to judge what we’re hearing without knowing anything about these guitars – impossible, of course – we’d guess that what we’re feeling and listening to would be costlier than they actually are.

You might have played a Vintage guitar a few years back and thought, ‘Well, it’s okay for the money.’ These, and the pair of V100s we looked at back in issue 453, not to mention the Joe Doe by Vintage guitars on review in issue 463, raise the game.

There’s plenty of old-Fender feel to the V75’s neck shape, for example: a full-shouldered feel measuring 22mm in depth at the 1st fret, 23.9mm by the 12th. Not huge but appealingly chunky. The high-gloss finish could certainly be improved with a little deglossing, and the edges of the separate fingerboard would benefit from a little more rounding.

The fret gauge falls into the medium/low camp (around 2.69mm by 1.1mm), nicely installed with tidy fret ends, and the slots are neatly filled. Setup is excellent with a mainstream 1.6mm string height and very little relief. Only the nut lets it down: while well cut, it could be filed down to meet the strings.

The V6H’s rosewood ’board does give a slightly different feel and the setup is marginally slinkier, enhanced by a less shouldered profile, although dimensionally pretty similar – 21.5mm at the 1st and 23.3mm by the 12th. A little more neck angle would bury those height screws into the saddles but that’s a simple fix.

Vintage 25th Anniversary series

(Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)

Obviously, the V100’s neck feels a little different with binding, a slightly flatter radius and a shape that’s rounded with a little more taper (22.7mm at the 1st fret, 25.2mm by the 12th). It captures a pretty good, fuller 50s-style vibe. String height is very slightly the lowest of the trio; we’d be tempted to add just a little more relief and give the frets a bit more of a polish.

The market gets what the market wants, and if we players didn’t demand low-cost lookalikes, they simply wouldn’t be made

Also, the ’board is Lignum Rosa (a name conjured up by guitar designer Alan Entwistle), a multi-layered wood construct that is ‘quarter-sawn’ so the layers create a striped ‘grain’ that’s at a right angles to the face. Sound wise, there’s little to moan about, especially for this price.

Both the V75 and V6H get to the heart of the guitars they imitate, and older-school players might be drawn to the V75’s honky but not overcooked bridge voice and clear neck that’s far from dulled, too rounded or underpowered.

The V6H’s single coils are punchy and strident and sit very well with the ballsy bridge humbucker voice (although the effective coil-split tames that), pushing the guitar into meaty classic rock and heavy metal.

Which is where the V100 takes its cue: it’s thick and grimy with power and clout to spare. That said, it’s not in the classic PAF/’Burst area, though a simple pickup and control swap could sort that. But it really is a perfectly good chassis.

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Vintage 25th Anniversary series

(Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)
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Vintage 25th Anniversary series

(Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)

Verdict

The market gets what the market wants, and if we players didn’t demand low-cost lookalikes, they simply wouldn’t be made. Many of us will sniff that low cost equals low performance, and while we’re certainly not saying these models are of a custom shop level, we are saying they’re worth the money and then some.

Our experience is also of improving quality, epitomised by this trio. The V6H here is vastly improved over this writer’s modded, well-gigged V6 from over decade ago.

Whether or not you want to celebrate with one of this limited-edition trio is frankly debatable but it’s a more than a timely reminder – not least in these uncertain times – that this once-derided brand really does stand for affordable quality and offers a considerable number of styles and models, too.

Specs

  • VINTAGE 25TH ANNIVERSARY SERIES V75-SVB
  • PRICE: £419 (inc gigbag)
  • ORIGIN: China
  • TYPE: Limited-edition single-cutaway solidbody electric
  • BODY: 2-piece American alder
  • NECK: Maple, bolt-on
  • SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: Graph Tech NuBone/ 42.46mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Maple, approx. 254mm (10”) measured radius
  • FRETS: 22, medium
  • HARDWARE: Wilkinson WTB with 3 compensated brass saddles, Wilkinson WJ55 tuners, chrome/nickel plated
  • STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 53.5mm
  • ELECTRICS: Wilkinson WVTB (bridge) and WVTN (neck) single coils, 3-way lever pickup selector, master volume and master tone
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.6/7.92
  • OPTIONS: None
  • LEFT-HANDERS: Not in this 25th Anniversary guise but the V52 Reissued lefty costs £389
  • FINISHES: Silver Burst only
  • VINTAGE 25TH ANNIVERSARY SERIES V6H-SVB
  • PRICE: £419 (inc gigbag)
  • ORIGIN: China
  • TYPE: Limited edition double-cutaway solidbody electric
  • BODY: 2-piece American alder
  • NECK: Maple, bolt-on
  • SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: Graph Tech NuBone/ 42.92mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Bound Lignum Rosa, crown-style inlays, approx. 305mm (12”) measured radius
  • FRETS: 22, medium
  • HARDWARE: Wilkinson WVC vibrato, Wilkinson WJ55 E-Z-Lok tuners, chrome/nickel plated
  • STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 54mm
  • ELECTRICS: Wilkinson WOHZBb humbucker (bridge) and WOVaS single coils (middle and neck) single coils, 3-way lever pickup selector, master volume, tone 1 (neck and middle) tone 2 (bridge) w/ pull switch coil-split
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.68/8.1
  • OPTIONS: None
  • LEFT-HANDERS: Not in this 25th Anniversary guise but there are two V6 lefty options at £379
  • FINISHES: Silver Burst only
  • VINTAGE 25TH ANNIVERSARY SERIES V100-SVB
  • PRICE: £419 (inc gigbag)
  • ORIGIN: China
  • TYPE: Limited-edition single-cutaway solidbody electric
  • BODY: Mahogany back w/ maple cap
  • NECK: Mahogany, glued-in
  • SCALE LENGTH: 629mm (24.75”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: Graph Tech NuBone/ 42.79mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Bound rosewood, crown-style inlays, approx. 305mm (12”) measured radius
  • FRETS: 22, medium
  • HARDWARE: Wilkinson tune-o-matic bridge and stud tailpiece, Grover 102C Original Rotomatic tuners, chrome/ nickel plated
  • STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 51mm
  • ELECTRICS: 2x Wilkinson WOCHB hot ceramic humbuckers, 3-way toggle pickup selector, individual pickup volume and tone controls
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.95/8.69
  • OPTIONS: None
  • LEFT-HANDERS: Not in this 25th Anniversary guise but three lefties to choose from starting at £419
  • FINISHES: Silver Burst only
  • CONTACT: John Hornby Skewes