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Vintage V65 Icon Vibrato review

A new heavily relic’d and very affordable offset from the cheeky chaps at Vintage

Vintage V65 Icon Tremolo
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Our Verdict

This V65V is far from shabby, even though that’s what the finish suggests. Boutique in style, budget in price? We’d say so.

For

  • Affordable, quality build.
  • Good weight.
  • Very thin finish.
  • Tuning stability.
  • Credible single‑coil voices.

Against

  • Very derivative in style.
  • Some would prefer a little more neck pitch.
  • Hardly realistic ageing.

During a time when low-end electric guitars are continually surprising us with their build quality, style and sound, this Jazzmaster-ish knock-off from champions of the underdog Vintage is perfectly timed. 

To be fair, the V65 has been around a while in both hardtail and vibrato forms, but for 2022 you can get it in two ‘distressed’ colours. Thank goodness Vintage didn’t call it ‘aged’ because the body mangling is laughably inauthentic, and we did wonder if our courier was responsible. 

The guitar ships in a cardboard box with next-to-zero packaging, but pulling it out of its polystyrene bag it’s not only perfectly in tune but has been very well set up, too. We’re not laughing any more: we’ve had boutique-level guitars that have arrived less ship-shape condition than this.

Vintage V65 Icon Tremolo

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Exactly where the guitars are made isn’t obvious and when we last asked we were told “China or Vietnam”. Whatever, according to the spec info it’s made of the right stuff: alder body, maple neck with rosewood ’board, and a good weight of 3.5kg (7.81lb).

Like many makers doing an offset, the V65 subtly downsizes the original in terms of the outline and simplifies the complex dual circuits of Fender’s original with a pair of direct-mount Wilkinson soapbar single coils and a three-way toggle, master volume, tone and output jack that are all screwed onto the tortie scratchplate.

It seems the distressing department might have knocked off early: though the perfectly usable Wilkinson Kluson-style tuners and chromed neckplate are aged, the tune-o-matic-style bridge and offset vibrato, not to mention the plastic parts, look newborn.

Vintage V65 Icon Tremolo

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Modern offsets come in many flavours in terms of sound. This one may look like it’s been toured for years by a US grunge band, but its voice is a little more refined, more Fender-y than thicker Les Paul Junior. 

Tuning stability is very good, thanks in part to the roller-saddle tune-o-matic bridge, while its relatively low height and lack of neck pitch means there’s plenty of offset character and resonance due to the string length behind the bridge to the tailpiece. 

Still, if you want to hit it hard you may need to raise the bridge and install a neck shim. But as is, playability is good, not least the worn feel of that neck back – a well-shaped shallow ‘C’ that moves in depth from 21mm at the 1st fret of 23.4mm by the 12th.

This V65V is far from shabby, even though that’s what the finish suggests. Boutique in style, budget in price? We’d say so.

Vintage V65 Icon Tremolo

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Specs

  • PRICE: £449
  • ORIGIN: China/Vietnam
  • TYPE: Offset double-cutaway solidbody electric
  • BODY: Alder
  • NECK: Maple, ‘soft C’ profile, bolt-on
  • SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: Graph Tech NuBone/ 42.9mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Rosewood, pearloid dot inlays, measured 241mm (9.5”) radius
  • FRETS: 22, medium/jumbo
  • HARDWARE: Tune-o-matic-style bridge with roller saddles, offset-style vibrato tailpiece, aged Wilkinson WJ55 tuners – nickel/chrome-plating
  • STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 51.5mm
  • ELECTRICS: 2x Wilkinson soapbar single coils, 3-way toggle pickup selector, master volume and tone controls 
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.5/7.81
  • OPTIONS: None
  • RANGE OPTIONS: In the unrelic’d Reissued series is the V65 Hard Tail with a 6-saddle bridge, also available with offset vibrato (both £419)
  • LEFT-HANDERS: Vintage offers plenty of left-handed electrics but not for the V65
  • FINISH: Distressed Black (as reviewed) Distressed Tobacco Sunburst – satin aged finish to both body and neck
  • CONTACT: John Hornby Skewes (opens in new tab)

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Dave Burrluck
Dave Burrluck

Dave Burrluck is one of the world’s most experienced guitar journalists, who started writing back in the '80s for International Musician and Recording World, co-founded The Guitar Magazine and has been the Gear Reviews Editor of Guitarist magazine for the past two decades. Along the way, Dave has been the sole author of The PRS Guitar Book and The Player's Guide to Guitar Maintenance as well as contributing to numerous other books on the electric guitar. Dave is an active gigging and recording musician and still finds time to make, repair and mod guitars, not least for Guitarist’s The Mod Squad.