Review - Vigier Expert Classic Rock
However much we all love a good humbucker rock sound, single coil Stratocaster style guitars are where it's at if you want that definition and to cut through a mix. For years now I've been on a quest for that single coil sound coupled with functionality and reliability. Seems like a reasonable request no? But as hard as I've tried I have never found one that both sounds good, plays well and won't fall apart mid gig.
I've tried numerous guitars from the company that made the sound famous and spent thousands on boutique versions only to find that they were missing something, that elusive mojo. However all that has change for me with the Vigier Expert Classic Rock.
Build and Spec
On the face of it the Vigier looks like your standard strat guitar, all be it with a very nice anti tobacco burst finish. But when you look a little closer you'll find some of the ingenious tweaks that makes at much more than that. Starting with the headstock, it has oversized locking machine heads and what looks like string ball ends secured through the headstock as string trees. Further down the neck you find a zero fret, synonymous with Vigier's and a rosewood fingerboard. The fret's are stainless steel so no more having to worry about refrets further down the line.
Turning to the back of the neck you find another one of Vigier's innovations, a carbon strip down the back replacing the traditional truss rod. This ensures neck stability whatever the climate and is coupled with a tastefully flamed maple neck.
Moving on to the alder body, the contours are smooth and the overall weight is just right, heavy enough to feel as though you can really dig in when playing but light enough not to give you spinal damage.
There's a single ply scratch plate with Amber pickups, more on those later, a 5 way selector and volume/tone knobs. One thing I am pleased about is that there is only one tone control for all three pickups unlike more traditional designs.
The bridge is Vigier's own 2011 tremolo is extremely smooth and stable. I've been doing my best Jeff Beck/Scott Henderson impressions the past few days and the tuning hasn't budged at all.
The jack socket is locking which is one of the best ideas I've seen in ages. We've all been onstage mid guitar solo, stepped on our cable and heard the buzz of the cable hitting the floor but not anymore!
Finally it comes with a hard case that actually has a use. Some boutique companies package their guitars with large rectangular leather clad hard cases that wouldn't last the night out on the road and are an absolute pain to carry. Luckily the Vigier comes with a form fitted moulded hard case that isn't too heavy, has a comfortable handle and enough support inside so that the guitar won't get damaged in transit.
Sound and Playability
With a name like "Classic Rock" you can imagine the market this guitar is aimed at. The hotter Amber hand wound single coils really lend themselves to that bright 70's rock sound, think anything from Jeff Beck to Richie Blackmore but have that extra bite if you want to head into a more Yngwie shred direction. All three pickups are evenly balanced with a throaty warmth to the neck back, perfect for some Clapton lead tones.
However pigeon hole this guitar at your peril, its much more versatile than its name suggests. By backing off the volume you can get some wonderful funk clean tones in pickup positions 2 and 4 or that bell like 80's sound that's even better with a touch of chorus and delay.
The pickguard and pickup area has been well shielded so unlike other single coil guitars the hum is kept to an absolute minimum.
Playability wise, the neck is a wide C, not too chunky but enough heft to dig in on string bends. The finish on the back of neck is a very light varnish which I much prefer to a heavily lacquered neck, no sticky thumb getting stuck on the back of the neck here!
When playing it balances itself out well both seated and standing up without any headstock droop. Another innovation is the threaded brass casing within the body that you screw the strap button into. A great idea that solves the problem of shoving matchsticks in the strap button hole if it sheers off.
As you can tell I like this guitar and it has cured my lifelong search for the balance between sound and function. The Vigier Expert Classic Rock solves problems I didn't know I needed fixing, such as the locking jack socket and zero fret, while still retaining the sound of its heritage. Vigier as a company take the right approach to technical innovation without compromising sound and I seriously suggest you check out their guitars.