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This article was originally published in issue #11
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To tie in with our special Slash-centric issue, we wanted to look at a cheaper alternative to the obvious Slash Les Paul. Back in Issue 4, we'd been bowled-over by a Vintage 'Single Cut' style guitar, which got us very close to Joe Bonamassa's sound, at a budget price. So what could Vintage offer if we were after the Slash sound, we asked? The company offered us the "V100AFD Paradise" Whatever could that stand for, we wondered? Jamie Humphries investigates.
For many a classic and hard rock fan, the "LP" classic single cut style guitar has long been the favoured choice - in fact it's pretty much the Holy Grail guitar. The likes of Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Zakk Wylde, Paul Kossoff and, of course, Slash, have all made this style of guitar their number one choice at one stage or another. But for many of us, particularly guitarists on a budget, the prices of genuine Gibson Les Pauls - however good they may be - are just unattainable.
Obviously, to some, only the original will do, but if you're looking for something that is like that classic body styling, without being exactly the same, yet still offers killer looks, great tone and feel, but at a pocket friendly price tag, then this guitar may just be what you are looking for.
For a number of years Vintage guitars have been producing approximations of a variety of classic instruments. They have also enlisted the design skills of Trevor Wilkinson, who is renowned for producing high quality hardware. The AFD Paradise model is a slightly "pimped" version of the standard V100 Series, which is even cheaper in price than the AFD - something, frankly, we find quite amazing, considering how good this one turned out to be!
Before the lawyers start to take too much interest in this review, let's get down to basics. The AFD Paradise's body is made from mahogany, with a set mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard and 22 medium height frets. So, no surprises there! The machine heads feature classic style Wilkinson "tulip" design tuners and the fingerboard has pearloid crown inlays. The body features a carved maple top, with a stunning amber flamed finish - at this price?! The neck and body also include a very classy vintage-looking edge binding. The control layout is exactly what you would expect too, comprising a three-way toggle switch for pickup selection plus two volume and two tone controls. There is a classic Tune-O-Matic style bridge and the guitar also features a pair of Wilkinson Zebra humbucking pickups. Also included are a strap locks - which is a very nice touch for a guitar of this price range.
From the off, this guitar felt great. It isn't too weighty, but has enough body meat to produce a vibrant and resonant tone unamplified, which is always a good sign. The guitar also balances well, so I didn't feel like it was a struggle when I was sitting down with it. The neck had a nice feel, and the fret finishing was of a high quality, with no rough edges, or proud frets. I have to say that the feel and set-up of this guitar would put many more expensive brands to shame! I can't speak for every sample you'll find in the shops but this one was fantastic!
Plugging the Vintage in, I was able to produce a wide variety of tones, from warm Jazz style cleans, to blues/rock crunch to harder edged more high gain sounds. The volume controls had a very nice gradual curve to them, which was great for backing-off the volume and cleaning-up the tone (a nice pro touch that and often missing on cheaper guitars and even a few expensive ones!). The tone control was also matched well to the pickups and when backed off I could produce warm Clapton-style Cream tones.
Although, for my taste, the pickups lacked a little bit of presence and sparkle when using a clean tone (and this really is me being picky) the guitar really shot to life when I kicked in the crunch channel on our test Marshall. The bridge pickup had plenty of bite and harmonics jumped out, while the neck was warm and rich.
I have to say that this guitar really surprised me and that I was pretty blown away that an instrument in this price bracket could look so stunning, feel so comfortable, and sound so authentic. If I didn't know any better, if were to see and hear the guitar without a price ticket hanging from a tuner, I would honestly think it would cost four figures. As I have already mentioned, this guitar is from the V100 series, so if the AFD is slightly out of your price band, the standard V100 would do the job almost as well. But to my mind, the additional cosmetic styling, and of course the influence of a certain long haired, top hat wearing guitarist, makes this a very attractive and great choice for an alternative to the classic "LP" style guitar. I loved it so much, I even used it on my tech session this month, so check it out in action in both video!
To sum-up? This is the best value for money instrument iGuitar has yet seen. It's simply stunning.