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This article was originally published in issue #9
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As with the Vintage Brett 12-string, I first laid my hands on this instrument a few days before shooting the video review and, after unpacking it from its deluxe padded gig bag I felt inclined to play some Blues! I'm not sure of the reason why, it just felt right and proper. Seriously, digging in rewarded me with a loud, firm sound: the volume really is quite remarkable! All this would be a problem if the action were too low but it isn't; it's just high enough to eliminate buzzing/fret-rattle but not so high as to be uncomfortable or unplayable. (I'm used to 11-58 strings on my main electric guitar, a Fret-King Corona 60 SP - Fret-King being a brand that, like Vintage, is distributed by JHS - which has a not-too-low action so the transition onto the VE8000PB felt quite natural to me.)
After a few minutes playing single note Blues licks and more powerful double stops, followed up by some aggressive Jimmy Reed-style boogie patterns, my country inclinations suddenly took over: I began trying out some Merle Travis-/Chet Atkins-style alternating bass patterns (Main St. Breakdown being my default starting point) and I found the guitar didn't hold me back at all. I also thought of trying out some sweep-picked arpeggios at 240bpm but then I remembered that I could only normally manage it at 235bpm, so I thought better of it and played some more Blues. Ah, that's better!
OK, as with the 12-string, I had started forming a valuable opinion before my scheduled video review and that's just the way I like it: it's not just about facts and figures is it? Nevertheless, the specifications make for riveting reading and I'm not being facetious here because knowing that the 12-string version has 12 frets to the body join while the 6-string under review here has 14 may matter to you.
So my initial impression was a good one, except for the fact that I found that the black box, which no doubt contained the bulk of electronics, was hanging loose inside the guitar. I contacted Paul about this and he openly admitted that they'd discovered that this was a problem at the prototype stage (the review guitar is indeed an early production model) and he'd already contacted the factory and advised them to use a much stronger glue to keep the box in place. Paul went on to confirm that all retail products would benefit from this quality control measure. Impressive, eh?
It's interesting to note that this guitar might never have been had it not been for a twinkle in its parents' eyes… Well, what actually happened was that Paul had already designed and prototyped the 12-string reviewed hereabouts and Dennis Drumm, Managing Director of JHS, immediately thought upon seeing it that it'd be appropriate and desirable to have a matching six-string (you can
buy the pair for less than you might imagine, but of course they each perform a different function although in an equally impressive way).
When it came to the day of the video review shoot I once again found myself wanting to play the Blues on this guitar - I may have been only a matter of miles from the Thames Delta in sunny Essex on a fine March morning but, spiritually speaking, I was somewhere on the Mississippi Delta, imagining myself to have been serenading someone else's wife and throwing this guitar over my shoulder as I ran from her unexpectedly returning husband who just happens to work at a chemical factory where poisonous fluids are manufactured…Seriously, I kept returning to the Blues whenever I picked up this guitar - and wanting to keep picking up a particular guitar is perhaps all we guitarists need to know, eh? But there's more…
I should like to mention in particular how smooth the frets are, which makes for a correspondingly smooth and pleasurable playing experience. You see, this isn't some rough and ready Blues box that you'd throw, caseless, in the back of a truck (although you might wish to if you yourself find yourself running from a jealous lover!); no, it's a fine quality instrument that nevertheless avoids coming across as too precious as to soil by brazenly strumming the thing from here to who knows where! I'm not being flippant here, this guitar really does beg you to thrash out a Blues on it but when you've had your release you can chill out with some introspective fingerpicking or some energetic country strumming, as I did, quite spontaneously I might add, to an extent in the video demo.
Wrapping up, I should reiterate how, as with the Brett 12-string, having a quality transducer allied to a dedicated preamp and having separate volume and tone controls, literally, at your fingertips is such a boon for the modern day player. To that end, you'll hear the direct injected (DI) sound for most of the video demo but we mic'd it up with an AKG 451 towards the end and I trust that the varying dynamics come across well enough - one of my favourite things about this instrument is its great dynamic range. Oh, and it being light and sturdy enough to throw over my shoulder when a speedy escape is necessitated…