Joe Doe Guitars and Vintage have collaborated to create a series of eight custom limited edition guitars that are hands down, like nothing you’ve ever seen before! Constructed using the highly regarded Vintage V6, V52 and V72 chassis, Ben Court, the originator of Joe Doe Guitars has applied his signature blend of art, design and tall storytelling to create guitars with a history, character and soul all of their own. Tom Quayle reviews the Joe Doe by Vintage JDV001 Lucky Buck.
Joe Doe Guitars are an incredibly interesting guitar design and customisation company run by Ben Court in Brighton, UK. Ben is a film and TV screenwriter by day while spending his nights and weekends producing custom guitar builds and designs that are totally unique thanks to a concept based on giving each guitar its own back story and associated character. These fictional entities and their stories give Ben’s creations a sense of intrigue, warmth and almost comic book playfulness that you don’t find with production line guitars, much more akin to the real world rock ‘n’ roll iconic guitars that we associate with our favourite players. These famous guitars have a history and story that makes them unique and interesting and it’s this sense of story that Ben wants to instil into his own creations.
Ben uses high-end custom made bodies and Warmoth necks as blanks for his custom designs, and they have garnered lots of interest as both instruments and art pieces but come with a pretty hefty price tag due to the excellent components, design work and finish. In 2018, after a meeting with JHS owned Vintage Guitars (known for their superb ‘bang for the buck’ guitar range featuring Wilkinson hardware) the two companies decided to collaborate on a range of guitars that would realise Ben’s creative visions but at an affordable price point and the Joe Doe by Vintage range is the result of this collaboration.
Our review guitar is the ‘Lucky Buck’ – a telecaster inspired model owned by fictional country musician Leslie Coal. Leslie’s backstory is a great riches to rags to riches again affair that absolutely imbues the guitar with life and this sense of intrigue, giving the guitar reason to exist rather than just being another guitar with a similar spec sheet to a hundred other guitars on the market. The ‘Lucky Buck’ is adorned with Lucky’s signature inlay across the fretboard, a Cactus F-hole and floral scratch plate - all perfect additions to flesh out the feeling of this character and his story. Joe Doe even include custom designed ‘case candy’ with each guitar to give further life to each character, adding to the back story and sense of intrigue. It’s a wonderful concept and, whilst it won’t be for everyone, it’s fantastic to see this kind of creativity and storytelling within what can, at times, be a bland, copycat market place.
As we’ve come to expect from a Vintage branded guitar, you get a lot of value for money with the Joe Doe by Vintage range. The Lucky Buck features a semi-hollow Alder, double bound body available in Black or Honeyburst gloss finishes. The neck is a Hard Rock Maple affair with a Vintage Slim-C profile and Lignum Rosa fretboard sporting the incredible signature inlay, executed unbelievably well at the given price point. You get all Wilkinson hardware in the form of the WTB 3-saddle bridge, and WJ-55 EZ Lock machine heads, matched to 22 superbly finished medium vintage frets and a Graphtech nut. This ensures great intonation and tuning stability whilst the custom-designed high-output bridge single-coil and darker neck p90 provide wonderful, open sounding tones from the 3-way switch. Tones are definitely of the airy, country type but you can get mean rock and heavier tones from the bridge pickup giving the guitar far more versatility than the looks would suggest.
It’s incredible what you’re getting for the price here with playability, consistency and tone that should cost at least double the asking price, especially factoring in the deluxe hard case that the guitar ships in. Matching the creativity of storytelling and character creation with the equally creative endeavour of guitar design is a fantastic thing to see in this industry, made even better by the fact that these are great guitars in their own right and excellent value for money.
If you like a good back story, character depth and giving a guitar reason for being more than simple functionality, the Joe Doe by Vintage range will be right up your street. If you just want a great value, good looking guitar then this range is well worth checking out too. We’ve certainly been won over by Ben’s creations both at the expensive and more affordable end of the spectrum.
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