Nick Jennison reviews the VOX Giulietta VGA-3D single-cutaway archtop acoustic/electric. Inspired by classic full-hollow archtop guitars, the new Giulietta VGA-3D guitars add sophisticated 21st-century modelling technology to bring you versatility and advanced performance in a full-scale, compact instrument.
“Versatile” is one of those buzzwords we hear all the time in reference to guitars. Admittedly, I’m guilty of contributing to this in no small way. But what does that even mean? Well, usually, it means a guitar that can do fat humbucker sounds and a variety of single-coil sounds too. But that’s a pretty unambitious definition of “versatile”. I draw your attention to “the breakdown” in the corner of this review - specifically the “specialised/versatile” slider. When we first dreamed up this rating system, I struggled to imagine what a guitar that’s all the way to the right on this slider might look like. I struggled, but Vox clearly didn’t.
The Giulietta VGA-3D may look like an unassuming jazz box, but the sheer range of sounds under the hood of this rather demure looking instrument beggars belief. But first, let’s get the more conventional stuff out of the way. It’s a 24 3/4” scale, small-bodied archtop with a mahogany set neck, maple top back and sides and a modern C neck shape. You get 22 medium jumbo frets and a floating bridge and tailpiece assembly. It looks great, plays great, balances well on a strap…
Now on to what makes this guitar so unique - the Aeros D pickup system. There’s a single mini-humbucker in the neck position and a three-way toggle selector, which should raise an eyebrow immediately - what good is a pickup selector if there’s only one pickup, right? Wrong. The sector switch is for toggling the three sounds in each of the Aeros D system’s eight “banks”, for a total of twenty-four sounds! Let me explain.
Each “bank” contains three variations on a specific theme. First up are “SL” and “HB”, which offer single-coil and humbucker tones, respectively. The pickup selector offers bridge, middle and neck positions in both banks, which are surprisingly convincing since there’s no physical bridge pickup to speak of. Next up, there are two “Acoustic” banks, each with three modelled acoustic sounds ranging from parlours to dreadnoughts, with a nylon string and a 12-string for good measure. I have to say; these models are some of the most convincing plugged-in acoustic sounds I’ve heard in a long time.
This is where things get really interesting though. The “UQ” bank (“Unique”) sports models of a banjo, a sitar and a resonator. These first two are worth the money all on their own for me, since I can’t play a real banjo or sitar for toffee, but this guitar gives me access to these sounds in a form I can actually make music with. Likewise, the “SP” bank has a monophonic lead synth, a “sustain” mode for organ-like pad textures and an electric 12 string sound.
As if all this wasn’t enough, there’s a knob for adding drive to the electric tones and reverb to the other sounds, and two “user” banks where you can save your favourite combination of tones. Imagine having a Tele bridge pickup with overdrive in one selector position, a sitar in the middle position and a 12-string in the neck position - the Giulietta VGA-3D can do that.
It’s hard to overstate the sheer versatility of this instrument. As a studio guitar, it’s a must-have. Likewise, it’s a perfect choice for a guitar player in a theatre pit who needs every tone under the sun but with just enough space for a single guitar. And of course, if you’re looking for an elegant, small-bodied archtop, this guitar is a great choice.
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