Vintage VE8000PB-12 Electro Acoustic guitar

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I wouldn’t normally review a 12-string, although one of my all time guitar-playing heroes Leo Kottke played some wonderful jazz infused pieces on one such instrument.

But this VE8000 is special. Very special. Twelve strings have always presented guitarists with a challenge and in the majority of cases have been all but unplayable above the seventh fret. Vintage clearly had this in mind when they commissioned master luthier and 12 string specialist Paul Brett to come up with an instrument that would not only have some real sonic character, but one that would be playable up to the 12th fret – and beyond. Brett clearly relished the challenge and modelled the VE8000 on an old 1920s Weymann that he had in his private collection.

With a parlour-sized body, the VE8000 has a solid spruce top table with rosewood back and sides. The 12 frets to the body, fully adjustable shallow ‘C’ super smooth mahogany neck, is joined to the headstock between the Tusq nut and the first machine head, so maximising the instrument’s sonic response. The rosewood fingerboard carries 18 cleanly finished frets with a ‘double wing’ motif at the 12th and dot positions at the third, fifth, seventh and ninth frets. Brett’s original instrument carried a separate tailpiece and fixed bridge splitting the strings into two sets of six, but he chose to bring the VE8000 up to date with a fixed bridge in the standard position retaining all 12 strings. To enhance the sonic response of the instrument, Brett also decided to polish the solid spruce top rather than applying a lacquer.

The result is remarkable. Our test sample simply shimmered with width, depth and character. The action for a 12-string was unbelievable and there were no ‘dead’ spots. This beauty responded with a warm, rich tone and a timbral quality straight out of the 1920s drawer. As if all this wasn’t enough, for those who are determined to plug-in, the VE8000 is fitted with Fishman’s latest Acoustic Matrix VT soundhole preamp with tone and volume controls and a Fishman MAT ‘under saddle’ pickup. The package is completed by Vintage’s own moulded hard cell Zero-Gravity case, and all at a price (around £400) you would not believe.

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