Most flat-top acoustics these days are influenced to a greater or lesser extent by the instruments that were available during the early decades of the 20th century - most notably from pioneer makers Martin and Gibson, but also embracing designs from companies such as Washburn and Larson Bros, for example.
However, when it comes to modern-day acoustics that incorporate overtly historic hallmarks rather than simply passing generic references, the choice becomes somewhat slimmer at pretty much all price points, even though the so-called 'retro' trend has been around for a good few years now.
"The tone eschews the typical parlour, middly brashness for a purer, warmer sound."
Using Martin's method of size classification, Vintage's 14-inch-wide V1800N is strictly speaking a 00, as opposed to a true parlour. But the guitar's slender, svelte spruce/rosewood lines have more in common with the latter, especially given the inclusion of a 12-fret slot-head neck.
Cosmetically, this Vintage is dressed to impress. The immaculately buffed gloss body is bound in coachlined maple, and the spruce top - displaying some attractive bearclaw-like flecks - adds abalone purfling and a similarly inlaid rosette.
Maple is also used for the back's wide centre strip, and for edging on the rosewood fingerboard, which carries decorative abalone position markers similar in pattern to early Martin Style 45s. Due to the darkness of our sample's shell, the effect of these isn't as vivid as it might be, which is a slight shame.
The only non- retro aspect is Vintage's own winged-style bridge design, but that's perfectly acceptable in its own right.
Topped by three-on-a-plate, amber-buttoned gold tuners, the satin mahogany neck is of regular span, fashioned to a very slick medium-depth, 'C'-cum-'D' profile. The standard of fret finishing and set-up is excellent, while 55mm string spacing at the bridge comfortably caters for fingerstyle players
Thanks to the V1800N's 00-like body and relatively deep rims (which measures 99mm across the base block), the guitar is generously voiced, and the tone eschews the typical parlour, middly brashness for a purer, warmer sound.
This warm voice is probably helped by the Vintage's rosewood back and sides. While this tonal character may be something of a disadvantage for earthy blues workouts, it's a distinct asset if you're looking for sonic versatility from a small-bodied instrument.
The V1800N goes beyond the often one- dimensional limitations of many a parlour guitar, and has the ability to compete in folk-size realms.
The standard of construction and presentation is commendably good, with very few cosmetic aspects that are below par. Indeed, taking its cue from the illustrious original upon which it isbased, the trim and finery displays excellent taste and conveys the vintage aura intended
As far as living with the guitar is concerned, it's relevant to mention that the Vintage's 12-fret neck, while being historically correct, won't be everyone's cup of tea if up-top access is a priority.
That said, the benefit of a 12-fretter is its excellent physical poise and balance, not to mention that the configuration places the bridge nearer the 'sweet spot' in the middle of the top, in theory for a more responsive sound. The guitar is no slouch in this respect.