Vintage Advance AV6
Vintage has carved quite a market in the UK, and overseas, for its range of knock-offs, replicas, copies – call 'em what you will.
Leading guitar designer Trev Wilkinson has been working with the brand for the past couple of years and we've not only seen the quality and specification rise but Wilkinson has also enlivened the range with, for example, the Icon range of affordable aged replicas.
But with the launch of the Advance series, copy cloning is put on the back burner in favour of some more original designs like this guitar on test here.
The AV6 is a Strat with what looks like three of Gibson's antique single-coils onboard. This one is again all solid so the weight rises to 9lbs – not excessive, but definitely on the heavy side.
The neck and its joint are identical to the AV2 and, again, that contrasting bubinga extension mars the otherwise clean transition from maple to the oh-so-Fender Laguna blue of the body.
The body itself has all the curves and contours in the right places but the horns are thinned and the forearm contouring a little abrupt.
The AV6 is refreshingly minimalist. The plain opaque finish is contrasted by the nicely shaped, slightly green scratchplate and cream colour of the soapbar covered, direct-mounted Wilkinson pickups, Strat-like knobs and switch and vibrato arm caps.
There's no sawn-off shotgun look to the bridge either: a fairly standard vintage Strat-style vibrato with steel block although the string holes are offset to match the rake of the saddles once intonated.
However, the back cover has old-style individual string slots which don't quite line up with the holes in the vibrato block – an open-hole, more modern design might be better here for quick string changes.
Also, a little more neck pitch would mean that those rough topped and uncomfortable saddle height screws would sit lower down.
The tuners are the EZ-Lok variety that, with two holes in the string post, allow you to easily lock the strings.
The downside is that they are quite tall and a little ungainly, and the string winds look untidy around the post. But, are you bothered?
Although they look like standard soapbar P-90s, the Wilkinson pickups are actually stacked humbuckers so as with the other guitars, the third roll control gradually splits them to single-coil.
Slightly weightier than the style suggests, any negatives are soon forgotten as you plug in. Here's a dirty sounding Strat that Fender doesn't make.
The humbucking soapbars have a really full, dry, resonant tone that might be slightly smoother than a good single-coil version, but there's edge aplenty and surprising power.
In single-coil mode it's more Strat-like still, a bit edgier, and of the three the transition from full humbucking to full single-coil is the subtlest.
But it's the quality of the sounds that impresses and they're a welcome change from the humbuckers on the other models. For the money it really is impossible to fault.
Even if it were twice the price we'd have the same conclusions: it's quite simply an excellent sounding guitar, a good player and it offers a different, dirtier spin on a classic tone.
Excellent sounds. Clean design. Great vibrato. Upper fret access.
A little heavy.
A highly affordable Strat 'plus' that's raw, dirty and sweet in equal measure.
1 x 'Roll Control' (Humbucker to Single Coil) 5 Way Lever Pickup Switch Master Tone Master Volume
Laguna blue, Firenza red
Wilkinson WV6SB (Steel Block)
Country of Origin
Guitar Body Material
No of Strings
No. of Frets
With H/S/S pickup configuration the AV6 costs £299, With three standard single-coils it's £319
3 x Wilkinson P90 Stacked Humbucker (N)W90SKN (M)W90SKM (B)W90SKB
Width at Nut (mm)