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 AV2 again exhibits an impressive build quality with neat design references. It's semi-solid and more usually for this type of design the back is chambered from three-piece alder with maple-veneered maple top.
The more exotic figuring puts it into a posher 'boutique' category and again, finishing and binding is of a high standard.
The bolt-on maple neck with the easier-on-the eye Fender-inspired headstock and logos is again impressively shaped with a hint of a 'V' to the shoulders and a tidily fretted dark-brown rosewood board.
The fret slots, at the fingerboard edge, are colour-filled and the neck back is satin – only the head-face is glossed.
Where the neck joins the body there's a contrasting piece of bubinga visible at the neck heel that's actually an extension that passes under the neck pickup.
It allows firm fixing by the four screws, held in recessed washers not by a neck plate, and means that the last 22nd fret is easily accessible.
For the style the neck protrudes more from the body and played seated it feels like you have a longer 24-fret neck. Mechanically we have no problem but that additional piece of contrasting wood seems add to a design that's already full of stylistic contrast.
The face of the guitar you see looks a little crowed. Along with the small bass-side shoulder cutout we have a tortie three-ply scratchplate contrasting the busy flamed maple top with its subtle 'bursting.
Then there's the single f-hole and easily visible orange label, oh, and the cream binding. The well-placed controls have neatly knurled metal nickel-plated knobs, the dual humbuckers have open-coiled black bobbins – the bridge unit in a black surround, the neck pickup mounted to the scratchplate.
Then there's the black-tipped toggle switch that is cut into the cratchplate. In terms of function it's all fine – it's just aesthetically, it looks a bit of a mishmash.
The thru-strung bridge, however, is very neat, like the back half of a Tele bridge, with three brass saddles each shaped to provide correct intonation.
We have a lightweight feel here and that extended neck takes a little getting used to if you're very familiar with the strapped-on 'hang' of a standard Tele.
With good resonance, played clean, the extreme single-coil sound of the bridge pickup is perhaps a little too light, but the mixed pickups and the neck pickup in these lighter modes sound very good.
At full humbucking we witness an excellent performance – meaty, with a really good playing neck and tremendous upper fret access.
While the looks may say Tele, the sounds don't quite capture that earthy twang but do expand the style into a much more journeyman-style performance. Hard to put down.