Though you’re likely to encounter very
divided opinion on the subject, many
guitarists, myself included, consider the
Vox Phantom one of the coolest-looking
stringed instruments ever. Over the years,
Tom Petty has played Phantom 6- and
12-strings. Joy Division’s Ian Curtis made a
high-strapped Phantom one of the band’s
visual and sonic trademarks. And perhaps
no guitar player ever looked cooler than
the Velvet Underground’s black-clad, wraparound-
wearing Sterling Morrison slinging a
Italy’s Eko Guitars, always had a close relationship
with Vox. In the 60s, the Eko factory
produced many of Vox’s most iconic
guitars—the Phantom and Mark VI Teardrop
included—under license. And, while certain
guitar purists regard them as B-grade vintage
instruments, they remain some of the
most unique-sounding electric instruments
on the planet.
The Eko Ghost VI is a stab at reinterpreting
the Phantom for the modern player. With
its single-coil-sized blade humbuckers and
5-way, Strat-style pickup switch, the Ghost
VI will never be mistaken sonically or visually
for a vintage Vox—or Eko, for that matter.
But it’s an interesting evolution of what
was always a fascinating instrument.
The Ghost makes no apologies for its
design inspiration. But it also deviates from
the Vox Phantom in several fundamental
respects. First, the basswood body’s
profile—though clearly derived from Vox’s
original, is cut with a shallower arc along
the bass side of the body. It’s a subtle
difference, but it does alter the classic
proportions of the original Phantom. The
headstock is also slightly smaller, though it
retains much of the original’s oval shape.
And the substantial pickguard, which is in
pearloid rather than plain white plastic,
comes off as a little glitzy.
The three-in-a-row knob configuration is
carried over from the original Vox, but the
Bigsby-inspired Hank Marvin Tremolo on
the original is replaced by Eko’s own very
cool-looking and very ’60s-Italian-styled
adjustable-tension vibrato unit.
Some of the Ghost VI’s changes work quite
nicely. It has a very comfortable, fast-playing,
satin-finished neck with a slim C profile
and vintage-sized fretwire that‘s reminiscent
of a ’60s Fender neck. It’s an ideal fit for
the guitar’s 25.5" scale.