Vigier Guitars G.V. Wood Electric Guitar Review
August 16, 2011
One of the best things about reviewing gear for Premier Guitar is experiencing how attentive and passionate luthiers can be. When it comes down to it, all of us rely on wood and wire to craft our tones, but that doesn’t stop Vigier Guitars from trying different approaches to bringing those elements together. The French company was one of the first guitar builders to use carbon-reinforced necks and build a fretless electric guitar, and they have a history of readily embracing new technologies that will make their instruments more playable. The new G.V. Wood single-cutaway model is very much a product of Vigier’s evolutionary impulses—with a fantastic array of tones and an innovative, super-slick fretboard.
Fit for a King
Upon opening the G.V. Wood’s Hiscox Liteflite case, I was treated to a stunning transparent amber finish with a gorgeous flamed-maple top. The guitar was structurally flawless in every sense, with nary a trace of finish marring or sloppy paintwork anywhere. Perhaps the only thing that came as a slightly unwelcome surprise was that Vigier says the G.V. Wood is approximately 7.3 pounds, though the shipping scale I used registered a slightly heftier 8.35 pounds—still, that’s not unheard of in guitars of this style. The guitar also has a quality set of Schaller M6 2000 locking tuners and a zero fret that’s placed almost right up against the Teflon nut.
The 24.8"-scale guitar’s bolt-on neck is fashioned from hardened maple that’s been dried naturally for three years. The neck also features Vigier’s carbon-infused wood construction technique—which makes the neck 90 percent maple and 10 percent carbon—for added strength and durability. The fretboard is the real treat, however. Instead of using a standard material like rosewood or ebony, the G.V. incorporates a material called phenowood, which is basically birch that’s been injected with carbon and phenolic resins. After being exposed to intense amounts of compression and heat, the material is virtually invincible to the stresses that commonly plague other types of fretboards—such as warping, cracking, and other issues caused by moisture and humidity changes.
The phenowood fretboard felt like a sheet of glass under my fingertips, and it had a smooth, clear sheen that I could almost see my reflection in. It was pretty obvious that Vigier was attempting to minimize any possible sources of friction, because the fretboard also features 22 medium-sized stainless-steel frets that are slippery to the touch, perfectly applied, and rounded at their edges. Getting a feel for the G.V. Wood’s unique fretboard took some time, though. The combination of the slick phenowood and even slicker frets induced several “Whoa, Nelly!” moments—especially when I grabbed the higher strings for bends above the 15th fret. To make sure each fretted note—single or within a chord—was perfectly in tune, I had to keep a close eye on how hard I fretted and picked the strings. For players with a more aggressive attack, the G.V. Wood might feel a little too hyper and precise under the fingers. On the flip side, those with a softer touch might never be able to let this guitar go.
The guitar’s body is a thing of beauty, too. It’s built from aged alder and has a 2-piece flamed-maple cap. Deep-set brass mounts anchor a custom-designed bridge with six graphite saddles and a small, flat stop tailpiece. Two handwound custom humbuckers made by Germany’s Amber Pickups are wired for a multitude of switching options selectable via a 5-way blade switch between the Volume and Tone controls. Full humbucking modes for the bridge and neck pickups can be selected from the first, third, and fifth switch positions (with the middle position engaging both), while the bridge unit is coil-tapped at the second position and the neck pickup is coil-tapped in the fourth position.
The Vigier feels like a guitar for every occasion. Sent straight into a Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier Multiwatt head and an Emperor 4x12 cabinet with four Weber C1265 speakers, it covered an expansive tonescape, with a high-fidelity attack and bite that left me floored more than once. The bridge pickup demonstrates incredible response and definition, with serious body in the midrange and a pleasing sag in the lows. Gingerly playing open chords with moving bass notes revealed an amazingly detailed high end. More aggressive pick attack cut through with authority, revealing nuances in the upper frequencies that I’d never heard through the Mesa. As I moved up and down the neck with a combination of bluesy lead work and jazzy chording, each note rang out forcefully but with even volume and sustain. It was especially nice to hear how treble detail stayed intact as I dropped the guitar’s volume to soften the upper mids and keep the bass response tight and focused. The same hi-fi qualities so plainly heard in the bridge pickup are apparent in the neck pickup, too.
In full humbucking mode, the bridge pickup yielded fantastic rock lead and rhythm tones through the Mesa’s orange channel. Flipping to the second position, the Angus Young tones of the humbucker transformed into dirty funk tones with a scooped midrange and ferociously cutting treble. I had a ball laying into Curtis Mayfieldinspired rhythm lines in this mode.
Moving from smooth lead sounds to sharp, ’70s-style rhythm and then to velvety chording perfect for augmenting blues bass lines was as easy as a flick of the pickup-selector switch. I ended up finding the third pickup position—both pickups in humbucking mode—the most impressive. A lot of dual-humbucker guitars tend to sound hollow in this configuration, but the G.V. Wood is not one of them. Playing Zep-inspired riffs with both pickups at full bore and hearing the thick, syrupy neck tones meld with the immediate attack of the bridge was a blast. It’s also the loudest position of the five. But rather than a jumbled mess of frequencies fighting, it yields a beautiful, full-spectrum signal that’s exceptionally responsive to touch.
If you’re looking for a guitar that covers an impressive variety of tones and caters to those with a precise touch, the Vigier G.V. Wood is an extraordinary 6-string. Its modern combination of a phenowood fretboard and stainless-steel frets offers a more slippery feel than a lot of players are accustomed to, but chances are it’s a feature that will ultimately enhance your technique. The pickups have superb response and body, with a unique sense of hi-fi detail. Touch and tone come together beautifully in the Vigier V.G. Wood to offer a playing experience that’s worth every penny—if you have them to spare.
you relish the idea of a superbly voiced guitar that avoids some of the pitfalls of traditional construction while encouraging you to play more precisely.
traditional materials and greater affordability are your thing.
Street $3999 - Vigier Guitars - vigierguitars.com