An authentically vintage-sounding Strat-style axe for under $300.
A few years ago at the Anaheim NAMM show, I ran across a booth selling cool factory-made “distressed” guitars. Legendary guitar inventor Trev Wilkinson was part of the company, so I took notice. I ended up getting a Tele-style guitar of theirs and have loved playing it ever since.
Several years later I wondered what one of their Strat-style guitars would be like, so I went to eBay to look around. Within a year I had been outbid on several black V6 Icons and that bummed me out. I really wanted one.
A few months later on eBay I saw this distressed Icon V6 Strat-style guitar in antique off-white (Photo 1) for $350 with free shipping. (The going price for these was between $400 and $600 new.)
I watched it for several weeks, not yet motivated to pull the trigger. After a while the seller lowered it to “$325 or Best Offer.” Ah—the old “or best offer” had appeared, and this bottom feeder was going to take full advantage of it!
I offered the seller $275. It was the first day of a 30-day auction, so I didn’t expect a response right away. But to my surprise he accepted my offer within an hour.
Bottom Feeder Tip #776: It never hurts to make a best-offer bid on something you want—and the sooner, the better! If you wait too long, it may be gone to another buyer. The worst that can happen is they say no.
The guitar arrived a week later. I unpacked it and did a little picking, and boy, was I pleasantly surprised. The neck played a lot like my old ’64 Fender Strat, and the pickups were punchy and vintage-sounding. Its period-correct appointments included vintage-style tuners (Photo 2).
It’s rare I receive a guitar that I don’t have to adjust anything on, but this was one. The action was perfect for me right out the box. It was strung with a set of .009s, which I find well-suited to Strats, and the neck had just the right amount of relief. It played perfectly! And it sounded like a ’60s Strat when plugged into an amp.
I’ve always been a fan of Trev Wilkinson. He understands the art of designing great pickups, tremolos, and bridges. His pickups are some of the best-sounding ones out there. What’s interesting on this model is that the middle pickup has some kind of voodoo vibe going on—it really sounds better than almost any other Strat middle pickup I’ve heard. I normally don’t much care for pickup positions 2, 3, or 4 on Strats, but this particular middle pickup gives me the kind of “spank” I like. It really growls for lead work. Listen to my sound sample, and see what you think. So is it a keeper? Yeah, for now. I was originally looking for a black Vintage Icon, but this one will do just fine, thank you.