Review: Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V75, V6H & V100

The maker of affordable guitars comes of age with three commemorative limited editions in a distinctive Silverburst finish. Are they worth breaking out the bubbly for?

We’re not quite at the stage where you can buy a ‘vintage Vintage’, but 2020 is the silver anniversary year for the main in-house guitar brand of British distributor John Hornby Skewes – and it’s celebrating in suitably sparkly style.

The Vintage name actually started out as a more upmarket series within JHS’s entry-level Encore line, but soon outgrew that stable on its way to what today almost feels like world domination in the sub-£500 market. The recipe is simple: designs that stay as close as is legally permissible to the established Fender and Gibson templates, built in China without cutting corners on hardware or pickups.

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V6H

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There are no surprises in the models chosen for this 25th Anniversary Series, then: a straight-down-the-line T-type, S-type (with bridge humbucker) and LP-type. Each one is limited to 100 right-handed guitars, all in this striking Silverburst finish.

Obviously we’re expecting three very distinct-sounding instruments here, but there are some shared features beyond the colour scheme – most notably the inclusion of Vintage’s usual Trev Wilkinson pickups and bridges on all three models. What becomes apparent before we’ve even switched on an amp is that they also share a fundamental quality of manufacture, with neat neck joins, solid hardware, well-aligned scratchplates and no snaggy fret ends.

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V6H

It’s only the non-copyright-infringing headstocks that clearly depart from the classic Fender and Gibson designs, but closer inspection reveals a couple of practical enhancements: the Tele-like V75 has compensated barrel saddles for better intonation, while the other two guitars have rounded carves at the neck join for easier access to the top frets.

The burst has been applied tidily on all three instruments, and we like the retro feel of the V75’s single-ply, five-screw guard – just as you’d get on a 1950 Broadcaster. You won’t find many 70-year-old guitars with a neck as shiny as this, though: it’s a full gloss job, on a plank of hard rock maple that’s more than averagely chunky.

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V6H

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The Strat-like V6H feels a touch slimmer in the left hand, and its rosewood fretboard helps to offset the glossiness of the back of the neck. The vintage-style tuners are Wilkinson WJ55 E-Z-Lok units rather than the WJ55 Deluxe machineheads found on the V75, while the bridge pivots on six screws and, with the three springs fitted, feels reassuringly firm. This HSS pickup arrangement is far from vintage, but the humbucker can be split with a lift of its tone control.

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V75

A deep mahogany body and maple cap give the V100 a fair amount of heft – it doesn’t appear to be chambered – while the neck is quite a handful but feels more rounded than that of the big-shouldered V75. The pickups are ceramic humbuckers (with no coil-splitting option) and this time we’re treated to Grover Rotomatic tuners… albeit ones with oddly square-edged buttons.

In visual terms this is arguably the pick of the trio. The sharp-pointed Florentine cutaway might be divisive, but we’ve seen this silverburst finish with binding and pinstripe purfling on Les Paul Customs before and it’s a strong look. Adam Jones of Tool almost certainly agrees.

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V75

In use

For historical reasons it has to be the V75 that steps up first, with a nearly-clean black-panel amp on duty to bring out the sparkle in its twin alnico single-coils. Our immediate impression, in both bridge and middle positions, is that this is a guitar with plenty of twang.

While it lacks the fresh and frisky cluck of our reference Telecaster, making it less appealing for open chords and arpeggios, the Vintage’s natural midrange aggression rewards expressive playing – especially with a touch of British-voiced crunch.

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V75

The fact that this is the only model in the series without a rounded-off neck heel might imply someone at JHS thinks T-types are not for lead players, but give this thing a bit more gain and it’s only too happy to supply some ferocious ice pickin’. The neck pickup doesn’t exactly sing but it’s not problematically dull either, rounding out a clean sweep of solid Tele-style tones with the emphasis on punch rather than prettiness.

If you’re looking for a more airy top end, you’ll find it in the V6H. Both single-coils – in fact, all three once you’ve managed to get a grip on that awkward pull-up tone knob – are voiced to please traditionalists, and with that stiff-ish vibrato arm involved it’s hard to play this one for more than two minutes without getting sucked into a Hank Marvin impression.

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V100

The in-between settings offer maximum quack, with a slight drop-off in treble, and that remains the case when you mix the middle pickup with the bridge humbucker in full-fat mode. On its own the ’bucker is unsurprisingly much darker-sounding with both coils firing, but there’s still bags of midrange snap, making this an easy shortcut to chunkier solo tones. As a bonus, there’s no major drop in output level when you pop it back into coil-split mode.

So finally we come to the V100. Ceramic humbuckers usually spell rock power rather than jazzy sensitivity and there’s nothing going on here that’s going to force a rethink of that assumption. The DC resistance readings suggest a striking difference in power – over 13 ohms for the bridge unit and barely 7 for the neck – but who needs a multimeter when you’ve got ears? In practice, the bridge pickup is a bit of a rock beast but it’s not noticeably hotter than its fretboard-nudging neighbour.

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V100

In all three positions this is a guitar that clearly wants to cut through with midrange honk rather than top-end zing – and the more gain you feed it, the better it sounds. If you pride yourself on your right-hand sensitivity, you might find it a frustratingly blunt instrument; but if you like to put one foot on your coffee table and pretend it’s a stage monitor, this could be just the hard-rocking axe you need.

We’d struggle to pick a favourite from this trio, as you can probably tell by the matching scores. The overwhelming impression is that, as long as you’re down with that bold Silverburst, you’ll be in thoroughly safe hands with any of them.

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V100

Key Features

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V75: 8/10

  • PRICE £419 (inc. padded gigbag)
  • DESCRIPTION Six-string solidbody electric guitar, made in China
  • BUILD Single-cutaway alder body, bolt-on maple neck with 10” radius maple fingerboard, dot inlays, 22 medium jumbo frets and Graph Tech NuBone nut
  • HARDWARE Wilkinson T-style bridge with compensated brass barrel saddles, Wilkinson WJ55 Deluxe vintage-style tuners
  • ELECTRONICS Wilkinson WVTN neck pickup and WVTB bridge pickup, master volume and tone, three-way pickup switch
  • SCALE LENGTH 25.5”/648mm
  • NECK WIDTH 42.3mm at nut, 52.1mm at 12th fret
  • NECK DEPTH 21.9mm at first fret, 23.8mm at 12th fret
  • STRING SPACING 35mm at nut, 54mm at bridge
  • WEIGHT 3.8kg/8.4lb
  • FINISH Silverburst only
  • LEFT-HANDERS No
  • VERDICT A solid take on the classic T-type formula that’s great for twangy riffing

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V6H: 8/10

  • PRICE £429 (inc. padded gigbag)
  • DESCRIPTION Six-string solidbody electric guitar, made in China
  • BUILD Double-cutaway alder body, bolt-on maple neck with 10” radius rosewood fingerboard, dot inlays, 22 medium jumbo frets and Graph Tech NuBone nut
  • HARDWARE Wilkinson WVC six-screw vibrato bridge with bent steel saddles and push-in arm, Wilkinson WJ55 E-Z-Lok vintage-style tuners
  • ELECTRONICS Wilkinson WOVaS neck and middle pickups, WOHZBb bridge humbucker; master volume, tone 1 for neck and middle, tone 2 for bridge with push/pull for coil-split, five-way pickup switch
  • SCALE LENGTH 25.5”/648mm
  • NECK WIDTH 42.8mm at nut, 53.3mm at 12th fret
  • NECK DEPTH 21.8mm at first fret, 23.2mm at 12th fret
  • STRING SPACING 35mm at nut, 53mm at bridge
  • WEIGHT 3.7kg/8.3lb
  • FINISH Silverburst only
  • LEFT-HANDERS No
  • VERDICT An easy player for Strat fans, with plenty of zing and a meaty humbucker

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V100: 8/10

  • PRICE £449 (inc. padded gigbag)
  • DESCRIPTION Six-string solidbody electric guitar, made in China
  • BUILD Single-cutaway mahogany body with maple cap, set mahogany neck with 10” radius rosewood fingerboard, crown inlays, 22 medium jumbo frets and Graph Tech NuBone nut
  • HARDWARE Wilkinson tune-o-matic bridge with stop tailpiece, Grover Rotomatic tuners
  • ELECTRONICS Two Wilkinson WOCHB humbuckers, individual volume and tone controls, three-way pickup switch
  • SCALE LENGTH 24.75”/629mm
  • NECK WIDTH 43.4mm at nut, 53.7mm at 12th fret
  • NECK DEPTH 22.1mm at first fret, 24.8mm at 12th fret
  • STRING SPACING 35mm at nut, 51.5mm at bridge
  • WEIGHT 4.1kg/9lb
  • FINISH Silverburst only
  • LEFT-HANDERS No
  • VERDICT Big on power but not subtlety, this is a hale and hearty Les Paul alternative
  • CONTACT jhs.co.uk

Like these? Try these

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V75

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V6H

  • Vintage V6H £379,
  • Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Stratocaster HSS £369,
  • Fender Player Stratocaster £599

Vintage 25th Anniversary Series V100

  • Vintage V100 £409
  • Epiphone Les Paul Standard £529
  • Gibson Les Paul Tribute £999
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