Recently introduced into French company Viger’s Expert range of SSS-loaded double-cuts is the Classic Rock, an S-type built for modern times that provides the classic tones players hanker after without the assumed downsides of traditional fixtures and fittings. Alongside the long-established 10/90 neck that incorporates a strip of carbon in place of a truss rod, the spec includes high-mass locking machines, the 2011 vibrato that pivots on ball bearings, and string trees imaginatively fashioned from string ballends. Also behind the Teflon nut sits a small strip of dampening material intended to reduce any unwanted string over-ring when using high-gain tones.
Pickups comprise hand-wound single coils from Amber, a boutique manufacturer based just outside the town of Ribnitz on Germany’s Baltic coast. Dubbed True-Vintage, the units are built around alnico V magnets and are specifically intended to pay homage to those acclaimed late 1960s tones. The centre pickup is reverse wound with position three of the standard five-way selecting the bridge and neck in parallel rather than the solo’d middle coil and, needless to say, positions two and four, which combine the reversed middle with the bridge and neck respectively, are hum-cancelling.
Strapped on the Expert is nicely balanced and weighs just about the same as an American Standard Strat. The slinky neck is seductively smooth and a joy to play, and if just you can’t get on with the default zero fret it is, we’re assured, easily removed.
The tonal performance is focused, comprising pleasantly tight highs and roundly woody mids and lows, with the middle selection providing a sound that errs on the warm side while still demonstrating sufficiently glassy treble. The all-important vintage character is just about apparent and although the Expert can rock with ease the fragile treble allows it to excel when used cleanly; position four is especially worthy of mention in this regard.
The spec also includes a side-mounted Neutrik locking input socket and while we understand the reasons for its inclusion, we do feel that it makes removing the lead a convoluted process. Our right-angled jack obscures the release tab, too, and we also find that considerable pressure needs to be applied to it to disengage the lock; possibly a case of Vigier gilding the lily?
The stability of the neck is such that we were able to change from 0.09 to 0.010-gauge strings without any movement, and we find it to be ideally set for accurate intonation all the way along its length. It plays beautifully, too, and although the Expert can sound like a late 60s Strat it certainly doesn’t feel like one, something we feel will gratify Vigier no end.
With a slew of options including pertinent alternatives when it comes to specifications and finishes, it seems that Vigier has most bases covered. It may not be a snip at £2,269 but make no mistake; the Expert Classic Rock is a high-quality, modern instrument that’s well worth considering.
Vigier Expert Classic Rock
• Price £2,269 (w/ hard case)
• Description Double-cut, solidbody electric. Made in France
• Build Centre-joined solid aged alder, with bolt-on D-shape maple neck reinforced with carbon, matte finish. Maple fingerboard, 300mm radius. 22 medium stainless steel frets plus hardened, removable zero fret, Teflon nut, string dampening strip
• Hardware Vigier 2011 vibrato, locking machineheads, all chrome
• Electrics Three Amber True-Vintage single coils, volume, tone, five-way lever selector and Neutrik locking input socket
• Scale Length 25.6”/650mm
• Neck Width 42mm at nut, 52mm at 12th fret
• Neck Depth 19.5mm at first fret, 23mm at 12th fret
• String Spacing 35mm at nut, 53mm at bridge
• Weight 8.1lbs/3.7kg
• Finish Normandie blue (as reviewed) – myriad other colour options available, but metal finishes add £256, clear black and pearl white add £397. For a custom Rock Art finish add £897. All finishes can be matted at no additional charge
• Options Rosewood fingerboard (no charge), black or gold hardware (£153 or £247), Killswitch (£138), custom strap-locks (£52).
• Range Options The DiMarzio-loaded expert Classic Rock, Expert Retro ’54 and Expert Standard ’63 (from £2,269) The Expert Texas Blues starts at £2,359
• Left-Handers Only the Excalibur Special (£2,629) and Indus (£2,149)
• Contact High Tech Distribution 01722 410002, vigierguitars.com