"Well," Mick said, "as you may know, about two years ago I had two heart attacks, and a stroke, all at the same time. I guess it was cheaper to have them all at once!
"Anyway, I can walk, talk, drive a bit, and play a few chords and licks now, so I'll be having a go in the not to distant future.
"Don't expect the old Mick Abrahams, though, as I can't do that thing anymore! But, I will still be making a nuisance of myself, I hope!"
That is some great news to hear. There is always a shortage of great guitarists who aren't afraid of being a bit of a nuisance, and the world is a better place with Mr. Abrahams in it. Now, let's get on with the review!
Vintage is the name of a guitar company. It is a brand name that is commanded by revolutionary guitar parts designer and builder Trev Wilkinson. After several decades of building some of the most innovative and well respected hardware in the industry (as well as some incredible instruments), Wilkinson decided to try his hand at manufacturing. His Fret-King Green Label and Stvdio lines are the flagship guitars of his empire, being designed and handcrafted in Great Britain. However, the need for lower priced, usable instruments beckoned and Wilkinson came up with the crafty idea of using his stellar hardware on good quality guitars built in Asia, and a partnership with Vintage was born.
I first met Trev Wilkinson close to thirty years ago. He was selling incredibly high quality parts of his own design, and of notable significance were his sleek knife edged vibratos that allowed guitarists to enter the world of Floyd Rose/Kahler whammy histrionics without carving up their instruments. I remembering buying one of his first tremolos and having it installed on a parts guitar that I had built by Sammy Sanchez at Nadine's Music in Santa Monica. It was a remarkable instrument with stellar hardware. Wilkinson's design work was unique and his quality always superb, so when I came across the Vintage imprint, I was instantly intrigued.
The first guitar that I noticed by Vintage was their V100MRPGM Icon. Users were saying that they could tell scant difference between the Vintage models and much more expensive guitars, so I had to find out for myself.
Now, I would be the last person on Earth to compare an imported, relatively inexpensive instrument to a revered vintage guitar. I have played, held and sold several '59s in my day, and they have no peers. Even the best reissues coming out of the best factories fall significantly beneath the magic contained within the real deal.
|The Vintage VS6MRMA|
Recently, I have been considering adding some stronger single coil pickups to my arsenal. I've been a Les Paul guy for a great many years, and always also kept a Strat, or two laying around. I've been toying with an idea for a certain sound in the back of my mind for some time, and it lived somewhere between the world of full output humbuckers, and the wiry pleasure of single coil pickups. I wanted something with more girth, but I also wanted to retain the airiness of single coils. I kept coming back top a few hallmark tones from my youth - the incredible tones of Leslie West from the days of Mississippi Queen and Mountain, the corpulent tones captured by Mick Ralphs during his tenure with Mott The Hoople, and most of all the perfect sound produced by Pete Townshend between the years of 1968 to 1970. Townshend's tone on The Who's Live At Leeds album was to my ears the epitome of chimey, acoustic sounding clean sounds, and Herculean distorted fury.
|Mick Abrahams Vintage Icon Series|
Mick Abrahams states, "Trevor thought I should be playing one of his Vintage VS6 guitars - it was all his idea! Trev did most of the research, and I just made the odd recommendation here and there."
|Blodwyn Pig and Mick Abraham|
"I was stunned at just how good it felt and played," Abrahams stated when I asked about his first impressions. "Yes, me and Trev go way back, but I must admit, I never thought people all over the world would be playing a guitar with my name on it!"
The guitar's neck is a chunky, rosewood boarded number - not too fat, but enough roundness to enhance the axe's resonance. Evidently, this neck was based on a classic axe that once belonged to Wilkinson, and while I'd prefer a bit more girth, it has a quite pleasant feel. The body is a two piece, but you'd expect that in this guitar's price range, and the distressed cherry red finish is thin enough to not dampen the VS6's vibe in the least bit. The guitar sounds very, bright and snappy acoustically, and when you plug it in it really sings. I'm guessing that the obviously inexpensive toggle switch will eventually become an issue, so when I get the nut replaced (to accommodate higher string guages) I'll most likely have that switched out as well.
|Wilkinson W90 Pickups|
|The Who and Pete's SG|
When it's all said and done, I find the Vintage VS6MRMA Icon Mick Abrahams Signature Model to be an exceptional guitar for the price. It is certainly gig worthy, and a tremendously enjoyable guitar to play. Enough so that I will be checking out the Vintage line very closely when making future purchases and recommendations.
Finally, I had to ask, after reading various different tales over the years, exactly why Mick had left his position in Jethro Tull, just as they were becoming big news. His answer kind of sums up his no nonsense, straight ahead approach.
Mick Abrahams on leaving Jethro Tull, "Because I was fed up with all the nonsense, and I wanted to form a band like Blodwyn Pig!"
Turns out that Mick's views are much like his signature model guitar - not terribly fancy, but a simple, and most wonderful proposition. As I was doing some final revisions after receiving some feedback from the manufacturer on some technical issues, I received this great bit of news from Mick.
Mick sends this, "You'll be delighted to know (as I am!!), that I'll be playing four songs at the Tenero Music Festival in Switzerland, and I'll be using a MA signature model that the promoter has bought for my use especially!
Bravo, Mick and bravo to Trev Wilkinson and Vintage guitars!