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REVIEWED


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German guitar virtuoso teams up with Vintage to create a guitar that celebrates the legendary 1967 ‘Summer of Love’…


Words: Tim Slater


When Jimi Hendrix took to the stage at the 1967 Monterey Pop festival the Seattle born guitarist literally burned his name into the annals of music history when he bought his set to a climax by immolating then smashing a rosewood ‘board Fender Stratocaster that he had hand-painted earlier that very afternoon. That iconic moment instantly established Jimi’s worldwide reputation as a consummate showman, helping the Seattle-born guitarist to gain an instant foothold in his native USA after his establishing himself in the UK six months earlier. Session guitarist and clinician Thomas Blug may not be a household name in the same mold as Jimi Hendrix but the German virtuoso is still highly respected and admired among his peers. Blug is often seen using his favourite white 1961 Fender Stratocaster, the guitar that Vintage used as the basis for his own Vintage MRTBG Signature model. Both parties have collaborated again on a second Blug Signature model whose lary-looking custom graphics and


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SRP £479.00


All prices include VAT CONT


ACT


JHS Ltd T:


W:


01132 865 381 www.jhs.co.uk


reverse headstock are a tribute to Hendrix’ doomed Monterey Strat.


Can you see me? Firstly, one can’t help but be impressed by this guitar’s stunningly authentic vintage feel and appearance. Pictures don’t really do it justice; you really need to see it and pick it up to gain a true impression of what a visually and physically striking guitar this is but for now we’ll do our best to convey its impact. The contoured alder body is finished in the more or less 50/50 vintage white/ fiesta red blend of Jimi’s Monterey Strat, very skillfully aged to simulate the appearance of how that guitar might look today had it not met its untimely fate at the hands of Hendrix and a tin of lighter fluid! The swirling graphics by German artist Daniel Hahn simulate Hendrix’ own distinctive artwork on his Monterey Strat and they definitely help to complete the highly evocative ‘Summer of Love’ vibe. The aged plastic parts and very authentic looking patina of age conspire to create the wholly convincing air of a genuinely ancient guitar, with the extra fun-factor provided by the psychedelic paint job and distinctive reverse headstock. Whilst also providing an extra Hendrixian flourish, the reverse headstock also plays a role in helping this particular guitar to develop something closer to Jimi’s unique tone. The extra long low E string seems to resonate differently compared to its conventional right-handed counterpart, adding an extra dollop of low end thump that contributes to the guitar’s distinctive throaty growl.


36 3 www.playmusicpickup.co.uk


The upside down tuners demand a certain amount of concentration, though; if you’re not paying close attention it is easy to get a mite confused whilst tuning up! The chunky maple neck’s generous profile might feel a bit on the hefty side, especially if you are more used to slimmer modern designs but being closely based on Blug’s original 61 Strat, this feel is nevertheless entirely authentic and period correct…all you feel you need to complete the full ‘67 effect is pink feather boa! The neck’s artificial aging has a lovely satin smooth feel and the set up on our review instrument included uniformly smooth and rounded fret-ends, which helps to boost comfort and playability.


Purple Haze Beneath the aged plastic scratch-plate lies a hum-cancelling dummy coil activated by a push-pull pot on the rear tone control. Christened the ‘Bukka’ switch, this is a real boon for a modern rock player like Thomas


Blug, who routinely employs high gain overdriven sounds. The Bukka switch significantly eases the hum issue without compromising the single coils’ distinctive clarity. Easy to use, the Bukka circuit employs a push/push pot to activate the noise-cancelling circuit or return to true single coil mode. The Blug Summer of Love model sounds every bit as authentic and gnarly as its predecessor the Vintage MRTBG; the Wilkinson single coils sound totally spot-on, capturing every nuance of this universally popular design with character and authority. Clean tones shimmer and chime, demonstrating the superb balance between each pickup that is one of the outstanding hallmarks of any really good genuine vintage Stratocaster. Overdriven, things fatten up nicely whilst remaining fairly transparent; the neck pickup’s big ‘chewy’ tone moans seductively, contrasting smartly with the bridge unit’s distinctive penetrating shriek. PM


SHOULD I BUY ONE?


Whether you are a bit of a Hendrix-head or else you just fancy something a bit flamboyant and vibey, the Blug Summer of Love injects a healthy dollop of fun. It might not take itself too seriously but don’t be fooled by the tongue-in-cheek approach, this is one seriously great guitar. Again, Vintage has come up an instrument that sideswipes the competition by presenting a guitar that ticks all of the right boxes tone-wise whilst refusing to conform to the accepted notion of how an affordable guitar should look, play and sound.


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