One of the most exciting guitars of the last few years, will the St. Vincent be worth the hype?
Overview & Final Score: 8.0
One of the first articles I ever wrote for Ultimate-Guitar.com was about how influential this guitar has been since its release. I mean, even Jack White picked up this guitar and loved it! And what’s not to love with this quirky, versatile signature guitar? Featuring a 25.5″ scale length, this affordable take on the St. Vincent sports a Mahogany body with a Hard Maple neck and Rosewood fretboard. 22 narrow frets are held between locking tuners and a Music Man vintage-style tremolo. This (barely) sub-$600 guitar is available in Vincent Blue or Stealth Black, two killer finish options.
The electronics on the St. Vincent are straight up fun, with 3 mini humbuckers that provide a ton of bite and volume. A 5-way selector switch controls the pickups the same way a Strat wiring harness works, and then there is a master volume and tone knob as well. There is a lot to like once you throw in how freakin cool this guitar looks!
I’ve never really spent a lot of time with mini humbuckers, but these really won me over quick. They are much brighter and clearer than traditional humbuckers in my opinion. While they certainly don’t have the heft of something like a PAF, they also don’t get nearly as muddy. This gave the St. Vincent far more versatility, letting me jump from clean chime to classic dirt tones with ease. I feel like I got some Strat tones out of this thing and then could instantly flip down to sustaining lead lines that are rich and warm. Even better, because these pickups are pretty bright, the tone knob actually had a little life in it before getting really muddy and useless. For me, the tone knob is pretty much useless on humbucker guitars as they get so thick and useless quickly, but I really enjoyed the extra few sounds I could pull out of here. Sterling by Music Man seem to have distilled all the best aspects of the premium St. Vincent guitar into their take on the quirky design, and I’m very happy the result.
St. Vincent certainly built a fun guitar to play. The neck is smooth and actually feels kind of small, which I love for wrapping my thumb around the top edge. The thin feel is also due to the nice finish job on the back of the neck, it never feels thick or sticky. Locking tuners are always a good thing, and really help keep the tremolo arm useable here. It doesn’t feel like a cheap trem by any means, but it certainly doesn’t compare to the Crescent trem I played on the Sabre and Majesty from Ernie Ball. However, tuning stability was really not an issue, making this is a particularly fun lead guitar. I dived bombed a bit with the whammy bar and really stretched some bends all without losing tuning, at least not til awhile later. Fret work was killer, everything felt well above average here!
Finish & Construction: 7
I originally wanted to take more points off. The first St. Vincent they sent me showed up with the neck pickup hanging by only one screw, half into the body. When they sent it back, the middle pickup had the same problem. On the third try they got it right and I was impressed with the finished product. If the last one wasn’t so near perfect, I would have been harsher, but minus 3 is enough because really it wasn’t a huge issue. Honestly, I wish they had just let me fix the issue myself and avoid all the shipping costs. But the final product was superb and I’m ultra impressed with the finish, feel, and look of this guitar. All the other hardware was well installed, and performed well past the price point. I assume most guitars don’t these pickup issues because these Sterling St. Vincents have been selling like hot cakes. You’ll certainly end up with a sick guitar in your hands at the end of the day.
I’m really high on the value factor with this guitar. If honestly felt closer to the $2000+ dollar Ernie Ball Music Man guitars I reviewed this year than not. Once I had the guitar in my hands, fully functional I couldn’t put it down. Even more importantly, it is just inspiring to see it on my guitar rack. Every time I walk by I have to pick it up. It’s an exciting guitar from an exciting company and exciting guitar player. These Sterling signature models like the Majesty, Valentine, and St. Vincent are really popular and starting to make serious inroads on Gibson/Fender territory. I would highly recommend this guitar for the price and seriously hope they don’t ask for one of these back!
Good for: Almost Everything, Live Players, Versatile Players Who Blend Genres, Alternative Music, Experimental Music, Indie Rock