A revived electric featuring a semi-hollow body and three single coils highlights Vox’s 2021 lineup.
Overview & Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
The Vox Bobcat S66 has been one of my favorite guitars on the market ever since its inception at NAMM a few winters back. The S66 is all vintage inspired, with three S66 single coil pickups that are each controlled by their own volume knob. Throw in a master tone control and a 3-way pickup selector, and you can get up to 7 different pickup combinations out of this guitar. The trapeze tailpiece and tune-o-matic bridge bring some classy, vintage vibes into the mix. Sporting a Maple Plywood body with a weight relieved-Spruce center block, this guitar is a comfortable 6.8 pounds. A Mahogany neck pairs with an Ebony fretboard to hold 22 frets, plus Grover open gear tuners hold the strings opposite that beautiful bridge.
This is, without a doubt, the most unique sounding guitar I have reviewed so far in 2021. These three single coils are so quirky, filled with chime, brightness, and some snarl. At some points, they get a Fender Jaguar-like tone almost. At others, it’s this lo-fi Jack White/Dan Auerbach dream tone. For me, the S66 really thrives with gain and fuzz, nailing those dirty garage rock tones. Chords ring full and single note riffs have plenty of sustain and body to them. The real winner here is that you can just pull so many cool sounds out of this guitar. In the middle position you can turn on all three pickups, any combo of the two, or only the middle pickup. And the thing is, the S66 just really does not sound anything like what I’ve been reviewing. It is so far from a Strat/LP/ES335/Tele branch of the guitar family tree in terms of how it sounds. I love it. The quirks and squeals of these single coils are definitely best suited for fuzzed out garage rock or delta blues, but I do think any sort of indie or alternative rock would thrive with the chime this guitar provides, especially when paired with a Vox amp.
While I ranted and raved about the sound of this Vox Bobcat, the rest of the features are nothing to bat an eye at. The playability is solidly above average, even if a bit unspectacular. The guitar held tune generally well, but might need a new set of strings out of the box to really dial in your own feel and performance. Vox did do a great job with the neck feel and shape, which is neither too slim or too chunky, so comfortably in the middle. While this guitar may sound unique, it doesn’t feel exceptionally different from anything I picked up before and after, which is a good thing to me. I don’t want a guitar to feel like such an abrupt shift from the others that I so dearly love, and this should feel familiar to most.
Finish & Construction: 8
The sunburst finish on the Bobcat I was sent is pretty awesome if you’re a vintage guitar fan. It has a feel and look almost like an old Casino, which is one of my favorite guitars of all time. Finish and fret work all look and feel great, so high marks for the quality control team there. But really, the Bobcat S66 is a great mix of vintage feel with modern updates, which is where the bulk of this high score comes from. It doesn’t have those narrow, tall frets that were hard to play and it never feels flimsy even if the Maple plywood description isn’t totally endearing to you (or me). But, this is another example of a guitar that is better than the sum of its parts. And with the high quality, quirky tones, there is nothing objectively wrong with the finish, construction, or design choices made by the Vox/Korg team. It’s lightweight, comfortable to play, and comes with a nice hard case, need I say more?
My first reaction was to suggest this guitar was slightly overpriced. And it might be when you look at the unscrupulous spec sheet. But this Bobcat just sounds so freakin good. It’s hard to be harsh on it once you plug it in. It can do so many things, many of which none of my other guitars can really come near sonically. Maybe most importantly, it is also just fun. That used to be something I feel like I prioritized in more of my guitar reviews; how much fun did I have with that gear in my hands, through my rig? And the Vox Bobcat S66 totally aces that test, at a price that isn’t unreasonable by any means. So yes, more high marks here and this guitar is suddenly creeping towards the top of the rankings.
Good for: Garage Rock, Blues, Indie/Alternative Rock, Fender Fans, Vintage Guitar Fans, Fuzzed Out Riffs