By Michael Molenda
Dutch shredder and hair god Adrian Vandenberg burned it up with Whitesnake in the metal-licious ’80s, and is currently rumor fodder since fading out of the spotlight after a 1997 Whitesnake reunion. (Did he break his neck in a car accident and can no longer play? Is he producing an all-girl band with former Golden Earring vocalist Barry Hay? Is he reforming the original Vandenberg group?) But whether Vandenberg returns to the rock arena or not, he did leave us one damn fine guitar.
Developed with Peavey in 1988, and produced until the early ’90s, the original Vandenberg guitars were edgy (dig the distinctive “violin cuts” in the torso) and chock full of attitude. And the guitar remains a bona fide cult icon, as a healthy group of Web-based Vandenberg aficionados still buy, trade, and collect various incarnations (at prices ranging from $125 to $1,300 or more).
If you’re starting to get a sense of déj` vu, don’t fear an acid flashback—the new Peavey V-Type NTB Limited Edition is, in fact, a stellar updating of the classic Vandenberg. The models reviewed here—the standard, fixed bridge ST ($699 retail) and the tremolo bearing TR ($849 retail)—are fantastic examples of worksmanship, design, playability, and power. The Vandenberg name may no longer be a selling point (hence the “V-Type” moniker), but these striking devils can still rage all over old-school metal and hard rock music.
As design elements, the violin cuts may be small things, but they certainly kick this double-cutaway silhouette into its own fashion stratosphere. The shape is a fabulous statement on its own, but add the reverse headstock and the Limited Edition’s flawless abalone inlays, and you have an ornate, old jazz box vibe mingling with stark, post-modern functionality. The result is a really great look, and it immediately announces that the owner is somewhat, well, dangerous. Strap this baby on at your own risk!
The workmanship on the Korean-made V-Type is absolutely stunning. It’s almost custom-shop precise—and that’s no lie. The finish is perfect, the hardware is locked down and well fitted, the jumbo frets are smooth and nicely dressed, and even the routing under the pickup bezels is spotless.
While the V-Type doesn’t offer the flat, burning fast neck of, say, an Ibanez JEM, the neck’s wide, gently rounded profile will delight vintage buffs. The polished frets and low action do invite rapid-fire note spurts, but the neck’s heft also accommodates aggressive riffing and chord work. The smooth, ergonomic neck joint allows access to the 24th fret, and everything else about the V-Type feels comfy. (Although those who aren’t used to reverse headstocks may have a slight huff managing the tuners.) An added bonus are the ridged, rubber volume and tone knobs, which are ideal for pinky manipulations. The Floyd Rose-licensed tremolo on the TR model is responsive and smooth, although heavy pull-offs and manic dive-bombing will bring on a fair amount of “trem gargle.”
A bit of the ’80s still resides in the V-Type’s demeanor, as it favors old-school heaviness over the saturated textures of modern metal. The pickups are voiced to deliver hyped, but not overly aggressive mids. This results in excellent note articulation, and a full-on bridge-pickup tone that’s tough without being shrill. Clean timbres can sound a tad hollow, but the very musical tone control is capable of dialing in a rounder snap—and its sweep is also wide enough for producing wah-like effects. Turning on the burn gives up an overdrive personality that can evoke everything from AC/DC to the Who to, dare I say, Whitesnake. There’s nothing idiosyncratic about the V-Type’s tones—and the medium-output pickups won’t drive an amp into spasms of saturation—but it’s a glorious rock machine that pays homage to all the magnificent guitar sounds of the ’70s and ’80s.
V is for Victory
The V-Type offers a unique design, wonderful inlay work, and classic sounds, and the value proposition is pretty major. Whether you choose the ST or the TR model, you’re going to get one mean rock and roll animal—and that’s why the V-Type wins an Editors’ Pick Award.