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The Vigier Excalibur

Vigier Excalibur

The Vigier Excalibur

The Vigier Excalibur is the only guitar I have ever purchased on reputation alone. I had never played one, only seen them at trade shows and in videos. Every week for a few years, I would check Ebay for one that didn’t cost the full $3000+, and finally bid on this…this thing. A guitar collector was thinning out his herd, and I got it for $1500, still the most expensive guitar I own. It’s a gaudy grey-blue type of camouflage finish with a mirrored pickguard. I saw the pictures and could not believe that such a thing was ever ordered from a factory, but I still abide by the rules that guitars should be played and not seen, and I bought it for the purpose of playing it, not looking at it.

Getting it: I had UPS hold it at their shipping hub because I would rather pick it up myself than let a driver leave it on my front porch. I went to the South San Francisco UPS hub, which is almost an entire zip code of brown, lunch boxy trucks.

I opened the box and was laughing at the finish, chrome hardware and the pickguard. Also, the all-maple neck looks like a bright offshoot from a decorative scheme better suited for a monster truck.

The details: of it that matter to me are: Dimarzio pickups, 24 fret, one piece maple neck with no truss rod (a Vigier 90/10

Zero Fret!

Zero Fret!

neck, which I will explain shortly), Gotoh tuners, Vigier spec Floyd Rose with bearings instead of knife edge, a zero fret and locking nut. Yes, all a bunch of jargon that means nothing to anyone other than a guitar nerd, but I kept it short so I could get to the part in the narrative that matters:

The “duh” moment: Then I plugged it in and played it. (What did you think I was going to say? Then I stir-fried it with sesame oil and kale)

It’s easy to play. Really easy. What this means is that the wall between inspiration and creation is much easier to scale. (Zing!) The easier a guitar is to play, or any instrument for that matter, it means one less hurdle between hearing something in your head and recreating it with your ears. Some guitars are difficult to play, but make interesting music too, hearing a musician tackle a difficult instrument for our amusement. The Tuba comes to mind…

The Vigier is a super-strat. After years of Jackson, Ibanez, Charvel, ESP and whoever else had long haired humans in their advertisements, the Vigier Excalibur is one that fits me better.

No truss rod: Goodness no. It’s so nice to have a neck which is just one piece of something. It’s all glued together to make a solid…thing. No nuts, bolts, steel or air pockets in it. The relief is perfect, and  I leave the same gauge strings on it (46-9 hybrid stainless slinkys) so I have no idea what would happen if I put anything else on.

What I did to it: I put a Tremol-no in to stop the bridge from floating, I put a push pull pot for the volume to get single coil sounds, rewired the pickup selector to change what each setting did, and the person who bought it put a much bigger brass block for the bridge. All of these make this my deserted island guitar. Well,

as long as I had an amp, my effects, plenty of power, and a recording studio. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you probably aren’t reading this sentence because you stopped earlier.

Conclusion: I have always wanted to write about my Vigier Excalibur, but have just realized that most of the things I like about it are hard to put into words.

Tremol-No and Big brass block.

Tremol-No and Big brass block.

There’s a lot to be said about a guitar I have left plugged in for 3 years with amps turned on for 3 years (Not hyperbole…) so I can always pick it up and play electric guitar. No switches to hit, just a volume knob and wham. Immediate. It  would almost be more suited for a Youtube video of me playing it for 20 minutes. This little vignette on one of my favorite objects on earth hardly does it any justice. I’ll work on it.



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August 20, 2013 · 5:46 pm

Dreams of Owning a Large House (Guitarist Stream of Consciousness)

My aspirations for main purposes in owning a home revolve around two major themes, the limits of space and volume, both sonic and spacial interchangeably. As I watch that Vince Gill video, I have no idea what type of squalor and or grandeur his house may embody, but that guitar room is some sort of dream sequence.

As a young guitar player, if you asked me to imagine the future and where I’d be living, “Guitar Room” was always part of it. The first thing I usually reference is the montage at John Entwistle’s house where he goes down the stairs with a guitar case (with a record breaking [watch the video on Youtube to see what I mean…] Thompson submachine gun inside) and there are guitars everywhere.

As a Californian, it stirs up my fear of earthquakes. I hope my house is in tune.

I’d like a music store version of the show Survivor. Lock a few musicians in a store and see what happens. Lateness would decrease, but not as much as you’d expect…

I’d make a guitar string hammock for a bed. Nylon strings, of course.

Music stores contain a seemingly infinite amount of potential — energy, creativity, emotion, you name it. Like an art supply store, but a different flavor of pretentiousness. Instead of the snarky paintbrush aficionado, there’s the drumstick guy, brand sycophant or the amplifier guy. Same essence, different clothing.

Music stores are usually poorly organized, an interesting nuance to something so arrangement driven. Temperamental objects and people crammed into a small room.

A silent cacophony at night. Dog pound chaos by day.

I want to live in that. I imagine it in the middle of nowhere, in my head it’s usually a 5000 acre Nebraska field so I can play as loudly as I want and not worry about neighbors calling the cops.

Almost forgot about tornadoes.

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