Gibson Victory, Moderne
The reason for the name isn't hard to guess - the boys at Kalamazoo were out to defeat Fender when they designed this guitar which has a shape, feel and sound angled towards Strat fans.
The Victory comes in two versions — the two pickup MV7 and this three pickup MV10. The neck is 24¼ in scale length and is permanently fixed to the body.
Now the pickups are different. The one in the centre is a stacked humbucker; ie, two sets of coils one above the other, instead of side by side. There's an argument which says you cannot adequately impersonate the sound of a single coil pickup by disconnecting one coil from a pair of humbuckers. The magnets still exert their influence. But site the second coil under the first and it should collect enough signal through the pole pieces to prevent hum, but not get in the way of a single coil sound.
And take a look at the bridge. Out goes the good old Tune-O-Matic and in comes a "top-lock" variety. The plastics saddles sit in a metal groove, but gone are the intonation screws. Instead you shift them about with your finger then tighten a screw on top to secure them with less chance of drift when you play.
As an extra lure to Fender men, the Victory has thinner frets than most Gibsons. The neck profile has likewise been altered. The strap button on the upper bout is roughly level with the 12th fret, so the headstock is much closer to your body than it would be on an SG or a Les Paul. The pickup selector is a five-way slider offering neck/neck and middle/middle/middle and tail/tail but not out of phase positions. One extra toggle taps the coils, and the the controls are the standard two volumes, two tones; stiff to begin with but prepared to wear in.
But the vital question is, does it sound like a you know what?
Well, if you're looking for a perfect imitation, then no, it doesn't. It's a good Gibson, it's even a good Gibson/Fender combination, but it couldn't be passed off as a Strat.
These latest designs have introduced an extra high peakiness to the pickups. There's a fierce bite in the uppermost registers bringing out all the harmonics and squeaks. The stacked humbucker is a cracker, not so much on its own but when it's mixed with the other two and then it straddles the Gibson/Fender barrier, one foot in a bluesy sweetness, the other in a countryfied twang.
Yet the bridge pickup is a disappointment. It's very bright but underpowered compared with the other two, and a medium weight body reduces the sustain. In fact as Gibson's go, it falls somewhere between a heavier Les Paul and an SG.
The true bonus of the Victory is that you can flick from fat sonority to bristling treble — many guitars are good at one extreme but not both. Still it begs the question, is that what you really want?
If I was going to pay for a new Gibson I would want it to sound like a Gibson from top to bottom and not make a transformation halfway down the pickups.
If I wanted a Fender, I'd buy one. £775
Review by Paul Colbert
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