Vintage Viator

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BRC
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Vintage Viator

Postby BRC » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:55 am

This one is for Gordon.

You seem over recent months to have used the 'Vintage Viator', designed by Paul Brett, instead of the 'Baby Armstrong'. The model you play has a pickup, although all models for sale seem to be strictly acoustic only. Is this a new model or have you added the pickup and any pre-amp?

Could you give details of the modifications you made, or have had made for you?

My apologies for being so 'nosey', but curiosity got the better of me and others elsewhere in the forum have observed your use of the 'Viator'.

Kind regards

Brad

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Re: Vintage Viator

Postby GORDON » Fri Jan 16, 2015 4:05 pm

Hello BRC

My Viator has been fitted with a Fishman under saddle transducer,which has a volume and tone wheel fitted under the sound hole.A pick up model as yet isn't standard but if you find Paul Brett's website I'm sure he could update you on possible future developments .

For me the VIATOR is an outstanding instrument and as with all the Vintage products represents OUTSTANDING value for money.

I have made no major changes to the instrument and have just set the action up the way I like it.

I use it exclusively in C tuning to play HERE COMES THE SUN....LOREN....MRS SINGER'S WALTZ....THE LORDS SEAT...THE PICNIC.I also,used it on a track on the forthcoming album by WOLFESCOTE.It records superbly.

If you get one you will not regret it I assure you.

Be well.

G.

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Re: Vintage Viator

Postby BRC » Fri Jan 16, 2015 7:04 pm

Gordon,

Thank you for that information. It sounds from the description you give that the transducer set-up is a 'Fishman Matrix Infinity', though I could easily be mistaken.

I agree with your comments on the instrument - I really like the sound, especially with the under saddle transducer you have fitted. I have looked in on Paul Brett's website many times over the last couple of years, plus YouTube, though can only find clips of Paul playing strictly acoustically, presumably simply via microphone sound capture.

It is certainly a guitar that interests me though for the moment I will have to curtail my urge to buy one. I bought your signature 12 string last year, also a Taylor 320e baritone guitar - both of which I am very pleased with and enjoy playing. I am always being told that you can never have too many guitars, though, unfortunately, my wife does not agree with that.

Again, thank you for the response and, who knows, maybe one day, not too far away, a Viator might appear in my guitar menagerie and be played.

Kind regards

Brad

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Re: Vintage Viator

Postby AndrewD » Fri Jan 30, 2015 10:11 am

I have been thinking for some time now about a smaller guitar and recent tried a Fender parlour guitar as well as a very beautiful Tanglewood Java parlour guitar...but I keep coming back to the Viator as it is a stunning little instrument, under half the price of the Tanglewood.

So I have just taken the plunge and this morning placed an order with Ivor Mairants and hopefully the Viator will be delivered tomorrow! :) I will wait and see what strings it comes with but some light strings to go to Terz tuning will, I expect, appear pretty quickly. Whatever, it is going to be fun :D Interestingly (for me anyway) this will be my first spruce top. All my other acoustics/classical guitars have been cedar.

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Re: Vintage Viator

Postby GORDON » Fri Jan 30, 2015 7:40 pm

Well done that man, it will give years of pleasure.

Best of wishes to you and your beloved.

G.

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Re: Vintage Viator

Postby AndrewD » Sat Jan 31, 2015 5:15 pm

Thank you Gordon, and likewise to you and Hilary :D

Well, the Viator arrived at around 3pm (thank you Ivor Mairants!) and it is FANTASTIC! It has an amazing voice and is sweet to play. It sounds great in normal tuning and Shining Morn sounds really good on it - it takes the partial capo so long as you are careful that it doesn't foul the bottom E. It also sounds great in the C tuning for The Lord's Seat (but I knew that anyway courtesy of you-know-who). It also sounds good for some early classical (Robert de Visee, Dowland and the like) sounding crisp and lute-like. I have the default strings on it (I can't work out if they are 10s or 11s) but I will experiment with lighter ones to take the tuning up and see how she sounds in Terz. Maybe even more lute-ish or may just go too thin and tinny to work well. There is a lot of fun coming up, methinks. :D :D

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Re: Vintage Viator

Postby AndrewD » Sun Feb 08, 2015 8:48 am

Update

I have had a week (feels like so much more already) love the Viator - it has no right to be as good as it is for the money, quite absurd. It is currently living in the CGCGCD tuning used for tracks like Loren, Mrs Singer's Waltz, The Picnic and The Lord's Seat; but Gordon I have noticed that your recordings (especially Mrs Singer) are a couple of full tones up from that tuning. Are you tuned to EBEBEF# and if so have you got light strings on to reduce the pull on the bridge? I've gone up a tone to DADADE but am a bit wary of going higher even win 11s on. I get nervous when tuning up!

The Lord's Seat only sounds right to my ears with a capo on the third fret at least even when tuned to DADADE, otherwise it just feels that it is pitched too low.

I am also considering lowering the action a little, not for ease of playing necessarily, but because it is easy to bend the 6th out of tune when fretting unless I'm very light with the barre.

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Re: Vintage Viator

Postby GORDON » Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:25 am

AndrewD wrote:Update

I have had a week (feels like so much more already) love the Viator - it has no right to be as good as it is for the money, quite absurd. It is currently living in the CGCGCD tuning used for tracks like Loren, Mrs Singer's Waltz, The Picnic and The Lord's Seat; but Gordon I have noticed that your recordings (especially Mrs Singer) are a couple of full tones up from that tuning. Are you tuned to EBEBEF# and if so have you got light strings on to reduce the pull on the bridge? I've gone up a tone to DADADE but am a bit wary of going higher even win 11s on. I get nervous when tuning up!

The Lord's Seat only sounds right to my ears with a capo on the third fret at least even when tuned to DADADE, otherwise it just feels that it is pitched too low.

I am also considering lowering the action a little, not for ease of playing necessarily, but because it is easy to bend the 6th out of tune when fretting unless I'm very light with the barre.


Hi Andrew.

Yes, indeed the recordings of those pieces are pitched higher because the Baby Armstrong is a smaller shorter scale instrument that allows you to pitch higher.I certainly wouldn't risk it with the Viator buddy,leave it as it is my friend.It never ( and never will) cease to amaze me that all my signature instruments and Paul Brett's range represent astonishing value for money. Im looking forward to getting a PB 12 string any day now.

As I often say,part of my legacy is to be associated with great instruments that carry a sound quality far higher than their retail price placing into the hands of most players who couldn't afford those lovely high end instruments that we all know and love.Obviously if you are buying a hand made Fylde or Armstrong you are getting something special but of course the price SHOULD reflect that.

Enjoy your lovely guitars Andrew.

Our sincere regards to Anna and yourself.

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Re: Vintage Viator

Postby Oldbones » Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:33 pm

GORDON wrote:For me the VIATOR is an outstanding instrument and as with all the Vintage products represents OUTSTANDING value for money.

Well worth noting that Paul Brett has collaborated with JHS again to create a new tenor guitar which will be called the Viaten. First test demo here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3W6Gzp8jWk
It isn't how fast you can play that counts - it's that you only play as fast as you need to play that is important.
Silence can be as eloquent as sound.

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Re: Vintage Viator - update

Postby BRC » Sat Sep 26, 2015 12:14 pm

I took the plunge and bought a Viator earlier on this year and following the earlier posts here.

The new model VTR800PB-USB answers my question about a pick-up fitted model, though I don't think I shall be buying this new model. Not that it doesn't interest me - just an issue of priorities as to how my pension is spent.

My Viator has proved useful in preparing for our annual 'Holtwood Music Festival' as it meant I could use that in the early stages of rehearsals when there are more books and other equipment to carry when not in my own home. The tone is something that is on the thin side compared to my full sized six stringers, then that is to be expected. The volume is ample for an outside gathering - but more about that in a little while.

The one aspect of the Viator that does need some change are the tuners. They lack accuracy of tuning to keep in perfect tune and even then it is difficult to get exactly tuned. Gordon made mention of changing these on his Viator and, Gordon, when you have the time, perhaps you could let me know what solution you came up with to resolve this issue.

I have restrung with Elixir light strings and certainly feel that they maximise the tone and also durability of strings for this guitar. As always, strings can be a matter of taste and preference (taste and fancy?), though I can definitely recommend the Elixirs - I use them on both my Martin and Yamaha full size guitars and am really pleased with their overall performance.

Ah, performance! I went on holiday to Crete on 1st September, for two weeks, and some friends who lived there invited us to a BBQ during our stay and asked me to bring a guitar for a singalong. As this was our first 'package holiday' since 1989 (I normally booked flights and accommodation separately myself) this meant restrictions for carry-on luggage. There is no way I would take one of my full size guitars on such flights, unless it was in an armoured case. Thus the Viator was my choice of weapon for this adventure and was suitable for carry-on cabin luggage. The pocket in the gig bag was useful for my iPad and a volume of songs to be performed, and well within the weight limit. So far so good.

I did indeed perform at the BBQ, but very little from the prepared material as people - there were about 18 of us in total - kept asking could I play this or that song. I obliged where possible, though have to confess that remembering all the lyrics and guitar parts is not as easy as it used to be. Something, I am sure, most in their mid to late sixties might recognise. Anyway, that is not the issue, but the Viator, which was much better that I had expected in an open air environment, under a large gazebo with a temperature of around 29 degrees celsius (this was from about 21:00 hours), nestling in the foothills of the mountains overlooking Souda Bay. I was assured that the volume was fine and sounded good from the audience point of view. I was not so sure but have to accept audience response as being the better judge in such conditions. Retuning was necessary from time to time, though nowhere near as much as I had expected. Incidentally, I only occasionally used a pick, so that was a litlle surprising to me in terms of volume.

Overall I am very pleased with the Viator and it is very suitable as a 'travel guitar' - certainly better than others I have seen and tried. Perfect? no. Acceptable? Very acceptable, apart from the tuners issue. Of course that is just my opinion, though I think taking it to Crete gave it a good work out in conditions that probably it was not intended for originally. I suppose a travel guitar should be able to cope with all types of climates but suspect that is not the case for most.

I had intended posting this within a few days of returning from holiday, however the news from Gordon on his illness left me rather stunned and felt this wasn't so important an issue to need to commit to writing at that time. Glad to see Gordon's comments in other posts as to how he is doing and hope that matters continue to improve to full recovery very soon.

Kindest regards
Brad

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Re: Vintage Viator

Postby GORDON » Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:44 am

Hi Brad.

Thanks for your good wishes by the way.

I haven't bothered changing the tuners because I keep the Viator in just the one C tuning...pitched higher of course! I guess if I was re- tuning I would consider changing them.

As an instrument it never ceases to astonish me.I have a Fishman Matrix pickup fitted, and my god plugged in the sound is awesome.People still can't get their heads around the ridiculously small retail price of £199.I have played instruments that cost FAR more and do not sound any better.One of the finest budget price instruments ever to hit the market in my opinion,along with my Vintage signature series of course!

Be well.

G.

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Re: Vintage Viator

Postby Oldbones » Fri Jun 23, 2017 5:49 pm

Lots of chat here from recent times about the Viator but not much in recent months so I thought I'd try to kick-start things again.

I now have the recently-released version of the 6 string Viator with built in Fishman pickup with USB included. I also have the Viator 12 string. In due course, I'll post a review of the latter - although I may do that for Youtube and just post a link here. BUT, I have a comment and a query for those fans of 12's out there and especially Gordon if he's around ....

In reviews and advertisements for the 12 you often see it referred to as 'unison' but this isn't generally made clear to anyone new to 12 strings. The Viator 12 is, in my admittedly amateur's experience, unusual in that all 12 strings are in unison pairs. (Hence the term). There are no octave pairings for the 6th, 5th, 4th or 3rd.

As anyone who's come across my ramblings before will know, I'm a die-hard devotee of "the jangle" and for that you need the octaves. So - for those experts out there ... what is the point and value of a 12 string that is unison tuned?

I gave the Viator 12 a good few test runs, but then decided to try an experiment. I removed the unison pairs for 6543 and restrung them using the usual octave system. I knew, of course, this would cause problems with string height imbalance because of the nut as well as intonation issues that would be exaggerated by the uncompensated bridge. But this was just an experiment and I wanted to hear how well the Viator worked and sounded as a traditional 12 ..... Hell's Teeth!!! The thing came alive and boy, did it jangle! It retained the Viator characteristics of strong treble and middle tones with less pronounced bass, but that only served to emphasise the brightness and liveliness.

Net result? ... I've ordered a new 12 string nut that matches the dimensions needed for the Viator as well as a couple of compensated bridges for a 12. When they're fitted and everything has had time to bed-in and be thoroughly tested again, I'll let you know how it all works out.

Oh yes - I've also restrung the Viator 6 with Elixir strings. I wasn't overly impressed with whatever brand came with the guitar and I've used Elixir's for years on both acoustics and electric. But that's just me and my personal preference.

Meanwhile - I'd be interested in any answer to that query .... what IS the point of a unison 12 (and just how common are they?) In all my years playing many 12's, I can't ever recall coming across one before.
It isn't how fast you can play that counts - it's that you only play as fast as you need to play that is important.
Silence can be as eloquent as sound.

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Very worrying discoveries on the bridge of my Viator 6

Postby Oldbones » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:34 pm

A great little instrument and I love it but I needed to lower the action. That was when I was rather disturbed by what I found.

What I discovered was that the top of the saddle was already notched and worn as if the 3 or 4 re-tunings I'd done whilst experimenting between standard and G-G tunings were having the effect of causing string movement to cut into the saddle. Also, the material and finish of the saddle were decidely poor ... or maybe it was a poor piece of work that was hidden when the strings were in place? Either way, it was a disappointing discovery. Not what I usually expect from Vintage. I think they need to re-evaluate their Quality Control systems.

More to the point - and even more strange and worrying, when I studied the bridge very closely, the compensated section that usually accommodates the 2nd string actually falls inbetween the 2nd and 3rd strings and thus has no effect whatsoever. In the car trade, my Dad used to refer to this sort of thing as a "Friday afternoon lash-up". Surely the bridge isn't meant to be like that is it? Does anyone know?

The fretboard profile of the Viator 6 is completely flat, like a classical guitar, so in time I will be investigating the availability of compensated, flat profile Tusq or Nubone bridges for whenever I re-string the guitar. However, from what I've been able to find so far, this will require some SERIOUS sanding of both sides and base to get one to fit.

The good news is that the project of lowering the action worked exceptionally well and the Viator plays like a dream. Paying that bit extra to have the option of the built-in electronics is surely hardly worth considering? It's a no-brainer.
It isn't how fast you can play that counts - it's that you only play as fast as you need to play that is important.
Silence can be as eloquent as sound.

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Re: Very worrying discoveries on the bridge of my Viator 6

Postby Oldbones » Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:37 pm

Oldbones wrote:Surely the bridge isn't meant to be like that is it? Does anyone know?

Just thought I'd quote myself to see if anyone can pick up on my previous post about the Viator 6 and offer any thoughts about what I found when I studied the bridge.

After a lot of strange problems I've eventually managed to upload my review into Amazon - with photos to show what I did to lower the action and also to try to illustrate the problem I found. The Viator on Amazon uk is here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vintage-Signat ... dp_product
It isn't how fast you can play that counts - it's that you only play as fast as you need to play that is important.
Silence can be as eloquent as sound.

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Re: Vintage Viator

Postby Frank » Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:38 pm

Hi All

Today I placed an order for a Vintage Viator. I play a Martin at present so I can't really get the sound and inspired by Gordon I and moving for the first time on to a travel guitar so not sure what to expect. I like the thought of C tuning that Gordon uses and wonder what would be the best strings for this higher tuning maybe Martin SP lights 10 for example what do you lads and lasses use?

Frank


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