About

Body | Neck | Hardware | Electronics | Quality Control

The electric guitar and bass market is a particularly traditional and conservative environment. It seems that the marketing division of some brands tends to take precedence over research and development. Vigier does not fall into this category.

For Patrice Vigier nothing is ever perfect. Nothing is ever complete or final. Since he started building guitars, Patrice has never stopped looking for and inventing technological solutions to problems facing musicians.Technology is not an end to itself, though. We see it as a way to overcome mechanical problems in order to allow musicians to focus solely on music.

Technology for musicality. The ease of playing a guitar, is primarily a story of pedigree. 30 years of research have enabled us to find the original technical solutions to offer what we think are the best instruments in the world.

Vigier guitars and basses are not necessarily monsters of futuristic technologies. They are designed and manufactured entirely in our factory with an approach similar to the traditional craft of violin making. Raw logs to finished instruments, each step is performed by hand with great care. Vigier guitars are instruments that are the result of a subtle alliance between an ancestral know-how and modern technology.

In a globalized economy obsessed with the search for ever lower costs, designing and manufacturing instruments in France with French wood is a foolish bet.

The Japanese maker K. Yairi says it is a crime against nature to manufacture instruments of poor quality, as if it were disposable as found in a lot of places in our market. We subscribe to the same approach and only want to produce instruments that last. We want to always maintain control over the entire production chain, which is why we have always rejected any ideas of relocation or off-site production.

Origin and Selection of Wood

Apart from the species that do not grow in our French climate (like the Rosewood used on some fretboards or Mahogany used exclusively for GV Wood Limited), all wood used in the manufacture of our guitars and basses comes from French forests. This choice was imposed for three reasons:

  • France has the first European forest, both the quantity and the diversity.
  • As far as possible, we always try to work with local partners.
  • Most of the guitars on the market are manufactured in Asia, with woods of tropical Africa and South America only to be offered for sale on U.S. and European markets. Making guitars in France with French wood feeds into a sense of locality.

We get the wood in the form of pre-sliced raw logs. The first step is then to sort the wood and draw the body and necks of the instruments using templates. Only a small portion of the total volume of wood will eventually be used. Once the templates are cut, they are dried and stored in a controlled environment for a period of one year. Only natural drying ensures perfect stability of the wood over time.

Initial Assembly

When the wood reaches the desired moisture content, the necks are rough cut and the bodies are assembled. All Vigier’s instrument bodies are assembled from two pieces of wood. This choice of two piece bodies is a matter of aesthetics, acoustics and stability over time. After this basic assembly, the parts are stored again for final drying that can last another year.

Design and Manufacture

The true birth of the guitar begins during carving of the necks and body. For this operation, we use a combination of the most high-tech solutions available and manual craftsmanship. The bodies and necks of the instruments are shaped using a combination of CNC and hand tools for the absolute highest accuracy possible. The use of CNC technology is not intended to increase productivity, but to help overcome technical constraints associated with manual labor.

Once shaped, they are checked and finished by hand until the desired curves and a perfect finish surface is achieved.

Finish

We take the utmost care with the varnishes and lacquers used on our instruments. These steps do not only serve aesthetic purposes, they also protect the wood and ensure optimal playing comfort. All these operations are done by hand maintaining a traditional approach.

As many as five successive steps are involved for the realization of a maple top on a body. In total, this represents about ten layers of stain and clear coat to obtain an overall finish which is about 0.7 mm thick. The ultimate goal of this work is to get that mirror effect and transparency so characteristic of our instruments.

Balance

An instrument should be an extension of the body of the musician. So when we design our instruments, we always keep in mind the idea of harmony and comfort. For this, we offer lightweight instruments (between 3 and 3.7 kg) which are perfectly balanced. They’re just as comfortable whether you play standing or sitting.

Neck

Pioneers of Carbon Technology

Vigier is one of the first brands to enter the realm of carbon in guitar making. Our history has seen the manufacture of many types of necks from 100% carbon neck through designs to today’s 10/90 bolt-on design. Currently, all Vigier necks have one (guitars) or two (basses) carbon reinforcement bars that replace the traditional truss rod. This is the renown 10/90 system.

By replacing the truss rod with a carbon fiber bar, the neck becomes uniquely stable. This rigidity is not absolute, the neck retains elasticity that is calculated and necessary. This technique has several advantages:

  • Perfect stability, ensuring identical action every single time you play
  • A high resistance to temperature changes and humidity
  • No neck adjustments when changing string guages
  • No torsion possible (twisting of neck)
  • Better sustain due to the lack of empty spaces in the neck that affect its ability to vibrate.
  • Finally, this technique is used to adjust the strings as low as possible on the neck. We are the only brand to ensure the string height at 12th fret with 100% accuracy.

Delta Metal Fretless Fingerboard

For the accomplished musician who wants to enter the discipline of fretless playing, we developed the Delta Metal fingerboard in 1979. Gold in color, it is immediately striking and features a hard surface that will stay even for a long period of time. It produces sustain comparable to fretted instruments and is rich in harmonics. Exclusively available on 4-string basses and 6 string guitars.

Hardware

Stainless steel frets

All guitars produced today are equipped with stainless steel frets. Stainless steel frets provide a few benefits - they are five times stronger than nickel silver frets, provide a smoother feel as a result of less friction with the strings and ensure maximum sustain.

Zero fret

Vigier guitars and basses are all equipped with a zero fret. This system allows for better sound balance between the strings and fretted and ensures a perfect string height down the neck. The zero fret is designed to be easily replaceable if necessary.

Teflon Nut

We chose to use Teflon for our nuts because of its anti-adhesive properties. This helps minimize friction and thus avoid the tuning problems associated with the use of vibrato. Just like the zero fret, it is designed to be easily replaceable (if you need to change string gauges), and a notch in the slot allows it to position and maintain itself perfectly, without using glue.

Flexretainer

Guitar models featuring non-double locking trems tend to experience tuning problems as a result of string retainers catching strings. Again, we managed to solve this problem thanks to our Flexretainer. Traditional retainers have been replaced by a flexible system that moves along the string.

Vigier is always developing its bridges. All bridges and other hardware are designed to our specifications. Some examples:

  • The 2011 and 2017 trems are mounted on needle bearings to minimize friction and maximum wear parts.
  • The GV has a bridge and tailpiece system that is both beautiful, original and very effective.
  • The Arpege features a bridge made of original individual bridges.

Locking Tuners

The locking tuners we use on our Excalibur and G.V. Models are made specifically for Vigier. They are oversized for a number of reasons. The first is that they increase the mass of the headstock - this prevents the headstock from vibrating as much as with a lighter tuner. The end result is greater sustain as the energy from your picking is contained within the string - from Zero Fret to bridge. Secondly, the added weight helps balance the guitar better. Plain and simple, it makes the guitar easier to play as the neck neither dives or flies up as you play it.

Pickups

To equip our instruments, we are not sectarian. We provide major brands like DiMarzio, Seymour Duncan and EMG alongside smaller and more exclusive brands like Delano, Lundgren and Amber. Whatever the brand, our sole objective is to select the pickups that best suit the character of any given guitar or bass design.

For the GV series, more than 60 different pickups were tested and in the end we selected Amber pickups for the G.V. Wood, Dimarzio D Activator X for G.V. Metal and Lundgren for G.V. P90.

Electronics and Isolation

Electronics are also the subject of special attention. To ensure perfect insulation from noise, we paint the electronics cavities with a conductive paint which, connected to ground, isolate the system in the manner of a Faraday cage . The Arpege pickups use an 18V preamp and each pickup has a 3-band EQ. The result is an incredibly dynamic and versatile bass.

Under its apparent simplicity, the GV P90, also has advanced electronics. The five position switch allows the pickup to be used in series, parallel and out of phase. This is much more versatile switching than a traditional guitar featuring two P90s.

Quality Control

Contrary to what is practiced in a lot of places on the market, we deliver perfectly set up instruments. A single person handles the final assembly and initial verification of each instrument. Using a checklist, more than 20 points are studied and verified. This includes setting harmonics, pickup height, string height at the 12th fret, etc. Once this is done, Mr. Vigier himself conducts the final inspection. No one can describe the beauty of sound, the delicacy of touch and technical mastery of his version of the intro to “Smoke on the Water.” If the instrument passes this test, it is then ready for delivery.

For over 30 years, Patrice has strived to make the best guitars possible. Through the past three decades, he has explored many avenues, and his thirst for innovation has often struck (sometimes rightly, but not always) the skepticism of the market.

The instruments we offer today are the synthesis of this experience and we believe that over time, we have struck the right balance between respect for tradition and embrace of modernity.