Price paid: € 330
Purchased from: Bam Music Center
Features: My AW40 was made in China. It has 20 frets, the neck meets the body right at the 14. Fret. So far I haven't had any needs for more frets, but I sometimes miss a cutout. The scale is medium, which suits me perfectly. Neck width at nut is 1.625" (1 5/8", 4, 17 cm) Nothing special here.
The guitar is almost fully made of wood, including pickguard, except the pins (and strings, obviously).
The bridge & fretboard is made of rosewood, the neck, back and sides are mahogany, and a solid spruce top. The finish is transpaternt, which Is great on my opinion, because it gives the mahogany wood a really deep brown colour. Also, the fretboard "vine of life" inlay is beautiful. It's made of pearls, so it reflects different colours from different angles. From red-brown to green-blue.
The bridge is fixed, removable.
The guitar does NOT have an in-built tuner, but that's actually a plus in my opinion, because it means that the body is fully wooden.
The strings on the guitar were D'Addario EXP bronze strings. I replaced those after about two weeks, because the strings got dull pretty quickly (it was in the exhibition in the shop, so the strings were already used).
There were no accessories included, I had to pay another 20 for the bag, strap and picks. // 8
Sound: I'm a scout, so occasionally I play many different kinds of music, and it's fine, no complaints. But mainly, I play rock and a bit of blues, and I have to say I enjoy the sound for both genres. However, I've found out that picks have a great affect on the sound. Using a small fat (1mm) smooth pick gives a warmer sound, which brings out the bass, and if I use a pick I've sanded on the edges, I get a really bright sound.
Overall, the sound is crispy/warm but as said before, I had to replace the strings. I use Elixir 80/20 phosphor-bronze strings, and the sound stays bright for a really really long time (6 months)
The guitar is also pretty loud, so it's suitable for playing on smaller parties and such. // 9
Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar factory set-up was okay, but the bridge was a bit too high for my taste, but I just lowered it using sandpaper to shorten the bridge - 1 hour of work. I could do that with minimum fretbuzz increasment.
The neck was just right when I got the guitar, but in the passed 2 years, every bridge would suffer some curving. The neck has a screw in it, so you can adjust the neck tension and fix the problem.
The guitar had no noticeable flaws on the finish. // 8
Reliability & Durability: I'm sure this guitar would withstand live playing, it hasn't failed me since I've been using it (about 2 years). Of course, you will have to buy a pickup for this guitar and amplify it for live playing. I think I wouldn't be afraid to gig with it without a backup.
The hardware looks very well built, and the parts are high quality. It's really the best quality:price ratio I've ever seen. I've played guitar that costed more but I would not replace my AW40 for them.
The finish is pretty thick, must be around a milimeter. It would need a lifetime to wear the finish off in my opinion. // 10
Overall Impression: Overall, I'm very impressed by this guitar. I've been playing guitar for 4 years and it matches my style of music, it suits my needs. Even though I rushed a bit with buying this guitar, there is nothing I wish I'd know before buying it, nothing bothers me. If it were stolen/lost I would probably buy the same guitar, but with a cutout, or maybe with a cherry burst finish. I love the sound of this guitar, playability, smoothness of the fretboard, and the fretboard details. I don't hate anything about it.
I've compared it to other products, some other Ibanez Acoustic guitars and I had second thoughts about buying this one when I tried it, because I had a feeling that the sustain was better, and the voice was louder and brighter. This is what is most important to me.
Only thing I miss about this guitar is a cutout. // 10