Price paid: $ 400
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features: The Ibanez ARX320 is a double-cutaway beast at 24.75", 22 medium frets and a wider-than-average rosewood fingerboard. It comes standard with a set neck, ASCH-1 and -2 passive humbuckers (Neck and bridge, respectively), a "Tune-o-Matic" style Gibraltar III bridge, and a well crafted Mahogany body with a quilted maple top. This is a players guitar with some nice show-off attitude.
The body has a nice cream binding that also includes the neck and headstock, complimenting the dark cherry and chrome. The inlays are beautiful but minimalistic, serving as more of a point of inspiration rather than distraction. The tuners are supposed to be Grover knockoffs, and while they aren't Grovers in the flesh and blood, they do their job. But they WILL go out of tune on you if you get a case of the Bends.
I believe the guitar was made in '08, Ya might wanna give or take a year. Mine is the transparent cherry finish, although it is available in trans black. Hardware is a delicious chrome... Mmmmm, chrome! // 8
Sound: Going through an Ibanez TS-9, Dunlop 535Q, and a Line 6 Spider Jam, sound is aimed at a thick, Gibson-esque bucker sound with lots of girth and bones, and much more sustain than it's sister SA-Series. It will give a disastrously meaty crunch for rhythm and snarling blues, and is capable of backing off for those nice blues and clean sounds, and it still retains it's sonic dominance for slide playing. The Mahogany body is to credit for it's tone.
I use the amp and TS-9 at a 60/40 gain mix mostly. It is a nice, warm sounding guitar and the wider string distance is good for classical finger picking, but not for the extreme metal crowd, unless you can dial in a defined meaty rhythm sound. I use Tortex 1.14s, the scale and string distance makes for nice bluesage.
I play lots of whatever-the-hell-I-feel-like; Blues, Jazz, Metal, Country, Southern Rock... Slide, fingerpickin, or regular pickin, she rarely disappoints. I just slapped on a set of Snarlin' Dog 10's in Eb standard and I enjoy the guitar much more than when I had Ernie ST/HB's in D standard. Actually I played this guitar through my DEATH phase, and it was pretty solid, but I digress. // 7
Action, Fit & Finish: When I first touched it, the guitar played nicely, albeit a bit of bow at GC. The guy who does setups was out on lunch when I bought her, so the guy at the desk tried setting it up for me. I've set this guitar up to my liking. Ya can't let another dude try to set yer guitar up. The top is simply gorgeous and very impressive at first sight. It's one of those guitars you pull out and the entire room looks at it. Nobody wants to touch it because it looks like a 3000 dollar guitar, and that is something awesome. The less I have to clean peoples fingerprints off it just means I'm happier.
The finish is actually more of an Orange but the dark nature of the paint makes it hard to tell you anything, except maybe that you have a mouth full of drool... It happens when you look at this guitar for too long. One thing I should mention is that the grain on the fretboard is a little rough; this could be a quality control issue, but I notice in the bends, some places the dragging of the string over the rough areas are audible through the amp. It will retain its 9, as it's nothing overwhelming. Distracting and a downer, yes, but easily fixable. // 9
Reliability & Durability: The 320 handles live playing well. It is hard to get used to if you play "standard" necks, as this one is a little wider. Hardware is solid, like I said the tuners are Grover knockoffs. The finish is also relatively thin, as I've put a couple of dents in the back, but it hasn't worn off either. I can handle practicing with just this one guitar, but gigging with only one guitar is simply not acceptable to me. I HAVE to have my Tele sound when I need it, and I HAVE to have my Floyd guitar when I need it...
I've had an issue with the top strap button coming loose, but I continually keep it screwed in. A bigger screw could help, but it's probably not an issue with all of them. I Do depend on this guitar and I do love it, it is my daily player and I practice up to 8 hours daily, 2 hours minimum. For the two years I've played her she has given me everything and then some, and gets an 8 because the years ahead are yet to come. // 8
Overall Impression: I play blues, rock, metal, jazz and classical. Fingers, pick, and slide. It's warm sound is great for playing and practicing. I play lots of bends and she never says no. I've been playing for 5 or 6 years. I own a Dime-o-Flage, several acoustics, a homespun Pinecaster, and a Peavey Predator FR. It is only outmatched by the Pinecaster for obvious reasons. I have played too many guitars to count, and I certainly love my Ibanez. Nothing I wish I had asked, except "Please save me the time of getting the guitar set up right, don't bugger up my new guitar!"
If she was stolen or lost, I would know that I lost a great guitar and probably start kicking in some faces. The only thing I hated was playing in front of the entire school and not being used to the wider string spacing. I love it now. It's a great guitar. The other guitars I'm comparing it to are PRS 24s, a 70s LP Custom, my ML and Pinecaster... Oh you mean at the shop! I was looking at an ESP of some kind, a 7 string RG, an S series, and a Gibson Flying V. It blows a Schecter right out of the water. I wish it had coil taps, and a string through body.
Overall, if you're looking for a players guitar, this one is very nicely put together. It's not a 70's Gibson, it's not a top shelf Paul Reed Smith, but it's also not $3000 (and more). Contrary to most of Ibanez's other guitars, the traditional, sparking guitar that is the ARX320 is in a class of it's own. // 7