Price paid: A$ 2395
Purchased from: Pipers Music
Features: Made between 2006 and 2008 this guitar is a very new model. This guitar is part of the Prestige series, some of the highest quality guitars Ibanez produce. This guitar sports the following:
Wizard II Prestige neck
5pc. maple/bubinga neck material
Mahogany w/poplar burl top body (superstrat shape)
22 jumbo frets
Bound rosewood finger board
DiMarzio IBZ (H) neck PU
DiMarzio IBZ (S) mid PU
DiMarzio IBZ (H) bridge PU
Prestige on 12th fret inlay
Non locking machine heads - Gotoh
Comes with a Prestige hard case, guitar lead and a small set of tools for tuning. The tremolo system is a ZR system with a ZPS2 Bar. It is a ball bearing not a knife edge system so you it will have a longer life than traditional tremolo systems. It works by having a spring system for divebombs and taking the whammy bar down but there is also pressure when going up from the ZPS bar. This means it will always return to the zero position and stay in tune.
What is interesting is that this is one of only a few "Prestige" guitars constructed in Korea. The neck, the hardware and the pickups are all US/Japan made, it's just put together in Korea - don't let that discourage you this is a very well made guitar.
The reason this section doesn't get a 10 is because there is slightly newer hardware inovations out there, such as locking tuners and ZR-3 tremolo units. However this equipment is still of the highest quality. // 8
Sound: This finely crafted machine sounds amazing! You get a fat mahogany tone - but without the weight of a typical mahogany guitar. The DiMarzio/IBZ stock pickups sound great, I contacted DiMarzio to find out which off the shelf models they are closest to and he said they are very similar to Air Classics. Very minimal fret buzz. I play both Jazz and Rock and even a bit of heavy rock and this thing is great for all styles. The single coil pickup has a very hollow sound and neck humbucker is great for a rich clean sound. With a little bit of tremolo on those clean chords and some reverb, the ladies will be swooning in no time. The tremolo arm will get you all the harmonic squeils and divebombs you could ever need. However you wont get any flutter like in the older systems, but it's a tiny price to pay.
As for harder styles, I was very surprised. I have a lot of trouble with my ProCo Rat distortion pedal and trying to get a sound that cuts through but still sounds nice. This guitar totally achieves that - the fuzz sound just cuts through like a knife and sounds great. Be warned that though that this style of guitar is not made for low tunings or drop tuning because of the tremolo system it is designed to have 9 guage strings on, so you may not have much luck drop tuning this guitar. Guitars in this style can sometimes have a sustain problem. This guitar seems fine, there are couple of dead spots higher up on the neck where its only 2.5 to 3 seconds. But most spots I've counted from 4 to 7 seconds of sustain (Unplugged)
The pickups are passive but also high output - however there is no buzz in the neck position because of the dual humbuckers. // 9
Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar was set up both at the factory and by my music shop and whoever it was did a great job. There is minimal fret buzz and a super low action. The tremolo stays in tune, the intonation is great. The pickups seems to be in a good position however I haven't experimented much.
The finish on the guitar is fantastic. It's got a natural wood finish on the poplar burl top. It just looks so unique. My research tells me that this guitar was constructed in the Cort factory in korea. The owner of the Cort factory is apparantly an avid collector of different types of wood. He has large factory rooms dedicated to stocking the finest peices of wood he can find from all around the world. So you can be sure that the mahogany body on this guitar is of the highest standard. (Remeber that even on J-Craft and US made guitars the wood is still bought from overseas, places like korea) // 9
Reliability & Durability: This guitar is made like a beast. It will stand up to live playing and you wont have many tuning problems. The ZR tremolo unit is well designed that if you break a string the guitar still stays in tune. The hardware is chrome and not plastic so it will last a long time. You will need to wipe it down with a soft cloth after playing to avoid tarnish but it's worth it to keep this badboy looking pristine. The strap buttons are solid, they look like they are already designed for a locking system, and there is a little bit of felt around them to prevent any damage to the guitar. I would definately use this at a gig without a backup.
The finish is natural so theres nothing to to wear away, you do need to wipe it down once a year with furniture polish/wash to prevent the wood from drying out. Mahogany is a hard wood so chips and dings should be minimal. // 10
Overall Impression: I play mostly rock and this thing has a very driving power chord sound so it's great. As well that during solo's it cuts through like nothing else. I've been playing for 7 years and I play this thing through a Boss OD-1 and a ProCo Rat all running through a Fender FM 212 (100w) - This guitar sounds great.
I asked just about every question I could and did 2 weeks research on this guitar. If you go searching on forums you will find a very split feild when it comes to this guitar. Here is my overall impression of the internet reviews: People that don't own this guitar see that it's made in Korea, so they just tell people that it's a rubbish substandard guitar and not to but it, despite not having played it.
On the other hand people that love this guitar generally don't own a Japanese model either (I don't). However when I went to the music store I played all the Japanese models, and I played the S series guitar above this model (MIJ) and all I can say is that for the 1000 dollars pricier it was - It played exactly the same as this one, no better. The only difference was a different model tremolo and locking machine heads.
If it were lost or stolen I'm not sure I'd have the money to replace it but I would definatley think about buying this exact model again. It would be nice if this guitar had a grafite nut and locking machine heads instead of the traditional locking tuner system but it's only a small thing. // 9