S420 Review

manufacturer: Ibanez date: 06/26/2012 category: Electric Guitars
Ibanez: S420
Made in Indonesia the new 10 Ibanez S420 alike the previous S320 has a matt black finish, infinity 1 & 2 pick ups.
 Sound: 8
 Overall Impression: 8.4
 Reliability & Durability: 8.8
 Action, Fit & Finish: 8.6
 Features: 8.8
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (5) pictures (2) 54 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8
S420 Reviewed by: unregistered, on january 18, 2010
3 of 5 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 350

Purchased from: Music King

Features: Made in Indonesia the new 10 Ibanez S420 alike the previous S320 has a matt black finish, infinity 1 & 2 pick ups (these give it a very bright yet muddy tone. I may replace the neck pick up with a DiMarzio at some point), 5-way selector and zero resistance tremelo bridge featuring the ZPS and spring tension adjustment system for easy adjustments with a tuning lock at the top of the neck. This guitar has 24 frets. It only has 1 inlay on 12th fret but there are markings down the side of the neck to help you not get lost. It has an Ibanez wizard II neck which is very smooth and thin. The fret board is rosewood and the neck maple with a mahogany body. It comes with a lead, all the tools for the parts, a gig bag and strap. A great piece of kit. It is extremely light and very thin but sturdy. // 8

Sound: I play a broad range of styles. The band I'm in plays alternative rock and this guitar certainly fits in nicely to the style. It is certainly a versatile guitar even with the infinity pick ups. It makes a nice change to the Epiphone Les Paul Black Beauty I also own as its not continuously rich with tone but this guitar has a good amount of tone and sustain considering its breadth. I use it with my Boss ME-20 pedal and so far have only used it through a 15-watt Marshall practice amp. All my presets are set for my les paul and I hardly need to change anything other than eq to accomodate this new guitar. I also play some steve vai/joe satriani instrumental rock/metal stuff and this guitar finishes it off nicely with some added chorus/phaser. Its no les paul or Gretsch when it comes to deep tone blues but the pick ups give a nice muddy blues sound with the right suopport and on clean the guitar does have good clarity, particularly with the neck pick up in parallel. // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: I was concerned that on receiving my guitar the action might be set high as my friends of mine have had the experience of ordering an Ibanez and the next day taking it in to the local music store to be set up properly, but no I'm extremely happy with how its set up, the action isn't high, the neck is perfectly straight and fast, the tremelo is set perfectly, frets are finished beautifully, the pickups are equal height to the strings - overall, good job Ibanez! // 8

Reliability & Durability: This guitar I can see surviving a skydive with no parachute. At the outset it's so thin it looks like you could put your hand through it just with a hard strum but no it is completely solid and strong. Strap buttons are solid, the tuning lock doesn't move a nanometre, and the neck is very well solidly attached to the body. This guitar could withstand any gig. It's very durable. The ZR bridge looks monstrous on this thing (in a good way) and using it makes you feel like you're going to rip the guts of the guitar yet it withstands Herman Li style whammy bar lifts and the best thing about it is the tuning doesn't go, it is a very stable piece of kit. I wouldn't think twice about using this without a back up but wouldn't let my les paul miss out on all the action. // 8

Overall Impression: This guitar in my opinion truly is craftsmanship. It goes without saying that this review makes it look like it shines out over anything and I'm not saying it does but it sure is good. Others of you will have different experiences if you purchase this guitar, that goes without saying but I can't fault - not yet anyway. I've been playing for 7 years and have only owned this, my Les Paul and a Tanglewood nevada. If you want to get a guitar with a tremelo bridge do not pass by a guitar with a ZR bridge. Even if you want a stop tail or can't decide the amount of spring tension you can add on this just my rubbing your thumb over a wheel is incredible. Although I will say if you have the extra cash then buy youself a good set of pick ups or go for a higher spec model such as the S570 or a prestige. I love the bridge and the overall shape of the body. Personally I don't really see the point in active pick ups, I wouldn't choose a guitar based on that. I had a little list going of guitars I would be interested in owning and it came down to a choice between this and the new Ibanez RGD320, which is very nice even though it has an Edge III bridge which is why I came to my decision but if you're in the market check it out. I would buy this guitar again in a heart beat if I was deprived of it. There's only one thing I would change/wished it had and that is it would look really cool in white (would like the choice of some other colours for this guitar) and it would be perfect if the neck had some nice artistic inlays/fret markings, although I could produce my own in fairness - I'm just lazy. I imagine over time maintenance will be needed but so far I am thoroughly impressed - well done Ibanez! // 8

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overall: 8.4
S420 Reviewed by: Geldin, on december 23, 2010
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 600

Purchased from: Andy Owings Music

Features: My guitar was made in Indonesia in 2010. It has 24 jumbo frets, all of which are easily accessible even when attempting 6-8 finger tapping. The guitar is obviously a solid body, although as part of the S-series, it has little there to speak of. The finish is called "Weathered Black" on the Ibanez website. That turns out to be a non-glossy black finish with a natural-wood texture. The neck is maple with a rosewood fingerboard. The body is a Mahogany Super-strat shape with two passive double-coil pickups: an Infinity 1 in the neck position and and Infinity 2 in the bridge. There are two controls: volume and tone. There is a five way pickup selector, giving the player several sound options to choose from. The bridge is a Zero Resistance (ZR) tremolo system, which Ibanez (accurately) claims will hold tuning very reliably. The locking tuners at the nut help in that regard. There is new feature on this model, the Zero Point system, which allows the player to change the tension on the bridge more easily, limiting the necessity of a hex wrench or a screwdriver. All in all, a good set of features. The controls are comfortably out of my way when I'm playing and strumming, but they're easily in reach for changing my volume, tone, or pickup on the fly. // 9

Sound: I play a widely-influenced brand of metal. Honestly, the only label I can apply comfortably to it is progressive, although that word gets thrown around so much it's really meaningless these days. This guitar covers every base I need competently, although it does some sounds better than others. I usually use my Vox-VT30 or my Hohner H1040 with this guitar, both of which are solid state amps. The sound is good from both and compares evenly with the sound that I've gotten from more expensive amps. Normally, I use a tight distortion for rhythm parts and a mid-and-reverb-heavy tone for leads. This guitar does both perfectly well. The clean tones that I use are a little sharp, so I do have to roll the tone back somewhat to really dig in. I think this guitar is a shrill for my taste to keep in E-standard. Everything from Eb to C Standard has sounded just fine on here. The mahogany body really sounds good with those lower tunings without losing note clarity. // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: The action was perfect when I got this guitar. The store had ordered it for me and they took it out of the box for the first time when I came to claim it. The action was playable, although it was a little bit low. The pickups were set up competently and are neither too high nor too low. I will say this, however: because the neck is so narrow, it takes a little time to get used to the small distance between the strings. If you don't warm-up to it, your hand will become cramped uncomfortably very quickly. // 8

Reliability & Durability: I dropped this guitar on its face once (completely by accident, I assure you). I put a small dent in the lower horn, but even where there was a small yet sharp indent, there was almost no chipping in the finish. The strap buttons have not given me any trouble yet. I would use it live, but not without a backup. I'm not that confident in any piece of gear. I have noticed that the control knobs are coming loose, although I've owned the guitar for nearly a year now, so I doubt that is symptomatic of poor handling at the factory. Otherwise, it plays like a dream and isn't overly difficult to adjust to new strings/tunings. // 8

Overall Impression: I've been playing for two years. My style has changed a lot, from thrashy metalcore to wannabe progressive to death metal to neoclassical to all of that thrown together at once. All in all, this guitar makes every sound I want it to competently. If I lost it, I wouldn't buy another. I would find the jerk whodunnit and get it back from him (I'm not Bruce Wayne-rich or anything like that). I do hate changing strings, but that's the case with any guitar that has a non-fixed bridge. I compared this to similarly priced Ibanezes, ESPs, BC Riches, and a Fender Showmaster. Obviously, I chose the S420. It's comfortable, good for the money, and it does anything I try to make it do. // 9

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overall: 8.4
S420 Reviewed by: Insanity ninja, on august 18, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 420

Purchased from: Unknown

Features: Indonesian made in 2010, with a 24 jumbo fret neck. The neck is incredibly thin, it makes everything else I play feel huge after playing this. It's maple with a rosewood fingerboard, bolted to a very thin (but incredibly sturdy) body. The finish is called weathered black by Ibanez, but that's just a fancy name for matt black over wood with kind of slashes in it... The finish sounds weird, but looks good. Like I said the body is very thin and is a superstrat shape, allowing full access to all 24 frets. Now the Bridge is one of my favourite features, and part of the reason it gets a 9 on this field. It uses the "Zero Resistance" Floyd Rose system. It holds tune perfectly, has the locking nut, but is so easy to adjust! I was amazed, it takes away the annoying aspect of getting the spring to string tension right, a small, unobtrusive wheel on the back regulates the spring tension. Another feature I love is the actual wiring, not so much the pickups (I find they're just a little bit lacking), but how you can separate the double coils, so that they sound like their smoother single coil cousins. I can get very similar sounds from it as I can with my Fender Strat. This makes the guitar very versatile. I said before that I find the pickups a bit lacking, but this is me being very picky. I'd like just a bit more bite from the INF1 and INF2 (I think "INF" stands for infinity) pickups. Had these pickups been more to my liking, this guitar would've got a 10. One other feature I like, is the output jack. It's located inside the front of the body at an angle, this keeps it out of the way when strumming, and doesn't wreck your non-angled jacks if you want to sit down. It also leaves the cable in a prime position to tuck it under your strap for playing live. I was looking for a guitar with a thin body, fast neck, high output and a floyd rose, I got this and was definitely NOT disappointed. // 9

Sound: I play all kinds of music, but I needed something with higher output than my hss strat. So this guitar was going to be used for metal mainly, but I found that this'll do so much more. It suits blues, and even some funk, I can't express how much I love it. When using it for metal though, especially when soloing, the pickups seem to be missing a bit of the bite I'd like, but I've said all that. I'm using this with a fab metal pedal, it's only cheap, but I can't fault it. My amp is a Fender FM212, and it sounds nice through it, clean or dirty. // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: I'm not sure where this guitar came from (it was a present), but it wasn't set up too well. Having said that, within 5 minutes I'd set the string tension and was adjusting the intonation with the provided hex-keys. The pickups didn't need anything changing, they were fine as they were. All of the cavities that were on show under the tremolo had been finished with felt or some fabric of the like. As with other Ibanez guitars I've tried (none under 300), I found that it was incredibly well finished, with amazing attention to detail. // 8

Reliability & Durability: This guitar will certainly withstand live playing! The hardware is durable as anything, everything is just so solid on this guitar. When it came I changed the strap buttons immediately, not because they were bad, but because I like to use locking buttons. They had a very wide top bit (not sure what the name is) that would hold a strap easily without coming off, and it's a shame that my locking buttons aren't the classy black metal, but hey, I'd rather be safe than sorry. I'd never advise gigging without a backup, but I can certainly depend on this guitar, and it feels as if it'll last millennia. The finish is kind of weird. With it being a matt finish, I doubt it'll crack off in patches. It's also a very light guitar, and sits very comfortably when stood up playing. However, the output jack holds the lead very tightly, making it hard to pull it out without damaging the wood around the jack. // 9

Overall Impression: As I play lots of different kinds of music, but this suits my metal needs. I've been playing for 5 years, and I own a total of 11 guitars... (Fender T-Bucket CE-300, a Turner acoustic, a 1964 Framus "Hawk", Tokai Firebird, a couple of Rally guitars, a Mexican Fender HSS Strat, a homemade telecaster, a Westfield Strat and an Oldfield PRS rip off. I'm completely happy with this product, and I'd probably replace it with an S570. I stated what I loved about it in the "features" section, so have a look there, but I have to say, I love how easy it is to adjust the bridge. I couldn't compare it to another product because I don't own anything like this. Some higher output pickups would be nice, and I'd change the stock pickups, but I have no idea how I'd wire the double coils to work as singles too... And I'm not prepared to open the guitar up yet. I'd give it an 8 overall, it's only let down by the pickups and the toughness of the output jack, I may be being a bit harsh here, but this is a truly amazing guitar. // 8

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overall: 8.8
S420 Reviewed by: unregistered, on march 13, 2012
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 200

Purchased from: sheeby

Features: 2010 Indonesian, 24 fret, Ibanez ZR tremolo with ZPS2. Solid mahogany body, very thin. Ugly matte black paint job, I am planning to paint over it or strip it. Neck is wizard 3 maple with rosewood. Standard Ibanez Infinity pickups found on cheaper Ibanez, not bad, not great, can sound good if you have the patience to play with your eqs and your amp but they're not the best pickups, but they can sound ok with some work. You get one volume and one tone, 2 humbuckers with a 5 way switch. Allowing also for a coil tap on both in one position and selecting between them. Paint job is hideous, but I love the S shape body and the sound of the mahogany wood. Compared to basswood it is a deeper, heavier sounding tone, very crushing with distorted power chords, but not as bright as basswood. // 8

Sound: The mahogany body really makes chords sound aggressive and heavy. Basswood is more of a light crunchy sound, mahogany is more like the sound of an earthquake. Pros and cons between these woods, but basswood is generally better if you solo alot, but I prefer mahogany when doing heavy riffs. The 24 frets is a nice addition to the S series, over all not bad, comparable to a Korean made S guitar. Had only 1 fret that needed leveled, not bad. The action was shit but I set the action nice and low the way I like it, radius of neck allows bends all over with no fret out or dead notes. My action is about 1.2 mm off the high e on the 12th fret, which is pretty low but not so low. Mainly I play this with a Boss GT-8 and a Line 6 Pod HD500, as I live in a neighborhood so I sold my 5150 and Marshall because they were just too loud, they could hear it 5 blocks away on 1. Sounds very good with these, of course you have to tweak them to get it just right but it plays great with them, sounds even better in a 5 watt class A tube amp with a metal muff or a tube screamer. // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: I have a particular preference with action, I like it low but I hate buzz and I won't accept it or any frets that won't bend cleanly. Ibanez necks are excellent because of the radius and width, and are very comfortable for my giant hand to play on. Most Ibanez guitars I can setup to my preference with minimal effort but sometimes I need to level and polish some frets. My action is about 1.2mm at the 12th fret on the high e and about 1.25 or so at the low E, about 1.3mm at the 24th fret. I also like my neck pretty straight, which causes problems with buzzing in the lower range on crap guitar, which sometimes requires some fretwork but not on wizard necks. I do it myself because no tech I have ever found knows how to set it up the way I like it and they rip me off with a shitty setup. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I have found Ibanez guitars are tough. I've had them fall off the stand, off straps, hit the ground and not go out of tune. I had an Epiphone once and the first time it fell the headstock broke. Never bought an Epiphone again. Ibanez are built pretty well they may not be the best but they are good value for the money and I prefer cheap guitars anyways because I can do what I want with them and if they get stolen I can just buy another one. I won't buy expensive guitars anymore too many freaking thieves at every show waiting to rip you off. // 10

Overall Impression: I play everything really, this guitar is ok for just about everything it will do it it may not be the best jazz guitar but you can fake it and hopefully nobody will notice. It's an Ibanez it's a metal guitar hombre. Hate the paint job though it is butt ugly. // 8

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overall: 9
S420 Reviewed by: Woffelz, on june 26, 2012
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 359

Purchased from: GAK.co.uk

Features: This Ibanez S420-BBS was made in 2010 and has these features: - Slim mahogany superstrat body - Blackberry sunburst finish, which looks damn sexy - Zero-Resistance bridge - Lightning fast 3 piece maple Wizard III neck - Infinite 1 [neck] and 2 [bridge] pickups - Standard Ibanez tuners - One volume and one tone knob - 5 way pickup selector switch - neck humbucker, parallel connected neck humbucker, neck and bridge, one coil from neck/one from the bridge and the bridge. Great versatility! This Ibanez also features the Zero Point System. With the Zps bar in, the movement of the bridge is similar to that of a Strat, but has better tuning stability. If you take it out, the bridge moves just like a floating trem would, but with slightly less tuning stability. I've taken my Zps bar out, and the tuning stability is still amazing. // 10

Sound: I mainly play metal and some neoclassical [I mainly use the rectifier model on my Roland Micro Cube], and this guitar suits it perfectly. I like to use the neck pickup [Inf1] for lead playing because I love the smooth tone I get in the higher register. Unfortunately, the tone starts to become a bit muddy lower down. The bridge pickup [INF2] has a great clarity to it. The tone sounds brilliant when compared to the INF4 pickups, which are used on RG120 I have. I can easily get a varied tone with the amp settings. I can go from dark sounds to a scorching HOT lead tone. // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: This guitar was set up perfectly from the factory. After I tuned the guitar [strung with 0.9s - 0.42s from the factory], I noticed the intonation was pretty much perfect after I did the 12th fret harmonic test. I didn't even notice a fingerprint on this guitar. The bridge was routed well too. My only complaints are that the bridge pickup was not that high enough for me [I like my high output]and that the volume knob is slightly looser than the tone knob. // 9

Reliability & Durability: This guitar definitely seems solid. If my RG120 could withstand live playing, I certainly not see why this S420 cannot. The hardwear seems like a tank. The strap buttons are solid, but I put some washers in as straplocks just to be safe [my RG120 nearly went crashing into the ground because I didn't do this to it]. The finish seems like that it will last a long time. Once again, if the finish on a low-end RG can last long, this one should too. // 9

Overall Impression: This is definitely a good match for my style of metal. I've been playing for over five years now and I have finally found the right guitar for me. It plays great, looks great and just is great. As I've said before, I have an RG120. While it was a good guitar, this S420 simply outclasses it in terms of features and playability. My favourite features on this guitar are the thin body, thin neck and the ZR tremolo system, which can definitely take a divebomb beating! I compared this S420 to the RG470 and went with the S series because I've heard good things about the trems and I did not want another RG shaped guitar. I also like the S420 HH configuration. I don't want a single coil getting in my way. The only thing I wished this guitar had [let's be reasonable here] is a greater choice of finishes. While I love the BBS finish, I would have preferred a sunburst yellow finish. // 9

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