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Crunchmeister
UG Monkey
Join date: Aug 2004
946 IQ
#1
OK. We always hear people comparing one to the other. But to date, I haven't read one true side-by-side review of the guitars where the reviewer actually OWNS one of each and has spent considerable time playing both. Well, that's about to change.

Three weeks ago, I got my hands on a nice (used) 2005 Gibson Les Paul studio. Of all the Gibsons I've played in the past years, this is without a doubt one of the best sounding Les Pauls I can remember. It has that Les Paul tone that all try to replicate, but few (even Gibson) ever manage to nail with any consistency. I usually wouldn't buy a Gibson because of all their consistency problems, but this one sounded so good and was selling for so cheap that I just had to buy it. So here goes the comparison that many have been waiting for. I've broken it up into different categories to break everything down.

Cosmetic appearance / attention to detail

The Agile has it all - beautiful three-ply binding on the body and headstock, a single-ply binding on a gorgeous ebony fretboard, with abalone inlay work. It's quite a stunning guitar. It's got a solid, hi-gloss finish that easily rivals any other guitar. The only flaws (and I use that term loosely) is that a couple of the inlays have a bit of visible filler on the edges. Otherwise, attention to detail is remarkable. All frets were evenly crowned and smooth to perfection. The stock bone nut wasn't the best cut nut in the world, but the included graphite nut is perfect if you prefer graphite, which I do.

Score Agile: 4 / 5

Bottom line: the inlay filler and nut is what loses it the point. And when you consider the guitar cost $360 US new, it's not an issue at all.

Cosmetically, Gibson guitar is quite good. Being an LP Studio, it's a lot plainer than other LP models, Gibson or otherwise. So I can't really bring up things like binding, etc, since this guitar has none. It's a beautiful guitar and very well built for the most part. However it's not perfect, or even close - very disappointing for a guitar of this price range. The finish on the edge of the headstock and upper side of the body seem to have some orange peel in the color coat that wasn't completely removed in wet-sanding. The orange peel effect isn't apparent unless you inspect it closely, but it's visible unaided. Under magnification (regular magnifying glass), it's very visible, and you can actually tell on the headstock where they almost sanded the color coat thru to the wood trying to remove the orange peel. The clear coat is smooth, but you can see the imperfections thru the clear and can see the black paint is very thin and almost translucent at that spot, showing a bit of the wood grain.

The fret work was nothing short of sloppy. It had fret issues that should never be found even on a cheap guitar. This certainly shows how ****ty Gibson's quality assurance is these days. The 18th fret was too high. A ruler on the fretboard would rock back and forth over the 18th fret. With the action correctly set, ALL notes from the 13th to 17th frets were dead and would play the 18th fret note. This was fairly easy to fix, but on a guitar of that price, it should never happen. Also, the 3rd fret also had a very sharp edge. Again, easy to repair, but should never be an issue on a guitar of this caliber. Otherwise, the guitar is in excellent (used) condition, and I saw no other signs of factory defects, unlike many Gibsons I've played recently.

Score Gibson: 2.5 / 5

Bottom line:Fret problems and paint issues are inexcusable in a guitar of this caliber and price. Whoever was working final QA at Gibson that day needs to lay off the weed during work hours.

Feel / action / playability

The Gibson is a nice guitar. It feels really nice and fairly light for a Les Paul, at 7.5 - 8 lbs. The body and neck are well balanced. Once properly set up, the action is nice and low. It has a '59 rounded style neck - fat, but not enough to make it uncomfortable to play. Its profile is a little rounder than I normally like, but still comfy. After extended playing, I tend to feel more left hand fatigue than with my other guitars, but again, not drastically. The feel is unmistakably that of a Les Paul.

The only beef I have with this guitar and all Les Pauls in general is the bulky neck joint and restrictive upper fret access. And this is basically a design flaw in Les Pauls in general. Most people that really like Les Pauls easily overlook this anyway.

Score: Score Gibson 4.5 / 5

Bottom line: Nothing wrong, really. While I wouldn't describe the feel of the guitar as 'perfection', it's just a matter of personal preference. It's a Les Paul. That's all there is to it. I just think that Gibson necks in general are not the most comfortable compared to other modern guitars, even Gibson copies.

The Agile also is a nice guitar, weighing in at only about 1/2 lb more than the Gibson (weighed it a while back and it was 8.4 lbs). The shape of the body is slightly different from the Gibson, but not drastically. The body is about 1 inch shorter, and the rear bulge is about 1 inch fatter. There's the same amount of wood there, only it's distributed a little differently. And this makes the guitar sit at a different position on your body than the Gibson. I usually like my guitars lower on the strap, and I find the Agile sits in a more comfortable natural position when low on the strap. Again, it's not a drastic change, but you do feel it. And it's a matter of personal preference.

Also, the cutaway and lower horn are slightly shorter, and this actually allows better upper fret access. It's not significant, but noticable.

The neck radius, however, is much nicer than the Gibson's, at least for me. The Agile has a thinner neck that's more comparable to the neck on my ESP Explorer and LTD EX-351. The neck has a much faster, 'shredder' type feel compared to the Gibson's loggier neck. I find the Agile tends to leave me with little to no hand fatigue after extended playing. I also prefer the feel of an ebony fretboard over rosewood. Again, this last point is personal preference.

Score Agile: 5 / 5

Bottom line:The Agile wins this one, although not by a huge margin. And really, it's a matter of personal preference. If you ask me which guitar feels best in my hands, then the Agile wins. Ask someone else, and they might say it's the Gibson.


Since I'm only allowed 10 000 characters per post, the review is continued in the next post...
Guitars: Custom Lado Earth 2000-3, Custom ESP Explorer, BC Rich KKV, Gibson LP Studio, Greco SG, El Degas Stratocaster, Agile AL-3000, LTD EX-351

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Crunchmeister
UG Monkey
Join date: Aug 2004
946 IQ
#2
Continued

Tone / sustain

Here's where I need to elaborate a bit. My Gibson is stock except for cosmetic mods. The Agile has received some modifications, with the biggest tone-affecting change being the EMG 81/85 pickups that I installed. When I first got the Agile, I had a chance to compare it stock to both an Epiphone Elitists LP Standard, and a Gibson Les Paul Standard loaded with Duncan 59s. IMO, I think the stock Wilkinson pickups in the Agile sounded far better better than the Epi, and sounded surprisingly like the Duncans in the Gibson. The two guitars sounded so close that I would have been hard-pressed to tell which was which in a blind test. But as it stands right now, it's hard to make an apples to apples comparison of the two guitars due to pickups.

Both guitars have a very bright, almost unnaturally loud sound when played acoustically. They're very bright articulate and punchy in the low end. The Gibson is a bit brighter sounding, and that's most likely due to the maple cap that's lacking in the Agile (I have the black Agile which was all mahogany. Other Agile models normally have a maple cap).

In terms of sustain, the Agile is one of my better guitars. It can hold notes for seemingly unending periods of time. You can feel the guitar resonating along its entire length. With both guitars on their hangers, I can strum them open, and the Agile seems to sustain longer than the Gibson. The sustain, however, deteriorates above the 17th fret or so. The guitar just doesn't sustain as well. That being said, I'd say it sustains high notes better than my EX-351, and even my ESP Explorer. However, when I plug in the Gibson, I can pluck the High E on the 22nd fret, and have it sustain for significantly longer.

This final comparison isn't a very fair one because of the pickup types on the two guitars. However, the comparison has to be made anyway. Both guitars have a very similar voicing. Due to the pickups, the Agile obviously has a much hotter output, better suited for metal and the more abrasive types of music. Although, I can pull off some pretty sweet clean and lower gain tones.

The Gibson has a bit more kick and fatter tone. Even with the lower output pickups, it can still deliver a powerful metal tone when required, and it cleans up nicely to handle any style of music I can throw at it. Again, it sounds very similar to the Agile, but the overall tone is brighter. As a matter of fact, it's got this sharp attack that I haven't really heard on any guitar other than my custom Lado Earth (which I rate as the best sounding guitar I've ever played). This bite is something that my other guitars (except the Lado) lack completely, even the custom ESP. The higher grade woods in the Gibson (namely the maple top) are responsible for this. And it shows.

Scores:

Agile 4/5

Gibson 5/5

Bottom line: This is truly the only place where I can say the Gibson was noticeably better than the Agile. The tone is fatter and the attack and sustain are better. This is exactly that a guitar should sound like. This is where the true 'quality' of the Gibson shines thru. However, we need to beware here, because most Gibson Les Pauls DON'T sound like they're SUPPOSED to. I'm just lucky I have one of the 'good ones'.

Final note

So which is a better guitar? Well, according to these score, it would appear that the Agile is the 'better' guitar. But we must keep in mind that most of the items reviewed are subjective to my personal taste. In terms of quality and attention to detail, the Agile was hands down the winner. I received a guitar that was flawless in every way. The Gibson, even though it was built with higher grade woods, had defects that I consider quite serious and unacceptable in any guitar at any price.

And then there's the obvious item - price. The Agile sold for $359 US. After exchange and shipping, the guitar cost me just under $500 Cdn. With all the modifications, the final price was about $800 Cdn. A Gibson LP Studio sells for $1600 Cdn at our local Gibson dealer. It is NOT $800 better than my Agile. And even totally stock, the Agile hold its own quite nicely against the mighty Gibson.
Guitars: Custom Lado Earth 2000-3, Custom ESP Explorer, BC Rich KKV, Gibson LP Studio, Greco SG, El Degas Stratocaster, Agile AL-3000, LTD EX-351

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Gabel
UG's Swede
Join date: Oct 2005
4,239 IQ
#3
Well pre 99's are alot better. But still teh review seems to be very true.
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Danno13
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2005
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#4
Well written, Crunchy. Very informative.
Crunchmeister
UG Monkey
Join date: Aug 2004
946 IQ
#6
Thanks guys. I figured since people are saying this **** al lthe time, I might as well step up and give my impressions of the 2 guitars. Again, most of my reviews are personal opinion and must be taken in the context of the price of these 2 guitars.
Guitars: Custom Lado Earth 2000-3, Custom ESP Explorer, BC Rich KKV, Gibson LP Studio, Greco SG, El Degas Stratocaster, Agile AL-3000, LTD EX-351

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Danno13
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#7
^Only thing lacking is pics.

Take shots of the inlays, fret ends, and any imperfections on each, that would be great.
Gabel
UG's Swede
Join date: Oct 2005
4,239 IQ
#8
as i said great review. But i have to agree on the finish on teh Studio- terrible, it scrapes of easy. Tone is great though. But i have a 98, said to be the best ones since the 50's.
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Crunchmeister
UG Monkey
Join date: Aug 2004
946 IQ
#9
The fret issues have been fixed, and the I can't take a pic of the paint. Really, the paint problem on the Gibosn is that subtle. You have to look closely to see it. But regardless, orange peel effec tin the paint is a sign of sloppiness. I've now got a new digital camera that takes closeups a lot better than my old one. I'll try to take some shots of the inlay work on the Agile. But seriously, it's not really all that visible unless you look for it.

Pics

Agile:



Gibson:

Guitars: Custom Lado Earth 2000-3, Custom ESP Explorer, BC Rich KKV, Gibson LP Studio, Greco SG, El Degas Stratocaster, Agile AL-3000, LTD EX-351

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Armored Artist
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2004
121 IQ
#10
Man, that is an awesome looking Studio! And great review!

Where did you get those chrome pickup rings? I'm looking for a set of those for my AL3000.

Is there a good place online that sells LP modifications like that?

American Stratocaster + Blues Junior

mexican_shred
P-QRS-T
Join date: Dec 2005
724 IQ
#11
Its usally the epiphone phreaks who buy into the gibson name that give agile a bad name. They are great guitars, i wanna get one like your and put in some EMGs.
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tremonti_07
Going to California
Join date: Jun 2003
46 IQ
#12
Well done, very informative. Thank you.
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WishIHadAGibson
Banned
Join date: Nov 2004
510 IQ
#13
I like the review but it would have the most credit if you had two stock, new guitars.

otherwise, thank you.

more pics pleeeease?
MetalUpTheAss
Has commitment issues.
Join date: May 2004
872 IQ
#14
Great review man...

And that's actually a pretty cool looking studio. Love the agile though.

Hey, Crunch, I was wondering if you have an EMG 85/60 setup on any of your gutiars?
haha
Frostithe
UG's Trivium Fan
Join date: Jan 2006
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#15
The Agiles seem too fat at the bottom end and the second horn just doesn't look right.... Would this be a fair assessment?
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PurpleMonkeyDW
Close your gee!
Join date: Feb 2004
358 IQ
#17
Yeah really good review! It's great to have someone express an opinion other than some know-it all who hasn't played either.
Quote by jimtaka
i'd say your guitar is out of tune, or you are accidentally muting strings that you aren't trying to, or your right hand isn't strumming at the same time that your left hand is fretting, or you could be reading the tab upside down...
Crunchmeister
UG Monkey
Join date: Aug 2004
946 IQ
#18
Thanks everyone. I'm glad you found my review / comparison helpful.

Quote by Armored Artist
Man, that is an awesome looking Studio! And great review!
Where did you get those chrome pickup rings? I'm looking for a set of those for my AL3000.

Is there a good place online that sells LP modifications like that?

I bought all the cosmetic mods on ebay. The fake diamond plate setup comes as a kit, including the pick guard, truss rod cover, rear cavity covers, toggle switch plate, and 2 thin pieces to add to the top of the pickups rings. Note that the rear cavity covers are sized to a Gibson only. The other parts fit perfectly on the Agile. The chrome rings also came from ebay.

Quote by WishIHadAGibson
I like the review but it would have the most credit if you had two stock, new guitars.

otherwise, thank you.

Indeed. I wish the Agile would have been stock to give a true comparison. The Agile has new pickups and an Earvana compensated nut, which both affect tone. However, I think I was fair in reviewing the sound category taking the after-market parts on the Agile. Other than cosmetic mods, the Gibson is stock.

Quote by Frostithe
The Agiles seem too fat at the bottom end and the second horn just doesn't look right.... Would this be a fair assessment?


Yes. Body shapes are slightly different, and I mentioned that in my review. It gives the whole guitar a different feel, at least when he guitar is on a strap. The difference is subtle, but it's there and noticeable. You really notice it when both guitars are side-by-side. Regardless though, I wouldn't say it's too wide or the horn is too short. It's just different, and that gives the Agile its own look, even though it is a Les Paul copy in every other way.

Quote by PurpleMonkeyDW
Yeah really good review! It's great to have someone express an opinion other than some know-it all who hasn't played either.


And that was the idea. I wanted a fair, unbiased opinion by comparing the two guitars side by side.
Guitars: Custom Lado Earth 2000-3, Custom ESP Explorer, BC Rich KKV, Gibson LP Studio, Greco SG, El Degas Stratocaster, Agile AL-3000, LTD EX-351

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Armored Artist
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2004
121 IQ
#20
For those who think that the Agile body shape is drastically different from a Gibson LP, consider this: The Agile fits quite well into an LP case. It's a snug fit around the bottom bout and that only makes it more secure.

American Stratocaster + Blues Junior

Crunchmeister
UG Monkey
Join date: Aug 2004
946 IQ
#21
I have a standard les Paul case for my Agile and it fits fine. A little tight on the bottom end, that's all.
Guitars: Custom Lado Earth 2000-3, Custom ESP Explorer, BC Rich KKV, Gibson LP Studio, Greco SG, El Degas Stratocaster, Agile AL-3000, LTD EX-351

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Waterboy799
UG's Greek
Join date: Aug 2005
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#22
sounds great, more pics would be great though
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PurpleMonkeyDW
Close your gee!
Join date: Feb 2004
358 IQ
#23
I'm thinking of putting some Duncans (or possibly some PRS pups if they would sound right) in mine but now I wonder is the difference going to be that significant for the money I'll spend.

The only thing I prefer asthetically about the Gibson is the mother of pearl inlays. It's personal taste but the Alabone is just a little loud for my liking.
Quote by jimtaka
i'd say your guitar is out of tune, or you are accidentally muting strings that you aren't trying to, or your right hand isn't strumming at the same time that your left hand is fretting, or you could be reading the tab upside down...
Dave_Mc
Chirp and Swirl
Join date: Mar 2005
2,967 IQ
#24
great review, crunch- I stand vindicated for keeping you on the "Who to listen to" list, lol.

Quote by classicrocker01
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Crunchmeister
UG Monkey
Join date: Aug 2004
946 IQ
#25
Got some fresh pictured snapped of both guitars. Didn't have time to post then last night, and unfortunately, I can't get into my home computer from work to snatch the pics to post...

I'll post them later.
Guitars: Custom Lado Earth 2000-3, Custom ESP Explorer, BC Rich KKV, Gibson LP Studio, Greco SG, El Degas Stratocaster, Agile AL-3000, LTD EX-351

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The Iron Man
Guitaring
Join date: Dec 2005
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#26
So If I was considering an agile al 3000. should I get the Agile AL-3000 Prestige with P90 Pickups or Agile AL-3000 Prestige. They are the same price.
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Dave_Mc
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#27
^iron man: what tones are you after? P90's are like fat-sounding single coils, the other one has humbuckers. Neither is better (unless agile p90's suck, or something, lol), just different.
Quote by classicrocker01
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The Iron Man
Guitaring
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#28
Quote by Dave_Mc
^iron man: what tones are you after? P90's are like fat-sounding single coils, the other one has humbuckers. Neither is better (unless agile p90's suck, or something, lol), just different.

I just want a nice rich sound for all music styles.
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Danno13
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#29
^Humbuckers then. P90s are less versatile.
Dave_Mc
Chirp and Swirl
Join date: Mar 2005
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#30
^probably.

I haven't actually tried p90's (they're meant to have fantastic tone), but they aren't noiseless, so for any high gain applications, might be a pain.
Quote by classicrocker01
Only on UG would I say I got engaged and bought a jet city and get congratulated on the amp


Crunchmeister
UG Monkey
Join date: Aug 2004
946 IQ
#31
Here's a pic of the filler I was talkign about on the Agile. I put red circles around the filler. Now, all the inlays have the 2 small holes at the edges filled. This particular inlay is the only one that has extra filler along the entire upper edge. Seriously, it's hard to see.



This is the 2 guitars side-by-side...


Front view:


Back view:


Headstocks:


All my guitars (except my Lado)
Guitars: Custom Lado Earth 2000-3, Custom ESP Explorer, BC Rich KKV, Gibson LP Studio, Greco SG, El Degas Stratocaster, Agile AL-3000, LTD EX-351

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mexican_shred
P-QRS-T
Join date: Dec 2005
724 IQ
#32
Crunch i love that custom ESP. Is that one of the lawsuit or pre law suit ones.
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Ignite
   
Join date: Dec 2005
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#33
I used to hate agiles. I really did. I didn't like the shape... Then I started seeing how they are better quality than an Epi.. and possibly some Gibsons. Now I just want an Agile really bad, haha. And they're cheap, just as good as a Les Paul Studio (been wanting one for a LONG time).

They have AL-3000 in ebony? Could you show me the link? I really want an ebony Agile... and I couldn't find one of Rondomusic.
Crunchmeister
UG Monkey
Join date: Aug 2004
946 IQ
#34
Black AL-3000s are out of stock. But they do make them since I have one. Although the nicest ones IMO are the Root Beer ones. They didn't have that finish at the time I bought my black one.

And BTW, I rank this Les Paul Studio are sounding better than most Standards I've played as of late regardless of it being a Lesser Paul. Otherwise, I wouldn't have bought it. I won't touch Gibson unless they're above average.
Guitars: Custom Lado Earth 2000-3, Custom ESP Explorer, BC Rich KKV, Gibson LP Studio, Greco SG, El Degas Stratocaster, Agile AL-3000, LTD EX-351

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Embryodead
Banned
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396 IQ
#35
Quote by Ignite
I used to hate agiles. I really did. I didn't like the shape... Then I started seeing how they are better quality than an Epi.. and possibly some Gibsons. Now I just want an Agile really bad, haha. And they're cheap, just as good as a Les Paul Studio (been wanting one for a LONG time).

They have AL-3000 in ebony? Could you show me the link? I really want an ebony Agile... and I couldn't find one of Rondomusic.


www.rondomusic.com

i've been on this site awhile and i personally think CM should be the next person up for mod on this forum. I've learned when he talks that you're probably going to learn something. His avid love for the agiles for a long time made me buy a 2500 and i have been extremely satisfied. My lead guitarist was like well it's a rip-off until he finally played it.
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#36
Quote by Crunchmeister
Black AL-3000s are out of stock. But they do make them since I have one. Although the nicest ones IMO are the Root Beer ones. They didn't have that finish at the time I bought my black one.


Meh, that sucks. I really had my mind set on a black AL with chrome or gold hardware. Is it possible to call them up and special order one?
strangedogs
An Old Dude with an AX...
Join date: Mar 2006
1,670 IQ
#37
I really wanted the 2500 or 3000 Black Beauty but settled on the AL-2000 with gold hardware - I'm VERY pleased with it - it's a sweetie and plays and sustains like a true Paul.
E Daws
I play guitar
Join date: May 2005
336 IQ
#38
If neither is stock and one is used, how would comparing them in any way reflect a legitamate comparison that and Agile would be better/worse than Gibson?

Otherwise I like the reviews and those are two pretty nice looking guitars.
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love_O_rock
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#39
Don't they make a 3500(duhn duhn duhn)? I'd love to see that matchup.
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tyrohne
n3wb
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#40
Quote by Ignite
Meh, that sucks. I really had my mind set on a black AL with chrome or gold hardware. Is it possible to call them up and special order one?


Well, here's the rootbeer if you wanted to look at one. By the way it's a kick ass guitar, I'm beyond happy with the playability for the money.

On a side note, I actually made it to the store in Union. I wasn't all that impressed with the Agile Hollowbodies as much as Ibanez Artcores. FWIW.