Price paid: $ 531
Purchased from: Swee Lee Brash Basah Road Singapore
Sound — 9
The solid Engelmann spruce top and mahogany back and sides create resonant tone that projects extremely well, adapting easily from natural acoustic tone to rich plugged-in sound. A Fishman Sonicore pickup and SST Shape Shifter preamp work together to deliver bright, punchy sound when plugged in. The sound is very all rounded and the sound can be played around with easily by fiddling with the controls, brightening up the sound and suit it for strumming or fingerstyle. The guitar produces an extremely bright sound. I'd better describe it this way than say it has a warm tone. I play classic, hard and alternative rock etc. Or country, Folk and more mordern bands as well, but with classic oldies influences as well and it suits quite well with it's versatile tone. Like it can do Garth Brooks or Bob Dylan, as well as Aerosmith or Guns N' Roses. Very nice to do their acoustic versions. It can produce an intense acoustic strumming sound, a peaceful like sounding plucking or maybe even spanish/latino influenced sound, depending on your playing sound. It has a very wide variety. Very nice to play with, and the sound it produces is compatitable to big names like Gibson, C.F. Martin and Co. or Taylor Guitars.
Overall Impression — 9
I've been playing it for almost two years, and I'm glad I came across this guitar. It is a good match to anybody who loves a crisp and clear sounding guitar. I've played with a Martin before, and people would say that this will be a downgrade but no, it is just a change. Still the nice sounding guitar and at a reasonable price as well. Cheap and good. But I would say Martins would have better comfort in playing, but the sound produced is still the same. I love the sound it produces, crisp and clear. I don't really like it's bulky body. If it got lost or stolen, which will never happen, I would consider getting this again.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar is quite reliable and durable. It is able to withstand live playing. I've done a few live playing with it before and I was not disappointed by it. The hardware was the least impressive part for me, but it will still make do though. The idea, concept and design of the hardware was good though, but still room for improvement to be made. It blacked out once when I was playing, but it was ok after I turned it off and on again, must be some loose connection. The strap buttons keep the strap on quite well and tight, maybe because I'm not some hyper player who jumps around with my guitar. I can trust it to go on a gig without a back up for sure, but my style is that every guitar is different, so I would like to bring a few more to variate my playing. But bringing just this one will do too. It is quite durable, I've got it knocked quite hard a few times on the neck and headstock, but still as good as new, barely a scratch on it. No paint chipped off. Very durable.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was set up in good hands at the factory. The pick ups were well adjusted, although I do not really know how it should be arranged, but it worked the way it should sound like. The Ibanez AW series bridge includes a bone saddle that delivers a well-balanced sound. It is properly routed and I never experienced any problems with it. The action in the first 12 frets were excellent, and it was easy to press down the strings, but they got a little bit too much wider at the last few frets, requiring a bit more effort to do riffs and stuff. But it was still easy to hit the right frets and bend a couple of strings, not much of a problem if you are a seasoned player or if you get used to the guitar. However, I still think that the craftsmenship is a little inferior to Martins, Gibsons and Taylors. I also find more comfort in playing with those guitar bodies, but the neck is still the same.
Features — 9
Impressive looking guitar, it looks very exquisite. This model is a Cutaway Dreadnought body, and it is larger in size compared to the grand Concert kinds. It's scale length is 648.0mm / 25-1/2". It's Fretboard Width at Nut is 43.0mm / 1-11/16", and the Fretboard Width at 14th Fret is 55.0mm / 2-3/16". The body is made out of Solid Engelemann Spruce Top from either Canada or California, while the neck, back and sides are made out of mahogany. The wood is finished with a natural high gloss, allowing the natural beauty of the spruce wood to be visible with the gloss. It has an abalone rosette, and a black pickguard. I've seen a few pick guard variations though. The fret board and bridge is made of rosewood, and it makes the board rather resistant to scratches or marks from the strings. It possesses 22 frets with pearl dot inlays. The neck is a perfect size for gripping with the hand, allowing comfortable playing while it provides deep resonance as well. The headstock is a solid type headstock, equipped with Chrome Grover Machineheads for tuning. It has a Bone Nut & Saddle and Ibanez Advantage Bridge Pins. This guitar comes with Original Ibanez SST Preamps and Fishman Sonicore Pickups. The sound is controlled by a 5 way selector, the volume of course, shape/brilliance, treble, bass, and middle. Plus, there are 2 additional features wherby there is a phase shifter button and an onboard tuner, which indicates the note the string is playing and whether it is sharp or flat. The jack for your cable is separated from the strap buttons, unlike other guitars which combone these two together. This feature makes adjustment of the strap easier without the need to fiddle with the cable while adjusting the strap. The plug in jack is also very good, as there is an alternative plug in, which is the mic cable jack. This means that your guitar can be plugged into a speaker, amp or any other output through a mic cable, if there is no guitar cable. I believe there are times when an offer includes a gig bag or strap but my didn't. Who cares, the guitar rocks. But string replacement kits come with some tools to replace your strings and spare bridge pins, although there aren't strings provided. I would rate the guitar 8.5 overall, but there isn't such an option so I gave it a 9 instead.