Price paid: £ 278
Purchased from: Thomann
Sound — 7
Acoustically it's a bit boxy. Playing it through a small PA (2 12" and horn) the pickup system delivers in spades. I've never had a easier time getting an electro-acoustic to sound great. The pickup system is the SRTc licensed by B-band. The phase switching works great as does the feedback cancellation slider. Output is very strong and EQ flat is truly a good neutral position. Most pickup systems you have to begin with all bands topped up then back way off the mids and a bit on the highs to get a well rounded sound, not so on this. I play with a very wide range of dynamics and this guitar seems to take it all very well. I rate this a category a 7 because of the lack luster Acoustic sound. I purchased this guitar for live work. If I wanted outstanding Acoustic tone I would have gone with a Morgan, Larive, Breedlove etc.
Overall Impression — 9
For a full time gigging musician this one is definitely a candidate for the quiver. It's showy, sounds great, and is very playable. Salvador Ibez is definitely giving Hoshino Gakki a high five for this one.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Durability needs to be proven. With the bad experience from the AEL20 and it's completely useless pickups I am still a little gun shy. I will be keeping a back up at gigs for awhile. Everything seems to be built rock-solid. Good machines, solid bracing, no hairline gaps in the binding. All good.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Considering the guitar was shipped form Germany to Northern Ireland in Autumn temperatures it was set up fairly well. The action is a tad high in the upper ranges but the intonation seems pretty intact. I would certainly consider it a "giggable" guitar right out of the box.
Features — 9
When I read reviews I always want to know who it is that's doing the reviewing. My main credential is that I've been gigging for 30 years with a focus on the Acoustic guitar. I reserve a 10 rating for a review that equates to "mind-blowing". My Ibanez EW20 arrived today - it's the bubinga wood, some call it African rosewood but either way it's absolutely stunning. It has a unique cutaway similar to the early Breedloves (I was the proud owner of Steve and Larry's #33). I have an Ibanez AEL20E with the Ibanez SST by Fishman pickup system (that unfortunately hasn't worked since the day I bought it - why I still have it is a long story not told here) - my point is - the neck is shorter and slimmer from front to back though the width of the fretboard seems the similar. Mine came with a gig bag and a strap, both are quality.