Sound — 6
Is this going to sound like a Seagull, Martin or even a Yamaha dreadnaught unplugged? The answer is absolutely not. This is a small-bodied Acoustic-Electric (actually, very small-bodied). Unplugged, the Talman TCY20EVV sounds acceptable, not as much bass as you might want, not as loud as a larger guitar, etc. That absolutely is not the Talman's strength. The Talman's strength is that this Acoustic-Electric plays like an electric in feel and you can easily reach the higher frets. The neck is essentially the same as Ibanez Artcore necks that I've played on. So, the answer is no, this guitar does not sound mind-blowing unplugged. It does however sound sufficient for strumming out a song, working out a chord progression, campfire playing, etc. Plugged in to a decent amp this guitar really shines. I've used it with a Peavey Transtube EFX 212, which is a solid state amp with tube emulation, and a Blackheart Little Giant, which is a 5 watt tube amp. It sounds great with both amps. I use a Vox Tonelab ST for effects when I use them, and messing around with chorus and delay I've got some really great tones out of the Talman. I also use a Vox JamVox interface and software with my computer and that works great, too. I play Folk rock, classic rock, various genres of blues and thrash metal and for any acoustic work needed the Talman pulls it off impressively. There is a world of difference in this guitar when it is plugged in. Also, you can get some really gnarly sounds out of this thing with a touch of dirt and a brass slide.
Overall Impression — 7
If you are an acoustic purist then this guitar is not for you. If you are very concerned with having phenomenal unplugged tone then this guitar is not for you (though the tone is better than you would expect in this size of a guitar). If you like the feel of a large acoustic dreadnought in your hands then this is not the guitar for you. This guitar is made for the electric guitarist who needs to do some work occasionally on an acoustic guitar. The Talman feels as close to an electric as I think you could make an acoustic feel without completely destroying the acoustic tone and volume. I know the Talmans have a lot of haters, and I personally used to have a very lukewarm opinion about them in general, but I got to try one out, and I also tried out a little Oscar Schmidt Folk guitar and a Yamaha APX500, and the Talman is very much ahead of both of these in tone and playability. For my purposes, this is an almost ideal instrument for me. I was initially pretty sold on an Ovation Celebrity, but after getting to try it out for myself it is just too uncomfortable to play sitting down due to the curved back. If this were lost or stolen then I would absolutely replace it with the same model unless I happened to have the money to get one of the newer models made by Composite Acoustics. I have a friend who has one that is a few years old and it is amazing. But yes, unless I had the money to truly upgrade, I would get another TCY20EVV.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The Ibanez Talman TCY20EVV seems like it is pretty solid. The ash body has very solid binding, the neck is mahogany, the machine heads look like the exact same machine heads on a lot of the Ibanez ArtCore series I have seen. The strap buttons are very solid and not under-sized like a lot of guitars seem to have lately. As far as would I play a gig with this with no backup I don't think that is ever a good idea with any guitar, but I would trust this guitar as much as any other. I would make sure I had some spare batteries with me just in case. The finish doesn't scratch easily. The entire guitar feels very solid. One problem is it is hard to find a case to fit a Talman. There is a case made by Ibanez but it is not solely for the Talman and isn't a perfect fit. Currently I'm using a super cheap dreadnought case until I can get my hands on something better. Point being, it is harder than just going online and searching for a minute and ordering a fitted case for this Talman. It is a Quest at this point.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The finish is a very attractive Vintage violin high gloss finish. It is a very light tobacco colored transparent finish that darkens just slightly around the edges and really makes the wood grain pop. The wood grain on the top was very well book-matched and isn't noticeable unless you look for it. The finish is immaculate. The model that I received was a recertified return with a certified Ibanez dealer, and everything was spot on with the exception of too much relief in the neck, which made the action uncomfortable. I don't know if this is how it came new or if the person who initially purchased this messed with it and the dealer didn't fix it before selling as recertified. I do know that it was super easy to fix I just loosened the strings, pulled off the truss rod cover, gave it a quarter turn with my allen wrench and put it back together and it is good to go. The strings from the factory were some coated strings put on at the Ibanez factory and I was not impressed with those. I put on some medium-lite Dragon Skins made by DR Strings. These are also coated strings, but don't seem to hurt the volume or tone. That alone made a world of difference in the tone and volume. After adjusting the tension of the truss rod, the action and playability are competitive with many mid level guitars I've messed around with. It is extremely easy to play, the neck is very fast for an acoustic and the sustain is really good for such a small-bodied guitar. The feel of the guitar sitting or standing is almost the same as an electric, and if you play primarily electric and need an acoustic then this is a good choice. I personally got this acoustic because I am planning to join a song circle and they only allow acoustic performances of songs, and I feel like I made the right choice.
Features — 7
The Ibanez Talman TCY20EVV is an Acoustic-Electric guitar that is made to play like an electric guitar. The body is very small with a depth of only 3.25". The neck and cutaway provide access all the way up to the 20th fret with ease. The body of the guitar is made from figured ash and the neck is mahogany with a rosewood fret board and bridge. There is an abalone rosette around the sound hole and it looks very nice. I believe this Talman was made in 2011. There are 20 frets, and the frets are medium sized. The fret board radius is just under 12". The truss rod can be accessed under a truss rod cover on the headstock, which is much more convenient than with the access via sound hole you expect from an acoustic guitar. The pickup is a standard Ibanez Under-Saddle pickup, but works pretty well. The preamp is an Ibanez AEQ100T Preamp that includes a 2 band EQ (Treble and Bass) and volume, as well as a built in tuner. The preamp runs off of a 9 volt and lasts FOREVER, and is easy to get to in order to change it. The tuner works as well as you would expect, and fairly useful for checking yourself especially if you change tunings a lot (which I've tended to do a lot lately). The bridge pins are Advantage bridge pins, which are supposed to help with tuning stability and sustain according to Ibanez, but I couldn't refute or endorse that. I haven't noticed any tuning problems. The Ivorex II Nut and Saddle are synthetic substitutes for bone and/or ivory and seem to work pretty well. I really like the nut on here a lot more then most of the acoustic guitars I've messed with. My one pet peeve is that this Talman should have jumbo frets. The medium frets on here are really annoying to me sometimes, but mainly because I really expect this Talman to play like an electric and sometimes when trying to trill, tap or put some extreme vibrato on I really notice the absence of jumbo frets. When playing the Talman like an acoustic and sticking in the lower registers and milder bends, vibratos and trills I don't notice any problems. Either way, having jumbo frets would have been nice.