Price paid: $ 650
Purchased from: A local shop that went out of business.
Sound — 10
I've been playing for about twelve years and play many different genres with quite a few different guitars. I've been a huge fan of Ibanez since I started playing when I was a young teenager, I've been through plenty but have kept two, an RG1527 and an S470dxqm both with DiMarzio pickups, but I also own two Fenders (american strat-s/s/s and a fmt hh tele) and an Epiphone Les Paul Elite. But this guitar absolutely blows them out of the water. The tone is wonderful, the EMG 60 gives a very full and beautiful clean tone, very "jazzy" with a little gain, along with some major chunk when palm muting with distortion, and the 81 provides a clear and biting tone that's the usual with EMGs, each note of a chord is clear even with very high gain. I run it through a Vox ad50vt-xl, which is great for metal, and has a valve preamp so it doesn't have the clipping problem that occurs between EMGs and solid state amps. I normally use this guitar for a newer metal tone and use Ernie Ball Not Even Slinkies tuned to D. I don't cut the mid or bass very much, which gives it a seriously meaty tone. The earvana compensated nut works wonderfully, once set up you can pick any chord and it will ring out perfectly in tune, and only required a very small amount of filing on the 3rd string slot when changing to pretty thick strings.
Overall Impression — 10
I use this guitar for metal, and it performs the requested tasks very well. The neck is not as thin as the Ibanez wizard II, but that's what I was looking for with this guitar, it's still feels substantial and strong, but isn't too big, and the playability of the neck is wonderful. It is somewhat neck heavy, but I've played guitars that were much worse, take the Ibanez xiphos or v-blade for example, it isn't enough to be a problem if you keep a hand on the neck while playing. The top angle of the guitar works well as a place to rest your arm and help control the balance, and a suede or gripping strap remedies the problem. I should have read ahead and seen that I put playing history and gear here, but oh well, I have 2 Fenders, 2 Ibanez, and this beauty, and play through a Vox ad50vt-xl and an older ac30. This guitar sounds great when played clean or slightly overdriven, but is an absolute beast at high gain. Having 25.5 inch neck through construction would be an improvement if one plans on tuning down, however I'll tune to C occasionally and don't have much of a problem. Losing this guitar would be like losing a member of the family, I would definitely search long and hard for a replacement. If you run across one somewhere, take it off of the hanger and give it some hell, you'll probably take it home if you have the funds. I may sound like a fanboy, but this guitar has caused the majority of the guitars on my wishlist to be ESPs, you won't be disappointed.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar is built like a tank, I've played it almost every day for about three years and bears a few dents and dings, but nothing serious. Don't get me wrong, my heart still clenches every time I put a new dent in it, but this guitar really is built to take a beating, the plate on the front basically serves as armor and everything about the guitar is very solid. I have this strapped to me most of the time that I'm home, so it's hit a few things. One day while not paying attention, I lifted my guitar to take it off and put the headstock in the path of the fan that was spinning above me on medium speed. Needless to say the headstock got nailed pretty hard, but came out with only a small dent on the back/bottom edge about the width of the tip of a pen. I've knocked some of the paint from the top pointed corner on the back of the guitar from a couple of impacts, but none of the wood came off, and it's now covered with electrical tape. I changed the strap buttons to Schaller straplocks, that's not a because I had a problem with the buttons or how strong they were, just that I didn't want the strap coming off and it to go crashing to the floor. The finish has held up through years of playing, there's only one spot on the guitar that is missing the paint and that is from being hit by a door, and the finish of the neck has become extremely smooth with use. The finish on all of the hardware is extremely durable, and all of it is still completely intact, except for a small portion of the Diamond plate that I filed the point off of on the top edge as it was digging into my arm. The Diamond plate has taken a serious beating and looks nearly flawless. I have complete Faith in this guitar.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Honestly, when I first saw this guitar online and in the catalogs, I thought that the Diamond plate top was a little ridiculous, especially when I saw the version with the silver Diamond plate. But upon holding it and plugging in, I realized what a bad ass instrument this is. I'm not sure how the factory set up was, as it had been in the shop for a while before I picked it up. It was fairly well set up when I bought it, but I already had enough guitars tuned to Standard and 7 string tuning, so I decided to play around a bit. I immediately got some Not Even Slinkies and started experimenting. The truss rod and bridge needed to be adjusted only slightly to get it intonated and as low as possible with minimal fret buzz. The neck is a work of art, I've never been much of a fan of painted necks, but this is as smooth as glass and I never experience any drag when sliding across it. The build quality is very good for the price, especially the fret work, my only MINOR complaints are that the cutout on the Diamond plate for the toggle Switch to go through doesn't have the Switch centered within it, but it still fits, and the Diamond plate also holds the pickups, which were rather difficult to adjust to lay flat, so I used a rubber band on each one to hold them flat, and it adds a little color. Everything on the guitar fits extremely well and feels very sold.
Features — 9
This was made in 2005 or 2006 in Korea. Set 24.75 inch scale thin U neck with 22 extra jumbo frets. All mahogany body and neck with a rosewood fretboard. Black with a black anodized aluminum Diamond plate top and matching truss rod cover(NOT PLASTIC). A slightly smaller and more angular Explorer shape with the usual esp/ltd pointed headstock. Has an extremely solid and stable Tune-O-Matic bridge with stop bar tail piece, possibly made of brass, Grover tuners and an Earvana compensated nut. EMG 81/60 set with one volume,one tone, and one three way toggle, I also added a momentary kill Switch placed to create an equilateral triangle with the volume and tone pots, which keeps it very close to the jack, and switched it to an 18 volt power supply. A case was included but the guitar was a lightly used floor demo.