Price paid: $ 170
Purchased from: ebay
Features — 8
Made in Japan in 1991. Made in the Fugi-Gen factory in Japan where the Ibanez JEM line was made.
- 22 frets dot inlays
- Jumbo Frets
- basswood body, maple neck rosewood fretboard
- Frost red (577)
- Super strat shape essentially an Ibanez RG 550 shape
- Floyd Rose II tremolo double locking
- Pick guard
- 5-way selector switch
- 1 volume 1 tone control
- 1 Heartfield humbucker, 2 Fender single coils
- U" shape neck radius is 17" (431.8 mm)
- Scale length is 25.5" (648 mm)
- String retention bar after the nut
- Gotoh tuners
Sound — 8
I play everything from tradition metal, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath to Dying Fetus to thrash to jazz fusion Frank Gambale and neoclassical Greg Howe. So the Heartfield Talon is ideal for these styles. The humbucker is a little mid sounding and not a lot of bottom end. He single coils are excellent for clean sounds and when playing with gain on the amp have a real twangy Hendrix Blackmore sound. The neck pickup is quite warm sounding. It will go from huge crashing power chords to subtle quiet jazz tinged chords with ease. I had t put more bass on the amp to compensate for the trebly sounding humbucker but this pickup does help the high notes cut through a wall of sound. I use an old Carvin XV 212 and just use the hi lead sound which has a lot of gain on it, no effects just the spring reverb from the amp.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I was not going to write such a favourable review of this guitar as I could not get the action low enough for my liking but after sending away for a 8 mm truss rod socket then having to grind it down to fit in the cavity for the truss rod adjustment. I was pleasantly surprised at how low I got the action so it plays like a dream. With the slim U shape neck whizzing around on this baby is effortless. Sweeping arpeggios like Frank Gambale and Gentaro Sutomura are an ease. It certainly means you may be more inclined to practise a lot more since you know it is not the guitar slowing you down in ability to play. The Floyd Rose II is a good tremolo you can pull back and get some nice squeals from it and dice bombing is easy to do and it does stay in tune. I did play around with the pick up height after getting the strings lower but other than that is nothing other than the truss rod adjustment needed doing. After 24 years it is no surprice it would need a tweak especially with the heat where I live.
The tone knob has a nice feature of a middle notch feature where you feel it stop half so you can boost the treble sound is you need to, Quite a few people compare the neck on talons to Ibanez Wizard necks. It certainly is a nice neck and I would compare it to say a Jackson JDR and maybe even a Jackson PC3. The bottom cutaway is one of the better ones I have seen on a guitar where access to the highest fret is totally unhindered it is as you were playing a neck-through, It has a nice rounded neck heel so it does not get the way of shredding high on the neck.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar is 24 years old and is in great condition the paintwork is good on it, there is the odd chip on it but nothing to major. The neck is in awesome condition and is a pleasure to play. The strap buttons are strap locks which were on it when I got it. So I don't know what the originals were. I would rather have a back up if playing a gig mainly because of the Floyd, I know quite a few people feel that way when faced with having to change strings quickly on a Floyd. The guitar would be a real workhorse and delivers all the time. It is not an ultra light guitar but is comfortable to play and has a nice contour on the top of the body on the back and a contour on the front of it near the back for your arm to sit against when playing like a lot of guitars do.
Overall Impression — 9
I have been playing for over 25 years mainly as a hobby and own quite a few guitars mainly Jacksons and Charvels along with a Peavey Tracer, a Godin G4000, Kramers, a LTD, and a couple of BC Richs and a Samick. The Heartfield Talon by Fender is a solid reliable guitar built for metal and shredding. Vinnie Moore endorsed them for a while and did a tour playing them so that may give you an idea what audience Fender were after at the time.
I would replace this if it were lost or stolen I would like a higher end model as the Talon is the first in the series and some models after it boasted a 2 humbucker configuration and a single coil which a prefer to a humbucker 2 single coil setup. It feels like a Jackson high end model and as I said the neck is nice and slim so it is close to say a PC3. The 17'' radius means it is quite flat and relatively a wide neck so it is comfortable to play for hours at a time.
I love the neck and the main downside is the sound of the humbucker which you can get used to and I would prefer a humbucker in the neck as well. Overall it is keeper, a guitar that makes playing fun which is very important if you want to practice for hours at a time, the tremolo is reliable and the sounds it offers can keep things interesting. As a lot of people say if you stumble over on and are into Ibanez shred guitars don't pass up the chance to score a piece of Fender history.