ART120 review by Ibanez

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  • Sound: 6
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.4 Good
  • Users' score: 8.5 (118 votes)
Ibanez: ART120

Price paid: $ 330

Purchased from: A friend

Sound — 6
I play very different kinds of music, from instrumental metal to rock and even some country fingerpicking licks. The guitar itself fits certainly better into the heavy genres - loads of output + aggressive low tones make it perfect for stunning riffs. When it comes to lighter tunes, though, the pickups just don't cut it - too little clarity, and most of all - very limited dynamics. It's the flaw of active pickups in general, and my main reason for upcoming upgrade. The good part of the pickups is that they aren't noisy at all, and you can plug them into pretty much everything without much trouble; for example, it behaves very well with my DIY impedance matching circuit and an iPad. I play it mostly with my normal rig - Zoom G7.1UT modeller and 80W transistor combo. As I said earlier, the limited dynamics don't really allow me to get everything I want from this setup. Still, if you only want to play rythm, it's something to think about.

Overall Impression — 7
Summary... Well, I'm not a very experienced player, but I had many guitars in my hands; I'm sort of hardware geek. In terms of playability and durability this guitar is really good. If you take enough care with it, the paint should last and wear off rather naturally. It's very comfortable and well-balanced. The small scale (24.75") also fits people with smaller hands (my girlfriend, for example). The smooth surface on the bridge allows the right hand for some rest with long exercises. Still, the sound is pretty much budget. I'd compare it to Gibson SG in some way (with those terrible metal covers from the previous age on pickups), but with more power - the sound lacks clarity I would really like, still it can Drive any amp to metal sound. I have mixed feelings about it, but I think I won't really miss her when she's gone. If it helps you in any way, my next guitar will probably be Ibanez S Premium/Prestige with natural finish. So, in short - well-made, bad-sound. Fits the price, also would be nice for a youngling due to a bit smaller size. If you want to play seriously though, pass on it.

Reliability & Durability — 8
I played a few gigs with her, and had no problems. The built-in jack is of a very good quality and holds the cable in place. Hardware is also good, and the simplicity of design really fit the neat price. The strap buttons needed a bit of care, but since then they are rock solid. As I said earlier, the paint will probably wear off after some years - and it will wear off in rather ugly way. It certainly won't affect playability, though. I had a backup, of course, but I don't think you really need one. The Gibraltar bridge is really forgiving to the strings, and I can't really imagine it breaking in any way - it's just simple and well-made.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I bought it from a friend in nearly mint condition and set it up myself. I adjusted the bridge and the action, and put new batteries in (after a year, they're still ok, you just have to remember to detach the cable). The overall finish was and still is - perfect. Any of the flaws that are stated over this section aren't there. If I really had to find something, second volume knob tends to brush against underlying wood a bit - it helps to pull it out by 1mm or so. It generally feels a lot better that cheap guitars under 300$. Until you plug it in, you can say it costs 1000$ and everyone will believe.

Features — 8
ART 120 is one of the budget Ibanez models. It features 22 fret, set-in neck, which is quite fat, but still in Ibanez style. It also has this great neck ending near the head, which makes it easier to find the first position. The fretboard is of very good quality, with thin white binding on the top. The only fret marker is on the 12 fret (custom inlay), it still has the full set of dots on the side. It's made from mahogany with maple top, though everything is covered in black paint. The paint itself certainly isn't as good as on prestige models, and it's especially easy to chip with something like cable jack - be careful. The shape itself is similar to Gibson Les Paul, yet it has some differences. It's more aggressive in look and holds a little bit differently. The bridge is pretty straightforward - Quik Change III tailpiece (really quick, but I never had to change strings on-stage) and Gibraltar III bridge (smoother than TightTune, and easier to rest hand on). It has 2 active LZ pickups, with two separate volume and one tone control. It also has simple 3-position switch. Tuners are standard Ibanez. I believe it features no additional accessories in standard package.

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