Price paid: $ 299.99
Purchased from: Musiciansfriend.com
Sound — 7
Heavy. That is the way I would describe the sound of this guitar in one word. I did some research, and found that sapele is an African mahogany. It is I little cheaper, but retains most of the tonality of regular mahogany. On the bridge pickup the distorted sound was great. You could feel the power of the active pickups, which are pretty quiet. Riffing was just fantastic. As I started moving up the bridge, I noticed the lack if mids and highs. They just weren't all there. The neck pickup wasn't any better. Lows were muddy, and again, no mids or highs. The clean bridge sound was decent. You could hear the highs peeking in, but again no mids. The neck was again muddy at the low wnd, and lacking a midrange. All that said, I wouldn't say it sounded bad. It was just missing something. I play a lot of metal, and do a lot of riffing. For the time being this will be fine however I am currently in the market for some new pickups that will hopefully bring life to this otherwise great guitar. I actually could get a decent Santana sound with the mids on my Cyber Twin at 10, the compressor on high, and the tone control on the guitar on 0. The one outstanding feature of this guitar is the sustain. I was testing the sustain and even after hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides, the notes just wouldn't fade. I don't actually know how long the note is capable of lasting, because after a while of holding the note it takes so long I get bored.
Overall Impression — 8
For metal, this is a great guitar. I believe you are only a new set of pickups away from getting any tone you want out of it. I've been playing for a little more than three years, owning mostly LTDs. This guitar is much better considering that I spent less money on this than on either my V-200 or F-250. It was really a steal. To give an idea how much this was marked down, the gently used b condition used models were 100 dollars more than I got this new. Mind you the used models were being sold at the same place as I got the new model. I played this next to a Ltd EC 256, EC 401, and EC 1000. The EC was a little lighter and sounded better, but even with new pickups that will probably put this at the same level sound wise as the EC 1000, I will be saving over 300 dollars. If I could get it for the same price, I would absolutely buy again if it was stolen. I only wish it had 9v circuitry and metal knobs. I always suggest playing before buying, but certainly take a look at this guitar. If you play metal and are on a budget, you probably won't find better quality for anything in or close to this price range. Truly a solid axe with decent sound, remarkable sustain, quality construction and beautiful looks.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This axe feels solid. I always check the soldering, and I have no complaints. The hardware seems durable, except for the knobs. The strap buttons are solid, but I always recommend strap locks. I also always recommend gigging with a backup, however if I didn't have one for this I would not be nervous. The finish seems durable, and I don't picture it wearing down any time soon.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
This guitar was completely out of tune when it came from the factory. This scared me. After tuning, all of my concerns were wiped away. The action was great, low but no fret buzz. The neck is a little thicker than I'm used to. This isn't a big deal, as it helps add to the sustain and doesn't actually impede my playing. If you are used to thin necks, I recommend playing before buying. The intonation was absolutely perfect. I'm a stickler for intonation, and I didn't have to change a thing. The finish is beautiful, and spotless. The figure of the wood is hard to see in low light, but in bright light the maple shows lots of figure and is gorgeous. The pickups only required a minor adjustment. Whoever set this up at Ibanez did an excellent job.
Features — 8
The Ibanez ART600 has a single cutaway body design similar to a Les Paul, however it is far from a Les Paul in terms of sound and styling. The 22 fret, 24 3/4", three piece sapele/maple neck has a rosewood fingerboard and is set on a sapele body. A carved quillted maple top adds a little brightness and definition to the sound of this guitar. The inlays are mother-of-pearl blocks with abalone stripes set in the mop. The finish is transparent black (this model also comes in transparent blue), allowing the figure of the maple ti stand out, but only in decent light. The guitar has a black binding with white pin stripes on the body, neck, and headstock. Hardware on this guitar includes a tight tune bridge, stopbar tailpiece, and trim-lock tuners. There are two volume controls and one tone, and a three way selector switch to choose between the two Ibanez active LoZ-1 pickups. This guitar came with only the allen wrenches for adjustments, but with this price, I did not expect any more. All of the metal parts are cosmo black. I must say that the trim lock tuners are very convenient while changing strings, as are the tight tune bridge and tailpiece, as they do not come off the body like standard tune-o-matics. I have only two complaints as far as features go. The knobs are cheap plastic. It isn't the end of the world, but I advise replacing them. Aside from poor asthetics, they just show poor quality on a otherwise very good quality guitar. The other complaint is the circuitry. Most active electronics run on 9 or 18 volts. This guitar features a 2x1.5 volt circuit, meaning it runs on 2 AA batteries. This is fine if you don't intend on changing the pickups, however this may present problems if you chose to upgrade. The guitar is fairly thin, but fairly heavy. It is slightly lighter than must similar styled guitars made of similar materials, but not much.