Price paid: $ 400
Sound — 9
The sound is really the only reason I got this guitar. I wanted to achieve the true jazzbox sound and with 0.13 gauge roundwound strings it does this just fine. Some have commented that it doesn't sound warm or woody enough. I agree with this a bit, but it still sounds very respectable in a jazz ensemble setting and eventhough many would turn their noses up at this discount instrument made in China, the sound itself doesn't lie. It really sounds great! That is, on the neck pickup. The other two settings I hardly ever use and am a bit disappointed with the bridge pickup, that sounds weaker and a little nasal. But This is a jazz guitar, therefore you really only need the neck pickup. No, be prepared for feedback. I mainly use a really nice solid state Fender amp with this guitar and even completely clean, above 4 on the amp's vol knobb this starts to feedback on the bottom three strings. By turning down the mids this can be controlled but it still is there. Other than that, the guitar is a little boomy, which is to be expected from a jazzbox, just as is the feedback. I cut the bass on the amp off entirely and it still sounds full. One has to accept this guitar for what it is and if you can't deal with the various drawbacks of this, than likely a full hollowbody just isn't for you. But in its category, this guitar's sonic attributes are superb, especially considering the price! I marked down one because of the slight lack of wood and warmth in the tone.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, considering the price and having tried several other jazzboxes, I find this an incredible value and worthy of professional use. But for that, at very least, I think the tuners need changing. Again, it does look a little cheap, but this doesn't affect the sound, which is very competent. And personally I prefer a more understated instrument than one of those that look more like a work of ART than a guitar. That way my audience doesn't focus more on my axe than my playing. All in all, a 9. Good job Ibanez.
Reliability & Durability — 7
I think the guitar will hold up well but I do have to comment on two pieces of really cheap hardware it comes with, but easily replaceable. The tuners are terrible. They hold well once you reach your desired pitch, but are not smooth at all and toy-like. Total crap that I'll probably change very soon. The second is the tune-o-matic bridge that has screwes tight as hell. Perhaps some oil WD40 will help this but I haven't gotten around to it. They do achieve the necessary range for proper intonation with heavy jazz roundwound strings though, so not all that bad. Finally, I have on occassion knocked the bridge slightly off center because it just rests on the top, like most jazzboxes. This is frustrating as hell but not a criticism of this guitar as much as all jazzboxes. The upside of this, however, is that it allows for more intonation flexibility. But in summary, I've come to consider this a very delicate Beast and kinda treat it with kidgloves, unlike my PRS solidbody that is hard as a rock and can take a serious beating on stage. I mark down three on this section because of these details.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The action is really remarkable compared to many other guitars I have. Very low, the lowest of any of my guitars, including my PRS solidbody. The frets are impeccable and I have really yet to find a flaw on the entire instrument. Now, I can criticize the plastic look of this thing, really the only feature that gives away that it is a cheap guitar. I looks like it was dipped in a vat of plexiglass or something. But who cares, it feels, sounds and plays great. Again 1 discounted for its cheap look.
Features — 10
Made in China, don't know what year. 22 medium frets on a fairly thin mahogany neck and a rosewood fretboard with perloid inlays that were placed very well. The body is all maple laminate with a high gloss finish and sunburst. Trapeze tailpiece and tun-o-matic bridge on top of a block of ebony that lays flat on the top with nothing but string pressure to keep it in place. Two tones and two volumes and two covered humbuckers just like on a Gibson. Grover style tuners that are kind of cheap. For features a 10 since it has exactly what a jazzbox should have. As for the quality, I'll comment on that later.