Price paid: £ 380
Purchased from: GAK
Features: My Ibanez AWD102 was made in 2006, in China, apparently. It's a 24 fret, 3/4" scaled semi-hollow guitar with a thru-neck and Custom Super 58 humbucker pickups. I'm not going to over-elabourate because all of this information and more is available to you with a quick google search - though beware, this guitar is out of production and becoming very hard to get hold of!
Mine came with a very nice case which is the exact shape of the guitar itself. Not shoddy at all - very reliable, very nice to look at. // 9
Sound: I bought this guitar intending to explore the realms of jazz, and it does that extremely well, as you would expect from an Artcore. However, I soon discovered that this guitar handles many other genres extremely well. This guitar has become my firm choice when I want to play some Satriani or Steve Vai as well! Obviously if I had a locking-trem guitar, that would be better - but in terms of playabiliy, this handles that sort of music incredibly well. In short, I'd say this guitar is the most versatille instrument in my humble collection. Jazz, Blues, Rock, Fusion, Country - even metal works very well on this thing.
I play through a Fender Blues Junior frequently and the guitar sounds great! If you have treble quite high you can get a real country twang, but if you push the mids you get a lovely rock tone as well. Roll back the tone control on the guitar and you'll get a truely awesome jazz tone out of this thing. In short, it sounds fantastic!
I also play through a Micro BR, using various effects. I've come to adore the sound of this guitar with a little compression, perfect for jazz, but the brilliant Custom Super 58s also allow some really rich distorted tones too. Basically this guitar is keeper, whether you're using a tube amp or a solid-state setup. // 8
Action, Fit & Finish: My guitar was setup perfectly. And I mean perfectly. I've spent much more money than this on a guitar and had much worse setups. I don't know exactly Who is responsible for these setups, whether GAK tweaked anything en route - but it was wonderfully setup and I haven't changed a thing. The action is very low, great for jazz and also speed, with absolutely no buzz at all. It really is quite incredible, you'd definently get buzz on most other guitars with this action.
The finish of the guitar itself was wonderful (I got it in white cream) - flawless. It looks, by the way, absolutely incredible. The only downside is I recently cut my fingers during a jam session and speckled some blood underneath the strings at the bridge. Might be a good look for a metal-head, not me. // 9
Reliability & Durability: I haven't gigged with this guitar for two reasons. First of all, and this is really my only complaint with this guitar, the upper strap button is in a really weird place - just behind the neck on the back of the body. I guess because it's a semi-hollow they couldn't drill in the usual position - the result is a somewhat uncomfortable stance when playing with a strap. I certainly wouldn't let this put me off buying this guitar, but it is annoying. The second reason is I don't trust thru-necks on the road and this is such a beautiful guitar, I'd rather not run the risk!
In terms of hardware, everything is great. The guitar stays in tune very well (though it takes awhile to get the strings to properly "slip" into tune) and everything is built very solidly. Ibanez are known for the quality of their instruments and this certainly doesn't tarnish their good name. I'm pretty sure this guitar will look, feel and play the same way in ten years time.
Points lost for the annoying strap position. Nothing else. // 7
Overall Impression: Overall I'd say this is a fantastic guitar which is well worth the money. I played many other semi-hollows before deciding on this, a PRS SE Custom and an Epi Dot - but this just stood out. It has great access to the entire fretboard, wonderful low action, an incredible and surprisingly versatile tone - and it looks amazing. If you only want to own one guitar, then I'll forgive you passing this up because of the annoying strap button location - which might make gigging slightly more difficult, but otherwise, this is a very unique guitar that anyone would love to have in their collection. Bravo Ibanez! // 9