Price paid: € 485
Purchased from: online store
Sound — 10
Although the Darkstone is labeled as rock/metal guitar, it's very versatile and can be suited for any style. The stock pickups, build exclusively for this model, have a very powerful yet clear sound. They are aggressive enough to play brutal death metal, but if you use the coil tap you immediately get a Stratocaster sound. I mostly play rock and metal through a Peavey Bandit 122 amp and Korg AX3000G pedalboard and I can get almost any sound. I'm very surprised because this is one of the very few mid-range guitars that don't need a pickup upgrade to sound good.
Overall Impression — 9
I play rock and metal and this was definitely the right choice. I have been playing for 5 years and owned several guitars, including a Jackson RR3, a Gibson Explorer and a Hagstrom Swede. I could compare the Darkstone quality to the Explorer, but for half the price. If it were stolen I'll buy it again in a heartbeat!
Reliability & Durability — 9
It's definitely a solid guitar made to play live (many metal bands play it, such as Epica, Sabaton, Deathstars, etc). I would have no problems playing a gig without a backup. The strap buttons were solid but I replaced them with DiMarzio Cliplocks (my favourite strap locks) because the guitar is really heavy, even heavier than my old Gibson Explorer.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The guitar came well setup with D'Addario strings. Everything was adjusted properly, from pickup height to intonation to neck relief. The action was really low and the neck is very comfortable, not too thin and not too thick (but definitely thicker than standard Ibanez necks). I honestly couldn't find anything wrong with my guitar except for some dust on the finish (maybe because it came with no case or gigbag).
Features — 8
The Ibanez Darkstone DN500 has the following features: - Sapele body and neck - Bound rosewood fretboard - 22 medium frets - 24.75" scale - Set neck construction - Ibanez Tight-Tune bridge - Ibanez CAP PP1-B and CAP PP1-N passive pickups - 3-way switch, 1 volume and 1 tone control - Coil tap on tone control Mine has a black finish and was made in 2010 in China. Don't bee fooled though: it's a high quality guitar. For those who don't know, sapele is a very heavy African wood similar to mahogany used on some acoustic guitars because of his resonance.