Price paid: £ 350
Purchased from: ebay
Sound — 9
As I said, these pickups are pretty much the most powerful passive pickups you will find anywhere as they were designed to be better than active pickups. The sheer clarity and cutting through that these pickups can prduce is magnificent. I don't want you to get the idea that these pickups are absolutely perfect though. I noticed that due to the sheer output these things produce, even though it can produce very good blues tones and clean tones. There is almost always some distortion mixed into the signal simply because there is so much signal. It's not the end of the world, but may be the deciding feature for would-be buyers. There isn't any noise produce from them unless you want them to make noise in my opinion. I have used this guitar in a live situation and can wholeheartedly say that this sound good at high volumes and at low volumes. Blues and jazz are definite possibilities for this guitar, I know because I've tried it, but it's rock and metal where this guitar is king of the hill. This will worry people will top-notch les pauls in their setup.
Overall Impression — 10
My overall impression is that this guitar is a gem for rock and metal players alike. I think that it's quite heavy but that's a feature of all Explorer style guitars and not specifically this. Flaws: the cutaway can stop me from getting some high notes every once in a while, and the super-powerful pickups are made to be just that, so this is not an ideal jazz guitar. Major positives: the pickups will blow away practically all passive pickups you've played and quite a few active pickups as well; also this guitar feels truly wonderful to play. This feels like something that has been purpose built for my hands. My hands are different from yours though, so be sure to get the neck measurements before you put your money on the table. If you want one hell of a guitar for one hell of a good price, I would say get one of these. I was not expecting what I got in the least. I thought it would just be good for old metal and that's it, but it's capable of so much more than that. They are not usually available in the UK for some reason, probably because people think the Explorer body is too 'metal' for an Ibanez guitar, but I think that these things are one of the best in the Ibanez arsenal.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Very good. This guitar has withstood live playing very well, and I haven't seen any problems develop with the hardware yet. This guitar seems to be very solidly built in comparison to a lot of other guitars I've played. Strap buttons feel like they were grown as part of the wood rather than being screwed in. This guitar isn't coming of my shoulders any time soon. Always bring a backup no matter what. That's the iron rule of a gigging musician. This guitar most likely won't break anytime soon, but you can never be sure about the strings you've installed on it. You treat this guitar right and it will truly pay you back in spades.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
It had a beautiful silver-sunburst on mine, and the pickups were adjusted just right. The neck I had to set up, but that was due to it's previous owner changing to a higher grade of strings and not adjusting the truss rod to compensate. I Would say that the only real drawback with it's image is the cutaway on the bottom side of the neck. It looks nice but it does get in the way if you are going for some of the higher notes, so you will have to tap in order to get some of the really high notes on this guitar. Apart from that, this guitar's image is very nice and the finish shows no sign of wear to me.
Features — 9
I'm not usre when this guitar was made, but I am sure that it is very recent, as in within the last 5 years, as the pickups were made only recently. This is a 22-fret guitar with a Wizard II neck, which is just slightly thicker than what you get on most Ibanez RGs, but also slightly thinner than what you get on most Gibson or Schecter guitars. Feels very nice to play, and the frets and nice big fat ones as well. The finish I think is transparent and it is painted silver sunburst for me. Body style is an Explorer body style, but with a slightly less prominent cutaway on the right hand side as you're looking straight at it if you holding it vertically. Controls are two volume dials for the bridge and volume pickups which both share a master tone control. This suits my playing style quite well, but some guitarists prefer only one volume dial, it's just a preference. The pickups are DiMarzio D-Activators and in my opinion are the best passive pickups that money can buy at the moment. These pickups were design by DiMarzio specifically so that they would be as powerful as active pickups and it shows. I have tested this guitar up against a Schecter Hellraiser loaded with EMG pickups (81 and 89) and this Destroyer guitar sounded much sharper, less compressed, and actually sounded more punchy where it mattered. Non-locking tuners, Ibanez gibraltar fixed bridge, which is actually a very good bridge when you get used to it. Hard-case came with it, which is lucky considering it's unusual shape. On the whole, you definitely get your money's worth even at it's full 700+ price. I Would say that there is certainly no Gibson guitar for the same price that is in the same league as this.