Sound — 8
I play everything from classic rock to metal and this guitar works well with all of these variants. Currently using this with an Orange Dark Terror and a PPC112 cabinet along with a hardwire Dl8 Delay, Blackstar reverb, MXR micro chorus though the effects loop and a Catalinbread Manx Fuzz and dirty little secret 2 with a bad monkey to boost just that little bit more and Zak Wylde wah. Currently I have the amp with everything g at halfway roughly and use the od's to push the distortion out and the fuzz to dirty things up. This guitar loves the setup. There is a small amount of hiss when the dirty little secret is turned on but this could easily be removed with a noise gate. It has a really tight sound across the fretboard and at the low end it really does chug well for saying it has single coils in. For solo work it's incredible and from the 5th to the 15th fret is where this guitar excels, notes ring out and sustain fantastically well, however it is not a forgiving guitar. If your technique is sloppy you will hear and things I could get away with on my other guitars all of a sudden made me tighten my technique up when using this one and due to this my playing has improved ten fold, it doesn't compete with my MTM2 for out and out low end but I wouldn't expect it to compete with active pickups. Saying this though it is my go to guitar and it can do pretty much anything that I want it to. The area 67 pickup gives a real Stratocaster sound and is great for blues and with a bit of gain it does classic rock well especially with a bit of chorus added. In the neck position with delay and chorus active it does clean and soft very well and I am genuinely impressed at how well it compliments my rig. I can go from crunchy rock to sparkling clean at the turn of the volume pot and that's using each pickup configuration it has. I have had the guitar for around 3 months now so it has been play tested well and I from an "is it right for you" point of view it does Metallica, Guns N' Roses, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Chillis, U2, Radiohead, Sabbath, Bon Jovi, Paul Gilbert (obviously) to name a few very very well. It does Megadeth, Slayer, Slipknot above average but I doubt you will buy this if your wanting to play those. All in all it sounds fantastic. It does have a Paul Gilbert sound to it which can be quite trembly but using the amp can take this out if you want. for one like bringing that in and it adds something different. With the fuzz active once you get past the 10th fret it can get a bit trembly so you have to setup your rig to start with but the long and short of it is this guitar sounds incredible. I am knocking points off to make it a review rather than a fanboy rave due to the trembly nature past the 10th meaning more tweaking but I love it. For anyone who bends notes a lot this guitar will suit you perfectly, the medium jumbo frets allow insane bends that don't decay to quickly and there are no dead spots on the neck that I can find. It does rhythm and lead equally as well and the neck joint whilst chunky doesn't stop upper fret access for screaming solos. Pinch harmonics are a breeze and due to the beefy neck joint notes do sustain really well. I generally play rhythm with the occasional lead part in the band I am in currently and so far I haven't had to change guitars for any particular style as this does suit pretty much anything we play.
Overall Impression — 8
This guitar looks great and sounds great. It has coped with everything I have played so far and even in hi gain songs it doesn't struggle to much. I asked questions about the neck before I bought it as there were rumors it was like a baseball bat and it is a thick neck but it plays very well and is similar to an LP in feel which is no bad thing and I am glad I tried it and eventually bought it as I couldn't be happier with the mine I have spent. Lost or stolen I would buy it again without question, I bought it for how it looks and sounds not because I want to be Paul Gilbert and I thinks betters pretty much everything in the same price range that is comparable to it. Love the look of the guitar and the neck, also very impressed that due to the differences to other guitars it ha tightened my technique. I didn't compare to other guitars, I wanted this guitar and nothing else. From the moment I picked it up I was satisfied that it was right for me. I would have liked more money to be spent on the pots as they do feel cheap and I would have happily spent another 100 quid on it if this had been the case, it is worth the money and is so far the best guitar I have owned when compared to my DBZ Venom and the other DBZ's I have traded in the last 18 months, the Ibanez MTM2 I own comes close to it but against high end Epiphones and Schemers which I have played and owned it wipes the floor with them, This is a review though and it is a 700 quid guitar so I am not giving it 10's as there's no point. I wold love to spend 2 grand on a guitar that was the ultimate axe but I can't so I cannot compare this to that type of guitar and as such I am giving it an 8 overall. It's not the best but it does a damn good job of getting close. If you like the look of it play it and then make your mind up, don't dismiss it as another signature model or an Ibanez, play it then critique it. If you get it enjoy it, if you don't then that's your choice and that's what makes guitar awesome. Thanks for looking at the review and if anyone needs more info let me know.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Guitar stands live play well and it is a well built solid piece of kit. I have no concerns about reliabilty with it and so far it has not let me down. Like I have said earlier in the review the pots and selector seem cheap and I will replace them at some point but they work which is the main thing and until they stop working there is no need for this. Strap locks are well fitted and strong and the tuners whilst unbranded are solid and responsive and cope with minor adjustments well. I generally always take a back up wherever I go but I would be happy that I don't need to. Just habit to take a spare with me. I have had no string breakages in the time I have had it which for someone who bends a lot is good in my opinion. The finish is of the highest quality and it looks like its meant to last. For all the Chinese guitar haters this is a very good piece of kit and for the money am thoroughly satisfied. Yes it is a signature guitar and yes it's probably a little over priced because of this but it's worth every penny. I can't compare it to the Elite guitars as I haven't played them as I don't have a spare 2 grand lying about. The guitar is fantastic and worth the money. Sounds great, looks great and it looks like it will last. That to me is the sign of a good guitar.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Setup was good in all fairness, action was a little high but not unplayable and half an hours tinkering sorted that, I like a low action so this was a personal preference rather than a fault with the finish, had to lower the middle pickup slightly as it was high and got in the way of th pick at times. Nut is fine and is causing no string rattle, fres are finished brilliantly and neck is tidy and straight. Intonation is spot on with no adjustments needed and all in all everything fits well. Pick guard gapes a little which may be me being picky but certainly jot flush to the key which if I am being critical which in a review I should be knocks a point off. Can engines hone see it, no! Can I see it yes and it is disappointing. Hardwear all fitted well and clean, no residue anywhere and no manufacturing flaws that I can see. Volume/tone pots and pickup selector are cheap which again is disappointing but nothing that can't be sorted. Wiring is all good, and strap locks work well. Generally pleasing but more attention to detail would have got this a 10 as it is I'm giving it an 8.
Features — 9
Well it's a 2012 Chinese manufactured Ibanez Fireman which is Mr. Big Paul Gilbert's affordable version of the guitar. It has 22 frets and a 24.75" scale with medium jumbo frets which make bending the strings a dream. The neck is a 3 piece mahogany/maple set neck and is really beefy when compared to the wizard necks on other Ibanez guitars measuring 22mm at the 1st fret and 24mm at the 12th fret. It feels Les Paul Esque to me and is actually very comfortable. It has a solid mahogany body with a translucent red finish which looks incredible and really allows the grain to show through. The body is in effect an upside down iceman and whilst it may look awkward to some it is very comfortable to play and fits in the superstrat bracket in my opinion. Access to the upper frets is easy due to the cut away and the neck joint which are designed we well indeed. It comes with the tight tune tailpiece and bridge which real do lock things down and help tuning stability as well as making adjustments easy. I lowered the action in a matter of seconds with some era minor adjustments and due to the way it locks it hasn't moved. It comes fitted with a DiMarzio injector in the neck and bridge positions and a DiMarzio Area 67 in the middle. They are all hum canceling single coil pickups and this is noticeable at high gain where there is very little noise. It comes with the usual stuff on the bottom end, volume and tone pot as well as a 5 way pick up selector however as per his setup the volume pot is at the bottom where you would usually find the tone which is odd at first but in reality makes little difference once you get used to it. Tuners are non locking standard Ibanez ones but seem well made and the guitar itself holds the very well which will be in some way affected by the bridge and tailpiece which are of a very high quality. Got a gig bag and cable with it, no strap but one point to note is the strap locks are large and a standard locking strap doesn't fit which I found out after I had bought and unpackaged one. That's my fault though not Ibanez's! In summary the guitar is very well equipped and very well made, from reading before I bought it there were concerns about the Chinese manufacturing process but I can honestly say mine is well made and well finished. The guitar looks and feels more expensive than it is but the volume and tone pots feel cheap as does the pickup selector so whilst it looks incredible a few more quid on these would have made it a 10 for me.