Purchased from: Welch Music Twin Falls
Features — 7
Bearing Ibanez's budget label, GIO, this guitar was a 2000 model purchased new in '01. It featured a bolt-on, one-piece maple neck with a rosewood fretboard, bound with 4 bolts to an agathis double-cutaway body reminiscent of PRS or Les Paul. This model was gloss black, with an Ibanez Powersound 1 humbucker neck pickup and an H1 at the bridge. It did have the Quickchange tailpiece and Fulltune bridge, although what benefit these might offer over the generic unnamed tune-o-matics used by everyone else is beyond me. As a gloss black model, it had chrome Ibanez tuners and rather cheesy black plastic volume and tone knobs.
Sound — 6
This was a versatile little guitar, played first through a Gorilla 30-watt 8" combo (anyone else remember those?) and then the Peavey Bandit 112 TransTube I still own. I jammed on all sorts of rock and metal, everything from Offspring to Maiden to Megadeth. Nothing really stood out about its tone... other than the bridge pickup made the high mids bleed through everything like a banshee's wail. On a clean channel, it was bright, almost sharp. Distorted, it seemed harsh and raucous. Outside of that it was rather mundane, a great beginning guitar that focused on playability.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
For a lower-priced guitar, this guy had a low and fast action and a very playable neck. The guitar I'd had before (and still own as a keepsake) was some unstable, unpredictable, half-broken no namer with a bowed neck and the most mysterious vibrato assembly I've seen. So this Ibanez was lightyears ahead in playability. Out of the box it was fair shape, although I never could adjust some buzz out of the low E string. I corrected it with amp volume instead. The D string refused to stay tuned, and I had to resolder the ground wire back onto the output jack twice (I'll admit the second time was my fault... but I wouldn't have had to do it the first time if it hadn't broken to begin with). The finish was good; knobs, chrome, and switches all in fine shape and working properly on delivery.
Reliability & Durability — 7
If I had possessed adequate skill for live performance at the time, I would have insisted on a backup, as broken strings were not uncommon with it. I owned it for many years before selling it to a friend, and when it left me everything still worked as well as it had when it was new. The finish proved to be rather soft and showed quite a number of scratches and pick-marks, as well as a couple dings. I did care for it more rigorously than I would later instruments as it was my first guitar purchase, although this didn't seem to help.
Overall Impression — 7
I wouldn't call myself a good guitarist by any means. But this guitar, which was so much better than what I'd been playing before, helped me improve rapidly. I felt a real sense of accomplishment learning new songs, as they suddenly seemed much easier to play
Would I buy another? No, not for myself. Nah, I ain't good, but I'm good enough to feel comfortably spending twice the money or more on a guitar that has quality hardware and features I'm interested in. But I think this is a great first guitar for anyone who's interested in learning to play. In fact, I have suggested the GIO line many times in the past to new players. This guitar, and most guitars in this price range, are significantly better-constructed than their $140 starter-pack counterparts. They are an instrument than gives a budding musician room to grow.
Ultimately, as a guitar in its own right, I can't call it better than average. Nice guitar for the price, but the sound is too meh to even be a fun knockaround guitar.