Price paid: $ 170
Purchased from: Local music store
Sound — 8
While the GRGA11EX does not match all the music I'm playing (it is appropriate for hard rock and heavy metal), utilizing a few effects, it does not sound much out of place either. I normally use a Roland Cube Street while playing with friends or when I'm alone at home. I play it through a DigiTech RP55 when I need to practice quietly. I like its sound with overdrive and/or distortion. It's not a guitar for clean/bright sounds. The sound does not vary greatly between the PUs. The bridge PU sounds just a tad trebler and cleaner than the neck PU but not that different.
Overall Impression — 8
I play a lot of styles. This guitar sounds very good with distortion or lots of overdrive, so it matches hard rock and heavy metal best. It can do some blues but music requiring brighter sounds would benefit from another guitar. When I practice, I play it through a DigiTech RP55 and with some tweaking can get somewhat brighter sounds through the processor. I would not do that for playing gigs, though. I've been playing this guitar for over a year. I also have a '94 Squier Strat. If this guitar got damaged, lost or stolen I would probably buy one again. As it seems to be discontinued, I'd probably get one of the new GRGA line guitars. I love the candy apple red finish. I love hard-tails, and it is a rare Ibanez that does not have a tremolo. The neck and the low action is very nice. For some reason, I can do pinch harmonics more easily on this guitar. Longer sustain, too. I bought this when I went to buy a GRGR121EX. The "reverse" head on that guitar was not comfortable, tuner buttons on the down side was hard to use and as I tend to knock that part around when I kneel to fiddle with effects and the amp, I thought it would be harder to keep it in tune. I tried this one and it was pretty much the same guitar with a sculpted top and correctly placed tuner buttons. It also had a red finish, so I got this one.
Reliability & Durability — 10
The GRGA11EX will withstand lively playing. I practice a few hours on end on weekends, no problems at all. It is not on the lighter side but it's not a heavyweight either. Weight wise it is more comfortable than my '94 Squier Strat. The hardware is quite good, it will last. The strap buttons are solid but they are slightly bigger than standard ones, beware if you use locking straps. Planet Waves lock straps do not fit its buttons. I use a normal strap and washers as locks on this guitar. You can depend on it for a gig. You would not need a backup. It stays in tune (and I'm fond of doing big bends a lot). The finish is quite good. I've been using this for over a year now and have thumped it into furniture a bit, no dents in it yet.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The guitar's action was low enough that it impressed me in the store. At home, I could still lower the action even more. Intonation was not correct, however. I set up my guitars myself and thanks to the hard-tail, I adjusted the bridge for the correct intonation in no time at all. I have not touched the pickups' heights, they sound good as they are. Still, the pick occasionally comes into contact with the neck PU when doing stuff like pinch harmonics. I could have lowered it a bit I guess, but it does not bother me. The guitar came in tip-top shape. One irritation: Planet Waves lock straps do not fit this guitar.
Features — 8
It is a GRGA11EX and was probably built in China (2011?). I say probably, cause the guitar does not sport a serial number, just a sticker on the back of the head starting with 213R01... And it does not match known Ibanez serial numbers. It has 24 medium/jumbo frets on a 20 inch neck (25.5 inch scale). It has a sculpted top, not sure if it's laminated or solid. Body is basswood. The neck is a two-piece maple and the fingerboard is rosewood. The "candy apple" red finish is gorgeous (actually, it is why I bought the guitar in the first place). As per the Ibanez GRG line, the GRGA11EX is a super Strat with deeper cutaways and sharper horns. The bridge is a classic hard-tail. As it is with the overall hardware, it is black. I have no idea what the passive pickups are, but they look and sound like the Powersound covered humbuckers used in the GRGR121EX. There is one volume and one tone control, PU selection switch is 3-way. It came with Allen wrenches for the bridge and the truss rod. It might have come with a 10 feet lead if my memory serves me right.