Purchased from: Pawn Shop
Features — 9
The body is solid, and comes preloaded with 2 EMG HZ humbuckers in the bridge and neck position. The neck is very straight, sturdy and just has a nice profile/feel to it in general. This guitars comes installed with an Ibanez Edge III double locking trem system which in my opinion feels and looks a lot sturdier than some of the Licenced Floyd Rose bridges I have owned on previous guitars.
Sound — 9
I play a lot of different music depending on my mood, but for fun, I prefer playing metal/hard rock for the percussive and pedaltoning element which keeps my right hand busy at all times. This guitar can pretty much clone the sound of Metallica with the right amp settings. The EMG HZ pickups will make your palm mutes cut through a mix like a ten-ton hammer, I have jammed to tracks like "Battery," "Master of Puppets," "Seek and Destroy," "Sanitarium," "Four Horsemen," and by god does this guitar blend into the mix so well, it almost feels as if I was in the original recording. The pickups themselves are one of the highest output "passive" pickups I have ever used, if I just as much as touch the string gently enough to produce a tiny sound I get a signal reading on my TASCAM US-100 audio interface, however, with my other guitars, some of which have Seymour Duncan Invaders etc, do not get such a sensitive signal reading. To that end, pinch harmonics squeel with brilliance, the natural harmonics are very thick and full of tone and when playing high frets, the sound is smooth, rather than choppy and sharp like it can be on some pickup configurations. Believe it or not I also enjoy playing fingerstyle music, and I even played a rendition of "Blackbird" by The Beatles and it sounded amazing on the neck position.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
This guitar had a previous owner/owners so the action had changed drastically due to several people who were not aware of how to set up/restring a tremolo system. However, a simple turn of the cavity springs to level the bridge angle and a full turn each of the knife edge screws, and I am now sitting about 1.2mm off the entire neck which is low enough that I can still play moderately aggressive without buzz. The pickups have not been adjusted, because I really don't feel a need to, but I may lower the neck slightly to reduce some output. The guitar always reminds me of the ESP/LTD Kirk Hammett KH-202 that I used to own, but in a way its better, because it is slightly lighter, the bridge is black so blends with the body more, and the action on the ESP Kirk Hammett was unbearable, but this Ibanez reignited my WANT to play guitar on a daily basis. The vol/tone knobs have a nice roll tension to them, not too loose either (which I despise because I normally roll off the volume inadvertently when playing without realising!) and the tone pot has a very wide array of colour adjustment, unlike some pots, whereby you only get a tone effect from 10 to 7 and thereafter it is just signal loss. These will keep your full signal going even until 3-0 on the knob.
Reliability & Durability — 10
The neck is bolt-on but honestly, the bolts themselves look like something used to build skyscrapers with, I would not ever worry about the neck shifting position as it is super tight inside the neck pocket, and level, so no shimming required to lower high fret action. Thats all I'm going to say on this, other than yes I would gig with it definitely, it is an extremely comfortable guitar and fret access is superb. I have never been able to play those 22-24th frets on any other guitar, but this has a carve away on the neck/body so you can get up there nice and easily and play your scales up there.
Overall Impression — 9
I have owned about 15-20 guitars in my time of playing, ranging from low budget to mid-range (£500-600) guitars and this is in my top 3, because you cannot beat the quality hardware, premium EMG pickups, build quality and playability for this price. I have owned guitars worth more, that came with crappy stock hardware and pickups, so yes, if you see one of these, I would not hesitate in buying one! 9/10 because nothing is perfect!