Price paid: $ 366
Purchased from: Manchester
Sound — 10
The pickups give the oppurtunity for a huge range of styles, as they are not completely humbuckers, so not to heavy. The tone selector is brilliant and it is very easy to install a high gain/low gain cut Switch aswell. My bands play everthing from Grunge (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Sound Garden) to rock 'n' roll (Early Beatles, Chuckberry) etc. But this guitar comes into its own when playing live, at the heavier end of the musical spectrum. When playing on the bridge pickup it gives amazing treble tone, which cuts like a razor through any band. Its has a perfect Jimi Hendrix sound but when the gain is cranked up, makes it easy to play pinch harmonics and the sustain is unbeleivable. Infact, the pickup is so tight it almost creates a wah wah sound in the bass strings when in a high gain tone. The single pickups give a much softer more traditional sound ideal for jazz and blues aswell as a substitute for an acoustic when onstage. As far as amps go, this guitar will sound best in a trans tube amp, Half solid half valve state. At the moment I have three amps, a Fender valve, a Marshall 100 DFX (great for high gain tone) and a Vox Amp Modeling Trans Tube. All these amps have built in FX but they can go a bit hay wire thanks to the bridge pickup. I use a Boss Delay, a CryBaby Wah, although the new Vox re-issue sounds better, A DigiTech Grunge, Big Muff and the DigiTech Jimi Hendrix Experience pedal, which really works well with this guitar. The buzz is none existent and feedback is easy to control if it gets out of hand.
Overall Impression — 10
The guitar has a very fragile appearnce and looks basic, but is infact a solid and value buy. If it becomes wildy out of tune, it has difficulty staying in tune again for several days which is its major flaw. However the mammoth sound it produces and its quality construction makes it the ultimate value guitar. Forget Jackson Soloists and Mavericks. The the lead guitarist you can't get a better guitar for under 300 quid!
Reliability & Durability — 6
The Ibanez GSA series are, against all appearances, brilliant guitars to play live. They seem limited in that it is small and slim line with few controls. But the guitar does all the work, and you can concentrate on producing your individual sound without worrying about things not being right with your tone or position or anything. The guitar has a good balance and rarely comes off the strap. However, after a long time playing, usually during a long rehearsal your right arm does tend to ache, as the pickup are positioned so that you play quite a way across your body and close in. When strumming your hand usually falls at your belly button, so it advised get a none slip strap and play with the guitar on an angle. As I have already mentioned, the finish does crack if it sustains a sharp knock, and finger prints show very easily, but it is hard to stranch and the neck and distinctive head stock don't chip with knocks. I never need a back up, even then its only ever my beloved Tele, which I built myself and never use live. The Ibanez is reliable and raw in tone and appearance. Simple yet effective.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar to all acounts perfectly set up. When I played it in the shop it was brand new, and it was exactly right. The pickups have improved since then and it is now better than it ever was. Do be carefull of the strings it comes with as they can be crap or old or cheap. I re strung it in the shop before it went home! The action is always nice with Ibanez guitars but it is japanese and geared towards the metal market, not the GSA as much, but it still is a very uniform and manufactured feel. The quality of the construction is second to none as is the attention to detail but it has none of the richness or character of a Vintage guitar. Still, it works and sounds great - so you can't complain.
Features — 8
The GSA is a classic Super Strat. In the traditional '80s style of the original Ibanez guitars it is a copy of a well established design. Made in Japan, it has a very machine made feel, quite unlike a Gibson or a Gretch but shares their quality of workmanship. Unlike a Fender it is more than a slab of wood. The body is shaped to hug the body, making comfortable playing, and the main body has a nice but fragile transparent glaise which cracks easily. The neck itself is very comfortable to play. Maple, and mine has a jet fret board, more expensive but gives a great dark tone. I took the option of a floyd rose tremelo which iv added myself. It comes origianlly with a Tune-O-Matic, and a nice balanced whammy. The controls are all in solid chrome, and heavy duty knobs usefull for gigging, 1 intelligent controll knob a volume and a 5 way selector. It sounds limited but the guitar is incredibly virsitial, as it adjusts everything automaticly to fit different tones when you adjust the knobs. The pickups are perfect for rockers everywhere. The tone they give can fit anything from rock 'n' roll too high gain thrashy chords and heavy solo's. The guitar features 2 single coil and one very hot heavy metal orientated humbucker. The guitar does have a tendancy to go out of tune when playing live, after moving around and performing on stage it does slip out of tune. A floyd rose can help to solve the problem, with lockin tuning, but players should be aware of this flaw. The annoying thing is when I first got it it stayed in tune perfectly for weeks on end. This does ditearerate however.