Price paid: $ 99
Purchased from: Sam Ash
Sound — 9
When I first played this guitar the neck pickup really stood out to me - with the right amp settings it gives a nice warm fat tone, reminiscent of the neck pickup on a strat. The bridge gives a very nice defined pluck without being tinny or overly harsh, and sounds great with a bit of distortion. Though when I bought this guitar I was into more distorted tones, I've become more of a producer recently, and the Iceman delivers for almost any kind of tone. It works very well when put through amp simulators as well as direct input, and the hum buckers produce a relatively low volume hum, especially for an Ibanez guitar. I was surprised to realize how good my Iceman sounds clean, and making slight adjustments to the pickup height can really shape the tone to your liking (I ended up raising the bridge pickup a bit and dropping the neck pickup a hair). I've used my X for everything from drop-tuned metal to jazz standards, and as long as you know what sound you're looking for you shouldn't have much trouble getting it out of this axe. I use this Iceman with my Vox AC30 and my Fender Frontman 25R, along with a Vox Wah and an MXR Compressor.
Overall Impression — 9
As someone who plays a ton of different music, it's always good to have a workhorse guitar - one that sounds at home in any musical situation you throw it at. For me, I'll stick with my Iceman X. No other guitar has given me the same combination of tone, feel and value, and that's not even mentioning the radical look. Even compared to other Iceman models there's still just something they lack, perhaps the pickups are a bit softer and more ranged than it's more metal brothers and sisters. Don't let your preconceived notions get the best of you: the Iceman X is a small powerhouse capable of sonic diversity not usually seen in dual-humbucker axes, and is a great looking addition to any guitarist's collection.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Though it has no pick guard, I've yet to scratch the finish on the guitar. All of the hardware is rust free and shows no signs of rusting up. The input jack has required some regular maintenance, but ALL of my stringed instruments do, including guitars and basses costing 10 times what I paid for my X. Other than making sure the input jack is tight I've done very little maintenance, and that's after using this as my everyday guitar and dropping it / scuffing it / bringing it around everywhere. It doesn't get much more reliable than this.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Though I usually find bolt-on neck guitars a bit flimsy, the neck is tight with the body and I've never felt like I was playing a "cheap" guitar. I can't say for factory setup, but by the time I purchased my X it played like a dream. The action is low enough to easily fret notes quickly but high enough keep fret buzz at bay, and the nut is well cut and durable. The neck wood is a nice dark maple, which can appear almost black in less intense lighting. The only aesthetic touch that isn't black or very dark is a nice white strip around the inside edge of the body, which, unfortunately, is only really visible to the player. The only change I made to the setup was changing the pickup heights slightly to bring out the neck and bridge characteristics of the pickups.
Features — 8
A few years ago, when looking through the guitar section at a large music store, I came across an Ibanez Iceman X. I had already looked at many other guitars, but I hadn't found many that really stood out within a reasonable price point. I knew a bit about Iceman guitars beforehand, but I had never really tried one. The Iceman X caught my eye because of the radical body style, 22-fret scale (which I had yearned for when playing my previous 24-fret guitar which had fretting problems higher up the neck), and dual-humbucker setup. The guitar was lightly used, with almost no damage to the finish or neck, and still had all original parts. At the time I was heavily considering purchasing a guitar with a locking tremolo and dual volume and tone knobs, neither of which the X had, but what it lacked in flair it made up for in great action and a nice thin neck that never felt too thin, like some other Ibanez guitars. The guitar is comfortable to play and hold sitting down, and the only problem I have with the design being that the front strap hook is on the back of the guitar by the neck bolts, which makes the guitar rotate top-foreward when held by a strap. The guitar does have a 3-way pickup selector switch, but only has master tone and volume knobs.