ORM1 review by Ibanez

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  • Sound: 6
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.6 Good
  • Users' score: 5.5 (16 votes)
Ibanez: ORM1

Price paid: £ 130

Purchased from: eBay

Sound — 6
The guitar has a single loud pickup and only one volume control so customization of the sound has to be done with effects (which is how Omar apparently does it). There seems to be a bit of disagreement as to if this pickup is a single or a hum-bucker. If forced to commit I would say it's probably a humbucker. The pickup is not particularly noisy but can pick up my watch if I hold it nearby. I play mainly clean or warm overdrive (e.g. classic rock) and tend to play through a Blackstar HT1. I do like the power of the pickup - it means that you can set it half way and tweak it if you want to change your tone whilst playing. Through the HT1 it sounds quite good but not as good as I have heard some YouTube videos - I think it probably needs a bit of boosting via pedals.

Overall Impression — 7
For me the weak point of this guitar is its strap (which is fixable if you don't mind drilling). Otherwise it is an incredibly high quality guitar (even for 300) that could be kept and played as a family heirloom. Its tone isn't too bad and the pickup does go pretty loud so you have the headroom to twiddle. In black I think it is a bit too subtle looking very similar to other guitars (Strats etc) to the layman anyway - in white it's much more showy and I regret not buying one in this colour (although the black is very deep and lustrous so some might like it). Video from YouTube:

YouTube preview picture

Reliability & Durability — 8
I have read some reports of problems with the nuts on these guitars but I haven't had a problem. Overall it looks like one of the better and more solid guitars I have owned. In particular the wood is very dense and is very unlikely to ding whilst the neck feels strong. Fittings seem high quality and the electrics are simple. I really don't expect any problems. The only thing I can say against it is the very poor positioning of the front strap button (behind the neck) which causes the whole thing to fall forward unless held when played on a strap. I am guessing this is by design of Omar but that is one of those things that is going to have to be fixed as it is just irritating. My RGX sits so much more comfortably at the moment.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I have had a few mid price guitars (including Yamaha, Steinberger & Gibson) and I can honestly say that this is the nicest finished and best setup. It really does look like a quality guitar (Mine is the 2008 Black Model) and the wood, neck etc are really well made. The whole thing seems really solid whilst the black finish is deep and the pearloid inlays are beautifully done. I think the bridge is a step up from the Gibson Junior type. Possibly the only thing that's a bit strange is the headstock which is an old style shape and the Ibanez writing looks a little strange. It also comes with a real nice Gig Bag. I don't "think" it's real leather but it fits the guitar real well and makes you know that what's inside should be special.

Features — 8
The Ibanez ORM1 is a signature model for Omar Rodriguez Lopez (of The Mars Volta). I had never heard of them but there are plenty of YouTube videos... It's a short scale electric Guitar (like a Jaguar or Jet King) and has a significantly smaller body than say a Pacifica 112. However it is fairly heavy being apparently made in Mahogany with a Mahogany neck. It has a fixed bridge and a single double blade pickup. Not entirely sure what it is but it picks up a little more noise than I would expect from a Humbucker. It also only has one volume control (no tone). The quality of finish is really good. Much better than a guitar costing 300 to 400 and mine has a very deep black finish. Similarly the setup is absolutely perfect.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Personally I'm getting real tired of guitars that look like they came out of a Sears catalog circa 1960.
    It's a signature model, as in it looks exactly like the guy whose model it is wanted it to look. There are plenty of guitars out there that don't look like Sears specials.
    I've been looking into the lefty version of this guitar lately, I didn't know if it was worth the dive as it is made in china & you can't readily find these to try in person, it's same gripe I have with the FRM100TR, but surely sigs are more solid than the general MIC productions (Gilbert vouches on their craftsmanship on his more affordable sig). Thank you for the review, Andy. It helps to get a review from someone that isn't a huge TMV fan & can judge the guitar outside of that, it's hard to get the straight shit on a guitar anymore from reading other sources (Musician's Friend reviews or zzsounds reviews). I'm still unsure if this is what I should buy, though. Anyone else out there that can chime in on this guitar & their experiences with it?
    I have this guitar, love it primarily because it's so light and the short scale neck means it's a bit shorter overall then your average electric. Hence I use it for gigs that involve rough travel. Nice, tough gig bag as has been noted. I dig the looks. It came set up very well and sounds great. As it's a single pickup in the bridge position it emphasises highs and high mids over lows and low mids. You need to EQ it with pedals or pre-amps if you want to get anything other than the TMV guitar style. About the nut, I hadn't heard there were problems but in fact the very first week I was gigging with the guitar the plastic nut broke in two. I had never had a guitar nut break while performing. I was playing with a progressive cumbia band from Mexico City and the tunes required a lot of fierce choppy strumming. But still I thought it was weird. While the Ibanez was with my tech getting a new nut installed, I used a Fender Will Ray Jazz-a-Caster, a guitar I've been playing steadily for the last 10 years, with the same band. And the nut broke! So I broke two nuts on two different guitars in two weeks. So in my case, I blame the music I was playing in that particular musical situation. I compensated afterwards by turning up the guitar volume and trying to hit the chords more softly and never had another problem.