Sound — 7
The stock pickups are poor. I knew this long before I purchased the guitar having every intention of replacing them. I like to do quite a bit of research before buying things and found it was a widespread complaint I saw throughout various reveiws and forum discussions. It came to my suprise that the vast majority of reviewers on this site don't seem to feel the same way! However, lets carry on.. They do clean sounds beautifully but as soon as you add some kind of overdrive or distotion they lose a lot of clarity. They don't seem to have much treble, mid or bass. They just seem a bit like soggy bread, so I do recommend installing better ones for sure, but they're not horrific. Once you get new ones this guitar sounds just great! If you compare the specifications of this guitar to the top of the range models the only differences to be seem are pickups and cosmetic options. Presuming you like how this guitar looks already, the cost of the guitar plus replacment pickups is an absoloute bargain compared to some of the high end prestige models.But since the guitar came with stock pickups I will rate the sound accordingly. As far as sound goes the guitar's saving grace is the pickup combination. The different sounds achieved through each combination are all highly usable. I personally like the 2nd position which uses the bridge humbucker and the single coil. It produces a much more twangy sound that the bridge humbucker alone. Really suitable for some of the old hard rock or blues. If you did a bit of rewiring and added in some push/pull pots there you'd have even more sounds available to you.
Overall Impression — 9
This guitar has the playability for pretty much everything. Pop, punk, jazz, rock, metal, thrash, funk, blues, grunge, ska, the list goes on. Perhaps not anything which require very low tunings beyond B Standard just beause of the scale length. The sound however is a different matter, the guitar has a great variety of sounds but, the pickups do let this guitar down a little bit. With a pair of decent pickups fitted this guitar could conquer most genres, it's extremely versatile. But as it stands new, you can still play them on it. They just wont sound so great. This was a highly considered buy and I am very happy with it. I love the guitar playablity and the quality of it's build, that a can honestly say is flawless.I looked at many other guitars before buying this including models by Jackson, ESP, Epiphone, RAN, Fender, Tokai and Carvin. The guitars playablity, overall build quality and price sold it to me really. It's a good guitar, with a good set of pickups it is a fantastic guitar. Extremely versatile and a pleasure to play.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The guitar comes will a flight case fitted for the guitar. It is lined with some kind of red fur which feels very nice to touch and keeps the guitar nice and safe. Once inside it doesn't move and inch. The case also has a handy compartment for your strap - since you have to take the strap off to put it in the case - and there's also enough room to fit your tools and the whammy bar in. The guitar feels extremely well built and would definately withstand Live playing, as long as you don't abuse it too much. Nothing is about to fall off but of course, with any guitar, things happen. So do have a backup. Locking trems are a nightmare if you break a string but if never had any breakages to date from this guitar. The only time I've had any problem is with overly heavy whammy bar use. By heavy I mean at the time I was seeing how far I was willing to bend a note up with it before I chickened out. All the happened was the high e slipped a little. But realistically, with more sensible use of it this is never a problem. Oh and sometimes get a bit of a crackle when turning the volume pot. This might just be a case of cleaning the pot or it may be a rubbish pot altogether. It's not really an issue for me though either way if I'm honest.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
When I bought the guitar the setup wasn't great. The action was a little high, the guitar wasn't in tune, the bridge pickup was too high and the strings needed replacing really. As mentioned earlier the guitar was made in 2005 and I bought it new in 2007 so I had anticipated the strings to be a bit old and out of tune at least. To my suprise the intonation was pretty much spot! However, with the stuff mentioned, you can imagine though it was a little dissapointing to play when I first got it out the box. I soon went about getting a new set up strings and setting it up properly. You get a nifty bag full of tools in the case so all these adjustments were easily done - plus a manual if you do something horrible. The guitar played amazingly afterwards. No problems there at all. The finish was stunning. Perfect. I assume it had just been sat in the flight case for the 2 years before I bought it so there wasn't a mark on it. All the frets were finished inpeccably, no loose parts and I was pleasantly suprised to find the Ibanez logo is a mother of pearl inlay which I was unaware of when buying it. The colour is a matter of opinion. I got mirage red, which I couldn't find on any other site, and to my knowledge was the last new one avalable on the web. In photos it just looks black but in person it is a very dark red riddled with (what I think are) tiny copper fibres. In some light the colour can look a dull brown/green colour, it's pretty interesting.
Features — 8
* Left handed model * Made in 2005 in Japan by team J Craft * 25.5" scale, 24 Fret thin 5 piece maple neck * Solid basswood body * Mirage red finish (discontinued) * Wizard Pro locking Bridge * HSH V8 S1 V7 * x1 volume, x1 tone 5 way selector * cosmo black hardware * fitted flight case incl.