Sound — 10
I mainly play metal (old school, thrash, doom/stoner, death and prig), classic/hard rock and blues but dabble in other things as well and the guitar suits these entire well. First and foremost let me say a few words about the tonal qualities of the wood: the guitar is very well balanced in terms of natural tone mainly because of the great wood combination; the mahogany body gives a good low end and middle frequency response with a warm feeling while the maple neck enriches the treble spectrum; to get an overall idea, the guitar has almost a Spanish nylon string guitar sound when it is played unplugged. Because of the mahogany body, fixed bridge and simple construction, the guitar has a lot of sustain, tons of it in fact! The pickups are fairly high-output, especially for stock pickups, they do their job really well for the price of it. The guitar, as others have added, is made for metal, when using the bridge pickup and high gain, it turns into a ferocious beast! The neck pickup is a bit muddy and dull for my taste when using distortion but works good on clean and when playing the blues. The neck pickup in parallel position is not too impressive, it takes some of the output away but the tone is exactly the same, just like it would happen if you would backup your volume from the guitar. Using both pickups creates a very rich, full tone, good for clean passages and for using modulation effects such as chorus. With both pickups on coil tap the overall feeling changes, the sound cleans up a lot if you are using overdrive/distortion just like it would happen when using single coils; also the tap version is excellent for strumming. In the electronics section things are double edged: when you take a look inside things are rather messy and it seems like everything is done in a hurry; the soldering is a bit untidy and there is no wood insulation, also the potentiometers look cheap but they do their job in a fair way: the volume is quite dynamic, it's just that it looses response after you turn it down about 4/5; the tone has roughly three main positions, full and bright on one end, deep and rather dull on the other and with some tweaking you can achieve something in between; it kind of looses response after about 2/3 of a turn. They both move in a smooth way, not too easy, not too hard. The pickup selector is very stiff and makes a lot of noise and vibration when switching that amplifies because of the body, a lot of this passes through the pickups and can be heard quite well on high gain settings; also the sound is cut briefly when changing pickups. I use it with my Vex AD15VT amp and the sounds that you get are above my expectations, no matter what channel or effect I use it is always a pleasure to play; and I practice at night using a Vex Am plug Metal, again the sound is good. Also I've had the chance to plug it into a Fender Front man 25R, a Kong processor and a Marshall JCM100 watt head! The sound was quite impressive each time, it has never disappointed me. It suits me very well indeed!
Overall Impression — 10
This guitar is designed for metal but it can handle other genres in an honorable fashion too. It fits me as a player extremely well: I am mostly a rhythm player, I have been playing guitar for a bit over a year (yes, I am a beginner), electric since January 2009. I took lessons for a couple of months; I dabble in heavy stuff but play in Standard tuning and I use a Vox AD15VT amp without any other pedals/processors, the gear that I own is more than satisfactory considering my overall skill; I meddle with leads/solos sometimes too and the guitar handles everything perfectly, I don't feel the absence of a whammy bar at all. I'm not into shredding but the guitar is good for that too. This guitar is excellent for a beginner (even for an intermediate level player) who wants to play anything except maybe jazz and country, metal on the other hand is the perfect road to take with this instrument. The fact that the hardware and body finish wears of is a nice thing for me because it makes every guitar unique. With some electronics and pickup upgrades it can become a near pro level guitar ( and I'm not the only one Who thinks so)! For the price, this is one of the best guitars that you can find!
Reliability & Durability — 9
This instrument is very solid built and, except for the finish, looks like it will last for many decades. I have never played Live with it, didn't have the occasion and don't think I intend to either but I think the guitar can withstand that honorably; the strap buttons are of good quality and are solidly screwed in, if you don't thrash yourself too much I think you could even play Live without strap-locks. Personally, I play pretty hard sometimes and do a lot of bends and I have never had a broken string, it's true I use D'addario strings and fairly heavy gauge ones too, they are really good, resistant strings. The input jack is screwed tightly and is very stiff, so your plug won't come out no matter what. The neck is a pleasure to play; it feels very natural especially for someone Who is an Acoustic player as well. The tuners do their job just great, the guitar rarely gets out of tune, even after hard plucking and long bending. I think she can withstand live playing without a backup, although I'm really not a good source here, the closest experience to Live playing I've had is jamming with drums, bass and other guitars. The finish will wear off eventually if you play a lot but I don't see that as a problem.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar wasn't set right when I bought it: the action was too high even for my taste (I play Acoustic as well and I keep my strings in a similar way on both guitars); if you set the action very low things will work fine for soloing and shredding but fret buzz appears when playing chords on the first and second fret. The intonation was horrible (not to mention that the guitar was completely out of tune) so I had to work on that and also the truss rod was a bit too stiff; anyway the hardware does the job as it should, everything is of good quality. The pickups were set way too low and the strings were quite oxidized; also the volume and tone pots had the chrome fume finish worn of a bit and the guitar was all covered in a thick layer of dust, it looked like it stood in the shop in one place for ages and that the guys around didn't take care of it. I managed to fix these minor problems with ease by myself at home. The finish makes the instrument easy to clean and it is scratch proof but looks like it could be easily pierced and dented, watch out for sharp corners. Also it becomes shiny in places where your body touches the guitar and seems to get thinner and thinner on the edges as time passes. The saddles and pickup frames oxidize in time because of moisture, sweat and grease from the hands. The neck, headstock and fret board are very well finished, everything is in good shape and seems like it would last forever, some frets are a bit sharp on the edges but all have been filled and polished correctly. Overall the guitar doesn't have any major flaws here at all.
Features — 9
The guitar is built, assembled and set in Indonesia, in 2007 or 2008. The body is made out of solid mahogany; the bolt-on D-shape neck can be considered rather fat, considerably wider than a Fender Tele/Strat neck, is made of maple (Ibanez 3 piece Wizard II neck that's on many of their guitars) with a flat rosewood fret board (400 mmR radius), it has 24 jumbo frets, Dot inlays, 648 mm scale length with 43 mm wide nut. I've got the weathered black version which consists of a matt black finish that makes the actual grain and texture of the wood visible and has a distinct natural feel. All hardware is plated chrome fume; the neck has a soft, glossy finish that leaves the wood natural. The head-stock has a shiny black finish and features a 6-0 in-one-line Fender style tuner arrangement; it has the typical back tilted Shark-tooth shape. The body is a thin super-Strat shaped Ibanez body, very ergonomic and comfortable, with deep cutaways and straight non-rounded edges. It has a fixed string-thru bridge that is bolted onto the body with individual screw and spring fixed string saddles, similar to a Fender Telecaster. The guitar has stock passive humbucking pickups mounted in a open H-H configuration, the neck pickup is an Ibanez Infinity 3 whilst the bridge pickup is an Ibanez Infinity 4; each pickup has 12 hex-head pole pieces (6 on each magnet) that can be raised/lowered at will. The guitar has one volume knob, one tone knob and a five-way rail pickup selector: first position neck pickup, second position neck pickup in parallel connection, third position both pickups, fourth position both pickups with coil tap and fifth position bridge pickup. The tuners are Standard Ibanez electric guitar sealed-oil-chamber tuners, non-locking. The inch input jack is placed on the side of the instrument. The instrument came with two hex shaped inbus keys (for the truss rod and for the saddles, not for the pickup poles) and with the usual crap, short instrument cable that I use when tuning.