Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 7
In terms of the music that I play, it suits my style well. I play a lot of progressive rock (Dream Theater), metal (Avenged Sevenfold, Mastodon, All That Remains) as well as some other alternative here and there (Dredg). It plays very well in these styles with the exception of a lot of the clean sounds. Distortion sounds great until you tune the guitar below D. The pickups start to get a bit muddy. Lets face it though, this isn't the kind of guitar you buy for cleans so for what it is, it's an excellent instrument. I play this guitar through a Line 6 Spider III 75, as well as a Line 6 Vetta II Halfstack. The pickups are only rather noisy at extremely high gain. They tend to be rather "bassy" and have a great low end. They tend to get muddy below D (I tune this guitar to D-Standard). As for everything else, the pickups perform very well, especially for palm muting. The tone is a bit lacking on the pickups as they sound a little on the sterile side. Again, this guitar excels greatly at playing music with high amount of distortion. It should be noted that, in this price range, this guitar exceeds anything else that I have played.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, this instrument was an excellent match for me. I feel that it suits my playing style very well (I am not a tremolo player too much fuss). I feel that it would also suit most players Who are into various styles of hard rock music. I have been playing for 5 years. I own multiple different guitars (Fender, Schecter, and now Ibanez). If this guitar were stolen, I would most likely invest into one of Ibanez's RGT models. I like the fixed bridge RG models a lot, but one with a neck-through would be amazing. I love the finish on this guitar, as well as the neck (it's extremely fast and easy to play due to it's thin profile). I dislike the sound of the stock pickups, while not bad, they don't have the exact tone that I'm looking for. Again though, for this price, you can't beat it. Personally the only thing I wish that this model had would be some better pickups. The stock pickups in this guitar a bit too "bassy" for my taste. Everything else is excellent.
Reliability & Durability — 10
As far as durability, I have no doubts that this would withstand Live playing. I have used it in 4 gigs thus far and have not had a single issue with the guitar. The hardware has a tendency to lose a bit of it's finish if you have particularly acidic sweat, but it is simply an aesthetic issue (IMO it adds some character to the instrument). Overall the hardware is extremely durable, if you dropped this guitar a few times it would probably be just fine (I wouldn't recommend trying that though). The strap buttons are solid, I have spun it around, jumped all over the place, flipped it, and have not had a problem. It definately is a dependable instrument. Out of habits sake I always have a backup ready (you never know what can happen) but I would feel relatively comfortable playing without a backup while using this guitar. The finish is a very thick clear coat laquer finish. It seems to hold up just fine and I am not worried about it wearing down over time.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The setup was spot-on for the most part. I had to raise the neck pickup a little bit but the bridge pup was right where it needed to be. The action was a bit on the high side for my liking when I purchased the guitar, but that was an easy fix because of the fixed bridge. I did have to make some small truss rod adjustments in order to eliminate as much fret buzz as possible. Everything else about the guitar was great. No other complaints. There were no manufacturing flaws. The hardware on this guitar is particularly nice. The finish looks great on this guitar. You can still see the grain of the basswood on the back of the guitar, and the quilted maple top looks excellent as it has a lot of "depth" to it. It also has a matching headstock that has a quilted maple top.
Features — 9
Nothing special here, the guitar has everything you need for a guitar in this price range so there is no problems here. It has everything I expected on a guitar in this price range. Personally, I think the quilted maple top looks excellent on this guitar.