Price paid: £ 319
Purchased from: Just Music-Loughborough
Sound — 7
I bought the guitar in order to play in irregular tunings more frequently. For the average player, this may be a problem - but my issue was one to do with tremolos. My other two guitars are a Carvin DC127 and a modified 1994 Japanese Fender Stratocaster, both of which are Stellar guitars - but both feature two point floating trems (the Strat is modified, like I said) which can be a complete pain in the arse when it comes to a re-tune. So, this guitar was a cheap guitar I picked up in order to explore broader musical avenues. My playing style varies - though it is founded upon the tunes of Pink Floyd and Radiohead, but my playing has taken me through the music of The Fall of Troy, Reuben, Thrice, The Beatles, Minus the Bear, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Satriani, Tool etc., etc. Recently I've been working my way through an entire book of 'this town needs guns', a band which rarely use the same tuning twice. This guitar, though people may not believe it, is perfect for playing such things. The pickups are quite clean when run through my rig (Marshall DSL401 [w/Celestion V30], Boss CS-3, EHX nano small stone, Boss OD-3, EHX Little big muff, and a Boss DD-7 run through the loop), and yet still retain their clarity when the amp's overdrive is kicked into action. The stock parts did prove to lack somewhat in the hi-end range, and when the volume or tone was laid back, the guitar completely loses its edge - losing all the clarity previously mentioned. These issues lay not in the pickups (which are also Standard in the prestige range), but lay instead within the import electronics, a problem that is frankly unavoidable when confronting guitars from such a price range. Recently I have replaced the stock 25k ohm pots with CGS 50k pots (the increase in value allows for much better hi-end response), an oak selector, and sprague 0.1 drop-caps. The result was subtle, but worth the effort. The pickups retained the clarity they displayed before the mod, but maintained them throughout any alterations to the tone and volume controls. The guitars range is truly phenomenal - with a clear, but prominent bass response, a subtle mid range response, and now (after the mod) a broad, clear treble response. Don't get me wrong, this pales in comparison to my US made Carvin - but for the price, you can't go far wrong. The mark mentioned is relevant to stock parts, and after the mods I would judge it bumped up to a nine.
Overall Impression — 9
A great guitar, to be frank - exceedingly good bang for your buck... Or, at least, your quid.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I've not smashed it into anything, nor have I attempted to burn it, but it feels just dandy.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The action was great upon purchase - though I always immediately swap my guitar strings out for 11's, so I had to alter the action regardless. The neck is wonderful, but then again Ibanez necks always are - and their international quality control makes other, more prominent, manufacturers look stupid. Despite the change of electronics previously mentioned, the stock electronics were still installed just fine - and there's nothing for me to complain about.
Features — 7
As features go the guitar has enough to get by - but as ever there's no point in giving ten points to a double-humbucking, fixed-bridge guitar. The pickups are the much disputed Ibanez LZ3's. They're active, though only powered by three volts (2xAA batteries). Ibanez explain this away by stating that AA's are more readily available than 9v batteries - although I'd argue they could sell them on their own merit. They're very versatile pickups, with a master tone and volume (passive, not active EQ). Other features include the Ibanez Gibraltar bridge, which as hard-tails go isn't too bad. The tuners are Ibanez standards, which are also (as the trend seems to be) just fine. There's no tremolo with which to abuse them, so they're more than adequate. The finish is an arched top in Oiled Mahogany, a finish exclusive to the European market, and I must admit it looks rather nice (though upon my return home my mum did remark 'it's very brown'... So go figure).