Price paid: $ 980
Purchased from: Tom Lee HK
Features — 9
The guitar was made in 2014 and was made in Indonesia. It has 24 frets, 27 inch scale jumbo/bolt-on/5-piece neck: maple & walnut with rosewood fingerboard. There are no fretmarks and the nitro wizard type neck is very thin, very smooth and comfortable for playing. The body is solid top basswood/double cutaway with black gloss finish and white binding. The body in my opinion has both modern and classic look, perfect instrument for metal yet suitable for jazz player as well. The bridge is Gibraltar standard (hard tail) with dark chrome color. It has 2 active EMG 808 pick-ups, 3-way selector, with only one knob for volume and a killswitch, which also can be used for strobe effect. Tuners are ordinary Ibanez type, dark chrome color. It includes free jack, allen wrench and Ibanez manual. (I noticed the manual's neck adjustment instruction is wrong).
Sound — 9
It suits my style as I play progressive rock. The clean sound is superb, it sounds like a piano... I'm using Boss GT8 effects with NUX Mighty amp. It doesn't make a lot of hum, but it's very loud and sensitive to pinch harmonics and tapping (it's EMG). I just noticed when I play it on high gain the low is too strong for me, but you can adjust the Amp EQ to suit your tone. Also the sound is a bit too compressed and balanced. You can hear all the strings when you ring them all out which is good. EMG 808 is perfect for cleans in my opinion. For me EMG 808 is not as bad as other people think. I read somewhere that it can add more headroom if you use 18v on the active pickups, so I might try this first before I upgrade it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
I'm very satisfied with the factory setup. I only need to do a little adjustment on the string height, adjusted the neck relief and I don't need to adjust the intonation. The guitar was wrapped with thin foam inside a carton case when they show me the new one. The pickups are a bit high so I also adjusted it down. There are no flaws, everything is clean... The fret-wires, fretboard are clean too. I only need to wipe some oxidized hardware. Seems like Indonesian-made guitars are par to Korean-made.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I think this guitar is solid enough to withstand hundreds of gigs. The tuners are stock and can be easily get out of tune when you play too hard. The neck has a titanium rod, I think it won't affect the neck's curvature that much when weather changes drastically. Strap buttons are solid enough when you don't move that much. I changed mine to DiMarzio locking strap. The finish will wear off soon and it's easily scratched. Guitarists nowadays don't mind for dings and scratches, it creates character on the guitar anyway!
Overall Impression — 9
I play progressive rock, metal and this guitar is perfect for me. I've been playing for more than 20 years, but this is the first time I tried 8-string, and I love it! It expanded my horizon on creating new sound. If this was stolen, I will buy this again. The guitar looks great and sounds great. What I love about this guitar is the simplicity of the design, yet it looks menacing. I chose this one after I tried playing it for few seconds, I fell in love with it immediately. I asked the store if the have a new stock and bought it right away. It's upgradeable, and the price is affordable too. The design, the tone and the neck are made for metal players like me. I wish they made this 20 years ago :-)