Price paid: $ 1100
Purchased from: Private dealer
Features: The Ibanez Rocket Roll Sr. is a Japanese copy of a Gibson 58 Korina Flying V, that they made from 1975 to 1977. Ibanez had yet to put serial numbers on their guitars back then, but I know mine is from early 1975, because the back of the headstock isn't painted black. Being a copy of 58 Flying V, it pretty much has the same features: Rosewood fretboard, 22 frets, 24.3/4 inch scale length, 2 humbuckers, 2 volume - one tone knob, transparent yellow finish, and the gold plated hardware, including the Cadillac tailpiece.
The wood differs from the original. It has an Ash body, and a maple neck, as opposed to a korina body and a mahogany (?) neck. Other differences are the headstock angle, which is a little to shallow, and the location of the input jack, in the lower wing. // 9
Sound: The guitar is loaded with the stock super 70's pickups, which are very PAF'ish sounding, but a tiny bit more powerful, due to the stronger alnico 8 magnets. These pickups are becoming very sought after because Eddie Van Halen used them on half of the first Van Halen album. Their sounds reaches a lot further than the brown sound however. Being a classic humbucker, they nail blues and jazz tones as well, and anything in between. This makes the Rocket Roll a lot more versatile than the standard Gibson Flying V's, which are equipped with extremely HOT ceramic pickups, not suited for anything but hard rock... // 9
Action, Fit & Finish: I bought the guitar second hand from eBay. I received it in terrible condition. The finish was ok, but the frets were almost completely gone, and the neck was (badly) repaired. I had to take it to an expert luthier and spend about an extra 600 dollar to make it playable again. This is of course not Ibanez' fault. Now that it is repaired, it plays like a dream. The action is nice and low, intonation is precise, and it stays in tune wonderfully.
Some bad points are the locations of the strap buttons and of the input jack. The strap buttons are placed on the heel and on the tip of the wing, which makes the guitar left leaning and neck heavy. The input jack is placed inside the wings, which makes it impossible to play it sitting down, and hard to stick your leg between it to strike a cool pose on stage. // 8
Reliability & Durability: Now that it is repaired, the guitar seems to be rock solid, no flaws at all. Theoretically, I would play it without a backup, but because I play all kinds of music, I would take my Strat with me anyway. The only thing one must take in a count is that the neck doesn't stick very deep into the body, which makes it easy to break the neck joint. As long as you don't drop the guitar, you're fine. // 8
Overall Impression: The quality of these old Japanese copies is often measured by how well they compare to the originals. I have played many standard Gibson Flying V's and explorers, and this guitars beats them, hands down! Especially soundwise. The Ibanez sounds a lot warmer, and is more versatile. I don't know how it compares to a real 58 Flying V, or the reissue one, but it isn't that important to me. The 59 reissue costs about as much as a car, and the original as much as a house. The Ibanez Rocket Roll is an amazing guitar, still available for around a 1000 dollars, and no Gibson is able to compete against it at that price point. If it was stolen I would cry, because it is so rare, and might never have one after this one! // 10