S1520 Review

manufacturer: Ibanez date: 04/23/2014 category: Electric Guitars
Ibanez: S1520
Made in 2000, at the Fujigen, Japan shop. 22 Frets, original wizard neck, cream'ish colored vinyl bindings on the neck only, Rosewood fingerboard 3 piece maple/bubinga neck, Jumbo frets.
 Sound: 10
 Overall Impression: 9.5
 Reliability & Durability: 9
 Action, Fit & Finish: 10
 Features: 8.5
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
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reviews (2) pictures (4) 43 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.6
S1520 Reviewed by: MinstrelCycle85, on march 20, 2009
0 of 17 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 600

Purchased from: EBay

Features: Made in 2000, at the Fujigen, Japan shop. 22 Frets, original wizard neck, cream'ish colored vinyl bindings on the neck only, Rosewood fingerboard 3 piece maple/bubinga neck, Jumbo frets. It's a mahogany body, with a bubinga top. It's a lightly stained bubinga top, with transparent finish. The body style is of course the S-series body style. The bridge is a Ibanez-licensed Floyd Rose Lo-Pro Edge tremolo system (in my opinion the finest they've ever made. Err I've ever played) It had passive Quantum 1 & 2 pickups in it, but those weren't quite nice enough. So I installed a much hotter Kramer quad-rail knock off in the bridge, and a Bill Lawrence XL500 Bridge pup in the neck position. Standard volume knob/tone knob, 5 way selector, running in series and one parallel setting. The pickup topography is H-H, two humbuckers. The tuners are very nice, I think they may be gotoh, but it has a locking nut. I got the case with it, the tremelo, aaaaaand. That was it. No tools, etc. (EBay) // 9

Sound: This suit's my style rather well, I play mostly metal and classical-style guitar. The guitar's extremely resonant due to quality woods, and the hollow intonation cavity. Everyone with any common sense or awareness in regards to guitars knows that Ibanez are the best-built, mass-distributed guitars for. Virtually any style, especially at their price. If you paid 3 times as much as this cost when it was originally bought for a Gibson, you'd still get an inferior guitar. I play through a few multi-effects processors, and various effects looped in, to a digital power amp intended for movie theater surround sound, to multiple JBL Studio monitors. The guitar always sounds as good as it possibly could, as long as the player is worthy. For the most part, it's tone is suprisely high-end for mahogany (high frequency, that is). It's well rounded as far as EQ goes, but it is on the higher end, it's designed for metal. Pinch harmonics ring out due to this. As I said, pinch harmonics are a breeze, partially due to my bridge pickup. The neck pickup is, of course, bassier and duller, but it definitely sounds excellent as well. The Lo-Pro Edge is probably the best sustaining Floyd Rose trem, if not the zero resistance trem's they've been making. But the ZR trem's function as a vibrato is definitely not as nice. Overall this guitar sounds excellent. I've actually never found a better one in a store, ever, especially for metal. Don't get me wrong though, this thing sounds excellent either way. It's just not a fat-neck resonator, or puny little Fender. So it can't emulate those sounds. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: The lo-pro edge on it actually sit's a little higher than I'm used to. As in the area it's affixed to is slightly higher than I used to like. Now I've actually come to appreciate it. It allows me to loosen the strings by loosening the intonation plate, which creates better sustain, and more exaggerative bends. It feels like my Jackson did when the trem was completely loosened. Which is good, cause it was a stiff little bastard. The pickups that came with it were the best stock pickups I've ever heard... But they were still trash. They sounded about like an EMG 81/85. Which is by slightly too weak for my taste. I wouldn't say there are any flaws with this guitar, after I've rewired it. However, due to the fact that my bridge pickup is a double humbucker and not a normal humbucker, the 5th selector Switch position is now a ground. ie, it's essentially a killswitch that isn't very fun to use. I don't mind that at all though, I can still get series bridge, series neck, series both, parallel both. I wouldn't want any other path arrangements. Did I mention that it looks beautiful? No dots on the frets, man that's nice looking, lol. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I'd say it's very durable. But it IS any s-series, so it's very thin. I feel like I could easily break it, but it's sustained zero-wear and tear after me totting it all around town to play with various people/groups. Nothing on it seems to be getting damaged. No rust, no warping, no cracks, finish is still virtually perfect on the front. I'd use it in a gig without a backup. In fact, I can barely stand to play on my backup, cause this thing's so nice. // 9

Overall Impression: I mostly play Metal/classical style guitar, this thing is absolutely immaculate for my playing style. I would want it to be 24 fret, but. Somehow I've found it to be more comfortable playing on a 22, and I rarely find myself wishing there were two extra frets. I've been playing guitar at least 8 hours a day for the last year and a half semi-professionally. Before that I'd only tinkered with guitar for a short while as a child. I've played extensively on a Gibson Explorer, a lot of Les Pauls, a few Fender-styled guitars. They all suck by comparison. Very badly. When I played on my first Ibanez, I literally felt as if I had orgasmed. I've never found any guitar comparable to that of finer Ibanez guitars. Or even the cheap ones for that matter. I do not regret owning this guitar in any way at all, I will never sell it. If it were to be stolen, it wouldn't be easily replaced, and I would murder whoever did it. I'd at least castrate someone who thought about it. I will reiterate, it's difficult to compare this guitar to other guitars, the only ones I consider to be comparable are other Ibanez's. Jacksons are trash, Gibsons = trash, Schecter. Trash, ESP = trash, I think it goes without saying that Fenders are trash. I played a fernandez that was moderately nice once. My friend's 80's Kramer is almost as nice, but it's trem, headstock angle, and frets don't quite cut it. That says alot, given that his Kramer was essentially the definitive metal guitar during a period of time when metal guitars were actually really popular. If you find one of these guitars on EBay, floating around, and it's not damaged, and you like owning excellent-sounding guitars. I'd suggest you jump on it. I'm glad I did. // 10

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overall: 9.2
S1520 Reviewed by: bananu7, on april 23, 2014
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 650

Purchased from: On the internet auction

Features: Mine is from 2001, obviously Fujigen. I don't think it makes much sense to repeat every single detail from the catalogue, so mine in particular arrived w/o the trem bar (which I subsequently bought), in a regular (non-prestige) Ibanez hard case, with Schaller-style straplocks. Other than that, everything is stock, Quantum pickups, Lo-Pro trem with (surprisingly) 4 springs for a 9-46 setup. It had everything I would want from an S Prestige, and I especially wanted something with a natural finish; this one doesn't disappoint. 

The only thing I would personally change though is the wiring of the middle position of the 5-position switch. Right now it blends two humbuckers alright, but because there's only one volume control, you can't blend them together. Frankly, I consider this pretty much useless, and would easily trade that either for parallel bridge, or single neck + humbucker bridge configuration. This is a modification I am thinking of doing, hence, 9. I felt like giving it 9 would be a bit unfair compared to current state of the art, though. Push-pulls, varitones, robo tuners everywhere... it could have something "zappy" and "poppy" alright. I've finally settled on 8. // 8

Sound: My musical interests have recently driven more into older metal and hard rock songs. I'm playing Judas Priest, Motorhead, but still practice the musical virtuosous tunes of Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert and John Petrucci. I am using it with my Zoom G3X effects pedal into (depending on the mood) hi-fi FRFR Yamaha home audio system with stereo monitors, or my Bugera 6262-212 combo.

Now, it sound nothing short but great. The pickups have ceramic magnets, and they are hot enough that I rarely turn them all the way up when playing rhythm. I think of the "10" guitar volume position as kind of extreme, where it really goes of. When doing more subtle parts, you might want to get it a little bit down and let the wood speak for itself.

The timbre is of the Ibanez-ish like. It's aggressive, tight and punchy. The low-end is very "controlled," and it doesn't dominate your tone. For heavy chugs you'll need to get the low-end Eq knob up a bit, and it will deliver alright; out of the box though it's more into lead guitar equalization (who would suspect, huh). I have learned to appreciate the Gibson's warmth in tone, and, well, this guitar isn't very much like that. The sound cuts through and gets you into the people like a blade this guitar's body mimics. My amp is rather modern-sounding in tone, so the two paired give something you'd scarcely hear on the older records. When I need that, I kick in my Zoom as a preamp, bypassing my amp's one, and put in a Vox or classic Marshall simulation. I have to roll the volume under the 50% then, but it really starts to get similar to the classic-vintage stuff that's being played by people nowadays.

Nevertheless, driving (well, simulated, I can't afford one yet) Vox AC30 with a tube screamer and volume full up gives you a sound that's... pretty much unlike anything else I've heard people do. Might well become something I can call my "signature tone" :). Point being, it's versatile, and has a lot of potential, as long as you're willing to take your time with it. When it goes to soloing, the pickups deliver. Up to the very last fret the sustain is great, the notes sing and you really want to crank that up more and more to get that sound piercing you. For me, it's what I was looking for.

Compared to my previous guitar with active pickups, it can get a bit noisy in high-gain environments, especially with a bigger amp like mine. That's the inherent quality of such equipment, and requires appropriate care. Not necessarily something like a noise gate of reductor, more like the ability to play just what you want to, without brushing and touching the other strings. I wanted that too, because I think it essentially makes you a better player. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: The guy I bought it from set the trem to be flat with the strings. Normally that's ok, but it's a Lo-Pro bridge, which has angled surface! I removed one spring and fiddled a bit with the tension, and it came out perfectly. It arrived with 9-42 (unknown brand) set which I played for a while, and recently moved to 9-46 Elixirs. This change only required less than a half-a-turn on the spring screws to get it back to balance, and in exchange I get more tonal and finger area to deal with the heavy chords and riffs.

The action is amazingly low and it plays great with those thinner strings. I typically used 10-52, but I appreciate the delicacy of the thinner set. As for the flaws... I don't want to go all hype and praise, but the Japanese manufacturing has shown its best with it. Everything fits, everything works, and sans a few scratches, the guitar is as good as new after 13 years (8 months mine). The hardware got some patina on it, but I think it looks pretty cool and obviously doesn't change the functioning. The neck is great and extremely playable, and certainly gives room for more speed than I possess right now. The cutaway gives very easy access to upper frets, like a shredding instrument should. Bigger frets ease playing even more (though they are not as big as found on RGs). // 10

Reliability & Durability: Will it withstand live playing? Considering it's a top-of-the-shelf Prestige model, this question starts to sound silly. S model looks fragile, but it's well built and I can't imagine anything happening to it. Of course the Floyd-style bridge needs more time when tuning and changing strings, but once tuned, it stays in tune perfectly. No whammy action can detune it, and I wouldn't hesitate to take it out and rock. It's certainly more complicated than those uber-metal one-pickup-one-knob black killing machines, so you're expected to care for it appropriately. If you do, though, there's nothing that should prevent you from rocking off. 

If I were to find anything that's not perfect, the strap buttons come loose once in a while, so just a bit of tension gets them back into game. When it comes to playing live, another, perhaps less obvious flaw appears. When you take a reasonably big cable (I am using this fancy material-covered Fender one), my straplocks get the strap far enough to make the "lock the cable under the strap" thing a bit less reliable, especially considering the socket position. A solution to that is to pull the cable more, but then it interferes with the whammy... well, for live I would probably get a bit of duct tape, just to be sure. Those are very minor, really. I don't think it warrants taking more than one point. // 9

Overall Impression: I've been playing for about 4 years now, and I don't consider myself very good (or even good, for that matter). However, I've had my share of different guitars, and I know how to appreciate quality. Ibanez guitars just have something in them that makes me want to get the instrument and play, and when I do, I feel rewarded for every lick I pull off and punished for every mistake I make. It doesn't hide your errors, but it doesn't stop you from doing crazy stuff either. It's certainly not a beginner's guitar, but when buying it I was looking for something AFTER the "first guitar." And it met my needs perfectly. I feel that this guitar might be my instrument for years to come. I am confident that it will withstand those years with me, and I am sure that every time I pick it up, I'll discover something new.

I wrote this review not only because I wanted to share my views, but also because the only other one was... well, biased, to say the least. I am fully aware of the fact that I gave the guitar very high marks. At the same time, I can imagine someone else giving it 6s or 7s based on personal preference. That being said, I bought it knowing well what I was looking for, and it met my every demand. Some things could be better, some things could be done differently, and I don't consider it a perfect instrument itself; but then again, I don't think that any really exist. After all, it's about what we do with the guitar that makes it good. // 9

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