S420 review by Ibanez

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.6 (113 votes)
Ibanez: S420

Price paid: £ 420

Purchased from: Unknown

Sound — 8
I play all kinds of music, but I needed something with higher output than my hss strat. So this guitar was going to be used for metal mainly, but I found that this'll do so much more. It suits blues, and even some funk, I can't express how much I love it. When using it for metal though, especially when soloing, the pickups seem to be missing a bit of the bite I'd like, but I've said all that. I'm using this with a fab metal pedal, it's only cheap, but I can't fault it. My amp is a Fender FM212, and it sounds nice through it, clean or dirty.

Overall Impression — 8
As I play lots of different kinds of music, but this suits my metal needs. I've been playing for 5 years, and I own a total of 11 guitars... (Fender T-Bucket CE-300, a Turner acoustic, a 1964 Framus "Hawk", Tokai Firebird, a couple of Rally guitars, a Mexican Fender HSS Strat, a homemade telecaster, a Westfield Strat and an Oldfield PRS rip off. I'm completely happy with this product, and I'd probably replace it with an S570. I stated what I loved about it in the "features" section, so have a look there, but I have to say, I love how easy it is to adjust the bridge. I couldn't compare it to another product because I don't own anything like this. Some higher output pickups would be nice, and I'd change the stock pickups, but I have no idea how I'd wire the double coils to work as singles too... And I'm not prepared to open the guitar up yet. I'd give it an 8 overall, it's only let down by the pickups and the toughness of the output jack, I may be being a bit harsh here, but this is a truly amazing guitar.

Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar will certainly withstand live playing! The hardware is durable as anything, everything is just so solid on this guitar. When it came I changed the strap buttons immediately, not because they were bad, but because I like to use locking buttons. They had a very wide top bit (not sure what the name is) that would hold a strap easily without coming off, and it's a shame that my locking buttons aren't the classy black metal, but hey, I'd rather be safe than sorry. I'd never advise gigging without a backup, but I can certainly depend on this guitar, and it feels as if it'll last millennia. The finish is kind of weird. With it being a matt finish, I doubt it'll crack off in patches. It's also a very light guitar, and sits very comfortably when stood up playing. However, the output jack holds the lead very tightly, making it hard to pull it out without damaging the wood around the jack.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I'm not sure where this guitar came from (it was a present), but it wasn't set up too well. Having said that, within 5 minutes I'd set the string tension and was adjusting the intonation with the provided hex-keys. The pickups didn't need anything changing, they were fine as they were. All of the cavities that were on show under the tremolo had been finished with felt or some fabric of the like. As with other Ibanez guitars I've tried (none under 300), I found that it was incredibly well finished, with amazing attention to detail.

Features — 9
Indonesian made in 2010, with a 24 jumbo fret neck. The neck is incredibly thin, it makes everything else I play feel huge after playing this. It's maple with a rosewood fingerboard, bolted to a very thin (but incredibly sturdy) body. The finish is called weathered black by Ibanez, but that's just a fancy name for matt black over wood with kind of slashes in it... The finish sounds weird, but looks good. Like I said the body is very thin and is a superstrat shape, allowing full access to all 24 frets. Now the Bridge is one of my favourite features, and part of the reason it gets a 9 on this field. It uses the "Zero Resistance" Floyd Rose system. It holds tune perfectly, has the locking nut, but is so easy to adjust! I was amazed, it takes away the annoying aspect of getting the spring to string tension right, a small, unobtrusive wheel on the back regulates the spring tension. Another feature I love is the actual wiring, not so much the pickups (I find they're just a little bit lacking), but how you can separate the double coils, so that they sound like their smoother single coil cousins. I can get very similar sounds from it as I can with my Fender Strat. This makes the guitar very versatile. I said before that I find the pickups a bit lacking, but this is me being very picky. I'd like just a bit more bite from the INF1 and INF2 (I think "INF" stands for infinity) pickups. Had these pickups been more to my liking, this guitar would've got a 10. One other feature I like, is the output jack. It's located inside the front of the body at an angle, this keeps it out of the way when strumming, and doesn't wreck your non-angled jacks if you want to sit down. It also leaves the cable in a prime position to tuck it under your strap for playing live. I was looking for a guitar with a thin body, fast neck, high output and a floyd rose, I got this and was definitely NOT disappointed.

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    looks impressive but the lefty version is a limited edition so the price for me might be a little more out there
    rottman wrote: INF pickups are not as bad as people say... at least the bridge pu, for distorcion. they have a simple sound and you can ear every note, the rest of the job it's on EQ and AMP (with an all-tube amp). fame doesn't mean quality, and please don't be infected by Marketing
    This is very true. IMHO, the INFs have a lot punch in them however, I'd still like to replace them because notes are not defined enough to my taste.
    I'm considering to buy this guitar for quite sometime now..I hope you people don't mind me asking..How's the guitar when it comes to changing strings? Does it give a lot of problems? It's my first try on a Floyd Rose-style bridge, I have my BC Rich Kerry King V for over a year now and she never gives me problems. I appreciate the help.
    I recently purchased this guitar. I replaced the bridge PU with a Dimebucker, as I have with my RG350DX to the dissapointment a thinner sound to go along with the thinner body and complex Zero Point tremolo system. I do enjoy the lighter weight and tremolo system, and I'll be practicing on the S420 for the most part due to it's comfort, but my RG350 sounds way better.
    I discovered there is a defect in the Dimebucker installed in the S420... Mentioned earlier. FYI When you buy a pick up, make sure it is 'magnetic' before you take it home. Take a piece of nickle wound guitar string with you-and if it doesn't obviously stick to the pick up... Choose another.