Purchased from: Allen's Music
Sound — 9
I play blues, rock and metal using a Zoom multi effects, Vox wah and a Crate 15watt solid state practice amp. This guitar does rock and metal very well and I can get good clean and overdriven blues tones quite well (the amp being the limiting factor). The bridge pickup is great at driving high gain sounds from classic Van Hale to Metallica and has a warm gritty quality to it. The middle single coil is useful for classic Stratocaster type sounds (but get a Strat if that's the sound you're after) and was a bit of a bonus as I would have purchased it with just humbuckers. The neck pickup is the most versatile of the three. It can express anything from nice clean jazz/blues 7th and 9th chords beautifully to higher gain rhythm and blues leads. I find this is the most versatile of the pickup for practice.
Overall Impression — 10
For the blues, rock and metal I play it covers well with a modern tone/twist (sorry can't put it into any better words than that. It'll be nice to find a good valve amp to see how the tone may chance or more likely be enhanced). It's been over a year saving coin for this guitar and in that time I looked at Jackson and Telecaster. For price/quality Ibanez won, plus for someone Who's been playing for only three years (and a late starter @ 30) I'm still experimenting with sound/tone and tremolo is part of that. The ZP bridge sustains very well for a floater. It's a bit neck heavy but it's no problem to move it back in my lap to counter balance this. Standing is fine and being light makes it easy to move around for finger board access. The wizard II neck has a double radius (like on Jackson's), I wish it was closer to a single continuous radius (think that is because I have big hands so it's probably perfect as is for average sized hands). Like most thing's this has good and bad points, but most are really really good. I'd replace this guitar with the same or another S if something happened to it. PS, I don't work for Ibanez. I don't care if you buy it or not, but if you are interested in this guitar I'm trying to give some honest feedback as I didn't find much about this model or ZR tremolos when I was looking on the web
Reliability & Durability — 8
Sorry I don't play Live so no comment. The hardware is lovely and will last well. Although thin the finish should wear well, I'm hoping over the years it with wear down a bit like Nuno's Washburn N4. With a bit of love it should last a long time. As it's only four weeks old time will be the judge.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The factory set up was ok for trying it in the shop (quite playable). But the minute it got home it was stripped, cleaned and set up from scratch. I checked all of the nuts and bolts to make sure they were tight. The tuning posts needed a bit more tension (just a tiny bit) but everything else was fine. The ZR tremolo was very easy to set up after having taken all strings off. The intonation was easy to tune (a touch fiddly with the on board intonation Tool) and the instructions that come with the guitar were easy to follow and cover everything you need to know. The pickups were adjusted well to give relatively equal volume out of all three picks ups (I dropped the middle single coil down as it was closer to the strings than the humbuckers). Unlike the photo on the Ibanez website the poplar burl top is a one piece and much nicer aesthetically (in my opinion). The binding on the body is really beautiful and the neck is pretty nice to. It's finished in a thin layer of matt lacquer showing off the timbers and you can still feel the grain stunning. I found the 13th fret below the B & G strings a bit high, causing a dead spot when bending the E on the 12th fret up a note. With the good quality clamp and soft jaws I pushed the fret back to the finger board and it's been no trouble since (this is the sort or stuff a new guitar needs anyway as sometimes they sit around in hot containers for to long in transit and timber moves). The frets have all been finished to a high Standard with no sharp edges. All hardware is of a high Standard and should last the life of the guitar, electronics work well with no buzzing. If I was to be really really picky, (as you have probably picked up I am) the router work although fine could have been finish a little better where it meets the top of the poplar top (sanding a small radius, you can pay more and that's what they do on the prestige model).
Features — 10
The ZR Tremolo with the ZP (zero point) back stop is very clever in design and is so simple to use and tune. With the ZP in the guitar will go up and down in pitch, there is just more tension with the extra springs in going down. I can tune E to D without touching anything but the fine tuner for E and I'm in drop D awesome (ZP in). Going to a fully floating tremolo takes about two minutes (and most of that it removing the cover), just pull the ZP out and to get back in tune adjust the spring tension in the back serious! It's that easy. For a new guitar it stays very close to in tune, so it can only get better.