Price paid: $ 350
Purchased from: ebay
Features — 7
I bought this guitar new from a seller on eBay that claimed it had a factory cosmetic flaw from the factory. More on that later, but I say this to explain why I bought it so cheap. The guitar is made with a mahagony body with a quilted maple top, and a 3 piece maple neck.
Anyone familiar with Ibanez Wizard II necks would feel at home with the 7 string version of it, it's very thin all the way down. The neck gets wider the closer you get to the body but no playability is sacrificed. It comes with jumbo frets that have a great feel to them, very smooth but also great for shredding as well as hitting the lows. The rosewood fretboard looks good, especially when you condition it with some axe wax. The dot inlays are scooted up to the upper end of the board, which is slightly confusing if you aren't used to it, but aesthetically I prefer them to one side if they are there at all.
The Ibanez's body is the perfect compliment to the wizard neck. Its thickest in the middle, where the neck connects and where the pickups sit, but it tapes off on the edges, giving the guitar a very light and thin feel to it. Personally the body is the reason to buy this guitar in the first place. If you gave this guitar a good swing you could damn near cut a limb off somebody.
The bridge is a thru-body design, no trem or anything. I'm not a huge fan of these bridges just because the screws that adjust the saddle height stick out, and I like to rest the side of my hand on the bridge while I'm playing, so its mildly irritating, and it will even collect some dead skin on it and leave buildup on it, which is kind of gross. That being said it is a reliable bridge thats been tried and tested for years. I just think this would be a much better guitar with a fixed edge-style bridge.
The knobs and pickup selector are also a weak spot. The selector feels cheap and is surrounded by a piece of plastic, which is fine, but would be much more quality feeling if it was surrounded by a piece of metal in the same shape. The knobs have more resistance than I personally like when turning them, and when you turn them you can see the knob turn on its axis as if its out of line a little bit. But to be honest its kind of a non issue, I've had other guitars that did the same thing.
The pickups are passive from the factory. I feel like they are trying to be high output but not doing a great job of it. I plan on replacing the bridge pup with a DiMarzio in the future, if I don't exchange this for a prestige model.
Sound — 6
I obviously play metal with an Ibanez 7 string, but if I try to play anything else it sounds like its trying, but it's obviously not optimized for every style out there. Clean tones are acceptable. The bridge pup sounds sort of thin and treble-y, I'm sure if you adjusted the dials you could find a better tone but to me its not worth it. The neck sounds a lot better clean, but still a tad boxy and bland. Decent jazz tones but they are by no means optimized for jazz.
Switch it over to distortion and you'll be a lot more pleased. Low down they sound pretty good on the bridge. Like I said before they sound like they are trying to be higher output than they are, but I find if you turn the bass and treb down a bit, and boost the mids, you get a much more rounded tone that works a lot better. If I were to be doing any recording or live shows, I'd probably want to switch them both asap, but right now I'm playing at home only through a cheap Line 6, so they'll work for now.
Overall you can tell the guitars meant to play metal more than anything else, so if you want some more versatility than that you might want to keep your options open, or be prepared to swap the pickups.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The action from the factory was not very good, at the 12th fret almost all the strings were about 3/8" off the board. I lowered the string and adjusted the neck a bit and got them a lot lower and closer, but I'm having trouble getting a really satisfying action. I have a Fender Jaguar at home with such good action that I can almost play the neck just by looking at it, and I really wish a guitar seemingly designed to constantly shred would have similar action. I can't manage to get that great of action without the bottom 3 strings buzzing on the first frets like crazy, or having many of the double digit frets not play because of the neck adjustment. I think if it had a slightly taller nut all of these problems would be gone, but I don't think anyone sells anything aftermarket like that.
Now on to the finish. Like I said before I bought the guitar with the impression that it was going to have a factory cosmetic flaw, and after a lot of studyng it, I have a lot of guesses as to what it might be, but I'm struggling to figure out why any of these flaws would knock off 200 bucks from the list price. there's a little nick in the finish in the recessed area for the jack, but its very minor and totally invisible once you have it plugged in. Also the book matched top is overlapped maybe 1/32 of an inch, but unless you point it out nobody would notice. Lastly on the bottom of the neck there is some slight discoloration in the wood but it is literally out of sight unless you're looking at the guitar from underneath.
Overall, I'm disappointed in the action but the finish is just about top notch.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Ibanez guitars always feel reliable to me. The neck and body are both solid, they are light but something about it just feels very strong. I've dropped it a few times and not even worried about it breaking in any way. If I were in a touring band I wouldn't think twice about bringing this.
The finish seems very thick and durable as well. I've owned it for close to 6 months and there's not a scratch on it, even slight. You'd have to drop this thing from 10 feet to chip the finish.
Only thing I'd be worried about with durability would be the selector and knobs. I said before they don't feel very quality, and if they got hit in the right way I'd be more worried about them snapping off. But to be honest that could really happen to any guitar.
Overall Impression — 7
If you are a metal musician who likes to tune down, 7 strings are the way to go. The 25.5" scale is made for lower tunes, as opposed to having your strings flapping around. The pickups aren't the greatest but they are acceptable, and even though the action isn't the greatest this guitar is still great to play. The neck is obviously a strong suit, as it is on almost every Ibanez, and the body only compliments it in the best way it can.
If for some reason I lost this guitar or it was stolen, I'd probably go for a similar prestige model. This guitar is great and all but I feel like it could still be better. I'd want something with a different bridge, maybe wood that would hold more sustain, and hopefully a better setup. Overall though, if you got 500 bucks, this is probably one of the best 7 strings you can get, and I definitely recommend it.