Price paid: $ 699
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features — 9
Bought brand new in September '15. Comes with 24 frets, 25. 5" scale which is great for down-tuning, even though I mostly play it in standard. The neck is the "Wizard III" 3 piece maple neck, very thin, with a beautiful rosewood fretboard and jumbo frets. The body is mahagony with a beautiful poplar burl finish. Comes with a fixed bridge, although the S770PB is a very similar guitar available with the ZR tremolo if that's your thing. As far as pickups go there is a bridge and neck humbucker, as well as a single coil between them. 5-way switch for many tones, as well as a volume and tone knob. Now I bought it at guitar center so I really didn't get any accessories you may have gotten if you buy it online, but I don't know what else you would need to be quite honest. Overall it comes well equipped.
Sound — 7
It's sort of common knowledge that Ibanez factory pickups are not the best. I've owned a few in my past and know the struggle. Before I get into sound detail, I should say I'm playing through a Blackstar HT-60 combo and a Boss ME-80 pedal (which I mostly use for loops and reverb).
Anyway, let's start with the bridge pickup. Playing clean, it sounds like most bridge pups would, slightly twangy and a little on the treble side. Personally I don't use bridges much for clean but it seems a little on the low output side. With distortion it leaves a lot to be desired. Even with high gain and extra bass, it sounds almost like a single coil. Not very full, almost like I'm playing a country song with too much distortion. I plan on replacing this pickup in the near future.
The neck pickup, however, operates a lot better than the bridge. Also a humbucker, it has very rich clean tones with great mids, working well with blues and jazz, and it handles distortion as well, even for metal. I've heard better neck pickups before, but compared to what I expected, it performs very well. The middle single coil sounds obviously twangy, but has deep mids and could work well with a "rockabilly" tone. However, the pickup gets in the way of my picking and I've lowered it into the body. It's now too quiet to really use, but I wasn't likely to use it anyway. Just a personal preference, I would prefer if this guitar didn't even have the single.
Overall the pickups are okay, they do in a pinch, but they generally leave a lot to be desired. However with a swapped bridge pickup this guitar has a lot more potential.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
This guitar was a GC floor model, and its clear that they had not bothered to mess with the setup what'soever. The strings were way higher off the fretboard than they needed to be. I've bought Ibanezes before and they usually have this problem from the factory. When I brought the guitar home I replaced the strings and tightened the truss a couple turns, and after getting it back into tune, the action turned out beautifully. The intonation was exact, the bridge had a perfect setup concerning the radius of the neck as well. There is some slight fret buzz here and there (and really I could afford to raise the strings) but this buzz does not go through the pickups, even clean. It's likely the closest action on a guitar I've ever played. 10/10 on that part.
The S771PB is available in two finishes: Natural flat and transparent grey flat. I've seen natural flat in person several times and it is just gorgeous. I actually planned on buying it with that finish before I went into the store. When I got there, the natural finish had been sold, but they replaced it with a transparent grey finish. Oh my god, it is so beautiful it is ridiculous. The pictures on the Ibanez website doesn't give it any justice. No photo does, you have to see it in person. And to add to that, the rest of the body is mahagony stained, and the combination of the two colors is unbelievable. I would sell my car to buy this guitar on looks alone. It may as well be a prestige, it is THAT good. 10/10.
However it did have some slight issues. The top on the guitar (I believe) is untreated other than stain. Which means that you can feel the grain, which is cool, but around the burls it feels like if you scratched them with your fingernail splinters would start popping up. Not really a negative, but it slightly irks me. Also, the tone knob was loose, I discovered after purchase, but that's a non issue. 8/10.
Reliability & Durability — 6
I'm kind of mixed on the durability here. I've played many Ibanezes live and they have all been durable enough to withstand what I threw at them, but this one is so beautiful... I don't want to do it. I don't want to risk dropping and denting or chipping it. It feels solid but it could also be a lot weaker than I imagine. Most of the hardware is fine. The tuners work, the bridge is solid and reliable, knobs turn and stuff. The pickup selector seems a tad cheap but that's with every Ibanez.
I should mention, however, that before I bought the guitar, the middle (single coil) pickup did not work. I took it to a tech and it turns out one of the wires leading to it wasn't soldered properly and was just hanging there. It was a quick fix but it makes me wonder if they missed anything else on the guitar. So far I haven't had any problems, but I'm almost expecting something else electronically to go wrong. I've played this guitar plugged in a collective 6 hours or so, and have had 0 issues. I've thrown it around a tad, and it can handle it. But it also makes me a little nervous.
Overall Impression — 9
Personally I play a lot of Dillinger/Botch type mathcore, as well as a lot of jazz improv and even some metalcore stuff. It handles these somewhat well, but I'm going to have to replace the bridge pickup and have somebody go over the wiring and make sure there are no more weak solders. I've been playing over 10 years. Aside from this guitar, my other favorite is a PRS SE 7-string. In comparison, the pickups on the prs are miles above what this guitar has to offer, and playing feels a tad "silkier" with bends, etc. But the Ibanez has much better action, a thin neck and body, and is overall more fun to hold in your hands and play. This guitar would get 10/10 across the board if it had better pickups and didn't "feel" so fragile.
Overall, if you want a guitar that is absolutely beautiful, generally versatile, and don't mind replacing pickups and treating it like your child, this is a great guitar to own. I don't regret my purchase at all, and I'd buy it again in a heartbeat. If they offered this finish in a prestige model I would buy it and keep this one as well. If you have reservations about buying it, go try it in store somewhere. You'll want to buy it before you plug it in.