SA120 review by Ibanez

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.2 (194 votes)
Ibanez: SA120

Purchased from: GuitarMania

Sound — 9
I play a variety of styles, ranging from classic rock to jazz fusion to alt rock to metal to even funk and experimental. The SA120 delivers a brilliant balance of all these within above average parameters. I've played it through a Line 6 Spider 3 and a Roland Cube, through the Spider on the clean setting the neck humbucker gives a lovely rich sustaining tone, reminiscent of classic ballads and if you go to neck single coil you get a laid back kind of picky sound similar to RHCP and the like. With the distortion the neck pickup generally adds more bass which is very annoying in the fact I have to adjust my amp controls to compensate. The Bridge pickup is very usable in all aspects, Both Single Coil and Humbucker act effectively for the following. In clean the pickup gives a very nasal kind of trebley tone, similar to early blues and jazz, think the likes of John Schofield and Wes Montgomery and then think about some modern British rock acts like Oasis and The Stone Roses. For The Roland Cube, The SA120 does what the Line 6 did before but emphasises the cubes built in presets with greater attention to detail and especially with some clever use of the tone knob and some fiddling around with volume you can get sound rages from authentic Vintage to modern.

Overall Impression — 10
This guitar is perfect for my style of music at the moment, I've been playing seriously for about two years and this is my second electric and a damn site better than my last guitar. I love the fact it has incredible sustain and thick tones, the only downsight really is the tremolo which is only a mild annoyance, I would consider buying another one of these guitars and it will definetly be one of my main guitars for the next few years, Overall I'm very pleased with it.

Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar has held up pretty amazingly, it's recieved no damage so far, not required any serious maintenance in the 6 months I've had it, the truss rod has had to be loosened but this was very simple and had no impact what'soever, I wouldn't fully depend on it for a long gig, but that's just how I feel about guitars in general, The pickups may need cleaning every so often because of dust building up in the gaps, but that's hardly any effort either.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
I purchased the SA120 in near mint condition, the setup was perfect and although I had to adjust the tremolo for different gauge strings, and tighten up the machine heads, the guitar was pretty much perfect for me in all aspects of set-up. The socket did contain some chippings, but these were pretty small and hardly recognizable.

Features — 8
I went looking for a guitar that was most importantly light weight and not too extreme in shape value. I went to my nearest guitar dealer, Guitarmania, and after suggesting a second-hand Ibanez SA120, my first impressions were questionable. I was wrong as the guitar itself was in brilliant condition, near mint, the original protective plastic pieces were still intact, and the fretboard was hardly scraped. Anyway as a guitar the SA120 has a variety of features, it comes with a lovely 3 piece mahogany body with a flamed maple top, and finished with a lovely wine red finish. The model comes with split coil humbucker pickups, which provide both humbucking and single coil sounds. The Tremolo system is a bit of a problem, it's fixed however has no locking tuners to compensate, and I also found myself with problems adjusting the springs when using a heavier gauge of strings. The body style is typical of most Ibanez guitars, very similar to a Strat, the neck however is suprisingly nice to play, since it has medium frets, a nice width suitable for average sized hands, and a rosewood fretboard. There is no advanced configurations with the tone knowbs and Switch, just one knob each for volume and tone, and a five-way pickup Switch for the pickups that is like this, bridge humbucker, bridge single-coil, bridge+neck humbuckers, neck single-coil and neck humbucker. This guitar certainly looks the part and is easy on the eyes.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Yeah, iv played quite a few electric guitars this is by far my favourite. Great price, works well with everything. Love it. Also very stylish.
    I too have one of these and it Rocks (with a capital R)! It simply has to be the best guitar for the money out there. Mine is a couple of years old now and still plays and looks like new.