SA120 review by Ibanez

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.4 Good
  • Users' score: 8.2 (194 votes)
Ibanez: SA120

Purchased from:

Sound — 7
This guitar is great value in terms of sound. I upgraded the bridge pickup to a DiMarzio Evo as I found the sound didn't have enough clarity on higher gain settings. I have used this guitar with an Orange Crush 10 and a Laney VC-15 and it sounds very nice on both. The neck pickup produces much better cleans than I was expecting, but they lack a little life and it's terrible for higher gain stuff I.e. soloing. The guitar's sound is a mix between the bright, thin sound of a Strat, but balanced out with the mahogany body it's a great mid range tone. The guitar is very versatile, but that mostly depends on the amp you are using. I think this is a good first or second guitar based on sound quality but I would not recommend it to more experienced players.

Overall Impression — 8
I think this it the perfect beginner guitar. The only way it could be better was if there was no trem (which would probably make it even cheaper). If you are thinking of one of the Gio series Ibanez guitars, consider this if you can stretch your budget. Everything you'd ever want out of a starter guitar and more. It's also a pretty good intermediate level guitar as well.

Reliability & Durability — 7
Most of this guitar is great, I would gig without strap-locks, and none of the electronics have failed me in over a year. However, the trem is very poor quality. The metal is so soft that doing a couple of divebombs will chip it at the knife-edge, making it irrepairably damaged. This means no more tremolo. Very annoying. Everything else is perfect though.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was set-up by the shop and it was set-up pretty perfect. However, this was my first guitar so take it with a pinch of salt as I had another set-up recently. The finish is pretty nice, albeit plain and doesn't chip (it does scratch though, very easily). Everything was pretty much perfect out of the box. The neck is very thin which is great for a beginner as it doesn't take much effort and you can concentrate on the fingerboard.

Features — 7
Made in Korea, 22 jumbo fret neck with rosewood fingerboard. Solid mahogany body, two humbucking pickups, both IBZ, one volume and one tone control and a 5-way switch with coil split features, solid black finish. Strat-style SAT trem. I bought this guitar as my first with my Orange crush amp.

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I just got mine today!!! And all I can say is I'm impressed.... Really great tone, and a great fret action.
    I want it pretty bad. I already have an Ibanez RG350 EX and an Ibanez BTB200 IPF (bass).. But I want a SA120! xD But first I'll buy a new amp. 20 watts now and a lot of Ibanezzies doesn't fit together
    I just received this guitar, having bought it online, and am extremely pleased with its playability, looks and sound, as well. I spent many hours researching reviews on this site to narrow down my short-list to the SA120, and I really feel that the time's now paid off. So I just want to say 'thanks' to all the good peeps who took their time to write reviews - which helped so much in making my final choice. I'm very pleased with the SA120.
    ey. . that axe seems nice, ,apart from the tremolo system, though. Is it possible to cange the trem sys. with a locking one? Also for the nut. Thanks!!! -E-
    ive got this guitar n it is so mad it is so versatile in its sound. It also feels great. when i play other guitars it makes me realise just how good this guitar sounds and feels.definitely recommend this!!!!
    i bought mine for 280 it is a pretty good guitar and its really cheap, so if you are thinking about buying one i say go for it
    i bought this guitar for $180, and its been great. Really sturdy hardware..great quality. I put an emg in the bridge and it sounds great. The neck plays so fast. Its really good for the money and easy to modify.
    i absolutely love my one of these =] was the first guitar i ever bought, and its still my favourite now i absolutely love it its name is howard =] lmfao
    Bling Dogg wrote: is this guitar good for intermediate level players too? or just beginners?
    Bro, i figure it will even appeal to intermediate guitarist. I've been playing for 15 years now and I like it!!
    Bling Dogg
    keshminder2000 wrote: Bling Dogg wrote: is this guitar good for intermediate level players too? or just beginners? Bro, i figure it will even appeal to intermediate guitarist. I've been playing for 15 years now and I like it!!
    Thanks! I will consider buying one!!
    I have this guitar. It is awesome! The only problem I have with it is the Whammy bar occationaly flies out when I'm moshing! lol otherwise, no problems, it's a great guitar! ~