SA120 Review

manufacturer: Ibanez date: 03/16/2012 category: Electric Guitars
Ibanez: SA120
The Ibanez SA120's 25.5" scale neck offers a narrow feel and tight tension, similar to an Ibanez RG. The smooth, stable Ibanez SAT30 bridge brings incredible control and a completely new meaning to the term "standard tremolo".
 Sound: 8.4
 Overall Impression: 9
 Reliability & Durability: 8.6
 Action, Fit & Finish: 8.3
 Features: 8.4
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (10) pictures (2) 54 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.2
SA120 Reviewed by: 24/7 ROCKER, on april 10, 2006
5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Features: This guitar was built in Korea. It has 22 frets, 21 of them accessible for comfortable playing. With a solid top, sleek body design, versatile hum and slim fast Ibanez maple SA-series neck chrome machine heads, mahogany body with quilted maple top volume and tone controls, 5-way selector, floating bridge for tremolo bar lovers. // 9

Sound: It is not noisy on most settings and if you have a descent amp, the guitar is capable of good distortion it would make a great sherdder and an ok jazz guitar it is very versatile. // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar is set up in the factory with great strings. The tension low for shredding. There are no obvious flaws; it is a good quality guitar. And it looks great when buffed up with some polish and a rag. // 9

Reliability & Durability: The guitar seems solid; the guitar could gig with ease. I don't think this guitar will fall apart any time soon it is value for money and I think it will last at least 10 years Ibanez' tend to be good value for money across the board and I can see the guitar is not going to fall apart anytime soon. // 10

Overall Impression: The thing I really love about this guitar is the body shape. I would recommend this guitar to any one looking for a decent electric guitar it is a versatile guitar capable of many good sounds I play Santana and BB King as well as AC/DC and Beatles on it and it sounds kick ass when playing these types of music from rock to funk the guitar sounds great! // 10

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overall: 9.2
SA120 Reviewed by: unionx, on july 09, 2007
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: GuitarMania

Features: 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. // 8

Sound: 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. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: 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. // 10

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 9

Overall Impression: 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. // 10

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overall: 9.6
SA120 Reviewed by: damirault, on september 20, 2006
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 375.25

Purchased from: Town's End Strings and Things

Features: made in 2006 in Indonesia, mahogany body, 22 fret neck with 25.5" scale, black with chrome around the pickups (looks awesome), dual humbucking pickups with a 5-way selector switch (bridge humbucking, bridge parallel, both humbuckers, both inner halves of the pickups working as single coils, and neck humbucker). // 10

Sound: I play rock, mostly Metallica, AC/DC and a few others and it is very well suited for both soloing and rhythm. I use it with a Crate GLX65 amp and sometimes through a DigiTech Grunge pedal, and I notice some noise when I use distortion, but I suspect my cables and not the guitar. It is capable of heavy distortion, bright clean sounds, mellow cleans, and probably more I forgot, especially because you can switch from humbucking to parallel on the bridge pickup. It works well with distortion, so it sounds good when playing Metallica and other heavy distortion music. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: When I bought it, it was set up perfectly, the only thing I changed was the bridge, which was fixed so I set it up to float. The whammy bar fits a bit too loosely for me, and it's really annoying if you're playing something whammy intensive and when you let go of the bar, it falls instantly downward and you have to constantly reach to get it back up. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I would definetly trust this guitar live without a backup, everything is solid, controls can take a beating, strap buttons wouldn't move if hit with a sledgehammer, the finish seems tough, though I haven't been using it for very long (since around may or april), it seems fairly durable, since I've accidentally whacked it against furniture a few times (I dented my door with it without a scratch to the guitar). // 10

Overall Impression: Like I said, I play mostly rock, and it's a perfect match for me. I've been playing this kind of music for a few years, acoustic before that, and like I already mentioned, I use a DigiTech Grunge pedal and a Crate GLX65 amplifier as well as a Jay Turser JT-300 (I used to love my Jay Turser, but now that I have a better guitar I realize that it's a piece of shit, it is now laying broken on my desk in the garage), // 10

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overall: 7.4
SA120 Reviewed by: unregistered, on december 25, 2008
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 250

Purchased from: Dijkman muziek

Features: 22 medium frets, 25, 5", Three-piece maple bolt on neck, rosewood fingerboard, mahogany body, Black finish, Chrome hardware, Like the Ibanez s series, or Fender Strat, Bridge pup: IBZ AH6, Neck pup: IBZ AH5 (both passive humbuckers), 5 way Switch (higher number, Switch closer to neck), 1-Bridge humbucker, 2-Bridge humbucker(parallel connected), 3-Both humbuckers, 4-One coil of each humbucker, 5-Neck humbucker, 1 volume, 1 tone control, Sat pro tremolo bridge, Standard string gauge: 042 009. It's a rather comfortable guitar, it plays smoothly, the body feels just right. A large flaw on this guitar is the sat pro bridge, you just can't use it without getting your guitar out of tune, so that's pretty much useless. // 8

Sound: The bridge pup gets a bit muddy at higher gain, and high is just how I like my gain, so that was not great. It's also kinda noisy, but that could just as well be my microcube. I almost never use the bridge pickup parallel connected, as I have no idea what that's good for. The neck pickup puts out a nice warm sound good for soloing(at this price range, that is). // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: The action was a little high for an Ibanez, intonation complete crap, but that's fixed in half an hour. There were no notable flaws on the guitar, except for the pickup selector, wich is a bit noisy. The finish is black, wich gets dirty in no time, and that sucks donkeyballs. // 7

Reliability & Durability: As almost any guitar, this should withstand Live playing just fine, I'm not sure however, I never played it Live. The first time I tried changing the strings I lost a very small but not particularly essential part of the bridge, I never found it back, so that sucked. The strap buttons seem solid to me. Obviously you can't use this guitar at a gig without backup, because that goes for any guitar. // 6

Overall Impression: This guitar is made for beginners. I think that for beginners a versatile tone is good, because as a beginner you should explore different genres to see what you like to play. What you like to hear is not nececarily what you like to play. I, For example, really like to hear Rammstein, but I hate to play it. I've been playing for a year now, own a microcube, this SA120, and a Jackson SLSMG. If this were stolen I'd probably not buy the same, I'd probably buy an ESP or something. I did not compare this to other products before I bought it, the guy at the guitar store recommended it, but later I compared it to some 500$ prs, and a Yamaha beginner guitar, and it pwns them completely. This is a great beginner guitar. Don't get it if you've played for a while and know out of experience what genre you like to play. // 8

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overall: 7.4
SA120 Reviewed by: unregistered, on december 04, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Purchased from:

Features: 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. // 7

Sound: 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. // 7

Action, Fit & Finish: 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. // 8

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 7

Overall Impression: 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. // 8

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overall: 9.4
SA120 Reviewed by: Cullie, on may 05, 2009
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Features: The guitar was made in Indonesia. Neck (Maple) - It features 22 frets, where the neck is deeply cut-away for great access. The last fret might be tricky to reach. Moderately thin neck, great for playing fast lead guitar. This was MUCH easier to learn lead on than my Stratocaster. Body (Mahogany)- Sleek, sexy body. Comfortable to play sat down and stood up. Pick-ups/Switches - Two impressive humbuckers, with a 5-way Switch. One volume control, one tone control. Fantastic starter/intermediate PUPs. Finish - Charcoal Brown with a gorgeous Shine, and wood grain visible. Looks so good I was tempted to eat it. // 9

Sound: First I'd like to say it has a great tone with good natural sustain. I've been able to get some real good dirty growls out of this guitar. I use various effects gear such as PodXT, Dunlop Crybaby pedal and a few stomp boxes. I generally play hard rock, and found it very suitable for the sound. I've also had many nice clean sounds out of it, -but- I find the neck-end switches normally result in a much too bassy tone than the other guitars I've played. Moving from single-coils to humbuckers feels like the best move I have ever made when it comes to pick-ups. I now Live a noise-free life, until the pick hit's the strings! // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: Perfect. Every fret plays brilliantly, with fantastic intonation. I am failing to pick any flaws with this guitar. Everything about the way it was set up just brings the word 'sturdy' to mind. Just remember that with 'Action, Fit & Finish' you really need to play the individual model yourself to judge! // 10

Reliability & Durability: As much as I love this guitar, I hit it on things all the time by accident! That said, it stayed in tune for the most part, and also, there don't seem to be any dents or markings on it. DURABLE. It would definitely last a good while, and would be fine to use in many Live shows, No Doubt about it. If I were stupid enough to consider not taking a backup, this guitar would be my partner in crime. // 10

Overall Impression: SA120 + Hard Rock = Many smiles. I've played a lot of friends guitars, and they've played mine. For what I play now, it is better than my Fender Stratocaster by a long shot. I've also compared it to an ESP guitar my friend uses to play rock/metal. He would have swapped with me on the spot, despite his guitar costing Thrice as much as this one. I persuaded my friend to sell this to me for the original price he haggled it down to in-store (180). It was his first guitar, and he wanted to move on to a Les Paul model, so I got lucky. I've learned lead on this guitar, moving on from a Fender 50's reissue Strat. I can't express how much easier playing lead became when I picked up this model. I'm seriously thinking that this might be a one-off, considering the imbalanced quality:price ratio, because this model I have here is truly impressive. // 9

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overall: 6.8
SA120 Reviewed by: unregistered, on december 02, 2009
0 of 3 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 375.99

Features: It says that this guitar is made in Korea; I might have an idea what year it was made, but I don't want to say in case it's wrong. The SA120 has 22 Medium frets; it's a solid-top, Mahogany body, has kind of a transparent finish, and the body style is almost like a Strat. The bridge style is a tune-o-matic, but not great for anything fancy or heavy. (You can't play Children Of Bodom, Metallica, Slayer, or Pantara songs with it, because you'd probably break the entire guitar) The controls are: Volume, Tone, and a 5-way selector. // 7

Sound: Even though this guitar's bridge keeps the strings in tune when you do string-bending, it isn't designed for Metal (which is the only genre that I play). The amps and effects that I use with the SA120 are the Line 6 Spider III 75 Watt and it's effects. The guitar itself is noisy if you don't have a noise-gate activated, but it's only noisy when you crank the volume on the guitar. All in all, it is not good at all for Children Of Bodom, but the sound is really quite good for Heavy Metal. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: This guitar was not set-up very well at the factory. There is some low fret buzzing, the frets were not leveled very well, the bridge should have been made better, and so on. Another flaw is that the master volume control on the guitar is too close to the bridge pickup. I'm always hitting it with my hand when I pick, which can turn the volume down... // 6

Reliability & Durability: Would this guitar withstand playing Live or a gig? Probably not. It does give out a good sound, but I would never just take the SA120 without a good backup. // 5

Overall Impression: I play metal and nothing but. This guitar is a pretty good guitar for that "heavy metal" sound, however, you just can't do any crazy techniques with the whammy bar. I've been playing for about 3 years, and during those 3 years, I've tried out a lot of guitars. I ended up buying the SA120 because the price was right. Looking back on the day that I bought it, I really wish I would have gotten the BC Rich Wartribe, which was $200 bucks more than the SA120. I have learned, however, that price-wise doesn't make a difference to the sound, which is the most important thing. You can have a $5000.00 guitar, and it could sound like shit! And of course, you can buy a $200.00 guitar, and it might sound better than a PRS and a Gibson put together! What I am saying is this: Don't buy a guitar because it is the lowest priced instrument in the store, and don't buy a guitar that is the most expensive either - Always buy the guitar that has the best sound, or at least the sound that you're looking for. // 7

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overall: 8.6
SA120 Reviewed by: Tom_Kaduk, on february 04, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 250

Purchased from: Just Music

Features: Built in Korea, this guitar has 22 frets, two humbuckers (I don't know what make they are), a mahagony body, a 5-way-selector, and an incredible tremolo that keeps the strings in tune at all times. Volume and tone knobs. Sooo simple, but it works. // 9

Sound: I play a lot of metal, from Korn, to Slayer, Pantera, Coal Chamber, Lamb of God, Slipknot, Disturbed, and also less heavy stuff like Linkin Park, Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave... All I say is, this guitar suits EVERYTHING. I use it with a 3203 Artist Marshall and the dirty sound is smashing. A lot of distorsion, even though, not enough for a madman like me. The clean setting is beautiful. Nothing much else to say about this. // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar was set up at the factory with great strings. Not thick enough to tune down any lower than drop C#, though. The guitar hadn't any major flaws, except that the strings were too high above the neck. That wasn't too hard to fix. The finish is shiny black and looks great, despite the fact that it easily gets dirty and I feel like constantly cleaning my instrument. Overall, it's very good. // 8

Reliability & Durability: The guitar feels great for live playing. Everything in it feels like it was built to last. I'm not very careful with it so sometimes it gets a little hit, but I soon forget where because you just don't NOTICE any wear. The finish feels indestructible, I'd have to cut it with a knife to wear it down. It's still frustrating that it gets dirty that easily, though. // 9

Overall Impression: I've been playing metal and hard rock for little over a year now, and I own this guitar since my birthday, seven months ago. I'm in love with it. This guitar could very well be used for a record. My favorite feature is it's awesome distorsion, I don't use any pedal - though I'd like to get a DigiTech Deadth Metal Distorsion pedal - and the sound is fairly enough for a deep, grinding sound. If it were stolen or destroyed, I'd definitely get another one. I'm gonna equip it with a Blackbox to tune the strings more easily, though. I just love it. // 9

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overall: 8.8
SA120 Reviewed by: coreytaylor15, on february 10, 2012
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: A$ 800

Purchased from: Billy Hyde Music

Features: This guitar has a mahogany body, a 3 piece maple bolt on neck, a SAT Pro II bridge, a rosewood fingerboard, 22 medium frets, 1 AH5 and 1 AH6 humbucker pickups, 1 tone, 1 volume and a 5 way switch. The finish on this guitar, which is a charcoal brown, is amazing and really makes the guitar look excellent. I must say that playing on the SAT Pro II bridge is amazing. It's just a really easy bridge when it comes to tuning as it's really easy and fast to tune and it stays in tune excellently. The pickups on this guitar also are phenomenal in my opinion. They sounds fantastic when you're using distortion and when they are in a clean setting they sound amazing as well. The guitar does lose some points for it controls. First, it's really hard top get a quiet sound because there in no middle ground between loud and off when using the volume knob. And the pickup selector is quiet loud when switching during playing. // 8

Sound: I play metal, hard rock, R 'n' B and some blues. This guitar suits all of these styles great. For my amp and effects I'm running it through a Line 6 Spider IV 15 watt amp with a DigiTech Death Metal Distortion and Dunlop Cry Baby Wah. Through this it's sounds great and doesn't really have any flaws. I play with pretty high gain which is quite trebely and this sounds very nice on this setting. The pickups don't hum at all when lowered a little from what they where when I bought it. It is a very versatile guitar which could live up to many different sounds from Pop - Jazz and from Rock - Black Metal. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: This is where the guitar losses quite a few points. When I recieved the guitar, The action was way to high for me so I had to have this fixed. I adjusted the neck pickup down just a little to suit the sound I'm after and that was no problem at all. Also, as I stated before, the pickup selector was and still is quite noisey but I don't switch between pickups too often so this is not a huge problem for me. // 7

Reliability & Durability: I play with this guitar live often and so far I have had no problems with it yet. The hardware on it seems like it will last for a very long time although I did change the strap buttons to clip lock straps as it's more comfortable for me. I wouldn't bring a backup to a live gig because I believe that this guitar is fine to play with and could withstand an hour or so onstage. The finish hasn't worn at all for me yet apart for the occasional bumps but that's not too much to worry about. All up it's just a very strong a reliable guitar to play with. // 10

Overall Impression: For the music I pay it is fantastic and would go out and get another tomorrow. I have been playing for 12 years and this has been my favourite guitar I've played up to date. Before I purchased it, I also tried a Epiphone Les Paul, Fender Tele and a Schecter but this guitar always had my vote. As I said before the only thing I'm not to much of a fan on was the action but this is easily fixed and now it's just a fantastic guitar. // 10

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overall: 9
SA120 Reviewed by: fendergal, on march 16, 2012
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 259

Purchased from: Strings and Things

Features: A wizard neck with 24 frets great for soloing and pretty comfortable. I'm not sure what kind of wood the body is made out o but the neck is mahogany. Strat style with a tune-o-matic bridge with a volume knob and two tone knobs with a 5 way switch. The tuners are generic nothing special. I had to buy the case separately. Overall I'm pretty happy with the features I tried quite a few Ibanez guitars and this one was the best feel and fit by far for me. // 9

Sound: I use a lot of different types of techniques from finger picking to soloing to chords, and this guitar can handle them all with ease. Even though finger picking might not sound the best through an electric compared to an acoustic I feel that it does well. I feel it works best on distortion I bought it mainly for soloing and it works great. It has a good krisp sound maybe not the richest sound but for the price I think it does well. // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: The set-up straight from the factory was fit for me, the action was perfect for my needs and the pickups have adjusted well to my playing style. Nothing was out of place or loose or wrong with it which I'm glad about. I feel that the action is great the fit was perfect for me and the finish wasn't too bad. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I haven't gone on stage with this guitar yet, but I have taken it places and it hasn't given me any troubles. The hardware seems to be good although I have to replace the strings more than usual, I feel. The strap buttons are sturdy and have never given out on me yet. I would definately go on a gig with it without a back up guitar. I play this guitar at least an hour almost everyday. // 10

Overall Impression: I play a variety of styles from Indie to rock to some light metal and everything in between and this guitar can rock almost all of my playing. I've been playing guitar for almost five years now and have played quite a few different types of guitars Jacksons, Epiphones, Fenders, Ovations and other Ibanez too, and love this one the most. I f something happened to this guitar I would replace it in a heartbeat. I love how easy the neck is to play and the double humbucker pickups and the feeling of it. I don't really have anything I hate about this guitar. I was comparing this guitar to a few Ibanez arts and arcs, and in the end I liked this one the most for my playing style and that I wanted it for. // 9

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