Price paid: € 380
Purchased from: Mitros Music
Sound — 8
And now, the important part. I play it through a Vox V847 wah, Marshall Bluesbreaker II pedal and a Marshall MG15DFX amp... And I did hear it sing trough some Fende Hot Rod Deluxe (awesome), big 100W MG Marshall (very good). Well... It's stupid to say that you can play any style or any genre on it... It's a musical instrument.. Of course you can play anything... I hate when somebody saiz that... But this gutar does have a lot of tonal textures in it... It's very, VERY versatile. The single coils sound nice... They do have some of that sounn that I can only describe as usual, stock Ibanez thinish sound... But the key word is SOME, not all the way, but just a bit! They respond pretty well to dynamics (soft and hard playing). The thing that I like is that they have well balanced highs and lows. You can get a lot of Fender out of it IF you want to... You know... The twang thing (; the neck PU could be warmer, but it's still ok, the middle is just the way I want it to be. When you put it 4th postion (neck and middle PU), and use some gain and turn the tone knob all the way up to dampen the sound... I SWEAR you can get a realy nice Santana sound with a Marshall Bluesbreaker II pedal. The humbucker is brighter than most humbuckers, and I like it that way... I don't like muddy humbucker sounds on a clean channel. It realy does have some single coil vibe in it. It has nice harmonics (because of that weird single coil nature). When you Switch to a single coil in the bridge postion, you get... A single coil sound, but not all the way. True duo system does sound better than a regular split humbucker, but the sound is a bit muddy. It is twang-y and all that, but a bit less than a regulat SSS guitar on a bridge PU. I think that this has to do with the fact that the single coil PU (the third coil) is further away from the bridge, than it is ona SSS gutar, and it is under the humbucker coils, so it is pretty far away from the strings. Don't get me wrong, it sounds good, it just doesn't sound the same as a bridge PU on a Standard SSS guitar.It suits rock/blues/funk/pop sounds best. Overall, it sounds great, and not just for the money. It put to shame a MIM Standard Strat COMPLETELY! I picked up a realy nice piece, bit generaly the SA series guitars from Ibanez resonate very well, and have nice sustain. When you strum a chord and put a ear on a unplugged SA, you can hear A LOT of things going on in there. It comes to life. That's a good thing. It's a reeealy good sounding guitar.
Overall Impression — 9
Well... Here we go. If it was stolen I would hunt that asshole down and break his legs in 78 places, and then I would get my guitar back. But if I couldn't hunt the asshole down, I would DEFINETLY buy another one. It's a great instrument. To me, the gratest thing about is that with this guitar, you have a great, well built base that you can upgrade. It's a Diamond in a rough. It wouldn't be fair not upgrading it, because I think it gives you only 60% or 70% of what it can give you with stock PU's and stock hardware. And still, with that 60% - 70%, it sounds amazing. I plan on putting two of Dimarzzio Area 61's in it and a DiMarzio Paf Pro in the bridge, some locking tuners (I've already blokced the tremolo, and installed a good bone nut), some quality pots and put any guitar from 0 - 1500 to shame with this baby... I have no doubt that it can do it, and I DON'T plan on sellin' it. I picked up that one in fifty guitars that resonates a bit better than the others, I was lucky I guess. But it doesn't matter, the others I tried sounded great too! The only bad thing generaly on it was a stock nut, because it goes out of tune when you use your tremolo, and tonaly, it isn't the best realy. If you plan on using your tremolo (I blocked mine, and lost the trem effects, but gained a fuller sound with better sustain), you should put some quality nut made out of some low-friction material, or a roller nut. Tuners will do fine, but just maybe it would be better if you put locking ones. Then, you will have great tunning stability. I mostly play some blues oriented rock, Hendrix, RHCP, and some pop music... It suits all that very well tonevisely. The stock neck did feel like a neck of some rough, heavy metal guitar, but after a luthier reshaped it for me... If you have small hands, you might find the SA neck a bit big, but if you have larger hands, you will probably love it. So... Don't expect a mirracle, this is a great sounding MIDDLE PRICED GUITAR. But it has character and potential to become ASS-KICKER that laughs at Fenders, high-end Ibanezs, and other overpriced guitars if you invest some money and effort in it. And one more thing... Don't get discouraged by some people that are spoiled by 3500$ Gibsons, Fenders and PRSes that talk bad things about cheaper guitars. They lost their ways, and I feel sorry for them. Find a decent guitar that you can afford, and one that FEELS good to you. It doesn't need to have the best PU's and the best tremolo in the world. When you grab a neck of a guitar and play a couple of licks and it FEELS right, you will know that that's the one to buy. You will sound better than with any Fender, Gibson or Suhr, if you bond with that guitar. (don't get me worng, hihg end instruments are great, but they don't have to bee the right choices just because they cost much). I hope you enjoy this guitar as much as I do.
Reliability & Durability — 9
As I said. The finish looks durable, strap buttons are solid, hardware looks new after 9 months of playing it every day... The guitar didn't fail me yet, and doesn't seem like it plans to. It's a well built axe, and I think it will last for very long time. I would gig without a backup... I will gig with it without if I realy have to. I don't have one reason to doubt this guitar...
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
When I tried it at the shop, the action was too low and caused a lot of fret buzz and the trem wasn't paralel to the body. I realy can't say if the workers at the shop screwd it up, or it came with a bad setup frome the factory. The PU-s were adjucted nicely, but I lowered the single coils for a woodier and warmer sound, and set it up nicely and it was great. You can get the action pretty low if you want to... Strap buttons are rock solid and big enough so you realy don't need a strap lock. I played it A LOT standing up and never had a belt slip from a strap button. The Switch and the controls are smooth, tight, there is nothing wobbly about them. Tere were no scratches or anything and the finish was flawless. The finish is pretty thin (but durable) actually, which is a good thing, as it lets the guitar vibrate, and doesn't choke it down. I've had it for 9 moths now, and the chrome hardware looks just as good as new. Even the ring around the humbucker, which is nice, because some higher end Ibanez's humbucker rings wear out easily. The white outline on the body is a nice touch. The output jack grips tightly on a cable which is great. I did mind the neck feel. It felt a bit boring and uncomfortable to me. I like narrower, rounder necks (small radius) with rounded (rolled off)edges on a fretboard. Thies one was flat (16 radius), pretty wide and had sharp edges. But I had it reshaped to my specs by a luthier. Now it's a dream to play on. The stock neck gets a 7 from me, and now, after some reshaping done, it gets a 9.2 (have in mind that this is a highly subjective thing, and that you might love the stock neck). The neck joint is a beaty. It's my favorite shape of a neck joint and doesn't bother you when you play on higher frets. NICE WORK, IBANEZ! Fretwork was OK. Generaly, this guitar looks and feels great. It inspires me every time I pick it up, and that's important. Your instrument MUST inspire you.
Features — 8
The first thing I wanna say is that I will be REAL and CRITICAL, and won't gve this guitar all tens just because I own it. For a refference point, 10 is a PERFECT guitar. Full model name is Ibanez SA260FM-AMB (mine guitar). It was made in 2007 in China. It has a three piece mahogany body (at least, mine has). It is normal for a guitar in that price range. One piece mohagany body cost more... The body is a double cutaway (Strat-style with sharper and nicer "horns") with a gentle arched top and a flat back. It is outlined (wouldn't actually say binded) with some white material. The guitar is lighter than a MIM Standard Strat, so don't be afraid of that mahogany body. It has a three piece maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard and a satin finish.The fingerboard has a 16" radius, and the width at the nut is 43mm. Rosewood seems a bit lighter in color and smooter than normal, but also is harder than most rosewood fingerboards I've seen. It has 22 medium jumbo frets. It has the usual, round, white fret markers. The fingerboard is bounded with wood, and you can't see frets going in the fingerboard, and it's a realy nice touch. The truss rod can be adjucted both ways (Double Action Truss Rod). Truss rod access point is at the headstock. It has a SAT Pro II bridge (it's a non-locking, fully floating type of tremolo, and can be set to just dive), which works just fine, and has a very smooth surface for palm muting. It has a cheap nut made out of plastic (it's a bad nut). Tuners are non-branded, non-locking, and work just fine. Nothing wrong about them. "FM" means that it has flamed maple veneer (NO, IT'S NOT A FLAMED MAPLE TOP, IT'S VENEER, BECAUSE IT'S JUST 1mm OR SO THICK! ). "AMB" is name of a color. The headstock has a matching flamed maple veneer with matching color, which is nice. It's pretty orangy. It's a HSS (one humbucker and two single coils) guitar with passive electronics. The bridge humbucker is a TRUE-DUO bucker. It means that it doesn't split a humbucker, but it has a third (hidden) coil that you use when you pull the tone knob up (switch to single coil mode), so you get a real single coil, not a half-humbucker PU. It has one tone and one volume knob. It has chrome hardware. It has a barrel style output jack on the top of the body with a very nicely routed hole at an angle. It has everything that a normal electric guitar needs.