Price paid: £ 289
Purchased from: igotmusic.co.uk
Sound — 7
I mainly play a lot of rock/metal, styles such as Coheed And Cambria, Killswitch Engage, Fightstar etc, and this guitar suit's this music style nicely. I run it through a Bugera 6262 head with a 2X12 cab fitted with v30 speakers, and it holds up very well in both home practice and Live situations. Clean, Crunch or full on Overdrive, it can handle all of them without a hitch. This guitar is capable of achieving both a rich, deep sound and a bright sound, but due to it's slim body it won't quite go as naturally warm sounding in comparison to a Les Paul or a Gretsch, which is to be expected. Very little noise on whatever pickup setting I've had it on. Changing the configurations on the true-duo pickups only make a slight difference, the single coil settings slightly thin out the tone, and it's not going to get you a true Stratocaster single coil sound. But then again, if you want a Stratocaster sound, you play an actual Stratocaster, not a guitar with the ability to go between humbuckers and single coil. I nearly always keep it on the humbucker setting, and on that it has plenty of tone, I just expected a bit more versatility from the true duo pickups. I expect to swap them out for some Seymour Duncans in the near future.
Overall Impression — 9
For what I need it for, this guitar fit's the bill very nicely. I've been playing for over 10 years and also own a Squier Strat, a Les Paul Copy and an Epiphone SG, and this guitar easily gets the most use now due to it's sound and easy playability. I bought the guitar online after playing a similar SA model and being very impressed overall, but in hindsight it would've been safer testing this specific model out before purchasing, and finding out about the bridge's and true duo's capabilities. If this guitar was lost or stolen, I'd get the same model again without question, or a similar SA model. It's lightweight and the accessible neck makes it easy to play both rhythm and intricate lead passages on. One improvement I wished this guitar had would be better true duo pickups which give a more obvious, defined single coil sound. Apart from that, this is a very good guitar, definitely worth the price I paid for it and I can't see myself needing another one any time soon!
Reliability & Durability — 8
I must've played over 30 gigs on this guitar since buying it in December 08, and racked up many hours of home practice and band rehearsals, and it's withstood all of that fine. The strap buttons are larger than the ones on the other guitars I own and it took a bit of effort to actually get the guitar strap on them! So once they're on, they won't come off that easily. The buttons were too big to take the plastic straplocks I had so I had to go for the metal ones with a new strap button, but the stock strap buttons should see you through fine unless you move the guitar around manically whilst playing. The SAT Pro II Bridge doesn't take kindly to new tunings as I said above, so I wouldn't advise going into a different tuning with this guitar mid-set during a gig. It requires constant retuning of all 6 strings and takes a while to break into the new tuning. When kept in the same tuning however, it's solid and never really needs adjusting unless the tuners get knocked around. I always bring a backup guitar to a gig with me regardless, but I've never needed it, never had a string break on me or any hardware failure with this guitar.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar came fully set up with a set of.009 D'addarios in Standard Tuning (and even during transit managed to stay perfectly in Standard Tuning!) the hardware and body were pretty much flawless, the only issue was a very small dent on the back of the headstock. Action and intonation had no problems what'soever when staying in Standard Tuning or Drop-D, but when putting it into other tunings such as E flat, drop C# or D Standard, expect to do a bit of action and intonation adjustment on the bridge using the allen keys provided (which is pretty painless, just requires a little read through the manual and some patience! ) I keep it in drop C# with.10 gauge strings.
Features — 8
This is one of Ibanez's 2008 models; made in China, Mahogany body, 22 medium frets with a bound rosewood fretboard, 3 piece maple set-in neck. It features an SAS Special Inlay (mother of pearl style with that similar design around the edge of the body also) which gives the guitar a nice visual touch. SAT Pro II bridge with tremolo arm and non-locking tuners. This model also features the true-duo humbuckers, which give the option of a single or double coiled pickup configuration. 1 volume control and 1 tone control, with 3-way pickup selector Switch and true duo switches activated by pulling up the volume control or tone control to go into single-coil setting.