Price paid: $ 250
Purchased from: Used
Sound — 7
My music style is blues, I rarely dip to the humbucker. Using it with a Peavey Express 112 (not the "trans-tube.") I put on new coated slinkies right away (the original strings were rusting.) The humbucker doesn't really sound like a humbucker (others have noted this) but it does have a richer sound. The middle and neck settings are warmer/richer than a Standard Strat due to the set neck and mahogany body - very nice. It is a little noisy, looking inside the cavity they did use non-conductive paint but the tone path to ground appears to be via the paint - this is not an accident, the wiring diagram shows this and you don't see that on other Ibanez wiring diagrams. The humbucker generates feedback when distortion is being used but is fine on clean. Natural harmonics for the guitar are E and D - the humbucker feeds back on the low E and on clean the body naturally resonates to D. (Blues in D... very natural for this guitar - sweet.) The common complaint is it goes out of tune with the trem - I did a test... locking tuners won't make any difference. The nut binds on the strings plain and simple - tuning problems and trem problems both come from this. I put graphite (pencil) in the nut slots and the problem went away for most of the strings (perhaps with a little use the graphite will work onto the nut properly and it will go away entirely.) This is not a new problem, I've seen it with a tusq nut as well. If graphite isn't working then the roller nut may be the only thing for you. With graphite on it it stays in tune. If I dive with the trem and it goes out of tune I can bring the offending string back into tune with a quick bend - find the appropriate note in the song to toss in a bend and it is fixed on the fly.
Overall Impression — 7
Middle and Neck positions match the blues I've been playing. I'm getting used to the sound of that humbucker. This is my first electric guitar (I'd been using my daughters for a few months before getting it) and was playing Acoustic for about 7 years before that. I still love the feel/sound of my acoustic. I love the simplicity of getting at the electronics in the back without taking off the pick guard. I hate their idea of noise insulation. Anything I wish it had? Nothing I won't be fixing over the year: 1)Proper shield/ground the electronics to silence the beast 2)The unused volume push-pull poles Switch tone caps to make the humbucker sound like a humbucker. 3)Change the tone pot to a push-pull that puts the bridge in series (with a different cap choice again... playing around when I hear the sound.) Note that the first thing is a common need for a lot of guitars out there - changing caps is a common thing - some caps just sound wrong with some pickups (and a cap change may fix the feedback issue.) Putting the bridge in series - not that hard to do even with the tru-Duo design. Proper shielding - that will be the thing I wished all guitars had. Lost or stolen? Hey, it is a guitar. I'd look around. Fender Strat? Gibson Les-Paul? Ibanez SZ? The Ibanez has a look that I like, just as long as I can find a sound I like with my eyes closed I am fine. This guitar "will do" - probably for the next decade or more once I have the sound dialed in. My rating looks low... but I am comparing it with a Les Paul or a PRS Custom 22... which are somewhat more expensive guitars but something the MSRP of this guitar suggests Ibanez was competing with. The sound doesn't quite match the price - it is good, but it seriously needs better noise insulation and a different cap choice for the humbucking bridge selection.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I would never go without a backup. This guitar is Ginger, I would still bring along Mary-Ann - my Acoustic - and maybe Sybil (the customized Squier strat) just because. The tone control popped loose inside the cavity the second day I had it. Even for a guitar sitting in the basement I'd like the controls to remain attached for a dozen uses. The finish is drop dead beautiful and looks like it would take a lot of punishment. Three months isn't a long time to say it would wear a long time, I expect the chrome to go dingy fast but aside from the strings and the inside of the trem-height adjustment screws I saw no signs of rust.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
It was used, but "new." The person who sold it was given it as a gift, but not given an amp or patch chord so he carried on playing the guitar and after 3 years sold it. The action was quite low - fine for open chords but around the 14th fret he frets at the middle string buzzed so I raised the action. To say it wasn't set up at the shop - I don't know, years in the basement can do strange things to a guitar. The nut is poorly cut or there was some rust caught in there for the binding to persist after graphite application.
Features — 8
Made in Korea in '06, 22 frets rosewood fingerboard, mahogany body with flamed maple top, set neck, super-strat shape, Les-Paul entry for electronics through the back (but not LP depth), Sat-pro bridge, passive pickups, Ibanez Neck, Middle and Tru-Duo 'bucker, push-pull volume for Humbucker vs Stacked single, tone, 5 way selector (7 tones in all.) Non-locking tuners, plastic nut. Abalone purfling and dots - very flash. Considering the MSRP for this guitar is around $1000 and it sells new for over $600 I would have liked a better nut and knobs. (For the price I paid it's an eleven though...)