Sound — 7
I like playing a lot of Paul Gilbert and Vai styles of music along with heavier styles like Lamb of God and Trivium, and this guitar isn't the best choice for all of it due to the lack of 24 frets and a locking tremolo. I don't get along with the non-locking trem so I had it blocked, but of course trying to play Vai & Satch without a bar just isn't at all easy. I'm playing it through a Peavey Vypyr 75, Roland Cube 80 and Vox AC30. With the stock single-coil neck pickup, it doesn't suit the heavier lead styles though for rhythm the Bridge pickup provides nice and fat sound. The coil-splitting on the Bridge makes up for this by adding great versatility- perfectly suited for lighter rock, blues and alternative styles. The middle pickup is noisy when used on high distortion settings, though for clean sounds it allows a great lead/rhythm balance. When the neck and middle pickups are selected together, the sound is GORGEOUSLY glassy! This makes for a fantastic Stevie Ray Vaughan lead sound.
Overall Impression — 6
For the styles I play, this guitar is actually a terrible match! But something about it appealed to me, ever since before I started playing electric. I've been playing for 4 years now and bought this as I wanted a guitar that looked "less metal"- which is certainly does. Compared to my Ibanez RG350, it certainly looks like a more modest instrument but the lack of extra frets and a locking trem mean it is ill-suited for my needs. I wish I had given it a more thorough check before buying it, as it wasn't until I got it home that I noticed the imperfections. I love the feel of it, especially the lightweight body(despite being mahogany) and the neck join- smooth and high access! I disliked the single-coil in the neck, though I liked the glassy tone from selecting it along with the middle pickup. I later had a DiMarzio Air Norton S humbucker installed- now it suits Paul Gilbert-style playing far better! On the whole this is an attractive guitar with a wealth of sound options available, and with the addition of a humbucker in the neck it can suit a range of styles up to some metal. It isn't the best option for my needs- I'm STILL trying to adjust to a 22 fret neck. I plan on keeping this guitar however, there's just something about it. It's easy to play, comfortable and looks fantastic! If it were stolen or lost, I'd likely replace it with something else such as the new Ibanez RG Premiums.
Reliability & Durability — 7
I've used this guitar live in a college musical, and despite having to play in a cramped space (during which I hit the guitar against metal scaffolding SEVERAL times! ) there have been no visible marks or damage. The strap buttons tend to come a little loose, so they'll have to be replaced. The guitar seems well-constructed aside from the aforementioned blemish on the binding and the glue on the fretboard, but I think Ibanez QC slipped up on this one.
Action, Fit & Finish — 4
I can't say how it was set up at the factory, but the store setup was poor. It had decently low action, but the Bridge wasn't setup correctly. I even had them set it up before I left, but still to no success. The way I use a trem, a non-locking system would not suffice so I later on had it blocked at the same time as I had a DiMarzio Air Norton S installed in the neck. The pickups were far too low for my liking, so I had to raise them considerably. The routing for the Bridge was exactly how I imagine it should be, no noticable issues. There is a slight overlap of the red laquer/finish where the white binding meets the neck- not too noticeable, but certainly an imperfection. The pickup selector switch makes a highly audible sound through the amp when used. There was some white substance on the fretboard past the last fret- I think this is glue. Also, there was some kind of indentation in the wood between the nut and first fret but this isn't felt when playing.
Features — 7
My Ibanez SAS36FM was made in 2007 in Indonesia. It has 22 medium frets on a rosewood fretboard, with a red flamed maple finish on a mahogany body. Set neck. The body shape is comparable to a superstrat, but with more rounded edges and an archtop design. There is an attractive white binding around the edges of the body and fretboard. The Bridge is a non-locking SAT PRO II and the pickups are fat-strat H-S-S config featuring the Ibanez Tru-Duo Bridge pickup- which comes ready with a push/pull coil-split switch in the tone knob. The other knob is for volume, and there is a 5-way switch. There was little in the way of accessories provided, other than the indispensable allen key for adjusting the Bridge and the tremolo bar.