SAS36FM review by Ibanez

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  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 6
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 8.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.1 (224 votes)
Ibanez: SAS36FM

Sound — 7
Most people when playing a guitar ask what styles will it work for? This guitar its a different question, what doesn't it work for. At uni I play in the jazz band, I have a blues band, pop punk and I have my metal band outside of uni, this guitar not only looks the part for all of them, it sounds amazing in all respects. I have run it through various amps, a couple of Marshall MGs (100DFX and a 10CD) and it sounds awesome, manages to make the distortion sound nice, Line 6 Spider 3 and 4's, a Line 6 Valvetronics and an Orange Tiny Terror, and with a little fiddling to find the spots you have all the tones you need to play any style, and you wont look out of place doing so. My only problem is the clean can sound a little twangy when on the split humbucker. So with that it gets a 7.

Overall Impression — 8
For what I do its amazing, blues, jazz, metal, pop punk. I've been playing for nearly 16 years now, and I own about 20 guitars and numerous amps. If this were stolen, I would first find who stole it then rip their throat out, then go buy another one. I didn't compare it with any other products, as it was a present. Overall I give it an 8, its fantastic, but there are a few niggly problems that are unavoidable.

Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar has played countless gigs with no backups and its never failed me yet. The finish is built to last, the strap buttons come loose after a while (this is recent, I have this thing for nearly 2 years now) so I wouldn't say that's a manufacturing error, more of a general wear and tear. As such 10.

Action, Fit & Finish — 6
The action on this guitar when I picked it up was phenomenal, perfect for me to play on, everything was set up perfectly and I was able to sit and play how I play with no need to change anything, there was no fret buzz, no sticking on the nut, everything felt excellent under my fingers. But this is a biased opinion on the matter, what's right for me may not be right for you. However, when it came to up the gauge of strings, the time it took to balance and get the action right again was immense, took around 2 hours to do. Lots of fiddling with the Bridge to get it to balance right, then trying to find the sweet spot to stop buzz. Lots of fiddling, but well worth it when its done. Amazing to play, annoying to set up, 6

Features — 10
bought 2 years ago now, as a present for passing college and getting into university, my parents thought I would need a nice versatile guitar with subtle but unique looks, Thus I came home from my last day at college to find this in the front room. Korean Built, Set neck (but feels like a thru neck); Mahogany body and neck; Fretboard Rosewood; True Mother Of Pearl inlays and binding on both body and headstock. The FM in the name is the characteristic of the top wood, Flamed Maple, I have this in purple (or as Ibanez puts it 'Transparent Lavender'). Its a superstrat shape that Ibanez do so well. And feels insanely nice under my fingers. It has a non locking floating bridge, that I refuse to use due to it being non locking, but I have been told that when set up perfectly it stays in tune amazingly well. Passive Ibanez pickups, in a SSH configuration with a coil tap on the tone pot to split the humbucker. Tuning pegs are Ibanez's own again. The whole build feels solid, I look after this guitar like a baby, partly because of how good it looks, and partly to show myself I can keep a guitar looking rather nice for a long time, happy to say there's only belt rash on the back. Its taken a few knocks here and there, and no chips, dents or cracks anywhere on the body, neck or headstock. Very light for mahogany, if I play this after my les paul, this guitar feels weightless. Even playing it on its own, feels weightless. Very well built. 10 (based on my own guitar).

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Ha! I've enjoyed reading the reviews but this thing about the tremolo and tuning stability? I've only ever owned one guitar with a locking trem and I dumped the top-lock within a week.. A trem is not something to swing on... it is a mechanical device subjected to enormous pressure in the tension between the strings and the rear springs. Tremolo-technique is something that must be worked on for quite a long time to master, A little graphite grease under the strings at the nut will prevent sticking and a little WD40 at the bridge will keep things running smoothly. I have no problems with tuning whatsoever.... and neither does Jeff Beck.
    I had a SAS36FM and sold it and bought a used one in eBay for $200. I liked the first one and sold it for a profit, but missed it. And the 2nd one was trans red with a Duncan JB bridge and those good single coils that Ibanez put in the 2011 Korea guitars. These have a good tremolo and a nice neck profile and are built and trimmed well (phony abalone around the body and headstock). A $200 used Ibanez in decent shape is not unreasonable and it's not an unknown guitar. I have owned and sold easily 200 guitars over the years (classical, steel string acoustics and electrics), so the nice middle-of-the-road Ibanez models used are a good value.
    The tremolo is awful! I tried this guitar in a music store and when I used the whammy a bit it went out of tune. It just doesn't keep the tuning no matter how soft or hard you use the whammy.
    Hey i was wondering, is it a good idea to swap the TDB pickups for EMGs? i like the clean feel sound of it, but im looking for something heavy at the same time... don't have enough cash to buy a new guitar LOL.... Also will it ruin the "pop up thingy" in the volume knobs...any suggestions?