SZ320 review by Ibanez

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.4 (240 votes)
Ibanez: SZ320
3

Sound — 10
I play metal, rock and blues. My influences would be Rhoads, Gilbert, Van Halen, Wylde, Dimebag, Hammett, Iommi, Mars, etc. (The usual suspects!) and also Chuck Berry and BB King. For my style of music, the SZ320 is perfect. Throw the volume knobs all the way up and hit the bridge pickup, and it's a screaming metal weapon. Roll some volume off, drop onto the neck p'up, and it'll give creamy, smooth blues sounds. The clean tone out of this guitar is DELIGHTFUL, beautiful and shimmering without being shrill. I play this guitar through a Marshall JVM410H (live) and a Marshall AVT150x (in practices) and the range of sounds and tones the SZ320 can produce is stunning. As is the sheer take-the-paint-off-the-walls output! For comparison, I've also played this baby through a Roland Cube 15 at house party jam sessions and it STILL sounded great. The highest praise I can give this guitar is that its currently one of only two guitars out of the thirteen I currently own that hasn't had its pickups replaced with EMGs (the other being a Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul Custom)

Overall Impression — 10
This guitar is the first Ibanez I've ever acquired (becasue it's the first one I've ever LIKED.) and it has surprised me massively. My other guitars are Gibsons, ESPs and Schecters, so this baby had a lot to live up to, and I can honestly say I've never had a guitar punch this far above it's weight. As stated above, I'm a metal and rock player and this guitar suits my needs perfectly. If my word ain't enough, Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth) uses one of these guitars unmodified for live and recording work, so that's gotta be a good recommendation. I've been playing for about twelve years now and guitars are what I do for a living, so I know my onions and I've seen a fair few instruments in my time, and this is easily one of the most impressive I've come across. It's a rare find. To be honest, I'd probably place this in the top 4 of my collection (along with my Gibson Custom Shop LP Custom, ESP MII Custom and my Schecter C1 Elite) Were this guitar lost or stolen, I'd be absolutely gutted as I've never seen one quite like it before. I can honestly say I love pretty much everything about this guitar. The only real criticism I can level at it is that due to the shape of the headstock, the machine head for the G tends to protrude the tiniest bit, which makes it just that little bit more likely to catch on things (and therefore get knocked out of tune.) The only thing I wish it had would maybe be two tone controls rather than a master tone, but if I'm perfectly honest that's just because I like nitpicking. All in all, this is a fantastic guitar and if you have a chance to buy one, don't let it pass you by!

Reliability & Durability — 9
This thing is built like King Kong and will probably last longer than I will. I've been using it for a couple months now as my 2nd main guitar (of four) on stage, and it's yet to bat an eyelid at the hammering it's been getting. Hardware is rock solid and the strap buttons don't even think about moving. Normally the first thing I do to any of my guitars is replace the tuners with Gotoh Magnums, and it hasn't been necessary here as yet. I'll probably do it out of habit at some point, but so far the Ibanez harware is grand. Some mild oxidization on the control knobs, but who cares. I never gig without at least two guitars, but am very, very confident that if I had to this one would stick the pace. Only concern would be that because the black finish is so high-gloss it might mark up a little easier than I would like, but so far this hasnt been a problem. Overall build quality is unusually (and unreasonably) high for a guitar in this price range.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I can't commment on how this guitar was when it came out of the factory as I got it in a trade deal I made with a buddy of mine, but he said he'd barely played it so I'd assume it was fairly close to factory condition. Once I'd replaced the strings, everything was pretty much good to go. Finish was flawless, as was the action. It's probably one of the nicest set-up guitars I own. Don't know whether this is due to the Gibraltar bridge or if I just got lucky! Unusually, this guitar didn't have very much wrong with it at all in terms of A,F&F, (i'm normally VERY critical in this department, after all, ironing out scrapes like these is part of my job) The only criticism I could level at it, and even this was after actively looking for a flaw, was a very, VERY minor choke around the 14th fret, which after a minor fret-polishing and fiddling was sorted out perfectly.

Features — 9
This guitar is an Ibanez SZ320. It was made in Korea in 2003. It's a neck-through-body construction featuring a 22-fret 3pc maple and Bubinga neck into a hard mahogany body with a maple cap (Which weighs an absolute TON)and a sleek gloss black finish with Abalone Dot fretmarkers and a cream/yellow 1-ply bind. Frets are jumbo-sized ad the neck scale is an unusual 25.1" Neck profile is not too dissimilar to a Les Paul and is quite wide for a superstrat style guitar It features a Gibraltar III bridge and a string-through-body setup, which provides massive sustain when coupled with the rock-solid neck-through construction. Style-wise, this guitar is closer to a PRS or Schecter than an Ibanez, its a strange take on a superstrat - definitely unlike any Ibanez I've seen before. Pickups are Duncan/Ibanez hybrids (3-way selector, 2 volume and master tone controls) and the tuners and all other hardware are stock Ibanez. I'm a professional musician, I'm also a guitar technician for a touring metal band and I collect guitars as well, and I've had literally dozens (probably 100+) of guitars pass through my hands over the years, and this is one of the nicest guitars I've ever played, hands down.

19 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Jadena
    10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 9.8, 10, 10, 10 and so on. Really? It's allowed to use a little bit of criticism even though it's yours.
    masticore
    one of the best guitars I've ever had my hands on. can't imagine what the prestige version sounds/feel like.
    blackrg
    I have to give props to Ibanez/Cort for this guitar. They did a great job. I've owned a lot of Ibanez guitars, (RGs, Roadstars,S540) as well as ESP, Epiphone, Fenders and Yamahas. As lavalamp mentioned, this thing is very like a Les Paul - both in the the thickness and the hefty weight. The neck reminds me of the recent 59 style Gibson neck, which is really not that fat. I have small hands and this neck is fine for me. Thick necks give great sustain dont they? They did a great job on the pickups. Changing the pickups and the electronics might add a 10-15 per cent improvement, the stock ones are that good. Although, if you add EMGs this thing would be insane for metal given its sustain and the great locking bridge. Did I mention the Gibraltar bridge is awesome too? If you like Les Pauls, but hate the lack of upper fret access this is your baby. Don't know why they are discontinuing them. Might have to buy another one.
    ZA58
    haven't saw Idez make a classic finish before looks nice
    metalglen
    COOOOLLLLL SUPER COOL!!!!! My Guitar Brand Ibanez!!!!! i bought my 1st Ibanex like 6monhts ago its a RG Series and my 2nd Ibanez is GIO i bougth it for a very very Cheap Prize. and after i used that MY GOD! i promise to myself i never ever gonna buy any other guitar instrument its completly Amazing! i reccomend Ibanez to all the guitar player Out there, METAL MUSICIAN, POP MUSICIAN or what so ever! TRUST ME GUYZ IBANEZ best guitar ive ever bought in my whole life!!!! BUY IBANEZ STICK TO IBANEZ!!!!
    Philly080
    I'd say this is definitely the best guitar out there for this price range. It's so versatile and smooth.
    lavalamp360
    I own an Ibanez SZ720 and I have to say it is the best guitar I have ever played. The diferences between the 720 and 320 are purely cosmetic I believe because spec-wise they appear the same. I'm a rocker myself. I play mostly Hard Rock, Post-Grunge type stuff and this guitar is amazing for it. The neck feels almost exactly like a LP neck and the body is roughly about the same thickness. This guitar is alot more like a Les Paul than a Strat. In my hands it feels better than a Gibson and I less one 3rd of the price of a LP I played in the same store. The only other guitars out ther IMO that rival this are PRS. Other than that my Ibanez SZ720 is my main guitar. For those wondering. it can do alot more than rock and metal even tho it's an Ibanez. It has a superswith which splits the coils when in the mid position and you can get some nice strat type tones from it. I've also used it to play blues, funk, country, southern rock and others. Very versitile. They're discontied now sadly but if you find one they are not that expensive and are incredible. you wont regret it!
    kc_chiefs25
    ignore that comment. i didnt realize there was a price thing on everyones post :p
    !-twisty-!
    mason7373 wrote: cashewchaching wrote: when will ibanez stop making stratocaster knock-offs? LOL dude. completely different guitar. What a retard. For one strats have single coils, and are made of alder. This means they have a bright (horribly bright imo) tone. This guitar is made of mahogany and has humbuckers, meaning it has more of a mellow, bassy, slash-type tone. This guitar sounds identical to a $2000 les paul, and plays even better(imo)
    Actually there are mutiple setups for strats, you can get twin humbucker strats look at iron maiden. And who cares if they're strat "knock offs" ibanez make some excellent guitars many outstripping fender quality
    loinmute
    I suppose the dude thinks a $2500+ custom Vigier is a "strat ripoff" too? I love the mahogony Ibanez guitars. This is an awesome instrument. My ibby S420 w/zr trem will blow any standard strat away. The tone woods on my s420 are way better than what fender uses. Of course IMHO
    Leather Sleeves
    This guitar is definatly worth it, its probably just as good as a gibson les paul and its lighter and cheaper. Just check out the other reviews on this site or any others. I have the 520 model, virtually identical to this, its a pleasure to play.
    Flibo
    I really hate it when most of the people rate their own guitar with straight 10s.
    ST/-\LK3R
    So cheap and yet it has a remarkable rating. Now this is a bad ass guitar alright
    heartmindspace
    Like most players, I feel like this is one of those guitars that gives more than it takes. I bought a MBK version for a buck and a quarter and damned if it's not the best guitar I own. Other than minor fret adjustments, it's flawless and rock-solid. If you enjoy the solidity of a Paul (without the slop), the body hug of a Strat and applications spanning from blues to shred, this baby does the job for a fraction of the cost. A lucky find.