Price paid: A$ 700
Purchased from: Ebay - Private seller
Sound — 6
On initial use of this guitar, the sound, in every way sounded superb, though this guitar being only the second guitar I had ever purchased after an Ibanez GIO as a starter of about 2 years, anything was a vast improvement. Using this guitar for about 2 years now, I've come to find the sound to be a tad shallow, the lows and mids thanks to the heavy mahogany body and neck are a stronger point, producing warm cleans when set to the neck pickup and reasonable low end crunch when set to overdrive. When playing clean, a great, mellow sound can be produced on the lower strings, the high strings towards the top frets sound a tad scratchy and harsh however with both clean or distortion even when using the neck pickup. Being a solid metal enthusiast (A few main influences being Nile, Opeth, Suffocation, The Faceless, Tool, Hate Eternal) with the desire for a heavy, full sound when using distortion, the Szr520 falls short, especially when running it through my Marshall MG100DFX. Pinch harmonics are relatively weak on the lower strings and fade out quickly and the when the volume is set midway to high, a large amount of feedback is present, due mainly to the average passive pickups. The distorted sound is still quite shallow running it through various other amps, including a Peavey 6505 and Marshall ATV50. With some tweaking and maybe the inclusion a decent fx pedal, a reasonable heavy sound can still be produced, though don't expect a Karl Sanders or Fredrik Thordendal explosion.
Overall Impression — 7
With my budget being my greatest limitation, this guitar was quite a buy, basic, yet well constructed and convenient design make this guitar a good investment for any intermediate player and if fitted with better pickups, would perform like a top end guitar. An unlacquered neck would improve the playability if your hands sweat profusely. Being solid mahogany with no weight reduction of any sort, it is a particularly heavy guitar, keep this in mind if you plan standing and playing, the set neck makes it extremely easy to access the upper frets. As a guitarist of about 4 years, I suck at music theory as I'm self taught so take that into consideration when reading this review, I do however highly recommend this guitar for people looking for a reliable, visually stunning and well performing instrument at a modest price.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I've never had any hardware issues with this guitar, the strap buttons are immovable, even with my sometimes erratic playing, I don't play live as such but occasional jams with my mates prove this to be a very tough axe. Be careful when fitting a capo however, it may imprint on the back of the neck. The tuners, pickups, bridge and electricals are all built to quality and show no signs of imminent failure.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was purchased second hand and was set for lighter gauge strings, the intonation was perfect infact, until of course I went nuts and fitted it with 12 - 56 gauge Ernie Ball strings. I reset the action, raised the strings slightly and replaced the Standard nut with a bone nut cut to compensate for the lower tunings, drop A was as low as I went, to my surprise it handled it quite well with the Gibraltar bridge and string through body stablising the tension better than most other bridge/body combination, though I wouldn't recommend such abysmal tuning to anyone, buy a Baritone or 7/8 string. Even despite my constant tuning up and down from E Standard right down to drop A, I've never broken a string and the neck has only ever needed a slight adjustment from the inevitable bowing. A pleasure to tune by the way. One of the three knobs has become slightly rough about half way down the thread, but that's no big deal. As for rust, the only visible signs are in the corner screws for the pickups shrouds, which can replaced if need be for next to nothing. The action is set very low, very fast, though does produce a bit of buzz when not grounded, which I'm prepared to compromise but stays in tune extremely well. A beautiful neck to play when kept clean and oiled (and when light strings are fitted), bending, sweeping, trem picking and vibrato is easy and precise, though the 19th fret on the high E tends to fret out when bent above 1 step. The flamed maple emerald green top is absolutely stunning, it alone would have led me to purchasing this guitar.
Features — 7
- 2007 build - Solid mahogany string through body - 1 piece mahogany set neck, 24.75 inch scale, 22 medium frets, painted/laquered neck - Bound rosewood fingerboard with Dot inlays - Flamed maple top (Emerald) - Gibraltar bridge - Standard 43mm nut (replaced with a bone nut due to some wear on original) - Chrome hardware - 3 way pickup selector (Bridge, split and neck) - 1 Tone knob, 2 pickup volume - Passive Ibanez "Neo Z" humbuckers - Standard Ibanez tuners - Came fitted with 0.09 - 0.42 gauge strings (replaced with 0.12 - 56 gauge strings)