Price paid: £ 356
Purchased from: Rock Hard Music
Sound — 8
It suits mostly rock or heavy metal stylings, and lends itself well to making good, crunchy distorted sounds, and this, for me, is good. I play it through my small 25 watt Peavey Backstage 2 amplifier, with the amp's built in distortion, and I still get a clear sound out of it. It will let you play most music though, but it does hum on my amp, even at low volumes, and there is slight fret buzz, although that is down to my own negligence, and is not something the guitar falls prey to easily as it is not at all heard through any amp settings. It does have a rather dull sounding neck pickup, and that will be changing soon, because despite my rhythm guitar playing I still use my bridge pickup for sound, because the neck sounds rather toneless if I am honest. The guitar also seems to have trouble sounding muted notes, like those in "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which makes some songs sound strange to play. But all in all, it sounds pretty nice, even with my little starter amp.
Overall Impression — 8
It definitely plays well for the money I paid, and the style of music I play. It is a good Heavy Metal guitar for the price, and Ibanez made a good product when making this. It may not be a Gibson USA Explorer, but it certainly has my vote for best exotic guitar shape for under 400. I've been playing for 6 years now, and I only own one other electric, a Peavey Raptor EXP Plus, my first ever guitar, and this is only my second. However I have been lucky enough to play guitars from Schecter and Gibson and can honestly say I love this guitar. I personally prefer to play it over an Explorer or Les Paul. If it were stolen, I would definitely look at getting something similar or better, possibly try and find another fixed bridge Xiphos from Ibanez, or another XP300. Best feature has to be the quality of the bridge pickup, it is outstanding, however, the neck pickup needs a lot of improvement and I am seriously considering forking out for a set of new pickups because of it. I understand that it may not be perfect because of a long time on the shelf, but it is an unplayable pickup for me. Only improvements, better pickups, because that is the main failing point, the neck pickup.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I have played live with it, and it was brilliant. I went to the gig with two guitars, and came back with two perfectly kept guitars. Sure the strings took a thrashing but playing Slipknot does that to guitar strings. The strap buttons, while appearing rather I'll placed, work well, and because I play with an Ibanez strap, now that I put the strap on, I can't get the bugger off, it's that good a fit. They've never once given out, and the hardware with withstand a gig very well, so I was very impressed with it. Can't fault it for gigs. I would bring a backup to ANY gig, but I wouldn't be too worried if this was my only guitar at a gig. The finish is thick and durable, so I would say yeah to playing a huge, energetic gig with it, and it has no scratches. Only fault is that I can't get the strap off the guitar, which is annoying.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The actual guitar itself was set up by the people at the shop who sold me it. However, it had been sat on the shelf for 4 years, so that was to be expected because of the nature of being a guitar, it went out of tune, strings needed replacing, the bridge and truss rod needed adjusting, the bridge had to be readjusted, so it was by no means factory set up. I don't know if the pickups were adjusted, so no comment there, but the set up from Rock Hard gave me perfect action for my sort of music, and the guitar itself has no flaws whatsoever. This is the only thing I can say 10 on really, but I can't comment on how it used to be, because after 4 years of shelf life, it must have needed a new set up.
Features — 8
The guitar was built (according to serial number) in June 2009, Indonesia, marked I for Cor-Tek. It is worth noting that it sat on the shelf until Easter of 2013, and it needed no more than a ten minute check of set up, so well done to Rock Hard for keeping it in good condition. 24 frets, 25-1/2" scale length, jumbo frets. Rosewood finger board on maple neck. Solid top mahogany body, gloss red finish (Yes, I got a red one. It is gorgeous in my opinion). The body shape is akin to a Jackson Warrior, although it can feel somewhat like an Explorer shape occasionally. The bridge is a fixed hardtail, looks and plays like a normal Strat style trem, just bolted down for stability. Passive electronics setup, 1 tone, 1 volume, 3 way pickup selector. The pickups are stock Ibanez Infinity 3 Neck, Infinity 4 bridge, and they are good. Non locking stock Ibanez tuners. My XP300 came with gig bag, cloth, strap, cable, Allen keys for the bridge saddles and tuner, most of which I use as backups, although they are all good quality, but not amazing. Just durable and useful.