Price paid: C$ 250
Purchased from: Private
Features — 7
Not sure what year it was made - don't really care either. It was probably made in China like all things. it has 24 Jumbo frets on a rosewood fretboard, maple neck with shark fin inlays. It's got a solid "wood" body. The body is a poly finish while the neck has a very nice matte finish making it easy to fly around with. Two humbuckers, one tone, one volume. Floating licensed Floyd tremolo with a locking nut. 6 in line tuners that are non-locking. Standard stuff guys, it's all you need. I guess one could complain that the neck and bridge don't have independent tone controls but a well matched set of humbuckers won't have this issue. Very no frills and it's honestly all you really need.
Sound — 7
Basically you are getting this for its high gain sound which it does well. I play metal and it just does a great job. I've swapped the pickups out with other aftermarket pickups (because stock pickups are always crap right?) and I always put back the stock pickups back in because they got a great deal of body to them. As a result I say that the pickups are great for rhythm, and for okay soloing. The pickups don't have the vocal "awwwh" sound to them when you do pinch harmonics that some other pickups have but a wah pedal usually helps here. I can't really say the guitar has the depth of a SD SH-4 or the bite of a DP159 but it does the job well enough that the differences with aftermarket pickups become fairly small. The dynamics are pretty bad but as a metal player this isn't much of a problem, and usually you just need to throw in some more variation with your right hand. The pickups track very well and have good output. I'm using it through an Presonus Audiobox USB running into BIAS Amp Pro. Clean they sound okay for humbuckers. Nothing spectacular nor bad, never tried it split. If you can't get great tone with this guitar then you need to re-evaluate your signal chain.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
Basically this guitar is a disaster when it comes to its tremolo. Buy it and block it. Goes out of tune fast, springs are bad and the metal is so cheap that I've had to sand my string lock inserts multiple times (alongside stripping the locking nut). That being said, I do abuse my whammy a lot and at this price point you can't reasonably expect a good Floyd. If you want the same guitar without the Floyd, get a JS12 and save money. The only redeeming quality here is that I am told it will fit a OFR or special series without any routing unlike other Ibanez guitars which is great. Fret work is good given the price point and is not far off from other guitars you would have to pay hundreds more just to get a little bit better action. It won't do low action, but it will do medium to medium low. Also as far as I've seen, the frets don't shave easy and this is a big plus in my books as I tend to chew them up quickly. Electronics cavity is clean and the controls don't jiggle. Tone and volume pots feel smooth. One small complaint is that I tend to hit the volume knob a lot (just like my Stratocaster) when I'm playing, so keep this in mind if you are like me. The neck is good, not as thin as an Ibanez, but still thinner than a Shecter. A little wide for my tastes but it feels good even for a guy with less than average hands.
Reliability & Durability — 7
Yes this guitar will undoubtedly withstand live playing if you're not too crazy. The input jack is rock solid. The hardware, specifically the tremolo, is garbage as stated earlier and as such just don't use it. The tuners are very stable - rarely need to re-tune unless I do a two whole step bend. Usually can play for an hour just fine being a 5% off on the strings. If I don't do any bends - it just won't go out of tune period! I would most certainly not use a backup guitar unless I play on smashing it. The finish is good. The blue color of the guitar grows old fast - very uninspiring to look at but it isn't supposed to be a Mona Lisa.
Overall Impression — 6
Overall, this guitar is a rip off for the money and sports a laughable tremolo. I wish I knew the tremolo was this bad before I bought this guitar, otherwise I would have just gotten a cheaper hard tail version as I bought this guitar mainly for its floating tremolo ability. At least I can replace it without routing it. If it got stolen I wouldn't really mind too too much. The person that stole it would quickly realize it is a no frills guitar. I don't hate it, nor love it as it does the job and sounds good. If you can overlook these flaws then this guitar can have great potential in the right hands.