Price paid: $ 100
Purchased from: Local Small Guitar Shop
Sound — 6
The bridge pickup is really noisy compared to the other two. After years of playing distorted stuff, I think the bridge pickup has burnt itself out. Clean, using either or both of the rear pickups, this guitar has pretty good tone and I can play clean tunes that sound pretty good. It would definetely suit blues, jazz, and some rock well. For beginners, this is what you want unless you just want to start crunching at metal types.
Overall Impression — 6
I play casually and have played in a few garage bands. I have owned a Gibson SG which is a much better instrument, it wasn't worth owning with the amount of effort I put into guitar. Get this or something with tech support if you are a beginner. I don't mind fixing it, but if I played often and for a living, I would want something a lot more solid. I love the bargain, but I do not like the fact that it sounds really dinky when distorted and the pickups were jacked up. If someone stole it, I would take immense pleasure breaking it over their head because they are such a retard. I'm keeping it because I may replace the entire pickguard assembly, and it's not worth selling for $50 on ebay. Compared to the SG, it has the snappy Strat tone, but it required so much more maintenance. I got this as a beginner guitar and it worked great for that purpose.
Reliability & Durability — 4
The strap screws fell out completely, but I epoxied them in and they have been fine ever since. So far the 5 way selector has become very finicky ESP. with the bridge pickup. The wiring has failed at least twice within the past 3 years, and I used ee skills to fix the problems, but I don't know if the guitar ever sounded the same. I don't think this guitar would stand Live playing at all except with a clean tone. After 7 years, the finish still looks great, even though it shows some wear on the top. At first, the shop repaired all the initial kinks, but all the problems that occured were fixable with a few dollars and patience.
Action, Fit & Finish — 5
Pickups were fine until I discovered a manufactuing flaw. The pickup pole screws were too large for the hole, so more than 50% of the screw is stripped because they were forced into the hole. You cannot adjust them anymore because they will fall into the guitar body. I never adjusted the action until recently, so I would assume that the shop had adjusted it. it's a pretty dinky action, but it has worked for my own use. The nut is offset so the high E string is shifted closer to the edge of the fretboard. This causes the D and A strings to buzz on the first fret when the trus rod is tightened at all. As mentioned before, the finish is super.
Features — 8
Amp, cable, allen wrench. I got this Strat setup for Christmas in 2000 as a beginner instrument. It has the blue finish, 5-way, 2 tone pots, and 1 volume pot. Whammy bar doesn't dip the pitch much compared to some other tremelo setups on Ibanezes. I'm not sure, but I've heard this guitar is built in China.