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Short version: Looks great, weighs a ton, plays ok, sounds meh.
Long version: It arrived this morning. When I took it out of the case I nearly dropped it because it was so heavy. That never bodes well for a lively tone and it didn’t here either, but we’ll come to that.
It’s truly a beautiful guitar to look at, almost too nice to take out. Lots of little details to catch the eye. You’d be very happy hanging it on your wall and just looking at it.
Build quality is ok but not outstanding – there are a few
slightly misaligned holes which I discovered when setting it up. Out of the box
the action and neck relief were spot on, but the intonation was atrocious: I
had to adjust on 5 of the 6 strings. Once done it intonated very, very well
along the whole neck length. Fretwork is very good but not perfect.
Strummed acoustically it has a soft attack and is not
particularly loud. It has a gentle, rich sound that's quite pleasing to the ear. It is also quite stiff to play.
Plugging into a Yamaha THR10 it sounded pretty ‘hard’, with good string separation. Voice 2 sounded too bassy, voice 1 sounded better, but neither sounded really ‘alive’. The neck pickup in particular sounded a bit ‘forced’. I also have a Vintage V624 (don’t laugh, it’s a unbelievable guitar for the money) which I bought a few months back when I thought I’d test out if I wanted to start playing guitar again, and which has a set of Fender EVH pickups in, which are quite bassy pickups and therefore really suit bright thin sounding guitars (i.e. ones with Floyds or 2 point steel terms). Put bluntly the Vintage sounded much, much better.
I thought maybe the little Yamaha amp was to blame, although
I think it’s a good at letting a guitar’s overall character to come through. Just in
case it was, I dragged my ancient JMP2103 out of the garage and dusted it off. Surprisingly it fired up without a hitch, apart from a bit of a funny smell. Probably the burning corpse of a foolish mouse or bird that's made its home inside! This amp is 'the one'. Like when I met my wife for the first time I knew she was the one, the first time I heard this amp I felt that same thrill - a little bit of wee came out. It's a f*cking killer and it leaves the tone of any guitar nowhere to hide.
At the risk of my
relations with my lovely neighbours I plugged the Ibby in and wobbled through a few riffs,
before swapping guitars and playing them again. The bottom line is the Ibanez
is going back. I presume the fault is the pickups but I can’t be 100% sure. To try
and sum up the differences the Fishmans sounded 2D whereas the EVHs sounded 3D.
It wasn’t even close. The Fishmans maybe tracked pick attack a little more
immediately but that was about all I could say in their favour. Such a
disappointment. Thinking there might be something wrong I swapped the battery in
the guitar for a brand new one, but it made no difference. I did try raising and lowering the heights but that didn't help either. That’s clearly how these
pickups sound, and it’s a sound that’s not for me unfortunately.