NGD - Ibanez AX120

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by The Angle, May 6, 2021.

  1. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Afflicted

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    I'll start with pictures, since that's what everybody wants.

    IMG_20210506_121518889b.jpg IMG_20210506_121204344.jpg

    Now the review.

    I ordered this from MF a few weeks ago, using a 15% off coupon that lowered the price to $170. My preferred color was Baltic Blue Metallic, which was backordered for about ten days. It arrived in the basic wedge box, inside a packing box, inside a shipping box, so kudos to MF for careful shipping.

    1. The color looks nothing like the way it appears in web photos. It's so different that I had to check the model number on the tag to be sure I'd gotten what I ordered. If you look at photos of the Baltic Blue and Forest Green models of this guitar and imagine something halfway between them, that's the right neighborhood. I actually like this color better than any of the stock colors; it's beautiful and unusual. But if you really wanted a guitar that looked like the photo of Baltic Blue Metallic, you'd be disappointed. Are they all like this, or is this just an example of extreme variation in paint batches? I have no idea.

    2. It's a ferocious neck diver. That's not too surprising, since it's basically an SG variant and every SG I've hung around my neck wanted to dive for the floor. OTOH, it balances in my lap much better than any SG, so that's a plus. The weight is 7 lb. 1 oz.

    3. Hardware is fine. Everything works as it should, knobs feel good, it stays in tune as well as you can expect with new strings. The pickups are the same ceramic Ibanez Classic Elites that come in their mid-priced models.

    4. Fit and finish are . . . OK. I'd call it equivalent to the Squier Bullet Telecaster that sells for about the same money. Like the Squier, my only real complaint is that the frets feel gritty. The Ibanez is better than my Squier was in that regard, but it still needs an hour or two on the polishing bench. Fret leveling is very good, neck relief was excellent, the action was a bit high for my taste (possibly a shipping precaution) but easily adjusted. There were some dark dirt or grease spots on the back of the neck which wiped off easily. Imperfections can be seen in the paint when you hold it up to the light. If this were a car, I'd be angry. On an under-$200 guitar, it meets my expectations. A common flaw in inexpensive guitars is nut slots that are cut too shallow, leading to notes pulling sharp when you play below the 5th fret. Happily, that's not the case here. The nut slots are cut to the proper depth, BUT . . .

    IMG_20210506_121350858.jpg

    5. The spacing of the nut slots is too wide. As soon as I started playing, I had trouble with both E strings sliding off the frets. Calipers showed the neck is the same width at the nut (42.75mm) as my CV Telecaster and Ibanez AS73 semihollow. Those are two of my favorite guitar necks, and I have no problems with strings rolling off either of them. The difference is string spacing. Across E to E at the nut, the AS73 is 34.9, the CV is 36.1, and the AX120 is a whopping 37.1. That generous spacing leaves no room to spare between the Es and the fret ends.

    If I keep this guitar, I'll definitely replace the nut. Given the low price of a Tusq nut, that's probably a good upgrade anyway, but it ought to be optional, not mandatory. As is, this is a frustrating instrument to play. Changing a nut isn't a big job, but the circumstances are such that I might return the guitar out of sheer annoyance - which would be a shame, because in every other respect it's a decent, attractive, inexpensive instrument. We'll see whether I fall in love with it over the next week. It does look nice hanging on the wall.

    IMG_20210506_120219677.jpg
     
  2. Bluego1

    Bluego1 Tele-Afflicted

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    My E’s are a bit close to the edge but not as bad as yours.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2021
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  3. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Afflicted

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    I wondered how the nut on mine compared to others. The nuts almost certainly aren't cut at the Ibanez factory; they're probably sourced pre-cut from some other manufacturer. As with the paint, a certain amount of variance from batch to batch is likely. The jury's still out on this one. I have to measure up the nut itself and see whether a pre-slotted Tusq will solve the problem. If it will, I'll probably keep the guitar and be very happy. If not, I don't think I'll bother custom-cutting a nut for a $170 instrument.

    I really want to like this guitar - I've wanted a double-cut in this style ever since I drooled over the Carvin catalog in the 1970s - and this is so close to being there . . .
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2021
  4. 1 21 gigawatts

    1 21 gigawatts Tele-Holic

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    A nut is something that should be upgraded on cheap guitars anyways, so this should be a non-issue if you otherwise like the guitar. It would be a shame to return such a beautiful guitar for something that is such an easy fix.
     
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  5. davidchagrin

    davidchagrin Tele-Afflicted

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    My string spacing at the nut is perfect. I'm fact, my AX120 might be the best quality for under 400 dollars I've experienced. It had a couple finish flaws, but that doesn't bother me on a guitar that I play a lot. I put on locking tuners, but the stock ones were fine. My Ibanez is currently on the bench to have the pickups and all electronics replaced. The stock stuff had been fine, but I'm looking for a slightly different sound. I dig the fat neck on this guitar. It's exactly what I've been looking for. For the neck dive, I got some guitar gummies that apply to the inside of the strap which prevents the dive. Works pretty well. PXL_20210304_020040586.jpg
     
  6. TeleTex82

    TeleTex82 Friend of Leo's

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    Congrats, and HNGD!
     
  7. Bluego1

    Bluego1 Tele-Afflicted

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    I put a Dimarzio super distortion at the bridge and air Norton at the neck. Push pull pots to go single on either or both. I play it almost every day.
    [​IMG]
     
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  8. davidchagrin

    davidchagrin Tele-Afflicted

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    Very nice!
    I have a set of Dream 180s coming from GFS. I had them in a guitar in the past and loved the vibe.
     
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