I love this guitar. I've been after an S-series for quite some time but wanted the HH pickup configuration instead of the more normal HSH so when this model came along I jumped at it. I was considering a JS model but gave that up for the S520EX.
It felt "right" in my hands from the moment it came out of the box and is certainly the favourite of my guitars at the moment.
Down the line I'll probably be replacing the pickups with Dimarzio Evolutions or EMGs but that's more through preference rather than anything wrong with the ones it already has.
Model Year: 2005
Price: $500.00 GBP (new)
Where Obtained: Nevada Music, UK
I believe this guitar is Korean in manufacture.
The body is mahogany in the classic S contoured shape. Neck is a Super Wizard (very flat and fast profile) - maple with rosewood fretboard and white edge binding that extends around the headstock. Neck heal is nicely contoured for easy upper register access. The neck also features the "claw-mark" inlays at the twelth fret and the rest of the board is devoid of markers - luckily the black side repeater dots are easily visible so you won't get lost!
The pickups are Ibanez branded "Infinity" passive humbuckers.
All hardware through is black - the only respite from the darkness being the silver whammy bar and some parts of the bridge.
The bridge is the new Ibanez ZR "zero point" tremolo and tuning is rock solid. String changing is reputedly a lot easier than a standard Floyd Rose.
The finish (on my model) is a smoothly applied gloss black with no perceivable flaws.
Controls are fairly straight forward - single tone and volume and three-way pickup selector.
Straight out of the box this guitar was set up with a pleasingly low action without any obvious fret buzz.
Playing feels fairly effortless compared to thicker necked guitars and definitely suits the faster player. The low profile seems to make barre chords quite straight forward and string spacing is pretty much standard for a floating trem.
Tuning stability is rock solid with the guitar coming nicely back into tune despite heavy whammy abuse. The ZR bridge itself feels very solid and compared to some other floating bridges it certainly doesn't feel like it's about to spring off!
I've played the guitar both through my Mesa Triple Rec and Peavey Blazer 158 and it fairs well with both.
Distorted tones are punchy without the muddiness some lower-end "metal" humbuckers can give you and the cleans off the bridge pickup are very nice indeed.
There's a definite shift between the neck and bridge pickups that certainly warrants changing between them for different styles - about the first time I've actually done that on any of my guitars as I usually just stay on the bridge pickup and have done with it.
Both pickups are very "clean" and when you mute, it stays muted - rather than with some guitars I've played. Haven't had any problems with "noise".
Obviously it's designed for metal/goth players given it's looks and the hardware but with the quality of the tone from the wood I'd happy employ it for other styles. Admittedly it'd look a bit out of place at your local blues jam but sound wise it should hold it's own nicely.
Seems fairly durable so far.
Hasn't had too much "road" abuse having been played mostly at home but there's no evidence yet of any wear.
The strap buttons are a little on the small side and I replaced mine as soon as it arrived with Dimarzio straplocks which are holding fine.
It feels quite solid but I still wouldn't fancy dropping it.