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Ibanez S520EX Electric Guitar Black

 
The Ibanez S520EX is called the Extreme Metal model - and for good reason. While Ibanez S series guitars have always been able to hang in there with the hardest, heaviest metal, Ibanez decided to build an S series guitar that looked as heavy as it ...


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Would buy again. featured

Sound I had the S520EX with a 3 way selector switch. When I owned this guitar, I was only into bridge humbucker shredding so I mainly left the switch on the bridge position. But even with just a 3 way selector, this guitar can get a good range of sounds. As others have mentioned, it is not just for metal. Ibanez is really good at making versatile guitars that aren't too out-of-the-box to look at.

I have yet to pick up a better amp. I'm only using a Crate GX-15R. Even with this beginner amp, the guitar still sounds great. The bridge pickup is nice and crunchy, and the neck pickup is warm and creamy. It was this guitar that helped me discover that I love the sound of neck pickups.


Action, Fit, & Finish I bought my guitar second hand off ebay. The seller dropped it or banged it against a wall before putting it in the box. Over the phone, he had no idea what I was talking about, but in the end, he was nice enough to pay for the repair and a set up. I had it set up by Third Coast Guitar Repair in Chicago. Since Ibanez lists them as an Ibanez repair and maintenance shop, they knew what they were doing.


Reliability & Durability Ibanez makes really durable guitars. I have owned some low LOW grade Ibanez and none of them have had any problems. With any of my Ibanez guitars(Including the S520EX) I have had zero electronic failures, the finish is super durable and withstands hitting into things. Maybe I'm weird, but I often walk around the house with the guitar because I like playing when I'm relaxing on the couch. I have hit the body into door knobs and walls and I have not damaged the finish. I would gig without a back up, but since it has a tremolo, I would bring a back up anyway. Strings break on even the best of the best stuff, so you never know.


Liked about it 1) I love the shape of the S bodies. They are super thin and comfortable and still have great sound quality.

2) The ZR tremolo is amazing. I love that it has ball bearings instead of knife edges that will eventually dull and need resharpening.

3) The 12th fret claw mark inlay is really cool. I like that it is the only inlay on the fretboard. It gives it a much cleaner look.


Didn't like 1) The ZR tremolo's arm socket is held on by a cheap nut that unthreads itself when you use the whammy bar a lot. People often use the bar a lot without re-tightening the nut causing the arm socket itself to snap. If you put some thread lock inside the nut, it will never go bad.

2) I am no expert on guitar wiring, but the pickups were different than a DiMarzio with the black, white, red, green, and bare wire. The factory pickups are just 2 wires(if I recall correctly) so I was too intimidated to change out the pickups.

3) I don't have a third point. This guitar is great for the price. If I HAD to say anything, it's that it has 22 frets instead of 24. Which is why I now have a newer S with 24 frets. But this guitar turned me on to S bodies!


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.5

By AChan
Mar 25, 2011
 
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Not just For Metal featured

Sound I got this in a gear trade 2nd hand after wanting an S for a while. Mine is a 2006 Korean made. Black with rosewood Fingerboard and the 12th fret inlay. Bound Neck and headstock. INF 1 and 2 pickups.

First thing that struck me was the finish. Even though the one I had had a few dings in the body, the binding on the neck and headstock is very nice. The tuners are nice and chunky and the bridge, with the ZPS system feels very solid. The system itself is very intruiging.

I'm not a massive trem user so I find the backstop system fantastic. It makes string and tuning changes a breeze and the string stiffness wheel means that I can make it feel like a hardtail without blocking the trem and whilst still being able to raise an lower the pitch when I want to. The only thing I worry about is the longevity of the hardware as there reports of the arm holder wearing out easily, though mine seems fine, is something worth thinking about. I think this trem should be used accross the whole Ibanez range as I said before its versatility and smooth ease of use is something that they should be proud of.

As with all S series guitars this balances very well and the access to the higher jumbo frets is good and playing fast is a joy.

I have noticed that the Wizard II is slightly thicker than the Wizard II on my RG. Not much but just enough and it fits my hand superbly.

Mine is the gloss finish with the covered INF1 and INF2 Pickups. I will come to those shortly.

I've been playing it through a few different setups. Line 6 POD, Boss ME-5 multi effects and a Hughes and Kettner half valve Combo. With the standard pickups I found the sound to be a little too dark and muddy The bite I was expecting from something designed for a metal guitar was just missing and with high gain it seemed a little lacklustre. I expected some EQ'ing and really noticed the difference when recording using it and that made me swap them out.

The standard pickups are something I find such a let down on the mid range Ibanez products. However I can't help thinking that this is a concious efford, so that they don't shadow the Prestige range. I was lucky, in another cheaper, less frequently played guitar I have I have the Seymuour Duncan Hotrodded humbucker set which includes the Jazz in the neck and the mighty JB in the bridge. The JB is a pickup that divides opinion. I find that its a rich bright, harmonic pickup that also cleans up very well.

I put this in the s520 and WOW what a difference it made.
Suddenly on the bridge the muddyness had gone, string attack is clear, with plenty of gain the guitar growled as I'd expect a guitar of its type to do. A little bit more gain and the mids boosted with just a tiny bit of delay it nailed an 80's metal tone, scoop the mids and you have a chunky chug metalcore type tone and played on a line 6 clean setting, the best thing POD's do IMHO, it rang really nicely with a nice shimmer to it too. Its easy to tame the highs on the JB with a tweak of the tone knob also.

The Jazz in the neck was exacly as you'd expect from a mahogony bodied guitar, smooth sounding and nice and clear.

Overall I'd say the guitar itself unplugged was excellent. It plays well accoustically once setup, and is not bad plugged in. I would suggest a pickup change though. The choice of pickups would however depend on the style you currently play.

Overall I would say a great guitar except for the Standard electronics again. This is the 3rd Ibanez with blanmd unintersting Pickups and find it such a shame.



Reliability & Durability The body and hardware do seem very strong and well put together. Even most of the workings of the bridge seem solid except for the chrome style parts which actually make it look fragile when it doesn't feel it. The Trem Arm Holder is something I won't comment on yet as I havn't had any issues yet.


Customer Support I have dealt with the UK arm of teh Ibanez ditributors once and they weren't the most helpful, just pointed me to a dealer who were very good. That was only for a piece of Floyd Rose hardware I lost. The dealer was very good however.


Liked about it The Shape (and weight):-
Its thin. Very thin compared to a Tele or a Les Paul. This one I have however isn't as light as some other s series I've played but its Heavy ina good way.

The Neck:- The usual Wizrd II neck but with a bit more thickness. Really nice in your hand and easy to use for long periods.

The Look:- I love it looks very metal, but the think twin cut means it doesn't mean its only for Brutalz!


Didn't like The Big and only real thing I didn't like about this was those bland muddy pickups. I just wish Ibanez would match pickups better. These and the horrible Powersounds I had in an old RG and the standards from My SZ320 were also pretty poor too.


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.0

By crossbones
Oct 12, 2009
 
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Excellent if you use (and swap out the stock) pass featured

Sound I used the stock pickups of this through a Peavey Valveking, and through a Boss ME-50.
It sounded great for Ibanez stock pickups, guitar played VERY WELL! Mahogany body had its character even with the super thin body! It also balanced very well (didn't dive at the headstock like some gibsons/epiphones do).
Could get low action with correct truss rod adjustments, and tremolo is ok- if you like the tremolo fairly solid then this guitar is a no go, you can only get 2 springs on it! I was into instrumental guitar (Joe Satriani etc) at the time I had this guitar.


Action, Fit, & Finish The place I got this from set it up for me, so I can't tell you how well set up it arrived sorry!


Reliability & Durability I would and have used this without a backup, it is reliable to put it simply.


Customer Support No experience with Ibanez, never needed to contact them which is a GOOD THING!


Liked about it Top 3 Positives:
-Played very well, very light and comfortable.
-Ibanez neck- great for many genres.
-ZR Tremolo- no more knife edge worries!


Didn't like Top 3 Negatives:
-Tremolo was almost fixed at one set 'stiffness'; I like the whammy bar to be fairly stiff to move (helps keep in tune for double stops etc) and I couldn't achieve this with this guitar, the zero point system I had experience with gave resistance in one direction whilst in the other direction the whammy bar was easier (very easy) to move. Maybe the guys where I got it from set it up wrong for what I wanted.
-CANNOT INSTALL ACTIVE PICKUPS WITHOUT REROUTING FOR BATTERY(IES). I swapped the guitar for an SZ520 (and put EMG's in the SZ without rerouting) because of this. I wanted a guitar with actives for use in heavy metal band.
-Ibanez stock pickups aren't great in my opinion, maybe these were used just to help with the price tag.


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.0

By Guitarist-Jonny
Aug 10, 2009
 
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Enormous guitar for the price!

Sound Well, enough has been said about the sound. I'll just mark the disappointment with the factory IBZ 1 & 2 pickups. People have described them as muddy, which I find perfect to describe it. This axe is intended for metal, and maybe that is the excuse why Ibanez people install such a bad pups in this guitar, justifying it's low tone... don't know


Action, Fit, & Finish Now, this guitar is created for comfortable playing. I must admit this is my first Ibanez, and when I got it from Musikproduktive, and first went through the neck, I was amazed how easy these guitars play. I've read about the neck, they say it is a bit thicker than RG series, but I still find it perfect for my hand. The Pickups are not just bad in sound, but in general aspect. They came perfect, but they started to lose the black cover in the outer parts until half the pup naked, in 2 years or so.


Reliability & Durability Well, apart from the pups losing the black cover, the guitar is hard as a stone. I recently took it to a technician because I wanted to change the pups for a couple of (LIQUID FIRE & CRUNCH LAB MONSTERS)and he re-sharpened the neck and lowered the frets, now it is a total war axe, I'm very happy with it, It's my best investment until the moment. Really love it


Customer Support I didn't need it


Liked about it +Beautiful killer aspect
+Easy-playing neck
+Beautiful inlay claw


Didn't like -Terrible IBZ 1 & 2 pickups


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.5

By chopeth
Jun 28, 2011
 
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Best 6 string I've owned

Sound I play metal more than anything, and this guitar was great with it. First of all, if you get this guitar, expect to change the pickups within a month. At the time I owned this guitar, I had no money, and I stuck with the stock pickups.
When playing clean, the bridge pickup would buzz as if it was being overpowered by the note, more on the higher end than the low end. I lowered the pickup and it helped the situation, but did not fix it entirely. The bridge pickup was great with clean, however. its lows were very warm and smooth, and its highs were clear but not overpowering.
With distortion, the guitar started to disappoint me. I mean, it played, but the tone was average at best, and the pickups were very low gain. I tried turning the gain all the way up on my amp, with the low and high both around 70% and the mid around 40, and I could not pull off a pinch harmonic. Plugged in a different guitar and the gain was overpowering.
If the pickups were made with better quality I would have been more satisfied.


Action, Fit, & Finish When the guitar came, it was set up at the factory (I am assuming) and the action all across the guitar was very high. I lowered the ZR tremolo and just like that the action was amazing. I might have been lucky but the truss was perfectly adjusted. It is very easy to get great action on the guitar, regardless of luck. The guitar had no flaws upon arrival, aside from a very small dent on the back of the guitar neck, that was almost impossible to notice. It was most likely my fault, not the factory's. the pickups were adjusted so that the bridge pickup was very close to the strings and the neck pickup was almost completely in the guitar body. I fixed this to fit my taste, of course. the finish was beautiful but was easily scratch-able. However, I dropped the guitar numerous times within its life span and it never chipped or dented. I think the guitar would look nicer if it was a satin black vs a gloss black, but that is just my opinion.


Reliability & Durability The guitar is very dependable and strong. I can tell that it was made to fit standards, even if it wasn't a "prestige" guitar it is almost just as good. The only reason I ever hesitated to take it to a show was because of the tone, but I got through that anyway. The finish, like I mentioned, is easily scratchable but resistant to dents and chips. The guitar could be thrown at a wall before being picked up and played again.


Customer Support Haven't dealt with them.


Liked about it I liked most off that it had great action, the frets were smooth and large, and the body was thin and light. When you were playing it felt like it was just an extension of yourself, it was natural. I sold this guitar so that I could buy an amp, and I regret that to this day. this is the best 6 string guitar I've owned, one of the top 3 I've owned out of everything.


Didn't like The only real turn off for me was the pickups. the guitar had a lot of potential, but with some better pickups this guitar would really be amazing.


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.5

By alexmurphy
Jun 15, 2010
 
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Great for the money

Sound Stock pups are pretty poor. They don't really do justice for this guitar. But after changing the pups this guitar sounds sweet. Mine has DiMarzio Super Distortion on bridge and it rips. The body resonates well and it sounds loud even unplugged. That's one of the most important things about guitars to me. I play downtuned metal on this thing and it's good for that.


Action, Fit, & Finish Action is as low as it goes. There's no buzz on any position of the fretboard. No dead spots either. There's no manufacturing flaws to be seen. Binding's ok, not as good as my prestige's, but it's good nevertheless. The scratch inlays are a bit cheesy, but they're a mile better than my s470's spaghetti/worm things. The thing I love in this guitar is the hardware finish. IT'S NOT COSMO BLACK! Wohoo! Finally proper black finish. Great. The chrome parts in the zero resistance bridge is a nice touch, and it looks good. The guitar has the second version of the zr-tremolo, so there's no need for hexkeys when adjusting the spring tension etc.


Reliability & Durability The paint looks sturdy to me and it looks like it's not going to wear off anytime soon. Wouldn't bring this to gig alone, because of the floating bridge.


Customer Support I haven't dealt with the company, so no comment's on this.


Liked about it -Finish. It looks good in gray with the black hardware and white binding.
-zr-tremolo. This is still the easiest tremolo to adjust yet.
-Easy playability.


Didn't like -Pickups were BAD.


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.0

By FrostStorm
Feb 20, 2010
 
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A beast of a machine

Sound I work in a music shop and have gotten to play with two or three of this model. I play hard rock, metal and blues styles, and this guitar fits like a glove. The only semi-negative issue is the muddy sound obtained when you play palm-mutting riffs. This is resolvable with a good EQ or replacing the custom bridge pickups. Never tried a guitar with so full of harmonics sound. Not much natural sustain (maybe because of pickups).


Action, Fit, & Finish Set up is beautiful! Action was low and no buzzing! Action could be lower, but whos complaining? Its well set up!

The pickups needed no adjustments...

The body finish is incredible...smooth and it feels thick, like a good layer of paint was used. The nuts are well done, nothing as rusted, the controls were firmly in place...


Reliability & Durability I never gig without a backup but that's only for fear of broken strings. I'm not scaredof the guitar breaking at all, it's built solid.


Liked about it It looks good, plays nice, and stays in tune!


Didn't like The stupid mark at the 12 fret..I hate it! If that wasn't there I would probably buy it.


Overall satisfaction:
 
5.0

By PrinceAlice
Nov 22, 2009
 
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There's better and there's worse!

Sound I used it with stock pickups, I'm not keen on Ibanez stock pickups- but the guitar did give relatively good sounds- despite the THIN body.


Action, Fit, & Finish Ibanez neck, enough said. Played excellently, after I'd set it up to my taste. The ZR tremolo takes some getting used to, it can be too loose as it only has 2 springs (for my personal taste) but I love the idea of a ball bearing tremolo!


Reliability & Durability VERY RELIABLE, I doubt anything would go wrong with this for a while!


Customer Support Never dealt with Ibanez.


Liked about it I liked:
-Thin body is great for live,
-Very comfortable to play
-Looks very cool and modern.


Didn't like I disliked:
-Body too thin for Active pickup batteries without modification,
-Very light guitar, so it can be thrown about easily if your going for it (jumping about) onstage,
That's it! A great guitar!


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.0

By Jon (Jemsite use Oct 19, 2009
 
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Better than RG price equivalent

Sound The sound of this guitar is okay, the pickups are thin sounding and a little muddy, it still does metal and has a wide range of abilities, but it just can't perfect any certain tones.


Action, Fit, & Finish The action is set very low and it was set up in tune at the store while still in the box from the factory, all the parts were correctly placed and the knobs and switch were smooth.


Liked about it The ZR trem is much better than the edge 3, which is on RGs in the same price range, so the value is much better.

The finish looks great and the whole feel of the guitar is great for the money.

The ZPS system is a nice touch and I don't see why people complain about it, seeing as it is removable.



Didn't like Cheap pickups.

Inlay is only there for appearance, and it doesn't really grab my attention.


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.0

By prydogga
Oct 08, 2009
 
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