SA160QM - 6 months in and falling to pieces! - Jemsite
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 10:46 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Sheffield, UK
Posts: 81
SA160QM - 6 months in and falling to pieces!

Got a chance 6 months back to buy a 2002 SA160QM that'd been sat in an attic for 12 years, since its owner played it for a few weeks when then decided guitar wasn't for him. I didn't really need another guitar but it was only £45 (new list price in 2002 was I think £420) and I needed a "beater" to take places where I daren't take my S Prestige. Thought I'd give a bit of a review of my experiences with it below.

This 2002 model SA160QM was made in Korea and has a real Mahogany (not Nato) back, quilted Maple veneer top and a one piece flatsawn Maple neck that's 19.5mm at the first fret and 21.5mm at the 12th fret, with a 305mm radius fretboard and medium frets. It has Axis AS1 single coil pickups in middle and neck positions, and an Axis AH4 Humbucker in the bridge. The bridge itself is an SAT30 knife edge non-locking floating type.

When I got the guitar it had a few small nicks and dings but nothing that went through the paintwork, and had only a miniscule amount of shiny bits on top of a few of the frets that you usually get after playing a brand new guitar for a couple dozen hours, so I did believe the seller when he said it'd hardly been played. The plastic covering was still on both the back plate cover and cavity cover too.

The back of the guitar looks nice, it's a browny orange colour that looks good on mahogany. The "quilted" maple top was disappointing though, there's hardly a pattern to it at all and if I'm being honest it's got more of a flame pattern than a quilt pattern anyway! The AANJ neck pocket was fitted nicely, no gaps on either side unlike both my Prestige models!

The AH4 bridge humbucker is really high output, in fact when set at equal height as the Hot Grinder 2 in my S5470 the AH4 definitely drives my amp harder. Its got an alright tone under heavy distortion, and for a cheap pickup isn't especially muddy. The pickup however sounds quite "fuzzy" under any amp setting, as if there's a cheap-and-nasty fuzz pedal, set on low, constantly between my guitar and amp, so it's not any good for any sort of clean sounds unless you deliberately want a fuzzy tone. Also this is meant to be a hum cancelling pickup but it's almost as noisy as the single coils are!
The AS1 pickups in middle and neck aren't pleasant either, I think for single coils they're just too overwound as they drive the amp harder than any other single coil I've used, but lack clarity under any amp setting, especially when hitting more than one string at once. They neither have the "jingle" of strat pickups or "twang" of tele pickups, they're just really hard to coax any nice sounds out of them.
Overall I'd say the pickups disappoint for a ~£300 guitar (what it would've been new) but better than I could've got on any other £45 guitar. I do think it's kind of nice that they're miles hotter than any other cheap pickups I've played with.

The guitar was light at 6lbs, a whole pound less than my S5470, so you can play it all day without getting shoulder pain. The body is a comfortable shape to play too (standard for Ibanez really) and I was really impressed with the neck playability. The finish on the back of the neck is smooth for a cheap instrument, the fretboard has been sanded well and the fret ends are a lot smoother than other cheap guitars I've played. I was surprised that the frets themselves were incredibly well leveled, no frets seemed even slightly off their correct height and I've been able to get super low action without any buzzing or choking. Also the nut was filed well, it's at the almost perfect height which I've never seen on such a cheap instrument before. The guitar used to stay in tune for a long time before the tuners died.

This is where the guitar quite literally falls apart. I've had the guitar for 6 months and its had no more than half an hours play on it a day, and yet so many things are going wrong.
The output jack completely wore out after about 4 months (cable wouldn't even stay in it) so I had to buy another one and solder it in.
The pots when I got the guitar were fine but now they're both extremely crackly when moving them.
The imitation gotoh tuners have worn out too, all of them are very loose feeling. The nuts on the top of the headstock that keep the tuners secure are made from a metal soft that they've almost completely rounded in no time too.
I never use the trem but just from the slight movement the system has been under from heavy bends, the knife edges and posts are so badly worn that once in a while under a heavy bend the knife edge pops out of its resting position in the post bringing the whole guitar out of tune and out of intonation.
The body is a really soft Mahogany that's caused a couple of problems. It chips and dents crazily easy if me or my jam partners are being clumsy, far easier than any of the other guitars we play with. Also the Ibanez strap buttons started to come loose and eventually stripped the thread they were in completely, despite constant tightening. I then retapped the wood using a proper tap and a larger hole and thread, then fitted some eye screws in it to attach to my strap using a carabiner, but these new threads have started coming loose too.

Think I've got a bit of a lemon here, 6 months is no amount of time for a guitar to fall to bits. I've had my S5470Q 6 times as long and yet nothing on it has even the slightest sign of wearing out (yeah I know its loads more expensive, but still...)

Photo of it next to my S series:
Roachy is offline  
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 11:20 AM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Athens, Greece
Posts: 983
Re: SA160QM - 6 months in and falling to pieces!

Hmm maybe it was held in a high humidity environment ? Maybe give it some chance to "dry" and then start solving problems, which do not sound too scary.

BTW how does it sound? Is it any good? Does it have sustain?
panix is offline  
post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 06:10 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: UK/Ireland
Posts: 3,525
Re: SA160QM - 6 months in and falling to pieces!

I stopped reading at the 'sat in an attic for 12 years' part.

That usually will be game over....look no further.
IbanezDaemon is offline  

ibanez , korea , sa160 , sa160qm , vintage

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