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Hatsubai 08/08/2011

Ibanez 540S : Hatsubai's user review

« Ibanez's 22 fret shredder »
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Back in 1987, a lot of happening things were occurring. Companies all around the world were making some of the greatest shred guitars you could ever buy. Ibanez came out with a few guitars during this time, and one of the more popular ones was the Ibanez 540S which was part of the Roadstar Pro series at the time. There have been different versions of this, but I'm going by the original one made in 1987. The guitar is made out of an ultra thin mahogany strat style body, a maple neck with a rosewood fretboard, 22 jumbo frets, dot inlays, Edge tremolo, HSS configuration, one volume with a push/pull for coil tapping the bridge and three individual switches to select between each different pickup.

UTILIZATION

Ibanez did an awesome job with this guitar in terms of ergonomics. The body is super sleek and slim. It's great for those looking for something that's resonant but doesn't weigh a ton. The overall fit and finish on these models is pretty good, but there are a few hit or miss areas, especially around the neck joint. Be sure to inspect them closely in that area. The fretwork also wasn't quite as good as it is on today's Prestige models. They tend to have more of an angle on the fret ends which might cause some high e slippage with certain guitars. They're also not as round as the Prestige models. That said, for the time, they were pretty high quality and could be had at a great price. On top of that, they come with one of the best tremolos in the world -- the original Edge trem.

SOUNDS

This is kinda where Ibanez almost always drops the ball. The pickups in these guitars aren't that great, and most people out there would agree with me. They tend to be a bit muddy and lack dynamics. They can work, but I find there are much better pickups out there, especially in the DiMarzio and Duncan line up. The really cool thing is that these have individual on/off switches for each pickup. It's almost like the Tom Anderson switching system, albeit a touch different. It allows you to create nearly every possible sound out of the guitar. On top of that, the volume pot allows you to split the bridge for even further tonal possibilities.

OVERALL OPINION

These old school Ibanez S series have some mojo that the newer ones don't seem to have. The fact that most of them are now made over in Korea/Indonesia may have something to do with that; I'm not sure. Either way, I recommend trying to seek out these guitars as they're totally awesome. Just one pickup swap should give you one of the best shredders out there. Now if only these old school models came with 24 frets...