This guitar is absolutely mind blowing!
To say I am blown away would be an understatement. I was after a semi-hollow guitar so I started looking around and doing my research. I really wanted a Gibson ES-335 due to it's iconic history. However, I have read a lot of bad stuff about Gibson Memphis in recent years so I kept looking for another option. I stumbled upon this gem on another guitar forum where guys were raving about how nice of a guitar it was.
Anyways, I decided to purchase both the Ibanez JSM100 and a brand new Gibson ES-335 in cherry red. I got them both and clearly inspected them top to bottom. The Gibson was disappointing. It looks good from a few feet away, but when you get up close you can see many, many flaws. First off, there is lots of areas where paint was on top of the bindings (which looks unsightly). I also found lots of orange peel in the finish and overspray on the headstock. There were some unsightly imperfections in the wood as well, but it had clearly been painted over.
Looking at the Ibanez JSM100 up close, you'd swear this thing was crafted by the hand of god himself. Honest to goodness, I can't find one single flaw anywhere on it, it's literally perfect. Every single minor detail looks like it was gone over with a fine tooth comb. Needless to say that I have more faith in the Japanese building a guitar now than I do the Americans (unless we're talking about Paul Reed smith, which is above and beyond anything).
Comparing the sounds, the Ibanez JSM100 blows the Gibson ES-335 out of the water. It plays so nicely, the ebony fretboard feels perfect, and this thing just screams in the best of ways. You can go from a blues tone to a hard rock tone in seconds. The humbuckers sound amazing, and the guitar is so comfortable to hold.
After owning this Ibanez for a few months, this thing has replaced every other guitar I've owned (and I own some very cool guitars). It's so versatile, so well crafted, and sounds so amazing, that the only other guitar that can compare (in a different way) is my PRS McCarty 594.
I am not kidding when I say that the quality of this guitar is that of a much, much more expensive guitar. Honestly, they should be charging $4000 or more for this. The fact that Gibson is charging $4000 for an ES-335 is a joke, when this guitar is better, and priced way less.
I dare anyone to compare this side-by-side with a modern Gibson ES-335. You'll quickly understand exactly what I am saying. This is a better guitar in every single way possible. I don't see any way at all that this guitar could be any better than it is. It's a beautiful work of art to look at, and it plays like a dream come true.
To give you an idea of the guitars I own:
- 2017 PRS McCarty 594 Artist Package
- 2017 Gibson ES-335 Slim Neck (now sold as this Ibanez replaced it)
- 2017 Fender Stratocaster American Elite
- Epiphone Sheraton II Pro
- 1995 Gibson Les Paul
- Ibanez JSM100
This Ibanez JSM100 blows ALL of them out of the water with the exception of the PRS. The PRS is just as good as the Ibanez, but it's a solid body, so they can't really be compared. However, if you've ever seen the craftsmanship and quality of a high end PRS, I will tell you first hand that this Ibanez is of the exact same quality as the PRS. They both look like guitars that someone went over with a fine tooth comb, and made sure that NONE left the factory with any imperfections at all.
If you're looking for a semi-hollow and can get past the whole "Made in the USA" thing, then this Ibanez JSM100 (which is made in Japan by Ibanez's "Team J") will likely be the best semi-hollow guitar you'll ever play.
Oh, my only complaint is the huge 13 gauge strings it comes with! Haha... I removed those immediately for some 10s and it's much, much better now! Some of you guys might like those thick strings, but not this guy!
One last thing, Sweetwater is the best to deal with. I had an issue with a different order (not this one) and Chuck himself (the CEO) took care of it for me, same day, no questions asked. Sweetwater will continue to have my business until the day I die. Oh, and this thing will go to the grave with me! I friggin' LOVE this guitar!!!