Well-heeled purists might sneer about the 'jack of all trade' nature of HSS electrics, but for mere mortals, the versatility and value is a major draw and with the Ibanez SA160FM splicing sounds for under £300, we've got plenty of both.
The finish options are yellow or grey, but Ibanez has the SA160FM pegged as a "chameleon" that swings from "clean rhythm to crunchy blues, all the way out to the most molten of metal".
"The SA sports a curvy, slim body and a shred-friendly neck that plays like it's been buttered"
It's a little pricier than your usual entry-level HSS-configured electric, but to be fair it looks it, with a quilted grained maple cap that looks like a tiger's underbelly, over the desirable mahagony body timber.
On paper, those are similar body ingredients to a Les Paul, but the SA sports a curvy, slim body that makes you feel manly but in control, and a shred-friendly neck that plays like it's been buttered (though the traditional Ibanez double-octave is cut to 22 frets).
Once you're plugged in, this guitar rams home its advantages. There's a sweetness to the tone that comes from the timbers, and the dark and light flavours of mahogany and maple make the single-coils sing and sustain for longer than the skinny body would suggest.
The humbucker offers a joyous, woody, character-rich thump, but what's really cool is when you take advantage of Ibanez's switching system and combine the outer coil of the 'bucker with the middle single, unlocking a scything tone that slices through the mix while maintaining a warm low-end.
Mahogany/flame maple combo looks and sounds good. Pickup switching options.
More expensive than some rivals.
It's a little pricey for an entry-level axe. But if you're serious about braving the road or studio with just one electric, this is well worth the wedge.
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.
Transparent Yellow Sunburst (pictured), Transparent Grey Burst
Guitar Body Material
Left Handed Model Available
No. of Frets
Scale Length (Inches)
Scale Length (mm)
Flamed maple veneer
Volume, tone, 5-way pickup selector
2x STDS single coils, 1x STDH2 humbucker