Ibanez SZ320 Sunburst Carve Top Review

The volume and tone controls also got modded on the black model, with better results than the pick-up swap. I tend to like a wider area to play in with my picking hand, so I dislike having the volume control right up close to the bridge pick-up. So for my Black SZ320 I pulled the volume control, which seemed to be a no name B (linear taper) model at 500k for an audio taper CTS pot. A light upgrade. I also switched out the tone control potentiometer with a CTS model. The stock pots worked fine, but I wanted to compare their performance with the same set of pups in the other Brown Sunburst SZ320 – which has been left stock. The CTS pots feel a bit smoother and seem to have a wider sweep of usable adjustment range. Though the Volume control is now exhibiting some high end roll-off when turning down. So a treble bleed might be in order. Though I’m finding that with a good tube amp, that little bit of roll off can act as a one knob adjustment for finding a sweep spot that almost doesn’t require a tone knob at all. Strange but true.

Last but not least the pick-up control switch. The switch itself is a short throw, all chrome, sort of stubby version of the familiar LP style dual hum-bucker switch. It works well enough, though there isn’t as much positive feeling when switching between positions. It clicks, but there isn’t a lot of travel. So you have to be a bit more mindful of where you want the switch to be. Quick up/down switching is possible, but forget about landing in the middle unless you’re careful. Also, Ibanez has this model’s switch set-up from the factory to shunt half of each pick-up to ground in the middle position, which give a thinner sound with a broader response. I wasn’t crazy about this tone, as I prefer the tubby middle position sound when using two humbuckers. The mod was simple enough, and you can read more about it here, SZ320 stock switch mod.

Conclusion: A capable instrument with a design both vintage & modern. Ibanez’s take on the Super Strat/Les Paul hybrid. With a few tweaks a player on a budget can take this one on the road or into the studio, no problem. The SZ320 is voiced middle of the road, stock. Well chosen pick-up swaps can refine the sound. However, don’t swap those pups until you’ve explored the jazzy side of the 320 has to offer. Ibanez’s take on the Super Strat/Les Paul hybrid. The SZ320 is a sleeper waiting to sing.

Published by ModGuitar Senior Editor

I have been building and modding guitars for 20+ years. My goal is to share my knowledge with readers, as well as offer affordable learning and do-it-yourself resources.

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