Ibanez PF15-BK (from Bajaao) – an honest review

I decided to buy the Ibanez PF15-BK online and on a hunch – going exactly against my own advice to youngsters: don’t buy musical instruments online. Play, listen to them, and then decide!!!
The fact of the matter is that I got lucky, you may not (maybe I wouldn’t, the next time!!).

I got done in by the looks of the instrument, the online (independent) reviews and the price of the instrument at Bajaao. Also, the no-questions asked policy of the company, IF there was a flaw in the instrument, made me take the plunge. Besides, they were paying for the shipping both ways!!

When the guitar arrived (Order Id 188580), sadly, there was a flaw! Of course, the well-packaged instrument carried the quality check and gave the check date as June 22, 2019, yet, the bridge was lifting on it – not much, but it was lifting all along the margin farthest from the soundhole.

Now, I typically use .013″ (thinnest e string) strings on my instruments. Meaning? Greater stress on the bridge, neck and top of the guitar, but an overall bigger bang for your buck – if you get my drift. What I was not ready for is a defective guitar that would need serious attention 18 months down the line.

So, back it went, with the replacement coming in only on July 22! In between there were mails sent, frantic phone calls made and apologies made from the side of Bajaao but NOT ONE EXPLANATION about why the replacement took so long.

Whatever! It’s here now. It’s going to get an almighty upgrade, but first the review!

The replacement guitar carries this tag identifying it.

Like I said, the packaging was solid and Bajaao ensures that. Inside the guitar box, the instrument itself comes wrapped in the usual styrofoam bag with a rubberband holding its mouth at the headstock. Besides the instrument there is a plastic bag carrying product information, an extra bridge pin, a replacement saddle, a plastic/PVC shim – should somebody feel the need to raise saddle height and an Allen key for truss rod adjustments.

As you pull the instrument out of the styrofoam bag, the most pleasing thing to me was to see the tuning machines. Just their look and feel tell you that these are quality items and not just any old cheap stuff.

Tuning up the guitar only confirms that hunch. 

The other pleasantly surprising thing is that this instrument comes with two – yes two – strap buttons. In all my guitar-playing/mending life, I am yet to come across a decent instrument with two strap buttons. If at all, manufacturers decide to put in just one strap button at the end block, while the one at the heel of the guitar is always missing. Why that should be so, I have never been able to fathom.

The other specifications (taken off the Ibanez site):

  • body shape – Dreadnought 
  • Body Dimensions: Length -20″; Width – 15 3/4″; Depth – 5″
  • Finish – gloss 
  • top – Spruce 
  • back & sides – Okoume 

(Okoume is the wood of the Okoume tree [Aucoumea klaineana] found in west-central Africa, in particular Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo. The wood of this tree is known by many names: Acoume, Gaboon wood, Uume and Zouga.)

  • neck – PF Nyatoh 

(Nyatoh is an Asian hardwood from the Sapotaceae family with a very similar look and characteristic to Honduras Mahogany, though totally unrelated.)

  • fretboard – Laurel (radius – 9.5″)
  • bridge – Laurel 

(The laurel is probably Camphor laurel, which yields a beautiful, rich honey-coloured timber that is perfect for furniture, carving, and cabinetry. The tree is native to Taiwan, southern Japan, southeast China and Indochina. It is used as a valuable timber for furniture and carving icons.)

  • inlay – White dot

(Very insignificant markers. Ibanez could have put in slightly larger markers if they wanted the things to serve their purpose. One has to look really close to spot the markers – at least on the guitar that I have.)

  • soundhole rosette – Black & White multi
  • tuning machines – Chrome Die-cast Tuners
  • nut material – Plastic (42mm)
  • saddle material – Plastic (76 mm)
  • number of frets – 20 
  • bridge pins – Ibanez Advantage™

(These are basically bridgepins with a slanted end – something that I always advise people to do on their guitars and something that I always do when I change bridgepins on an instrument. It is a simple process of filing one end of the bridgepin so that string ball-ends don’t catch on them.)

  • strings – Ibanez IACS6C

(These seem to be good strings – what the doctor ordered for dreadnoughts. Gauges: .012″, .016″, .024″, .032″, .042″, .053″.  Material: 80/20 bronze).

The instrument itself plays well and surprisingly has a rather good setup and a low action. It is not all treble and not all bass, but the mid-section rings out too with some excellent sustain.

So, what you get for under Rs 12,500 is a quality brand name and the workmanship associated with it.

Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me: guitarguyhelp@gmail.com

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