Acoustic guitars definitely started out as pretty basic instruments, however as technology progressed, things began to change.
Advent of electric guitars and amps completely turned the guitar world upside down. Someone got inspired to place a preamp on an acoustic guitar and see what kind of results could be obtained that way. Needless to say, this little experiment was a success.
Today there are many brands who offer various acoustic guitars with an on-board preamp, including Ibanez.
There are varying levels of quality when it comes to acoustic guitar preamp. After all, this part of the electronics is what takes the acoustic tone of the guitar and turns it into something that can be amplified over loudspeakers.
Ibanez SST is a very popular preamp which they install on a variety of models. One main advantage of this particular preamp is the balance of price and performance. It offers a decent tone at a very affordable price, which in turn keeps the cost of the entire guitar low.
Today we are going to talk about this preamp, and see just how good it actually is.
A great choice for a Performing Artist
A lot of guitar players today have become reliant on amplified acoustic guitars. This type of acoustic guitar is far more versatile, and is actually a great choice for a performing artist. It’s much easier to just plug it into an amp or PA system, than it is to keep a microphone in front of the guitar at all times.
The point we are trying to make is that the quality of the preamp can have a huge impact on the practical value of the guitar, and it’s overall performance. With this in mind, where does the Ibanez SST come in?
Although it is affordable, Ibanez SST comes packed with a variety of features. Overall design of this preamp is pretty simple. The control panel uses four faders, two buttons and one knob to shape and control the tone of the guitar.
Faders are a part of the EQ section which comes with the standard treble, mid, bass combination with the addition of the shape fader.
The left side of the panel is dominated bu a decently large volume knob. There are two buttons above and bellow this knob. One button activates the tuner while the other is your phase on/off switch.
The tuner is supported by a row of LCD lights which indicate the pitch. It’s not an aesthetically pleasing unit, but it is obvious that pure functionality was what Ibanez was going for.
Ibanez SST offers great performance for the price. That is simply a fact. For an affordable preamp like this, there is enough finesse in the tone to get you through a gig without an issue. Sound shaping options are good enough to dial in just about any sound you might need, and the tuner works pretty well. However, there are some issues with this preamp which have nothing to do with the performance.
A lot of used Ibanez guitars with the SST preamp experience some type of issue in terms of reliability. The percentage of Ibanez SST preamp failures is pretty high even though it’s not a common occurrence. This lack of reliability compared to other models available, really take away from the overall perception of the SST line. Additionally, Ibanez doesn’t seem to have changed anything, and is still packing pretty much the same preamp in their new guitars. How well that will go is left to be seen.
What we like
Generally, it’s a simple preamp that doesn’t cost much and offers a pretty good performance with everything considered. It’s good enough for stage use, and has enough power to cut through the band.
What we don’t like
The only thing that is unsettling about the Ibanez SST are those reliability issues. It’s not that a large percentage of these are simply dying left and right, but the number is generally too high for a company such as Ibanez.
All in all, Ibanez SST is a very good cost effective solution. If you want to get an amplified acoustic guitar on a budget, this preamp is one of several great choices which will get you the performance you need.
Whether or not you should worry about it failing on you is up for debate. However, that is something you need to decide on your own.