Ibanez Destroyer, Ifyufa
If this guitar were female it would never be stood up. A: because it's desirable; B: because it's almost impossible to lean anywhere.
Such is the way of the Explorer shape which this Ibanez closely hugs. Apart from a lip in one corner and a cutaway near the base strap button, it's a dead ringer for the classic, cat-like Gibson rock guitar profile. Unfortunately those angular lines do make it difficult to prop the Destroyer against an amp and a stand with adjustable legs is the only real answer.
Ibanez have gone back to simplicity for this particular axe; just two pickups, a volume control for each and one tone — no phase switches, coil taps, eq or pre-amps — and the Destroyer benefits from that approach, it's a straightforward, no nonsense rock instrument and should be a deadly heavy metal machine.
The designers have worked on the pickups, however. The neck one is a copy of the full, warm Gibson 58, complete with gold-plated cover, and a brighter, hotter V2 has been slotted into the bridge position with its twin cream coils left exposed.
The neck is lovely; fast and smooth with a faint camber and just the proper amount of fullness at the back — at least for my hand which doesn't take to fat necks. The already low action (half a matchstick between top E and final fret) could go lower still.
Although the body is cut back deeply to the last of the 22 frets, the neck/body joint is ungainly and just interferes with your hand on high solos and string bends. The Destroyer would also present a problem for guitarists who like fiddling! Almost every adjustable item needs a different tool.
It's dandy to have smooth controls to play with, but Ibanez may have erred too far on the side of looseness. In time they could become sloppy, and the neck pickup volume knob is in an exposed position and possible to knock accidentally. Still, they look great, as does the gold finished, quick change tail piece and brass saddled bridge.
Though not as warm or juicy as a real Gibson humbucker (who have after all been at this business considerably longer than Ibanez) this Super 58 pickup has substance, and a richness.
The bridge position V2 is completely different: hollower, louder and ideal for lead. It is not as authoritative as the Super 58, but packs a harder punch and a fierce attack. Single coil pickups can produce a glassier, brittle edge, but that wouldn't suit this guitar.
The middle position leans more towards the V2 in character than the Super 58, but still gathers a little extra depth.
So... a fine poseurs instrument and a good rock 'n' roll guitar. As for the metallic red finish, let's just say that for their own safety all pets should be shooed from the room before removing the packing. Things that bright aren't good for their poor little eyes. £272
About the time of Les Paul's experiments with electrics, pickups and planks of wood, a fellow American musician was developing the guitar in an equally remarkable if totally different vein.
William "Bill" Shut was fascinated by the instrument but frustrated because it required two hands. As an orchestral pianist with great technique he searched for a method of playing the guitar with his left hand and the Steinway with his right.
To this end he developed an automatic strummer — a complex set of clockwork powered gears within the body of his acoustic, which would activate an array of plectrums under the strings. When a key was inserted at the rear and the clockwork cranked up to full power, the plectrums would chatter away for about five minutes, long enough for a single song. Shut could shape chords with his left hand and devote the right to piano melodies.
The mechanics were unreliable and the idea never caught on, but last year a Japanese company, Ifyufa, discovered patents and drawings among the papers of a Californian woodworking firm they had acquired.
Using mains power and miniaturised solenoids, the Shut principle was converted to an Eighties prototype. The strings were entirely encased by the body — there was no need to pluck anything any more — and Ifyufa extended that notion to cover the neck with a thin film of plastic. As that prohibited any direct physical contact with sweaty fingers, each set of strings had a life of at least a year.
To get round the problems of "overplucking" caused by solenoid jitter, the string cavity within the body was filled with a light damping fluid that had the side effect of raising and lowering the pitch when subjected to pressure by a valve. Completely by accident, Ifyufa had invented the world's first pneumatic tremolo arm!!
The Ifyufa I was apparently given a trial in the firm's R and D department with tragic results. A test pilot with experience in live gigs and auto engine servicing had been playing for half an hour in an anechoic isolation booth. Apart from a slight leak around a sump gasket and a few whines of feedback it was going well.
Then a surge through the mains locked all the solenoids into the "32 beats per bar" repeat selection. It was 15 minutes before technicians could prise the hiccuping guitar from the pilot's hands and he was left with a permanent nervous twitch in both wrists plus ridges on his knees.
For safety's sake the Ifyufa II returned to the original key operated, cranked up gears and springs. And Ifyufall for the idea of a wind-up guitar, you'll fall for anything...
Review by Paul Colbert
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