An Ibanez AZ killer for almost half the price? Today, we're chatting about the GTRS P800. A flagship model in the GTRS line up, the P800 offers some seriously pro features for much less than you might expect. In this video, we compare it against a true benchmark of the competition. How does it stack up? Let's find out!
So, let's take a minute to talk a little bit about construction quality on the P800. I was very surprised to see, when I first unboxed the guitar, that the guitar came looking…
Howdy friend! You're here in the studio with Luke from GuitarIQ.com. In today's video, we’re going to chat about that sparkling, vibrant beast of a guitar that you just saw showcased in the intro jam. The instrument in question is the P800 by GTRS. This was recently sent to me to check out and to feature in some videos. The “P” in the P800 model number stands for “professional.” So for today's video, I thought it might be interesting to answer the question: Is this guitar what it claims to be? Is this a pro level instrument that's suitable for pro level things? And if so, is this something that's worth spending your hard-earned money on? So if that sounds interesting to you, then please click on the like button to let me know and to help show that YouTube algorithm a little bit of love. And with that, let’s crack onto the review.
Okay. As we go through the video there's just a couple of things I want you to keep in mind right from the start. The first is that today is going to be much more a review of the guitar and much less a demo. Now, the reason I've chosen to do that is because if you've seen any of my videos over the last few months, you would have been hearing this guitar in action. I'll certainly be uploading future videos as well featuring this guitar. Today I really just wanted to take an opportunity to talk about my experience of the guitar—having had this in the studio for the last few months. And what I think of it. And secondly, today we're really just going to look at the guitar as a standalone instrument. If you're familiar with the whole GTRS thing, you'll know that one of the biggest selling points of their guitars is that they come with this incredible onboard modeling app and effects system that's built into the guitar that you can access right from the guitar output. It’s really quite impressive. First of all, that side of things really deserves a dedicated video for itself. And secondly, if we're gonna look at this instrument as a pro level piece of kit, then for me personally, if the guitar isn't a good quality instrument in and of itself then all of the extra bells and whistles that come with it probably don't mean all that much. Right? But if the guitar is a solid offering as a standalone instrument, then everything else that comes with it is just a huge bonus that you can either choose to use or not use depending on the situation. So just a couple of things to keep in mind as we go through the video.
So the first thing I wanted to do is chat through the specs and the pricing on the P800. Now, because GTRS are a bit of a newer brand on the scene, I thought it might be really interesting for today's video to bring a second guitar into the mix to be a bit of a benchmark. So I've chosen a very popular guitar from a well-known brand. It’s a guitar that I know pretty well, I have one here in the studio. It’s the Ibanez AZ series Premium guitar. This is their mid-tier Indonesian made model. Ibanez have obviously been around for a long time. The AZ series is a great guitar. And most importantly for today's video, both of these guitars are what I would consider mid-priced super-strat style guitars that are kind of going after the same type of player. Someone who wants a genuine step up from an entry-level instrument. But also, someone that doesn't want to pay crazy high-end custom shop prices to get a genuinely good instrument.
Now, when we place these guitars side-by-side, immediately you can tell these are different instruments. They look quite different. They also sound and feel quite different. Where things become really interesting for me is when we take a bit of a deep dive into the specs. Both guitars come upgraded with locking tuners. Both guitars have a variation on a good quality tusk nut. Both guitars come equipped with stainless steel frets. Both guitars offer a nice C-shaped roasted maple guitar neck. The scale length on both guitars is 25 1/2 inches. Both guitars come with a name brand floating tremolo system. The body on both guitars is a modernized super-strat type of body with some additional comfort cuts. Both guitars come with a case. And both guitars are available in a number of different variations.
Now, side-by-side these guitars have their obvious differences. First up the pickup configurations are quite different. The wood choices differ a little bit. On the P800, noticeably we have a genuine rosewood fretboard, which is nice. We also get upgraded to this lovely flamed maple guitar neck, which is something we don't see on the Ibanez. It's a nice high-end feature to see on a relatively mid-priced guitar. But probably the most noticeable difference when we stack these side by side is the price point. Now, the pricing and availability on the P800 does seem to differ a little bit depending on where you're located in the world. But if we use Amazon.com as a reference, I've seen this listed between $799 and $899 US. Whereas, if we compare that to the current six-string models in the AZ Premium series, we can see on Sweetwater that these are listed for $1,299 and $1,399. So even, for argument's sake, if we take the $899 price and compare that against the $1,299 price, we're still talking about a $400 difference. Which in my opinion, at this price point, is pretty substantial. It essentially means that we're paying an entire third extra on top of the cost of the P800 to go for something like the Ibanez.
Now to be totally fair to Ibanez, one of the things which probably accounts for this price difference is the fact that they've gone for third-party accessories all over the guitar. So the guitar comes with Gotoh tuners and a Gotoh bridge. It comes with a GraphTech nut. And probably most notably, it comes with Seymour Duncan pickups. Whereas, on the P800 we do have the Wilkinson trem, but everything else seems to be their own in-house branded stuff. How much of a difference does that actually make, in terms of your playing experience? Well, the answer really is… It depends. So, for example, the bridge on the Ibanez is probably slightly less fiddly than the bridge on the P800—in terms of setting up string hight and intonation. But I much prefer the more standard type of locking tuners that the GTRS uses over the “fancier" tuners on the Ibanez. If I was going for a straight up kind of rock tone, I'd probably opt for the humbucker on the Ibanez over the humbucker on the GTRS. But at the same time, I much prefer the single coils on the P800 over the kind of split-coil, hybrid thing that the Ibanez guitar does. So my whole point here is that, just because something might look a little more impressive on paper that doesn't always align with your actual playing experience.
So let's take a minute to talk a little bit about construction quality on the P800. I was very surprised to see, when I first unboxed the guitar, that the guitar came looking exactly like what you would hope any brand new guitar comes looking like: And that is it came looking like a brand new guitar! There were no scratches, or dents, or weird paint blemishes, or tooling marks. There was no sort of bizarre play wear on the instrument. The frets weren't crazy scratchy. They weren't sharp, or sticking out, or anything like that. For the most part, the guitar came relatively well set up and ready to go. Now, why am I making point of that? Isn't that just how every brand new instrument should come? Ideally, yes. But unfortunately, that's not always the case. Over the last few years, here in the studio, I've had a couple of guitars come through that have had really noticeable QC problems—that probably should have never left the factory. One of those instruments, unfortunately, was the Ibanez. The one we've been looking at is the second guitar I've had here in the studio. The first one had some really obvious tooling marks on the upper half of the fretboard—obviously, from some kind of issue in manufacturing. Which is really not something you want to see on any guitar, but especially on guitars at this price point and higher. So, if my guitar is anything to go off, I must really commend GTRS on the job they've done in terms of the construction quality side of things.
So let's talk a little bit about my personal pros and cons, having you know, had this guitar in the studio for the last few months. First of all, we’ll start with the pros. Although I'm not really talking about the electronic side of things in this review, it must be said from a design perspective, I think they've Incorporated this incredibly well into the instrument. It's very subtle and understated. When you want to access that side of things, it’s there and easy to use. When you don't want to use it, it stays out of the way and you kind of forget that it's there. On top of that, the battery and the computer system that they've got in the guitar don't seem to add any noticeable weight to the instrument, whatsoever. Which is lovely to see. The second thing I really like is what they've done with the guitar neck. Now, not just the fact that it comes with real rosewood. Not just the fact that it comes upgraded with this lovely flamed maple. But also the profile they've gone for. I was really glad to see that it's not some super thin, shred neck type of, you know, feeling neck. Right? It is a really comfortable C shape that's almost on the fatter side of things. But in a really good way. It’s got some nice girth and substance to it. Which is what I personally like in a guitar neck. The third thing I really like, is what they've done with the single coils. Straight away when I plugged the guitar in, immediately I was up and running with a sound I liked within seconds. They just give you that spanky, chimey single coil strat type of tone that we all know and love.
Now, in terms of cons… There's honestly not a whole lot to talk about. I can probably say the humbucker didn't quite jump out in the same way that the single coils did on this guitar. It’s certainly not bad in any way. It doesn't let the guitar down. It’s capable of some nice rock sounds. It kind of just didn't hit me with the same kind of “whatever” that the single coils did. The only other thing I would potentially change on the guitar is with the frets. I love the fact that they're stainless steel but they've gone for medium frets. Personally, I like as much fret material as possible, so I'd like to see this with jumbo frets. But again, those things aren't necessarily cons. They’re more about my own personal preferences as a player. So take that for what you will.
So to finish up, let’s revisit those questions we started with. First of all, is this guitar what it claims to be? Is this a pro level instrument? Well, hopefully throughout this video you've seen that I think this guitar really holds its own against a more expensive model like the Ibanez AZ series. I like the way the guitar plays. I like the way it looks. I like the way it sounds. And probably the biggest endorsement I could give this guitar, is that I would have absolutely no problem using this as a pro level instrument to do pro level things. For me that would mean things like rehearsing, or gigging, or touring, or doing clinics, or even recording in the studio. I could really see this being a nice mid-priced workhorse type of guitar.
And as for the question: Is this something you should consider spending your hard-earned money on? Well, obviously that's something I can't answer for you. In the mid-priced super-strat market there's a lot of great options to choose from. But I think probably a better question for a video like this is: Is the P800 good value for money? Now, when we stack this again up against something like the Ibanez AZ series we can see there's a lot of similarities there for a lot less money. So I think this is a solid offering for the price. But I think the real value proposition comes when we take into account not just the stuff that we've spoken about but also all the stuff that we haven't spoken about—the onboard modeling and effects. If they're the type of features you would use, then that makes this guitar a really interesting, unique, and honestly quite compelling offering for the money. Definitely something worth considering. And absolutely something worth trying out if you can get your hands on one. So that was my look at the P800 by GTRS.
Well, a big thank you once again for sticking around to the end of the video. As I mentioned at the start, for full disclosure, this guitar was sent to me to check out, to review, and to feature in some video content. But this was not a sponsored advertisement or a paid promotion. No money has changed hands. GTRS had no say whatsoever in this video content. All thoughts and opinions are my own, as always. If you want to find out some more info on the guitar, I’ll certainly leave some links in the video description. If you like this video and you want to see more content like this, then please consider subscribing to the channel to be notified of future uploads. And finally, before you go I warmly invite you to head over to GuitarIQ.com to check out some of the books and other learning resources we have waiting for you over there. Covering topics like fretboard memorization, chord theory, warm-ups and workouts, and a whole lot more. That is GuitarIQ.com. That’s it from me, thank you for watching and I'll see you in the next video!