I picked one of these up today off of Eric Clemenzi, MG's official SBMM dealer. Eric is the man, so naturally buying one from him vs anywhere else was a no-brainer, and I had the added bonus of getting to pick it up in person.
This is the SBMM JP70 in trans green. It's 25.5", basswood, with a 16" radius, locking tuners and a SBMM bridge, which is a pretty close clone (as far as I can tell) of the bridge in the EBMM model.
I've only had it about an hour, but here are some initial impressions. The finish on it is great, and though it's a little lighter than my old EBMM JP7 it's still a very solid feeling guitar. The neck profile and finish feels a lot like the EBMM, though I prefer the 15" radius on the EB vs. the 16" Sterling, it's still a nice feeling, easy to play neck.
The fretboard is a rather uninteresting piece of rosewood - there's nothing bad about it, but nothing overly remarkable either. A/B with my EBMM JP6 next to it, there's a lot more color and grain in the EBMM fretboard, but again the EBMM is about four times the price so that's to be expected. The back of the neck is equally ho-hum, but again, $600 guitar, no big deal. The truss rod adjustment is in the same spot as the EBMM, and it's my favorite thing ever. I really wish all my guitars were this easy to adjust. The frets are immaculate, too.
The locking tuners are unbranded and I haven't restrung it yet, but they feel pretty solid and look well made. There's no obvious backlash and the ratio on them feels about right, so thumbs up there.
The body contours and carves are great, and the decision to include the forearm contour in lieu of a fancier top was a good one. This shape is comfortable as hell to play. The finish looks great, and I can't find any overall flaws in the clear or anywhere else.
The pickups, as our local SBMM-guy has mentioned, really aren't that bad. They're certainly better than stock Ibanez pickups and (again, only after about an hour or so) I'd put them on par with what's in a PRS SE or a New7. I'm putting Blazes in it anyway so I really don't care, but they're definitely passable and get another thumbs up from me. I'll snap some pics of the electronics cavity and components when I swap them out.
Overall I'd say this is about 8.5/10. It feels good, plays great, looks awesome and for the price is IMO about on par with what you'd expect out of a 7620. It remains to be seen how well it stays in tune because it has new strings on it (that I'm pulling off as soon as I type this), but once I get some Elixirs on there and get it setup the way I like it I'll report back. If it's even half as stable as my EBMM trems are I'll be a happy guy, because that setup completely kicks ass.
Here's what I don't care for:
- Numero Uno, and this was the same complaint that I had about the first Sterling JPs that came out a few years back. Why, oh why, is there a bright black MADE IN INDONESIA stamp under the damn clearcoat on the back of the headstock? Seriously guys, that looks awful, and while MADE IN USA is something I dig on my guitars if it's subtle and tastefully placed, MADE IN INDONESIA is not. Make this a sticker or something and let people decide on their own wether they want it there. I can feel it if I run my finger over it, so it might actually be on top of it, but it looks like even if that's the case it'll be a pain in the ass to get off there without scraping the hell out of it. Sticker. Make it so.
- The finish doesn't extend at all into the slot around the truss adjustment, so it's just bare wood in there on the sides. (I'll grab a pic later). It's a small detail, but it looks lousy against the dark green/black of the top. I don't know much about production costs, but I have to think that one extra stroke of stain/paint wouldn't raise the price too much. As it is I'll just dab it with shielding paint.
- I mentioned it before in another thread, but a compensated nut would have been the icing on the cake for these.
That's pretty much it. Hell of a lot of guitar for the money, and again Eric was awesome to deal with, so if you're planning on picking one of these up definitely drop him a line.
Looks pretty sweet.