It's hard for me to accurately talk about the sound of the guitar in stock condition since mine had some mods done before I got it. Initially, the neck pickup was extremely loud and boomy and the bridge was weak and thin. Not surprising since I discovered when swapping the pickups someone had put the neck pickup in the bridge and the bridge pickup in the neck. The neck pickup was an Ibanez Super 70 and the bridge had no name on the back. I had a couple of other humbuckers laying around from some other guitars and I decided to give them a try. In the neck I installed a Seymour Duncan Jazz and in the bridge a Gibson 500T. Both were black open coil pickups and I put chrome covers on them mainly just for looks - the guitar looks awesome now. Since these aren't the stock pickups, I won't talk too much about them. But briefly, the Jazz sounds great in the neck - it's warm and smooth with plenty of clarity and note articulation. The 500T was a major surprise however. I'd heard this pickup before and was not that impressed with it, but I figured it would be better than what was in there. But, wow, this pickup in this guitar totally rocks for high gain distorted leads, which is all I ever use the bridge pickup for. The sustain is beyond belief - the best I've ever had on any guitar in over 30 years of playing.
I use this guitar for classic rock, blues, jazz fusion, etc. and it's great for all of them. My lead tone is very Santana-influenced and this guitar (with this pickup) nails it. I have a number of friends who are skilled guitarists and they have been very impressed with the tone of this guitar. But once again, I can't really comment on how it sounds with the stock pickups, although I've read very positive reveiws about the Ibanez Super 70 humbuckers. So my rating is based on the guitar with the changed pickups. I've got tube and solid state amps (Mesa Boogie Studio 22+/ Fender Princeton Chorus) and it sounds equally good with both of them, as well as direct into the PA system through a Zoom G9.2tt or G2.1u. I've also gotten good results recording it direct into my ProTools setup.
The fact that it's still hanging in there over 30 years later is a testament to it's durability. It's obvious that this guitar was not babied - it's got it's share of nicks, dings, and scratches. But it's still totally solid and I have gigged it without a backup, although I usually don't make a habit of doing that.
As I mentioned above, I've been playing guitar for over 30 years and own a lot of other equipment - Gibson Les Paul, Fender Strat and Tele, and more. I originally bought this at a guitar show (actually I got it in trade for a Fernandes Sustainer guitar and a couple pedals - but the price tag on it was $350). My plan was to use it as a secondary or backup guitar (a "beater"). However, it sounds so damn great, after the pickup swap, that I use it lot more than I had planned. It's definitely comparable, and in some ways, superior to my Gibson Les Paul.
I don't like guitars that weigh a ton, and this one is slightly heavier than I would like, but still within an acceptable range - nothing like the Les Paul Custom I had a few years ago that felt like it weighed 15 pounds. Since then I've wanted another black Les Paul Custom- style guitar, and when I saw this at the guitar show I thought this would be cool to have in my collection as a second line guitar. But it has totally exceeded my expectations and I am really enjoying playing this guitar.