I think a lot of people don't consider the fact that the 30 year old Tokai they bought has been set up countless times in its life to the point where it is the best it can possibly be, while the Gibson they played at Guitar Center was never properly set up at all and had been abused by kids, sitting on the floor. I set up my friend's Ibanez cheapo student model for him and he was blown away at the potential he never knew it had. Barring truly shoddy fretwork, most guitars can be made to play comfortably. And whoever said that the Gibson he played sounded dull, again I would say that has more to do with grabbing an amp that has not been dialed in for the guitar (which has also not been dialed in) than anything. I have rarely heard anything bad about their pickups. I will say that the Japanese, in my experience, have better QC. I was blown away to find the Chinese Ibanez Artist my father bought was nearly perfectly set up from the factory.