You have probably observed me relentlessly asking questions about Agiles and praising the Kiesel/Carvin multiscales, and it might appear as though I were ready to buy 50+ guitars (extreme hyperbole, but bear with me). However confident I may seem when asking about these guitars, I honestly have no idea which 8-string I actually plan to buy. Like the usual "first guitar trap" that many new players fall into, I'm confronted with too many options. I've decided to narrow them down to 4, and I constantly vacillate between all of them. I'm gonna list my 4 ideas and what I find to be pros and cons of each. I'd like feedback on the option that will be the best bang for my buck, as I'm really trying to spend as little as possible. I'm also open to more ideas. My budget would be an unmoving maximum of $1.5K. And even then, I'm still gonna wait until I feel financially stable to pull the trigger. So I have a lot of time before I decide. 1) Ibanez M80M PROS: - Just about all the specs I'd look for are in this guitar (which is why I'm listing it first): 8 strings, scale length of 29.4", and an ash body. - The Lundgren M8 pup is a serious bonus - The placement of the bridge pickup is the best I've ever seen on a production model. - Ibanez neck profiles are most comfortable to me. - I love the FX Edge iii bridge. CONS: - This is the ceiling of my budget, and it will take more time to save $$. - The fact that this is a signature instrument really bothers me. It won't ever feel like it will be "mine," which is kinda silly. I could probably get over it. - I hear the finish is rather flimsy. I might end up getting a pick-guard in the future. 2) Agile Production Models PROS: - The least expensive option of the 4. - Easier to find the specs that I'd like. - I could mod these instruments to my liking (although I've never modified an instrument before...) CONS: - The limits of Rondo's inventory. I could see myself just settling for something that I find the best out of what they have at a given time, but not what I really want. - It's really difficult to choose since the pictures of the instruments aren't always what they actually look like. - Inconsistency on their quality control (yes, I do know about their return policy, but it's a con nonetheless). Some people get the best instruments they've ever played; others get lemons. - I rarely find ash-bodied guitars in their inventory. - The veneer tops are not that great. 3) Semi-Custom Agile PROS: - I spec this out exactly to my liking: scale length (preferably 30"), ash body, passive pickups, etc. - I can leave out the neck pickup for no extra charge. CONS: - The price more than doubles for an instrument having the specs that I want rather than better quality. - That awkward moment when you realize the price is frighteningly close to that of a custom Kiesel/Carvin after you've spec'd it out. - The waiting period is something I could get through, but it would be the longest. 4) Kiesel Aries Multiscale 8 PROS: - Tons of amazing aesthetic options for a decent price. - Multiscale is plus, but not something I've been dying to use. However, their multiscale models have a longer scale length than by .5", which is why I'd choose the fanned frets over the perpendicular. And it would be a new experience that I may like a lot more than I think I will. - Possibly the best overall quality of all these options. - The waiting period is significantly shorter than that of a semi-custom Agile. CONS: - The scale length. Yes, people complain about this a lot. It probably gets old for you more experienced ERG-ists. For me, there is serious appeal to longer scale for advantages in string tension. - Multiscale is a pro and con. It's more expensive than the perpendicular-fret Aries 8 just for adding .5" on the bass side. Is it worth it? - Considering that I'm likely going to put on a .090 gauge string on this or even bigger, I don't want to end up having to file and drill stuff on a really quality instrument. This is more of minor issue. Again, I'm just looking for the most I can get for the least amount of money. Other info that could be useful: I plan to tune to EADGCFAD, sound > aesthetics, and I'm looking for something more quality than a low-end Ibanez or Schecter that are priced in the Agile range. Maybe it's too soon to think about this; I don't know. The prices are all over the board, so I'd like some direction.