Price paid: $ 850
Purchased from: Huber and Breese, Fraser MI
Features: The Ibanez RG920QMZ is from Ibanez's new Premium line, designed to deliver the performance of a Prestige at a price slightly higher than the standard RG line. This is made in Ibanez's Premium Factory in Indonesia, not in Japan like the Prestiges. It has 24 Jumbo frets, American basswood body with a quilt maple top, 5 piece bolt-on maple/walnut neck with bound rosewood fretboard, and two DiMarzio IBZ humbuckers with a 5 way (yes 5 way) switch. My particular guitar has the Black Ice finish, which actually has a bit of a green tint to it (the stock pics don't do it justice). It also features the Edge Zero II bridge with ZPS3, standard for the Premium line. Unfortunately this does not come with a hard case, it does however come with a nice deluxe gig bag and a really cool swiss-army type tool that includes hex wrenches, screwdrivers, and even a ruler. // 9
Sound: I play a pretty wide range of music but I focus mostly on rock, instrumental rock, and metal, and this guitar certainly delivers. Through my Peavey JSX and array of pedals I can achieve a huge range of sounds. The DiMarzio IBZ pickups are a little thin compared to actual DiMarzios. The neck HB sounds a bit dull and the bridge a bit thin/bright in comparison, but they still get the job done. I particularly like the neck HB for bluesy leads and of course the bridge pickup for crunching rhythm and more trebly leads. Harmonics are easy to achieve, especially on the bridge pickup. My favorite sound though comes from the 4th position, which is the bottom coil of the neck HB and the top coil of the bridge HB, over a clean channel it gives very chimey, Strat-like tones, sounds awesome with a bit of delay and/or modulation. The 5 way switch really allows for a wide variety of tones. Although the IBZs aren't bad, with a pickup swap this guitar would really be a monster. // 8
Action, Fit & Finish: I happened to pick up a demo model, so I don't know how it was set up out of the factory. When I got it, it was set up in D standard with 9s. It played well but I had to perform a setup when I tuned up to E standard. I'm no tech so my setup was modest at best, but even still it plays great. The neck has a very thin satin coating on the back (it is NOT unfinished as it may appear) which makes it very fast in combination with the jumbo frets. The bound fretboard and the fret edge treatment contribute to comfort, important since the Wizard Premium neck is so thin. The only flaws I could find are that the insides of the holes for the neck screws are unfinished and a bit unsightly and that the tone knob is loose, but other than that, the guitar is excellent as far as cosmetics and hardware.
Many are curious about the Edge Pro II bridge, so I decided to do a little test. Bear in mind that I set up the guitar personally, so it's probably not perfect and might have had an effect on the results. With the locking nut disengaged I did a series of divebombs and raises, and each time it knocked all strings slightly out of tune (about 1-1.5 bars sharp/flat on my Korg Pitchblack), and even after going a bit crazy it was only a little bit out of tune overall. With the locking nut engaged, I did 10 divebombs. After the second, the B string was 1 bar sharp, other than that it stayed in tune perfectly. With 10 raises, the low E went flat for the first 5 or so, after that everything else stayed in tune. Finally, after some crazy vibrato, the tuning was not affected. Not bad overall, but I don't quite have 100% confidence in the bridge, though with a professional setup it probably would be better. // 8
Reliability & Durability: This guitar would most likely stand years of wear and tear, I've already bumped it a few times and not a mark was made. It looks like it has a pretty thick topcoat that won't wear easily. The hardware is a darker chrome which means it probably won't stain or show age very easily. Initially I would say that this guitar can stand the wear and tear of gigging/touring, though since it's relatively new, we don't know for sure, only time will tell. // 9
Impression: Overall the RG920QMZ is a solid guitar. For the price, you can't ask too much more for the features and overall quality. It's great for the music I play, but I feel with the versatility of the 5 way switch, it could cover many other genres as well. When shopping around I compared it to the new 25th anniversary RGs and Ss and although they're not much different (they are all from the Premium line), I liked the feel of the 920 best. The S had a different neck that I didn't get along with, and the RG didn't have the binding that makes the 920 so comfortable to play. Compared to Prestiges, this guitar stacks up pretty well. I've played the RG1570 and the JS1000 before, and I would say it is about equal with the 1570 but a step below the JS1000. In summary, if you're looking for a versatile, great looking, and player-friendly guitar, but can't afford a Prestige, definitely give the RG920QMZ a look. // 9