Features: The Ibanez RGD321 that I am reviewing is owned by a friend who has loaned it to me the past several weeks for me to check out the new Wizard III necks. This guitar was made in 2011. The RGD321 has a 26.5 inch scale in order to make down tuning easier and have more standard string tension with regular gauges of strings. The body is basswood, the neck is maple, the standard Ibanez Gibraltar Standard non-tremolo bridge is on this thing and it is a great little guitar. The inlays are RGD specific fret inlays which are a nice change from the standard Ibanez Shark Tooth inlays. The pickups are passive humbuckers with V bar pole pieces made by Ibanez with the VK1-Down Tunz in the neck and the VK2-Down Tunz in the bridge. This monster has 24 fast jumbo frets.
There is a 5 way pickup selector on here with just the two humbuckers. My friend I'm borrowing this from, when asked about it, just kind of shrugged so I did some research. The selector all the way in bridge position is exactly that the bridge humbucker. The second position is half of each humbuckers neck and bridge. The third and middle position is both humbuckers, both coils on each. The fourth position is both coils in the neck humbuckers in parallel. The fifth position is both coils in the neck in series. This gives you a WIDE range of tones. You would really have to have it in your hands to see everything you can do with this, and I believe is a pretty unique feature. // 9
Sound: I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised because while I LOVE the Ibanez Wizard necks I am not a big fan of their stock pickups, but these Down Tunz pickups are pretty slick. While you might prefer some DiMarzios at some point down the road, these definitely make a better impression of themselves than the stock pickups in other RGs that I have got my hands on. Before I begin going into details, most of my testing was done with a Vox Tonelab ST running into a Peavey Transtube 212 EFX or the ToneLab ran into a Blackheart Little Giant with a 12" cab. I also did a little testing with my Vox JamVox and the accompanying software.
Immediately, I have to say great clarity on high notes, good chugging and each pickup position has a good individual sound. The volume knob is great for rolling back to a cleaner tone, and the tone knob does its job as it should. Instead of going into insanely detailed descriptions of each pickup position, I'll just give you a brief summary. The 1st position (bridge) does what it should, sound great for some high gain biting solos. The 2nd position is what I use for cleaner things and some cleaner rhythm and it does its job well. The 3rd position, which is both full humbuckers really does sound "full on" and was a little much for me the tone sounded a little flabby or something here, like it was just too much. I messed with it a little and couldn't really do much with it except for completely clean rhythm. The 4th position is hard to describe, but I enjoyed it I was messing around with just some heavy riffing and it seemed to fit well. The fifth position sounds like you would expect from a neck humbuckers.
The one thing about these pickups, while I do like them for stock Ibanez pickups, they do seem like they are pretty transparent and really take on the character of the amp and effects I'm using. This could be a bad or a good thing, I guess, depending on your personal taste. I personally like pickups to have their own voice and character. I think my other guitars sound like my guitars through whichever amp I play them through, but I had a hard time feeling this way about the stock pickups in this Ibanez RGD321. // 8
Action, Fit & Finish: The Ibanez RGD321 comes in D standard tuning, and when I got this from my friend this is how he had it tuned with some 10 56 gauge strings. My friend stated that he has not adjusted anything on here, besides changing strings once and keeping it in tune. The action was really good, but I lowered it just a hair more. I messed with tuning this thing to D standard, C standard, Drop A#, and Drop D. It really could take whatever I tried to throw at it here. My only concern is when I was tuning to E standard the tension wasn't a joke. No strings broke but it had about the same tension you would get with some 12's in E standard on a normal guitar. This is too much tension in my personal opinion, but a lot of people like it.
The Wizard III necks are awesome. The radius on this joker is almost 16 inches according to my metric to standard conversion calculator. You have all kinds of room for bending. You can shred without your fingers tripping over each other. You can really feel the breathing room here. The finish and hardware were immaculate. // 10
Reliability & Durability: The Ibanez RGD321 is a very sturdy guitar that would be good to go for some gigging and touring. All the hardware is solid, the strap buttons are good, the neck is joined to the body very tight and looks and feels near indestructible. While I wouldn't gig without a backup because it is just bad philosophy, I don't see any potential problems with this guitar. It is really great, and I've been impressed with it as every RG that I've messed with even more so than some of the cheaper models with tremolo bridges because there are less moving parts. The finish is a nice flat black that I'm actually pretty fond of. // 8
Overall Impression: I play everything from classic rock, to overdriven blues, to thrash metal and hard rock. To be honest, because of my personal style and taste in music this probably isn't the guitar for me, though I still appreciate it for what it is. I'm actually really intrigued by the electronics and the 5 positions for the 2 humbuckers. I think this would be a great feature to be standard. I've been playing probably about 5 years now and I've owned mainly lower to mid level Ibanez RGs, a few of their ArtCore series, a G&L S500 and some other odds and ends. I've played on American and MIM Strats, and I've played some lower level Gibson instruments. I think this Ibanez definitely is awesome for what it is for, which is for heavy down tuned music.
The fret inlays, by the way, are awesome. I didn't realize how tired the Shark Tooth inlays were getting until I got a chance to see these RGD inlays they look a little like upside down check marks. I love them, and wish they were on some other RGs. If this were lost/stolen then I would be in trouble because this isn't mine and I would have to replace it. So I guess I would try to hunt the punk down and do whatever was necessary to get it back, or failing that I would buy another to replace it for my friend. Again, while this is an awesome guitar, and I've been impressed with it it just isn't my cup of tea. I don't play that heavy and I don't down tune that much, though this has definitely been fun and I've written a lot of down tuned riffs since I've been playing around with it. On a final note, the angled edges of the body are ugly to me. Some people might like these I mean you can see them in the picture so decide before you buy but to me they were unappealing. // 7
- Brandon East (c) 2011