Price paid: $ 283.5
Sound — 10
To clear things up from the get-go: this axe can cut. Really. It'll cut your audience to shreds if you're not careful with it. Personally, we together play, or should I say, kill, anything that says black, death, grind, thrash or you-name-it metal. For classic-rock, blues, jazz or other lame attempts of mine, I set it aside. It really packs too much "oomph" for those musical genres (besides, my playing them isn't that great). What makes it churn out aggression is a reasonably good distortion pedal. In my case, I use a DigiTech RP50 guitar processor, custom-set to the distortion(s) of my liking. To emphasize, I played it during one rehearsal connected as follows: GRG170 - RP50 - a 1950 (yes, year of fabrication), Soviet-made, run-down equalizer with two 100 W speakers that were so out of use that the other guitar (no names given, this is an Ibanez review) was barely as loud as the drum part. The thing that made it howl was it's remarkable build, that, when cranked up to full volume, it absolutely overwhelmed the drums (indeed, I was caught playing out of time because I couldn't hear the drums properly). More recently, I play it through a Fender 65R (reverb is sweet), that took care of any inconveniences related to it's sound. Ok, take three. The tremolo arm. Well, this one is tricky. It has amazing versatility and ease of use (remember it "floats"), allowing even a friend of mine (guitarist for about two months) to bombdive, vibrate, bend or anything else that you wish like the pros. This ease of use can, however, lead to discomfort, as it again needs getting used to; if you plan on using it, make sure you're paying close attention to the hand holding it (I.e. the picking hand, unless some of you have three arms), and don't move it closer or farther from the body or you'l immediately find yourself "floating" and don't know where that came from. That being said, we move on. The axe's sound has a remarkable span. Without distortion, and the Switch placed in 1st position (that is, the uppermost) I stop and think whether Ibanez actually intended to create a "bass + guitar" combo. It actually permeates extremely deep and accurate, and has huge sustain (the lower you turn the tone knob, the more sustain you get). At the other extreme, switch in 5th position (lowest) and tone to the full, you get a very sharp, biting sound, actually ideeal for most black metal tracks; the sustain isn't overwhelming, but any more and it would've made me question whether something was wrong with the guitar itself; naturally, with distortion included. Without, it gives out a high, rich sound, slightly sacrificing the lows (but remember, tone is at the fullest, just crank it a notch down and you'll be fine). The middle pickup positions confer an edgy, thrash-like feel (especially combined with a little palm-muting), sacrificing neither tone not sound in the process. Flaws? Well, there is one. In 1st position with tone at the lowest and without distortion, the low strings tend to buzz, giving it a "slap-bass" feel. Still, this is only due to the fact that, at one point, I wanted to experiment with some "alternate tunings". Switching from E to B to E to B to E to B to E and everywhere in between over the course of 24 hours is surely going to have an effect on the tuners and on the string-length, mind you. Don't go doing this. Get a second guitar if you want a low tuning (such as B), and leave it on that note! Overall, the sound of the guitar is fully deserving of a 10. So: - Music: fits like a metal glove (black, death, thrash, "etc" metal). - Amps & Effects: DigiTech RP50, Fender 65R amp (currently). - Tremolo: floating bombdives and easy handling. - Sound: clean and clear or rough and dirty. Your choice, it delivers. - Variety: from demonic sustain to slashing highs and all in between.
Overall Impression — 10
Ah, yes, the part where subjectivity kicks in (have you noticed how "objective" this review was from the get-go? ). The styles of music I play, as I mentioned earlier, are mostly the Metal subgenres, with an occasional pull of a bluesish pentatonic. To me, this guitar fills every need I might have concerning any and all "heavy" music. It simply molds itself to any need I might have, and fills it in style. Sure, I DO have that Peavey Raptor as well, using it as a practice guitar, but the GRG will remain foremost. If I had had a question to ask before I'd bought it, then that question would irreversibly be: "Does it come as a "2 for 1" special?"... and if it were - forbidden be the thought - lost; or worse - stolen, then I'd definitely get another one. Simply put, this is my guitar. What I love most about it is it's demeanor. I compared it to the Raptor: whilst the latter is an extremely comfortable guitar, quite literally screaming "play me!" (I don't speak "guitar", though, sadly), the Ibanez stands firm, proud and distinguished, with a superior look on it's face; It took me a while before I could subdue and befriend it, unlike the Peavey's "I go with anyone" attitude. Yet that's what the beauty of taming is all about. What do I hate about it? Possibly everything, possibly nothing. But the thing that ticks my nerves, still, is the aforementioned buzzing frets (though, I reiterate, that is not a fault of the builder). And, lastly, my favourite feature of the guitar is, as you might not have guessed, the neck. 24 medium frets of sizzling speed, Ultra-fast picking and high screams, on a fast and responsive neck. That is, ultimately, what the GRG 170 is all about. Versatility and adaptability, all with an affordable price tag.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Live? Did you ask about performing live? It was built for Live performances. The GRG 170 practically fells the audience, the neighbours or anyone else that happens to be around you while playing. With looks to kill and power to match this guitar is, in my humble opinion, the closest you're going to get to some 4000-euro custom. In addition, I can safely say the hardware is rock solid. I accidentally dropped it from about a meter onto hard concrete, and all it did was chip a little off the bottom; the tuning, machine heads and, more importantly, pickups didn't suffer any shock what'soever due to the impact. Three days afterwards I was still firmly convinced that THAT hadn't happened, and if it hadn't been for the chipped side, I would still have thought so today. The strap buttons are dependable, fully; but take into account that it is a heavy guitar. I did the folly of placing the old Peavey strap onto the Ibanez; now, compare the weight of a 3 kg guitar to the GRG's 6. Needless to say it started to break about a month of use. So, heavy guitar, heavy strap. At a gig, I normally show with only my trusted axe at my side; all the others have about two guitars / basses with them at every show; me, with only the "bane" (affectionally named), reliable and assuring, give out as much as any of the others, and receive as much praise. So, in that sense, it is dependable. The finish, as I have mentioned before, is solid and quite thick; no nooks or crannies so far, and I'm waiting with horror for the day when it will start to chip away. I probably guess that'll occur about two to three years from now. For it's remarkable durability, I dub the GRG with yet another 10.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
I've had little to no trouble in the shop whilst drooling at the guitar. Most experienced guitarists will scorn me for this (and rightfully so), but about 30-40% of my decision to buy it was made on account of it's looks. Still, it's factory set-up being overly satisfying, I went home carrying the first guitar I sat down to try out. Not many people, including myself, can say that about a guitar. Pick-up-wise, there was no reason to go out modifying their height. A great configuration, to which I only changed the neck pick-up with a DiMarzio (and that solely because I always had a thing for them). Still, the "sound" characteristics shown above are taken with the original pick-up in place (especially put back to give you, kind readers, an honest idea), so that doesn't interfere with the original pickup situation. The bridge was (and is, I haven't changed a thing to it) in superb condition, yet I must stress out once again that CARE is needed to handle the tremolo arm. Otherwise, great sound, was hardly a pitch out of tune after about one hour of quasi-constant tremolo-soloing (yes, I am becoming the new YJM, bow before me). As for the flaws, well, there are no apparent ones this far into use. The finish gets somewhat easily soiled with fingerprints (don't you wish humans would just stop letting out fat through their fingers? ), and the neck can get a little dirty at times, but with the proper care and attention the guitar needs, and minimal hygene (something like: "this is called s.o.a.p."), the axe will happily stay in shape for a lengthy period. All in all, a deserved 10 points to the GRG.
Features — 9
So, enter, stage right, the GRG170DX! My particular model is fairly new, 2005-made, in the lands of Indonesia. Right, now let's get to the basics, tackling each item in order. The guitar features a 24 medium - fret neck, which I can only classify as thick. The specs for the neck are detailed on the home website (which I encourage readers to check out); but, in comparison, a Peavey's neck as compared to this one is like stacking baby David against mother Goliath. It definitely needs time to sink in, but when you've got it mastered, boy, you are flying! The entire axe is made out of a single (as I gather, and if not, it shows tremendously fine bindig) piece of basswood, with a full-on black (in my particular case) finish. Featuring a Fat10 bridge, and incorporating a floating tremolo (to which aspect I shall return), a simple, "One volume + one tone knob" combination (simplicity does pay off; really) and a 5-way pickup selector that enables you to Switch in between the H/S/H layout, this guitar might be the quintessence of the affordable "metal axe"! Sadly, though, mine didn't come with any added accessories, leaving me to "fend for myself". Still, I don't think this can be a generalised issue. On the whole, the features of the guitar make it very appealing, their versatility earning the GRG 170 some 9 points. Why 9 and not 10? Well, because of it's neck, that in my case needed a little getting used to. I might chuck in here a complaint concerning the lack of jumbo or even medium-jumbo frets, but I'll leave it out, considering that: this guitar isn't really that suited for beginners, and medium frets mean faster action.