Purchased from: n/a
Sound — 4
First off, the volume difference between the pickups is extreme, noticeable and very, very bad. The neck humbucker is practically a nonentity compared to the massively overpowered and tinny bridge humbucker, and the single coil, while pleasant sounding, just does not have enough output to compete with the bridge pickup. No amount of raising or lowering helped much with this massive imbalance and it still seriously detracts from the overall sound and adaptability of the guitar. I play a variety of styles, and the Ibanez does not cope well with many of them. In hard rock and metal situations, when you can get away with using only the neck humbucker, it is okay. Still very tinny, but it doesdn't sound out of place. For anything else, completely inappropriate. As I have mentioned, it is a very, very treble-heavy guitar. It produces little in the way of midrange and the lower frequencies are only present when you're playing on the neck humbucker, which is utterly pointless thanks to it's volume deficit. While this means that you're unlikely to fight for space with the bassist or rhythm guitarist, it means that it sounds very harsh on the ears, and not in a good way. The cleans are sterile sounding, far too bright on the bridge pickup and far too "quacky" and dead sounding on the neck/middle positions. As with most Ibanez, it takes well to distortion, but you have to be careful with the equaliser, it is all to easy to make it sound like a wasp in a tin can and it is murder to dial in too much treble.
Overall Impression — 4
Overall, I am not very impressed with this guitar. When you pick up an Ibanez, you usually know what to expect, a guitar built for rock and metal music (though usually capable of plenty more) and with the power and feel to suit. On many other lower end guitars, Ibanez have delivered this. On the GRG, they have not. I love little about it, thanks to the sound it produces due to the shoddy pickups, it's very unstable tuning despite the locking tremolo system I really do not enjoy playing this guitar. Final thoughts about this particular GRG? Buy something else. I have honestly given this guitar more than it's fair chance, many professional reviewers spend a few hours, at best a few days, testing an instrument before drawing their conclusions. This is speaking from months upon months of patient experimentation and regular playing in a band situation, just buy something else. Ibanez do many guitars of a similar price that are vastly superior, and in a wider market outside of Ibanez, you don't have to go far to find a better guitar. I have played Squiers and no-name knockoffs that sound better than this. This guitar reeks of one that is designed to entice the unwary new guitarist with nothing more than it's low price and well known name. For shame, Ibanez.
Reliability & Durability — 6
Despite numerous dings, it is fairly reliable it continues to put out it's tinny sound regardless of what happens to it. It would withstand Live playing, but I'm not sure the crowd listening to it would. For this reason, I would not use it live if I had the choice. It has kept it's finish well (dings excluded). No colour wear or scratching.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
As noted earlier, the factory setup was bad. Very bad. The pickups were terribly adjusted and feel/sound low quality despite numerous adjustments. If you want to use this for anything other than bedroom practice, you will want to change the pickups and get a proper setup. However, when peoperly setup it feels very pleasant to play, all that lets it down is the horrendous quality of the electronics. And that is a big, big letdown.
Features — 7
First, let it be known that I do not own this guitar. I have never bought one (and thus perhaps that may lend me credibility, I am not a disappointed buyer or over-the-moon new owner). I am reviewing from nearly a years worth of experience playing around with one that a friend of mine owns, through various amps by Marshall, Vox, Peavey and Line 6. That out of the way, on with the review. I could not tell you when this guitar was made, but it was made in Indonesia. It features a 24 fret, dot inlay neck with a rosewood fingerboard in the typical Ibanez style, flat and slim. Designed for playing high speed lead guitar on, basically. Or would be, but the factory setup was horrendous and it took a great deal of truss rod and action adjustment before it was wrestled into a comfortable state. If new, you will need to get this properly set up before taking it near an amp. The body is, to my knowledge, made out of basswood. It's very soft and dents easily, but is surprisingly resonant for a low end instrument. The finish is a very glossy blue, feels very thick. It's scratch resistant but not so tough when you knock it and it shows fingerprints up exceptionally well, I've never seen a guitar quite as adept at this one for turning the briefest touch of the cleanest hand into a print so clear it would give the entire cast of CSI a heart attack. The cutaways are very deep, and would allow very easy access to the highest frets if it wasn't for the rather unweildy neck joint, which is very obstructive to this. The bridge is modelled off a Floyd Rose, but not very well. The tremolo system loses it's tuning extremely easily, despite the locking nut. And as with all Floyd Rose systems, it can be a royal pain in the behind to get it back into tune if you slip out in any major way. And that is without any major tremolo work, I never use big divebombs or anything in my playing, just gentle vibrato-esque embellishments, and it struggles even with this. The electronics are all passive, and feature a master volume, master tone and a five-way pickup selector. The guitar is loaded with a H/S/H setup, humbucker in the neck position, a single coil in the middle and a bridge position humbucker. It's tuners are presumably no-name Ibanez stock. As far as guitars go, from looking at what it comes with, it should have all the features to make it a solid, adaptable guitar. Thus I give it a seven despite the tremolo system, you can circumvent that by not using it. But read on.