Price paid: £ 50
Purchased from: reseller in Woolwich
Features — 8
Built in the late 1980s in Japan. Japan is a byword for mass production but unlike Taiwan it's also noted for quality products. Many guitar companies who have overseas factories, their superior models are made in Japan. Fender have a fascinating (to me!) history of quality varying according to age and country. I found my RG140 Roadstar II in resale shop when I was living in Woolwich in London. She was hanging on the wall and as soon as I saw the name Ibanez I knew it would be my best purchase that year. The guys in the shop didn't know what they had, just describing it as "a good guitar" as I gave them £50!
Ibanez use what they call a "Duo-Sound" for coil-tapping the humbucker via the control knob. My Roadstar is one of the earlier 1983 models. Made using flamed maple wood and a Hard Rocker bridge. The neck is made of maple. The controls are limited to one tone and one volume knob. Wish it had more tone controls and a tone switch
Sound — 10
Fantastic sound on these guitars. None of that 1980's synthetic squeal that became popular with metal bands or a synthesized sound. The Roadstar gives a full, rich, meaty sound thats perfect for hard rock or metal for those who like their music to be real and honest and not played by posers on stage who are more interested in selling units and playing whatever will be played on commercial radio.
The guitar has a big sound the harmonics are complete from bass through to treble. It doesn't have the bottom timbre of a Gibson guitar, but at a fraction of the price this guitar can play everything from Cream and Mountain to Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica or Slayer. It doesn't have a sweet sound and I don't use it for lyrical guitar solos. The best impression you can obtain of the sound is the Black Sabbath 1982 "Live Evil" album. Particularly listen to the "Paranoid" track when Tony Iommi launches into the guitar solo. Those opening notes give you a real idea of the Roadstar sound, although Tony is playing a type of Gibson SG.
I've found linking the Roadstar to DOD Death Metal pedal with my DigiTech Blues Screamer pedal unleashes the kind of awesome sustain that turns you instantly into Jimi Hendrix playing Voodoo Chile live. Hell there's live recordings of Hendrix and others with a great load of stacks turned up to 11 which fail to match the sustain of Roadstar with Death Metal and Blues Screamer pedals. The sound obtained with this combination is very end of the 1960s early 1970s guitar rock: mostly mid and low tones and top harmonics are altered into a distinctive retro slightly phased sound. There's no noise problems with this guitar even using my knackered Demon amplifier.
I've also found this guitar with a variety of pedals great at making noise metal: endless textured distorted and aggressive overlaying tones and harmonics, many will hate the sound but for a guitarist who wants to take a guitar to sonic extremes this will be hard to beat.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
There are over 60 models in the range. Mine is a red sunburst design. Volume and tone knobs are transparent yellow acrylic in a cookie cutter shape. Action is great on my guitar I've not had to make any adjustments on the bridge or the pickups. Neck was in perfect condition. The machine heads hold the strings in tune well. They are harder to turn than my other guitars but the advantage is they hold the tuning no matter how much the guitar is thrashed. The fretboard is very easy to play and preferable to the stratocasters and their copies.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Solidly built and plays well. No problem live or the vicissitudes of touring. One of the toughest guitars built. Totally reliable plug in and it will deliver the goods. Didn't have to make any adjustments so that speaks about the reliability in itself. Doesn't go out of tune when playing high fret solos, the machine heads are made so well as to cope with hard rock playing which the guitar was envisioned for. The jack socket is well mounted and has had no buzz or loosening problems which is what I've seen in the guitars. This maybe die to the design which is washer and hexagonal socket perpendicular to the guitar body instead of the more common angled new with a metal flash you see on stratocasters.
Overall Impression — 10
In your hands this guitar has that physical and tangible feel you associate with a bass guitar, and a feel I wish most guitars had. It's perfect for rock and metal unless you're a hair metal band more worried about your makeup than thundering out chords and solos that herald the Apocalypse. This goes well with my cheap amps making them perform in a manner that wouldn't be expected from them. I love the fretboard and the quality of the pickups but I wish Ibanez had included a tone switch and another tone knob. If I lost it I would immediately replace it with another Roadstar II but preferably with a similar model with all the additional tone controls.