Sound — 8
This is actually one of the most versatile guitars I've played given that you know how to adjust an amp. Using the Vetta II as my primary amp, the potential tones are quite endless. It's obvious, this guitar is built for metal, and metal is what it does... SECOND best. The BEST sounds you will get out of this guitar will be playing jazz. Nothing says fat like 8 strings, nothing says fatter like a set of 808's in a basswood body. The tone you can get with it is huge. The 8th string is great for extending into a bassists territory then ascending back into the guitar territory. I love being able to compliment every member of a band because I now have the range to do that with, something you just can't do without 8 strings or one crazy tuning on a 7 or less. Another thing I love about this guitar, out of the 3 pickup selections, all 3 sound great. Most of the guitars I've used have sounded mediocre in the middle position. Something I would skip over or have to use to achieve a niche. The middle selection on the RG2228 is more than tolerable, it's good. For metal, I've always said 8 strings can be played 3 ways. 1. Ride the 8th string and use it as percussion, a la Meshuggah. Works great, as expected. Instead of using the 8th string with power chords, keep the notes individual to avoid mud. 2. Replace the strings so the guitar is BEADGBea and have an extended high end with the low end of a 7 string. Similar to Rusty Cooley. 3. Play it like a 7 string, where you base most everything off of the B, and then use the 8 for extended lows or simplifying chords/riffs. My only gripe is the EMG's. They're not as hot as the other EMG's. When making the pickups, they're calibrated so the low strings will be equally as loud as the quiet pickups, which kills the punch on the low end. Although, this keeps the guitars volume fairly even, when you're playing high gain it tends to get compressed. I find that I get great results when I EQ specifically for the 8 string, otherwise the tone is just average. I only notice this with high gain though.
Overall Impression — 8
You should know whether this guitar is for you or not. If you're a blues, classic rock, or 80's metal kind of guy, or the one Who flames everyone who tunes below 1/2 step down, this guitar isn't for you. If you like Meshuggah, try it out! If you play jazz, try it out! If you tune your 7 strings down, try it out! If you're just curious, try it out! Everyone I know has been surprised, not only at the fact it has 8 strings, but how usable all 8 strings are and the quality of sound I get from it. I wouldn't buy another RG2228, but I will buy another 8 string, preferably a multi-scale (fanned fret) model. Is the guitar easy to play? No. If you have no experience with 7 strings, this guitar might be a huge challenge. If you're a 7 string player, you might be wondering, what the hell do I do with this extra string. It takes some time to extend your scales to the extra string, adjust to the wider neck, longer scale, and bigger strings. After you're adjusted to it you can go as far as to say it's very comfortable. Is it easy to play considering what it is? Yes. The guitar, if adjusted well, isn't painful, it is very useful, and well made. If you've played 7 strings for a while, within a few hours the 8th should be easier to incorporate without riding on it. Within a month or so, if you still have the guitar, chances are you won't look back. Pros: 8 strings Good price for 8 string guitar Awesome case Plays well after you adjust to it and adjust it Sounds great Surprisingly versatile Cons: Takes a while to adjust to EMG 808's only Ibanez Customer Support Not the best for heavy bending Non stainless steel frets will wear down quick
Reliability & Durability — 2
Everything about this guitar seems solid except for the saddles. I'm sure I'm the only one with this concern though. Would I gig without a backup? Certainly. Does the hardware seem like it will last? Everything on there is great except for that saddle. Can I depend on it? Depends on how many times I have to change strings. Here's where I'm not going to let Ibanez Live this down, and I can't find a better place for this. Customer Support is a huge weak spot for them. I first started off calling Ibanez/Hoshino, they would put me on hold for an hour then it would just disconnect. I tried this at least once a day for 2 weeks. I eventually gave up with that and searched Ibanez parts on google, sweetwater popped up. They had a description stating how they were experts with Ibanez parts, seemed generic, but I was planning on chewing someone out if it was BS. They were able to order a replacement saddle, which Ibanez had build specifically for me, I guess they don't expect problems to arise, which took about 5 weeks, and then it was shipped, which took about another week. Big thanks to sweetwater for the help, big F YOU to Ibanez for the lack of help. I'm going to give this 2/10 because of Ibanez unwillingness to help a customer. The guitar itself gets a 10. I would almost guarantee the saddles are near perfect, I think I got a bad one, of everyone on SS.org, I'm the only one Who has had this issue, and Hoshino even said I was the first person to have a broken saddle. I've changed strings twice since the incident, no problems, it isn't comforting though.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The guitar itself was perfect as far as quality of construction and finishing. The action, however, was horrible. The strings were way off of the fretboard. It takes quite a while adjusting this guitar as well, don't expect a quick turn of the truss rod to make this thing play like an RG550. I found myself turning the truss rod 1/8th turns at a time and raising and lowering the bridge, trying to avoid dead frets on all 8 strings... The setup took about an hour. This wasn't a big deal to me though. Why, you might ask? When you play an 8 string, it's very different than everything else you've used. Chances are you want to make this guitar fit you to make it as comfortable and usable as possible. I now have mine strung up with an 80-10. The stock one was 72 I believe. By trying to avoid excessive tension on the high strings, and flabbiness on the low strings, many people are going to have different preferences of strings. As far as the feel of it goes, it's easily playable if you can visually interpret the guitar as a 6 or 7 string with 2 or 1 extra strings, respectively. The neck is flat, but curved enough to not dig into your hand. The width isn't hard to get used to, and overall it feels great. My problem is the 27" scale. Schecter guys will love this, Ibanez guys(me) will probably complain. The high strings are drawn tight if you don't have a custom guage set of strings installed. This can make bending difficult if not compensated for. The additional stretching involved combined with the wider neck can make it a little slow to play at first. If I were playing a show, I would warm up for at least 20 minutes before hitting the stage. I give it an 8 because the action is adjustable, a poorly built guitar isn't. This guitar is far from poorly built. And I'm taking that down to 7 because of Ibanez's emphasis on how easy it is to adjust to if you've never played it before.
Features — 9
This is a Prestige model, so you know you're getting a quality guitar. Came with one of the nicest cases I've seen, black gator skin with white trim, and talk about case candy, 80+page thick prestige book, allen wrenches and whatnot. But onto the important stuff... The neck is a hefty 27" scale, 24 fret Wizard 8 string neck. It's not too much thicker than my RG7621's neck but the width is what I would worry about. I believe it has a rosewood fretboard, I say I believe because it's very dark, closer to ebony in color. The neck is composed of maple and wenge. The frets are "Xjumbo" however, they feel closer to medium-jumbo. Which leads to my first gripe, this guitar should have stainless frets. Big strings burn frets down quicker than fire in a barn. I've already noticed a decent amount of wear as it is. All guitars over $800 should have stainless frets Standard IMO. 8 gotoh tuners sit atop the massive guitar. The bridge being an Edge 3 concerns a lot of people. I'm the only person to own this guitar to have had a bridge problem yet. One of the saddles Busted when I was changing strings. I don't forsee this happening again, and I don't understand how it happened in the first place. The saddles are extremely heavy steel... 2 EMG 808 pickups. These have been the main concern so far with the posters after the previous review. I can say, these are the best EMG's I've used. They have the fatness of an EMG 85 but they clean up like a 60 or 89. If you roll off on the tone knob you can get a jazzy fat clean tone. If you set it to 10 it's very clear, piano like, or dry and dark, extremely versatile, and responds to amps well. I do have my complaints with them though. The build of the guitar is great, it's a prestige, you shouldn't expect any less. I would have given it a 10 if they had a pickup option for EMG's or some sort of Standard 8 string passive pickup.