Price paid: $ 400
Purchased from: MusiciansFriend
Sound — 7
I listen to artists such as Dream Theater, Symphony X, and Steve Vai and this guitar is a pretty okay fit with my style of playing. THE PICKUPS: If you just want to thrash out some metal with your garage band, these puppies will hold up just fine. However, if you're going for that HUGE sound like the bands listed you will have to replace the pickups or this guitar is not for you. The stock Infinity Series aren't bad pickups, but they will leave you wanting in some areas. Bridge position is all business. Harmonics are easy and arpeggios are crystal clear... Almost too crystal clear. This pickup as I have found is on the weak side. Quite thin and trebley lacking very much so in the mid and low region. Cleans are all treble and almost tinny. The second pickup position splits the bridge pup with your middle single coil which has A LOT of advantages. All of those mids and lows you were begging for are suddenly there, but your harmonics and arpeggios are just as easy and clear. The highs are more showcased here rather than exaggerated. Cleans are beautiful. The single coil in the middle, unfortunately, is bad any way you slice it. Clean, it's nothing but mids and lows unless you do some serious work with the tone knob. Add a little bit of overdrive and you've got a decently nice fat bottom end bluesy sound (which for my style of playing is something I never do). Going to this setting while using your normal metal distortion is the worst idea you could ever have and should be deemed a sin against all of human kind. Unless you like screeching feedback and pickup hum keep movin' that Switch right along. The neck/single coil pickup position is by far my favorite on the guitar. Searing trebley highs are not my thing (hence the listening to John Petrucci). This position is the closest thing you'll get to those smooth beautiful leads with great articulation of notes even when playing at phenomenal speeds. Harmonics are not gonna be there for you when you call though... The neck position still gives you those smooth leads but when playing lower riffs it gets very muddy as you would expect it to. THE NECK: I own an RG that has the rosewood fretboard and I must say that the maple makes a huge difference in brightness. Not overbearing, but great. All of this being said. Replace the pickups (if you want anything better than "good" or "just okay") with a set from DiMarzio that suit your playing style.
Overall Impression — 9
For the price "you can't beat it with a money stick." It's definitely a metal guitar. Outstanding value. I've played much worse in this price range. I really wish I had heeded the warnings of so many people screaming GOD NO THE EDGE III NO NO NO DONT! But I did anyway so until I scrounge up some more money it's one of the collection. Overall: Great guitar for the $$$ Replace the decent stock pickups, avoid the edge III with any purchase, hooray for maple necks and maple fretboards. If anyone stole this black behemoth I would probably murder them then move on and upgrade to something else with a "little somethin more" leaving room for burying a body in there somewhere. Next guitar purchase will be a Prestige. Hopefully they'll come out with some more RG's that have the ZPS3 in the meantime.
Reliability & Durability — 7
Live playing with this thing is a hassle. Sure it sounds great, but you can have the best tone in the world and if you're out of tune you sound like s%@& and everyone will know it. If you've read the other reviews then you will know the finish on the hardware is thin and wears off rather quickly (not a big problem for me) The strap buttons are as solid as can be. I've broken 2 straps with this thing (probably because it's heavy as crap) and the pegs are still just as there as they ever were. As anyone will tell you NEVER EVER EVER gig a guitar with a floating trem without a backup. I've had my own share of bad experiences. Break a string and your show is over right then and there. The finish is as durable as anything I have seen. So far no scratches or dings. I probably baby it a bit much. I dropped my last one on asphalt with rather damaging results and an hour or two of sheer horror. What a scarring experience.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
First off, when i received the guitar I immediately put it through my own inspection. The set-up was as expected, very low as most Ibanez fans would prefer. Even though I like a med. High action there's just one thing I cannot stand and that's fret buzz... There was A LOT. Easily fixed though. I just used the included wrenches to raise the action. Quick fix. Pickup height was really good which is pretty rare for factory setups. Saddles and frets were all good No burrs. No chips on hardware or body finish. Tip: Go ahead and tighten the nut on the input jack a lot just as soon as you get it. THE CURSE ON HUMANITY THAT IS THE EDGE III: At first this bridge wasn't much of a problem for me. I'd owned one before and it was decent. Didn't use it much so it never gave me problems. But as my style shifted towards using it more often (I figure if it's there you'd better do something to incorporate it) I started having more and bigger issues. I never had anything so drastic as breaking it out of the body, but it has been a nuisance nonetheless and that's putting it nicely.... very nicely. It started out as having to retune it after every playing session (not bad for a floating trem) but slowly grew to it going out after mild playing. It has gotten to where it will go out of tune after even the most modest use of the tremolo. I can bump it in either direction and I have to bump it back to ensure it returns to the "zero point". I was getting frustrated and my attempts at helping the situation were apparently not working so I took it to my localish guitar repair store to get it setup correctly. Much to my dismay i was charged extra when the tuning peg broke during setup by the quite rude guitar techs that work there. The setup was low again so I raised it back up a bit when I got home. It helped for... About a week. The trem now does the same thing and is so bad I have to keep from using it when playing live and recording unless I have time to retune it every five seconds. I use elixir 9's so tension should not be a problem under normal circumstances. Changing strings is the worst experience I've ever had with these bridges. Literally an hour and a half long process of changing one string at a time. Tuning and retuning and retuning and retuning and retuning etc. you get the picture. It makes you want to kill yourself. I've played on Prestiges with the edge pro for extended periods of time (a friend of mine owns one) and I've had no such problems. This bridge just seems to be of very poor design. I've heard nothing but negative feedback about it. But with a guitar in this price range, compromises are to be expected.
Features — 8
At first glance of this lovely black beast, you will notice a lot of great features for a guitar under the $500 price range. It has 24 frets, a pretty low cutout, and a nicely rounded neck joint making hitting those high frets a breeze. 3pc maple/walnut neck with a !MAPLE! fretboard (quite rare for lower model rg's). Even with the basswood body this thing is still pretty darn heavy. Edge III bridge (I know I know... But eh, what else can you expect). Infinity series pickups. Volume&Tone knobs with 5-way selector that proves itself to be quite versatile. Locks up top as you would expect. Pretty decent stock tuners. Comes with that POS cord that Ibanez always throws in, all necessary wrenches, extra trem spring, and manual.