Price paid: C$ 750
Purchased from: Long & McQuade
Sound — 8
I spend most of my time playing in a wedding/function band, so versatility is very important for me. I generally play through a Mesa Boogie Dual Rec Roadster, and that amp will be my reference for this guitar. Clean tone from this guitar are really quite good considering the intended application of the guitar (shredding). The bridge pickup is a little HOT for really nice cleans, but it is definitely usable. The neck pickup, meanwhile, is a gem on clean tones. It's warm, thick and tight- perfect for strumming or single notes. Unlike most RG's, this guitars' "in between" settings- those using positions 2-4 on the switch- are relatively tame. Position 2 is quite Strat-like, being a little pokey but very chimey and bright. Position 3 sounds like the middle position on a Les Paul - thick and meaty with a little bit of a nasal sounding mid-range. Position 4 - which features the Air Norton S in parallel - is very cool because it offers a different take on your normal neck sound rather than something totally different. In generally, this guitar covers a fairly wide range of clean tones, but rather fewer than a typical RG might. Mid gain tones are generally quite good. The bridge pickup easily drives most amps into fairly saturated crunch, but it works wonderfully to maintain clarity and note separation. It is a little HOT for most general rock work, but it is definitely better than most "metal" pickups out there. The neck pickup is great for lead tones- single note lines ring out clearly with a lovely bell-like chime. Chords are a little bit of a mixed bag, as the pickup is a little bit too warm to have lots of gain while playing chords. However, triads played up the neck sound very nice and pop out of an unfriendly mix very well. Getting into higher gain settings, the guitar really comes into its own. The bridge pickup is able to maintain stunning clarity and definition even with tremendous gain. I'm not convinced that it sounds anything like an active pickup, as DiMarzio claims, but it is a very good passive pickup for high gain. It is nice and balanced, providing good chugging lows, clear chording and razor-sharp lead lines. The neck pickup, meanwhile, is a shredders dream. It's thick and warm without becoming sloppy or ill-defined. It has a wonderful vocal quality that gives long, sustaining notes feel and character. This thing sings! The in between settings are, again, less extreme and more just variants of what you get from the pickups running solo. Overall, this guitar obviously excels at hard-rock and metal. It is just plain excellent. In my mind, this is more a lead guitarists instrument, given the truly excellent nature of the lead sounds. This is not to say that the rhythm tones are at all weak, its just that the lead tones are incredible. Additionally, the guitar has good all-around capabilities- it can play most anything, though it isn't always in its element and it's pretty clear when this is happening.
Overall Impression — 8
I bought this guitar on a little bit of a whim- I was bored in a guitar shop, played it and decided that I needed a Christmas present for myself. However, I am very happy with it. It joins my fleet of completely random and unrelated guitars in my main live rig, and it fits right in with them. It is definitely best for metal and rock, but I've played a couple of Christmas parties and fundraisers with it, and it's proven to be quite capable of playing nearly anything. Even when it's out of its element, it still manages to produce good tones - a testament to the quality of the pickups. What really appeals to me about the guitar though, is the neck. It's wide, super slim and flat. It is a shredders dream, but somehow manages to feel comfortable for nearly anything. I'm definitely drawn to thin necks most of the time (though my collection features some baseball bats too), and this one is one of the better ones. It's super fast without being a one trick pony, and I love that. I really am loving this guitar. It sounds very good, plays great and looks pretty neat to boot. I don't think for a second that it's for everybody, but for rockers who need to play stuff other than metal on occasion (or a lot, as the case may be), it is an excellent option.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I have only had this guitar for a few weeks now, but I've had a chance to gig it a few times, and it has been very good. As with any FR equipped guitar, you don't want to risk going without a backup, but this guitar really hasn't had any issues yet. As I mentioned earlier, I have found the Edge-Zero II trem to be very decent. It isn't quite as smooth as some better designs, but I think it is at least as good as a FR-1000. It stays in tune and is fairly easy to set-up. Otherwise, the guitar appears quite solid. The parts all seem very sturdy, and it is a relatively simple guitar, so I can't really foresee anything going terribly wrong. That being said, the guitar is quite delicate feeling compared to something like a Telecaster or a Les Paul. This isn't a knock on Ibanez, but rather a combination of my own prejudices and simple limitations of a wafer-thin neck.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
This is where the guitar begins to show its Indonesian origins. Generally, the workmanship is quite good- the frets are well installed and damn near perfect and the neck feels great in your hands. However, there are some finish issues around the headstock. They aren't major, but you do notice them and they're a hair unsightly. Additionally, the factory set-up had the action far too high, and the locking nut was ever so slightly loose. Both of these are very easy fixes (it took me all of 10 minutes), but I would rather not have to do them in the first place. That being said, with a couple tweaks, the guitar was good out of the box. Intonation was good, the trem was properly adjusted and neck relief was spot-on. However, it gets a 7 because there are factory flaws, regardless of how minor they may be.
Features — 8
The Ibanez RG3XXV is one of 3 RG's available from Ibanez to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the RG model. This particular guitar is a tribute to the original RG565 from the early 1990's. My particular guitar was made in Indonesia in 2012. Construction wise, this guitar is classic RG - 3 piece maple Wizard III neck, basswood body, bolt-on neck joint. However, this model does feature a couple of very cool tweaks to the design including a reversed headstock, a maple fingerboard and colour matching fretboard dots (mine are red). The body is finished with a thick metallic looking lacquer and the neck is left with an unfinished feel. The frets are Jumbo sized frets made from an unspecified material- though they feel fairly hard. Hardware wise, this guitar is quite good for the money. It features an Ibanez Edge-Zero II locking trem system, which is quite decent in my experience (though not quite as good as a top-end trem). Additionally, the guitar features an Ibanez locking nut and Ibanez non-locking sealed tuners. The pickups on this guitar are a well thought-out pair - a DiMarzio D'Activator in the bridge and an Air Norton S in the neck. This pair combine to give a tremendous amount of versatility and power, but more on that later. The pickups are controlled by a 5-way super-switch, 1 volume knob and 1 tone knob. This guitar, sadly, did not come with a case or even a gigbag (though an Ibanez case is reasonably affordable) - but I had a spare Ibanez case sitting around. Otherwise, I think that the spec of this guitar is quite decent, particularly when you consider the price.