RG550 review by Ibanez

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.8 (97 votes)
Ibanez: RG550

Price paid: £ 185

Purchased from: Phoenix soundworks

Sound — 9
Plugged into a Fender supersonic or Marshall JCM-2000 there isn't really much this guitar can't do. This is helped by the slightly lower output pickups. EMGs these things aren't, so distorted chords sound like they should do. Flicking the 5-way selector into the varying settings really allows the tonal range of this guitar to be opened up. In the neck position, a nasal tone that would do for classic rock/shred, whilst in the next position a tone that would give most strats a run for their money in the blues field. The middle (single coil) pickup, is the only bad apple. It has a tone that really bites for crunchy rock and country twang, but it has a tendency to distort. Noise is also an issue with this pickup. If left with the amp running, a fair amount of hiss/buzzing can be heard with the guitar left in this position. The 4th position on the pickup selector really gives a funky tone, and the bridge pickup is the one for you metal heads. It's packed with clarity and plenty of clearly defined attack. You just have to touch the strings to get squawking pinched harmonics. This guitar also sounds pretty good through a small practice amp, though for obvious reasons isn't as good as through a good quality tube amp.

Overall Impression — 9
I play anything from clean folk to grinding metal, and this guitar covers all of these genres. I've been playing for quite a while now and this guitar seems to suit my playing style. The neck is very quick and will suit all you shredders, and it's also fat enough to play chords and riffing. If it were stolen, I would probably not buy it again, but that's player choice. Comparable guitars would be the higher end Jackson dinky models or any other good superstrat.

Reliability & Durability — 9
As with all super strats, you must take them with a pinch of salt. I would never gig without a backup guitar, purely because of the Floyd Rose. This doesn't really reflect on the quality of the guitar. If you have looked on my profile and seen the condition of my RG550 you will see how it can withstand the hells of gigging quite well. It's never needed any repairs, apart from the occasional service. The strap buttons on this guitar are quite large, and the holes on my strap are quite small, so it has yet to break loose on stage. The finish is the only downside. Being made out of basswood, the guitar chips and dents quite easily, but if you're carefuly, this guitar will outlast you.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Another example of a very well set up guitar. The trem had a bouncy action, making it fun to play. The pickups were set at the right height, and the cavities were all cleanly routed with no flaws. Flipping this guitar over and looking into the back cavity we can see the claws for the Floyd Rose, and then looking into the electrics, there are no obvious amounts of solder around the place and the guitar as a whole works pretty well.

Features — 9
This guitar is the late 90s RG550, the model below the RG570. This guitar features a basswood body, and 24 fret maple Wizard neck with rosewood fingerboard. The guitar also has a lo-pro edge trem and Ibanez stock pickups (V6, S1, V7) arranged in true super Strat style (H/S/H). My guitar is finished in a purple sparkle, but other colours are available. The guitar is of typical super Strat construction, with a bolt on neck and back routed body. A 5-way selector is provided, as are tone and volume pots.

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I have RG550 left hand.serial No F768047 Made in Japan Pick-ups IBZ V1 IBZ S1 IBZ V2 anyone knows what year is it and value
    I have a '92 RG550 that i bought new in '93. I play in a covers band and have donw probably in excess of 1000 gigs with it. It's been dropped, chipped, had bourbon spilled on it by drunken idiots and the thing just keeps on going. I replaced the bridge & neck pickeds (which were ok) with DiMarzio Steve's Special & Air Norton. Centre single coil is stock. This guitar is so versatile & rugged, stays in tune. I have a Gibson Les Paul & Flying V, but the RG.550 is still my main gig guitar
    Eternal Acacia
    I used a terrible, strat knock off starter guitar for the first 4 years of y study of guitar, when my fsther decided that I'd get more use out of his old electric than I would, so he handed his RG550 down to me. It's one of the first models, from 1986, first year they were made, and let me tell you, my skill has progressed exponentially faster with this guitar than my pervious one. The neck is blazing fast, the stock pickups are great for what I play (Mastodon-ish prog/experimental metal) and the 5 way offers plenty of great sounds if I want to venture away from the metal realm. Though some people dislike the Floyd Rose bridge, I love it. It's held it's tuning for weeks of hardcore playing, only needing minor adjustments on the bridge here and there. I love this guitar, and would hunt one down, no questions asked, if I ever lost this one.
    I traded a suzuki 1100 that was far from running for a 90 550 with blue finish and a mirrored pick gaurd. every body comments on how bad ass it looks. then they play it ( provided they know how.) and they usually make an offer, at wich point i say suck my balls or something like that. this guitatr is so rad. the guy also threw in 2 distortion pedals. a dod ( wich is shitty) and a boss ( wich kicks ass) 2 coards and a travel amp. I'd say i got the better deal. alot of people are buying rg 550's and puttint evolution pick ups to get jem quality at the sweet price of 900 or less. thats what i'm going to do. after that any flaws that you might have with the sound all fly out the window. in other words i love this AXE!
    i've got an '87 RG550 and it was the best deal ever! mainly because it was free, my uncle actually found it in a dumpster in pieces, last "owner" had stripped it down and never put it back together i guess, was in an ibanez case too! i'm currently restoring it to it's former glory so the sonic mayhem can begin.
    Cannibal Koala
    Aaron morris : Whats the difference between the 550 and 505??
    The five and the zero are switched. Anyway, I've seen some of these around. I don't want to spend over 400 dollars, would it at all possible to get one?