RG550 review by Ibanez

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 6
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 8.6 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.8 (97 votes)
Ibanez: RG550
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Price paid: $ 372

Purchased from: Sam Ash

Sound — 8
I play a lot of funk, jazz, classic rock, hair metal, and death metal and this guitar covers all genre's pretty spectacularly. I am running this straight through a Peavey JSX head with a Marshall 1960A cab which gets me almost all the sounds I need. The MegaDrive in the Bridge is great, I hadn't heard of them until a forum member here suggested I check to see what the pickup in the Bridge was. It sounds great with distortion, it is very harmonically responsive, and gets a great crunch while remaining perfectly articulate. For leads it stays pretty smooth but it really evens out when you roll off the tone knob. For cleans it gets an almost Acoustic tone which is neat. The S1 in the middle handles high gain settings well and gets a great quack sound like a single coil should. It is not very noisey and it gets a good SRV sound with a light distortion. The V7 in the neck would be the weakest link in this combo. It sounds smooth with distortion but at the same time it is a little bit weak. With clean settings it really shines because it isn't too bassy but it isn't piercing in the high registers either. Not a bad pickup by any means, but not the absolute best either.

Overall Impression — 9
Overall this guitar is a great match for me, it has a very distict style without going overboard and it sounds great for all the styles that I play. I have been questing after one of these puppies for 2 of the 4 years I have been playing guitar after seeing Ryan Knight play his RG550 in a music video. The guitar has lived up to every expectation I had for it and then some. I would definitely try to find a new one if this was stolen or lost. I also have a Fender Highway One Strat, Ltd V-200, Stagg superstrat, and an Agile Interceptor Pro 725 and I can definitely say this is one of my two favorite guitars in my collection with the other being the Fender. I got this thing at a steal of a price and after a good refret it will be close to perfect for me. If you are interested in this guitar and SUPER THIN necks, double locking tremolos, and 80s style is your thing, I highly recommend picking one up.

Reliability & Durability — 10
Despite the age of the guitar, this is still a solid piece of equipment. It has endured a bit of a beating in my possesion but doesn't show a single sign of abuse yet which makes me wonder what exactly the previous owner did to it. The strap buttons won't be letting me down anytime soon but I may replace them with a DiMarzio cliplock strap down the line just in case. The guitar stays in tune like a champ after I wail on the Edge for a few hours at band practice. I would definitely be able to play this live but I would definitely bring a backup since floating bridges can be finnicky.

Action, Fit & Finish — 6
I got this guitar used so I cannot say that I know how it came set up from the factory. From the store I can say that it was set up perfectly for me, the action is rediculously low and there is very minimal fret buzz. I might try raising the neck pickup a bit more to see if i can squeeze any more output out of it, but if not it is no big deal. The Edge Bridge was set up as it should be, but I feel like the employee's overtightened the nut and the locking saddles which may become cause for concern. It can also be a bit of a b**** to set up at times. Two frets have gouges in them that are fairly detrimental to my playing, but I had planned on getting this refretted at some point anyway. Because the guitar is not about 21 years old, it does have some dings. There are several small chips in the paint, some wear on the maple fretboard, and some rust on the bridge. Nothing out of the ordinary, but it is too bad it is not in better condition.

Features — 10
I have a 1990 laser blue, made in japan model. The laser blue is quite impressive, but almost impossible to actually capture with a camera which is a shame. It almost takes on a dark greenish tint from some angles. It has the original wizard maple neck, 24 frets, HSH pickup arrangement (Dimarzio MegaDrive in the bridge, Ibanez S1 in the middle, and Ibanez V7 in the neck), Edge bridge, basswood body, and gotoh tuners. It is all original with the exception of the Bridge pickup. The hardware is all solid and it perfectly suits my needs here.

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