Price paid: £ 550
Purchased from: PMT
Features — 8
This Indonesian manufactured Ibanez RG is made with a basswood body and a flamed maple top with a natural finish, and was assembled in 2013 or 2014. I can't be sure of the exact date, but I purchased it in 2014. It has 24 Jumbo frets on a 25.5" neck. For those of you who care for the neck specs as much as Ibanez do, it's a 5 piece maple and walnut neck with a rosewood fretboard, 43mm wide at the nut, 58mm at the 24th fret, 18mm thick at the first fret and 20mm at the 12th, with a 400mm radius. If the specifics don't interest you then know this; it's really slim and really smooth to play. Also the frets have the "Premium fret edge treatment," which as far as I can tell just means they won't cut your hands up like a cheaper Ibanez.
The bridge is a nice and simple Tight-End R fixed bridge. It's comfortable as it sits nice and low to the body of the guitar, and seems to hold the tuning really well considering the bridge, the nut and the tuners are all non-locking. It has two passive humbucking pickups; CAP-VMs according to the website. I can only assume they're Ibanez's own brand pickups as there's no logos or branding on them, but don't let that put you off (more on that in the Sound section). The rest of the electronics consist of one volume pot, one tone pot and a five way blade pickup selector (don't ask me how that works, just look it up on Ibanez's website).
Looking at the features alone this guitar appears to be a really stripped down basic Ibanez RG with nothing unnecessary added to it. No coil taps, no floating trem, no centre pickup, just everything required to make it function as an electric guitar. The only flare it has is the flamed maple top. But don't let the simplicity fool you, personally I feel that's part of the appeal and the features it does have all seem to be of immaculate quality.
Sound — 10
My music style ranges from most modern types of rock (Pop rock, pop punk, hard rock, alt rock, prog rock) to metal (thrash, groove, death, prog, doom). I personally find this guitar manages all of those with ease, and is probably capable of much more. When at home I play through a Peavey Vypyr 15W modelling amp. The sound through that isn't great, but when gigging or practising with my band I use an Orange TH30 and a PPC 212 cab along with a TC Electronic Hall of Fame reverb pedal. That's when this guitar shines. I don't really think I can overstate how good this guitar sounds through a proper amp.
I own 11 guitars in total and none of them sound half as good as this one through my gig set up. And that's including Gibsons, which are usually my absolute favourite. I don't know what makes it so damn good. I wouldn't hasten to say it's the pickups seeing as they're Ibanez standards - they aren't even V7s / V8s - but I can get amazing tones from this guitar; warm, bell like tones with verb and the neck pickup, nice bright clarity with the bridge, clear and crunchy overdrive and ridiculous amounts of gain and distortion, that for some reason never sounds like it's over doing it. Honestly I can put the gain on full through my amp and it'll sound heavy as hell, but it never sounds crap, it's never anything less than amazing.
I can't personally say that this guitar would be perfect for ALL types of music as I haven't tried all types of music - I'm a very narrow minded individual when it comes to what I like to learn and play - but it wouldn't surprise me if it was flawless at jazz and blues and whatever else you felt like having a go at with it. But for what I DO play, I can personally say it is without a doubt the best sounding guitar I own and it occasionally makes me question why I need the other ten.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The action on this guitar was another thing that stood out to me. I often go to my local guitar shop and try out the best (most expensive) guitars they'll let me in there as I'm on pretty good terms with them. When I tried this Ibanez in there I was honestly swept away by how good it felt to play. I can honestly say the feel of it was comparable to a £2,999 PRS Custom 24 I've played in the same shop. I haven't actually had to set the guitar up myself yet. I've been restringing it with the same D'Addario 10's it comes stock with and it still plays as good as the day I first tried it.
The pickups are adjusted perfectly, it's perfectly intonated, the truss rod gives it the perfect amount of neck relief and the action is perfect too. I honestly wish all guitar manufacturers paid as much attention to the final set up on their guitars as Ibanez's fellows in Indonesia do, because they really have done a faultless job that some other brands could learn a thing or two from.
Reliability & Durability — 7
I have gigged with this guitar and would trust it alone without a backup if it was absolutely necessary - but personally I think that's irresponsible and would best be avoided as much as possible. The strap buttons are standard non-locking ones but feel sturdy enough with a proper strap on them. All the hardware on this guitar seems really robust and I'm pretty sure it could take a beating, but I loathe the idea of mistreating my instruments.
I don't think I can technically evaluate the finish on this guitar, as it's all natural wood. But that does leave the issue that it dents really easily. The back of this guitar has more belt and button scrapes than other guitars I've owned five-times longer. That's my biggest issue with this guitar. The wood itself has no lacquer to protect it, so anything you'd expect to dent natural wood - say a desk or something - will dent this guitar too. With that in mind I'd say that this guitar is definitely reliable if you looked after it properly, but it's not up to par with any guitars with lacquer as far as durability is concerned.
Overall Impression — 10
It might help to understand my thoughts on this guitar if you know what I'm comparing it too. In comparison to my Gibson Firebird V 2010, my Gibson SG Standard and my LTD EC-1000 Deluxe it sounds better than all of them for anything I'd play with it and feels better to play as well. The Firebird is the only one I'd say is prettier that the Ibanez, but I'd hope so as it also cost £1,250. Having been playing for almost six years now I'd happily admit this is the best guitar I own. Whenever I want to sit down and jam, practice, write music or gig - however I'm feeling and whatever I'm playing - this is always the guitar I pick up first. All the others have been somewhat neglected since I bought this one.
I love the sound and the feel of this guitar more than any other I own. The only thing I hate is how it dents so easily. But if it were stolen without chance of recovery I wouldn't even stop to consider buying a new one, I'd already be on the way to the shop. There's nothing I feel this guitar needs to make it better. I wouldn't change the pickups for fear of changing it's perfect sound, I wouldn't put a trem on it as personally I abhor floyd roses and any other kind of floating trem (too many bad experiences). I suppose you could put locking tuners or a locking nut on it if you wished, but I find the tuning to be perfectly stable already.
If I needed to summarize how I felt about this guitar in one paragraph, this would be that paragraph:
I kept on going back to the shop to play it for weeks before I saved up enough money to actually buy it. Honestly, I'd get up in the morning and travel to the next town with only the intention of playing this guitar in mind. I've never done that for any other instrument. I think that says all I need to say for how I feel about this guitar.