RG8 review by Ibanez

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  • Features: 8
  • Sound: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.3 (9 votes)
Ibanez: RG8

Price paid: C$ 550

Purchased from: Local music shop

Features — 8
This is the base model of eight-string guitar offered by Ibanez. This Indonesian-built RG8 is a pretty no-frills instrument, adorned with very basic features and built inexpensively, but it by no means feels cheap. It features a maple/walnut Wizard-II neck, a very standard Ibanez feature, and a 24-fret rosewood fretboard. The scale length is 27", and I find that it does make a big difference for keeping the low end tight. I've had no issues tuning this guitar down to drop-E. According to Ibanez's website, the body is mahogany, but I've heard from others that it's basswood. Either way, the tone is pretty decent and though I've never really noticed on any other guitars, it still feels like a pretty solid, hefty piece of wood. Mine came in a gloss black finish with a matching headstock, but a white version with a black headstock is also available. I've only lived with this guitar a little over a month but I haven't had any issues with the finish yet. The bridge is a very simple fixed bridge, absolutely nothing special about it. The pickups are passive stock Ibanez humbuckers, IBZ-8 models according to Ibanez's website. They appear to be routed to accomodate active pickups like EMG 808s or Seymour Duncan Blackouts. Control-wise, it's a very simple volume, tone, and three-way selector switch setup.

As far as features go, this is a very simple guitar. This means there are some drawbacks for people who are looking for a lot of tonal variety or cool features like a whammy bar or coil-tapping, but at the same time, the no-frills setup of this instrument makes maintenance a breeze and really lessens the worries about much going wrong with it. In a lot of ways, this guitar is a very good first eight-string. Even though it's built inexpensively, there's not too much that feels genuinely cheap about the guitar. The 500k pots feel smooth and solid and have no issues with noise from being gunked up yet, the stock Ibanez tuners on my guitar have held up extremely well, there's a neat truss rod cover, all the electronic cavity covers have foil shielding, and there are even nice little touches like the very classy looking mother-of-pearl logo inlay on the headstock.

Sound — 8
You would expect the stock Ibanez pickups to be pretty horrible, and when you stack them up against the likes of Lace or Bare Knuckle pickups, they kind of are. But for passive stock Ibanez pickups, they're actually not too bad. I run my guitar through an old 65-watt Peavey Express 112 solid-state amp, and for effects I'm either running just a Tube Screamer copy and an EHX Small Stone phaser, or a DigiTech RP200A multi-effect/amp modelling processor. On clean settings, the bridge pickup is very snappy and bright, while the neck pickup has a very warm characteristic to it. On distorted settings, kicking in the overdrive pedal really brings out some of the brightness of the bridge pickup, but it adds a very nice treble boost that even makes the neck pickup suitable for rhythm tones. The pickups can be rather muddy on the low end if you're not careful in setting up a good EQ, but rolling back a bit of the mids and bass really makes the low B and F# strings sing out. The pickups are not very noisy at all, and they're routed to accommodate active pickups, so if you wanted to swap them out for a set of EMG 808s or even something better like Lace or DiMarzio pickups, it's an easy swap. The tone is pretty good for progressive and death metal, like what I play, though I imagine that with some tweaking of your amp settings, you could probably passably play many styles of music on this instrument.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The action on the guitar when I purchased it must have been set up by the owners of the store I bought it from, since it was pretty much perfectly setup. I did have to raise the action on the low F# string a bit to get rid of a little string buzz, but that was a very, very simple fix. I'd say everything on this guitar ws set up perfectly. The intonation? Perfect. The pickup height? Perfect. The truss rod? The neck on this thing is straighter than Ted Nugent. I know a lot of people throw the word "perfect" around a lot when describing guitars, and that it's especially annoying when it pertains to cheaper guitars like this one, but I could not fault anything with the setup when I bought it. Nothing was loose, nor threatening to become loose, the finish was flawless, everything was fit together perfectly, none of the controls felt like they were going to fall apart, and the only fix I had to make to anything was almost as much a personal preference thing as it was anything else.

Reliability & Durability — 8
I only purchased this guitar about a month ago, and it hasn't left the house much, so I haven't got a clue how it's going to truly hold up to a gig. But given how solid the hardware on this guitar feels, I'd say it will probably hold up pretty well to a few gigs, maybe even a small tour. Ibanez seems to be pretty good at building solid guitars, and even their cheaper instruments seem rather well-made. The finish is about the only thing I worry about. Even though I'm pretty sure it's not too thin and I haven't had any issues with it like belt buckle rash or dings or scratches yet, I've been pretty much babying this guitar so far, so I can't really comment on how well the finish is going to endure until I actually take it out to see some road action.

Overall Impression — 8
As a prog-metal and tech-death player looking to get into the world of eight-string guitar, I have to say that this Ibanez was a very successful introduction to that world for me. While I can acknowledge where its flaws are (somewhat muddy stock pickups, very basic features, the potential that I got a good copy of a guitar that may have some hit-or-miss quality control instead of consistency), for a budget-minded guitarist looking to buy their first eight-string, I can't recommend this guitar enough. When I was purchasing this instrument, I had a chance to try a couple of other eight-strings, including an LTD and a Schecter, and they just didn't stack up compared to this. They either sounded worse, didn't quite feel right in my hands, and the LTD only had a 25.5" scale which actually did cause a little trouble tuning down to drop-E. The Ibanez is a great bang for the buck. If I could add one feature to make this guitar even that much better, besides swapping out the pickups, it'd probably be a cool top and a different finish, though there's now a model with a poplar burl top in a transparent blue finish that looks absolutely smashing! I also had the chance to try the Iron Label RG8, and it had really classy-looking binding and a killswitch that, while I wouldn't use it very much in my own playing, is still a really cool feature that I wouldn't mind including on my RG8.

Overall, this guitar is a very impressive instrument for someone on a budget who is looking to get into playing eight-string guitar. I know there are going to be some people reading this review thinking "ugh, he just totally called a budget instrument "perfect" and he rated it way too high! It shouldn't have been rated any higher than a 6!!!", and maybe you're right. But given that this is a budget guitar, and it feels like a solid, reliable, well-built guitar with tone from the stock pickups that is not as awful as some would have you believe, it definitely feels like this is a very good guitar to get players started on playing eight-string guitar. Trust me, you could do much worse than buy an RG8. I definitely recommend this guitar, and I'd buy another if I could.

34 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I should mention one other thing I forgot to include in this that brings the mark down just a little. While I've played pricier guitars with worse fret dressings than this, the way my hand in particular sits around the neck makes the imperfections of the fret ends that much more noticeable. It wouldn't have been a problem for me on a 6- or even a 7-string guitar, but on this one I really notice it. Your mileage may vary, however, and it's not bad enough to really affect my playing.
    If it's any consolation, I've noticed myself that after playing this big guitar for the last few years, it has moulded my picking and fret-hand playing style/placement/etc. to some degree and it's a part of getting used to it.
    Post some videos of the sound if possible. nice review tough
    Great review, nice to see somebody who spent some time with the instrument as opposed to the all too common "zomg I've had this 13 minutes and it's perfect!!!" type reviews.
    I might have to come back to this review in a year or so after I've done some gigs with it or something, since I don't even think I'd given it enough time myself I find that same problem with reviews here, too. It's like people have simply touched an instrument a few times and they're giving it 10/10 reviews. You gotta live with an instrument a little, let some of the faults and quirks reveal themselves to you. I knew right out of the box that this guitar wasn't perfect by any means. It's still a great instrument for the price, though
    Nice review. I've owned this guitar for the last 3 years now and it's treated me great and I've beaten the hell out of it recording and on stage. Ibanez guitars are built to take such beatings I wish the scale length was longer. A 28 or 29 scale would be perfect. Pickups are decent. I'd like to replace them, just haven't got around to it. Like I said, these pickups will do if you know how to dial in a good tone on your amp. I played 7 strings for years before this as well (Jeff Loomis anyone?) so I suppose after knowing my way around those and messing with alternate tunings, the 8 string felt natural upon first playthrough. You can do anything on an 8 string that you can on a 6 or 7 too. I always thought, you don't have to 'djent' if you own an 8 string, you just never have to tune your guitar ever again. My guitar's been in standard E with the top B and F# ever since. Love it.
    I always thought, you don't have to 'djent' if you own an 8 string, you just never have to tune your guitar ever again. My guitar's been in standard E with the top B and F# ever since. Love it.
    Yeah, I don't ever really "djent" on mine. If anything, I'm playing a lot more 6-string stuff like Metallica and Megadeth on it than I ever did on my 7-string. When you drop that low F# to E, it adds a lot of growl to those typical metal E pedal-point riffs. I never played like that on my 7.
    I noticed the same thing. I'll notice myself writing or playing more 6-7 string oriented riffs on it more so that using the low F# exclusively. Plus, the longer scale gives the 6 string section so much more tightness than normal! Feels great to play those thrashy Metallica/Megadeth type of riffs with more tension.
    Saint Valentine
    I just picked this guitar up a couple of months ago and it works really well for me. However I'm still getting used to the wide neck and the extended range. My other Ibanez is a six string that I generally keep in drop C so the transition has been a little difficult for me; jumping straight from a six to an eight. Are there any tips you guys would recommend?
    It's just all a part of getting used to the big guy. Jumping from a 6 to an 8, I'd imagine it is very very strange. But the best advice or any tips I could give would be to just incorporate what skills/style/etc. you have in with the 8. Experiment with alternate tunings. And the very obvious, "practice makes perfect". The neck is wide but after awhile it will feel like a normal guitar to you.
    Even jumping from a 6-string to a 7-string is pretty strange. I had a bit of trouble adjusting at first. It was actually something Rob Chapman said in one of his videos that stuck with me a bit about switching. He's mostly a 6-string player, and he takes his sort of "starting reference point" on guitar from the lowest-pitched string. He starts there and works his way up, and that makes it more difficult for him to transition to playing 8-string because all of his chord shapes and scale patterns are wrong from that reference point. If you take the reference to be the highest-pitched string and work your way down, treating the instrument like a 6-string with two bass strings attached to it, it's a little easier to figure out what you're doing. As for getting your hands physically accustomed to it, it just takes a lot of practice. I've also found that resting this guitar on my left leg rather than my right leg makes chording a little less painful. But mostly, it's just playing it more and more until your hands adjust to it. Funny enough, my 7-string is an Ibanez AX7221, which is one of the few Ibanez ERGs without a thin Wizard-like neck profile, and it was pretty painfully uncomfortable to play. I still think my hand wraps around my RG8 better than my 7-string.
    I have this guitar and im very impressed with it. Only issue is the pickups are a little shrill but thats only to be expected. this guitar is designed for the djent kids who will chug on the top strings and give up eventually and the pickups are voiced this way.
    I've actually never had any particular issue with the pickups. And I don't generally drown my guitar in effects or amp modelling processors or anything like that, I can usually dial in a pretty good tone with nothing more in my signal chain than an overdrive pedal, hooked up to a 65-watt solid state amp. I do agree that the pickups are not perfect, and probably not voiced the way most people would like, but for a $500 guitar, I can't really complain about the tone. I've heard much worse at this price.
    oh i wasnt really complaining. i shouldve phrased it better. theyre full of treble
    Fair enough. And I'd dare say that most of the people who are even going to buy an 8-string guitar are probably "djent kids" anyways, so they're probably properly voiced for their demographic. You probably won't see too many old-school metalheads rocking this guitar out.
    nah, too many strings for me...
    Then I recommend you check out all the 6-string reviews on this site rather than waste your own time reading one of an 8-string guitar.
    Nice review. I actually enjoy reading it. But I really curious about this guitar, is it really worth it or should I buy the Iron Label RGIR28fe. Never own a 8 string guitar before and totally new to it. I've tried the Iron Label but didn't really fit me, like all 8 string newbies the problem lies upon its neck, especially, if you have small hands like me. But I'm still looking forward to own and learn to play 8 string since I believe it's a whole new dimension in guitar techniques and small hands wouldn't be a problem anymore once we get used to it. One more question, does this guitar capable to serve in all genre, like jazz, with the stock pickups?
    Well, here's the thing, if you have enough money to go for the Iron Label 8-string, do it. The RG8 is at least a few hundred dollars cheaper, and it shows compared to the Iron Label, which has binding on the body, nicer fret ends, and EMG 808 pickups, which aren't the best 8-string pickups out there, but are magnitudes better than the stock pickups. The stock pickups probably can handle jazz on the RG8, but that doesn't mean they're great pickups. I am not too sure how they stack up against the EMGs, but EMG makes pretty decent pickups, all things considered. Verdict is, if you've got the cash for the Iron Label, ignore the base RG8. It'll be much more worth it in the end, as the Iron Label RG8 is just nicer all around. But if you, like me, can't part with the extra few hundred bucks, the base RG8 is an absolutely killer eight-string for the money. Neck is much nicer than the LTDs, Agiles, and Schecters I've played, and the stock pickups are pretty much the same across the board at this price point. Tuning stability has been great so far, and the headstock just looks amazing.
    Thank you. You've cleared a lot of things for me. Actually, yes, I feel a little hard parted with the extra few hundred bucks but if it's worth it in the end then I think why not. I agree with the neck on this guitar or the Iron Label compared to other brands. That's why I'm still consider purchasing Ibanez rather than LTD or Schecter. So I guess I'll go with the Iron Label.
    Sounds good! I hope you enjoy it. I should mention one thing I forgot about in the comment above. You mention jazz, and the Iron Label, as far as I remember, lacks a tone knob. I'm pretty sure jazz players use one of those! But if you get a chance to try it out, see if the tone works for you And while I like the feel of the Ibanez, your mileage may vary and who knows, you might find the other brands very comfortable. As well, I haven't tried the inexpensive Jackson 8-string yet. And at the price range of the Iron Label, the other brands step up their games as well. Schecters 8s become a lot nicer (both to look at and play), Agile offers some pretty decent 8s that even have locking tremolos at that price, and LTD always makes quality stuff anyways.
    I honestly didn't notice the Iron Label doesn't have a tone knob but a killswitch. Tried one before but didn't really pay attention to its features as it was just a very brief testing of the guitar. And I mainly focused on its neck. I remember on the clean channel the Iron Label actually suits jazz, but not quite. I guess with the right equalizer setup it could probably helps. I'll give it a try again very soon.