Price paid: € 745
Purchased from: Thomann.de
Features: I am surprised this guitar has not yet been reviewed, so I will try my best to give this guitar a review it deserves. I bought it in 2011 from Thomann.de for 745 + 25 shipping. The guitar is built in 2011 in Indonesia (which you can easily tell by the serial number on the back of the headstock). The guitar came with an Ibanez gig bag, set of alan wrenches, strap and a set of D'Addario 0.72-0.9 strings tuned to standard F# tuning. The guitar itself was in an immaculate condition, not a single dent or scratch on it. The paint was done nice and even with a decent clear coat to top it all off. It feels very well put together for an instrument of its price range. The wiring is done very neatly and clean with no worn or I'll fitted cables or solder spots. The specs of the guitar are:
- 5 piece Maple/Walnut bolt-on Wizard II-8 neck with a rosewood fretboard, jumbo frets, pearl inlays
- mahogany body in solid black paint
- fixed Edge III-8 bridge, locking nut and string-tree,
- single volume knob
- 3 way switch
- EQ boost switch
- 2x 1.5V battery pot
- Ibanez LZ8-N & LZ8-B pickups
For more detail on the specs you can visit Ibanez's site.
It is very important to state at this point that this guitar is a one trick pony. It is a very specialized instrument. It was developed for one thing and one thing only. DJENT. If you expect it to do everything, you will be disappointed with it. The EQ diagram of the EQ boost switch makes it abundantly clear. Many reviews give the guitar poor marks because of the electronics and consequent sound it produces, which I think is horribly unjust.
The Ibanez site says the pickups are active, but that is something I would contest. I have never seen active pickups that use 1.5V AA batteries. The norm is a 9V battery. 1.5V per pickup is just not enough. Also, if you open up the back plate and take a look at the electronics you quickly notice that the battery wire goes directly into the EQ chip set, instead of the pickups. Which makes the pickups passive. Something that is underpinned by the fact that they sound very neutral when the switch is in the OFF position. This is quite a nice feature, but one I will get to in the field below.
The guitar is a second generation model. Ibanez fixed all the issues of the previous model. If held side by side, there are quite dramatic feature changes between the two guitars. One new feature are the quite deep contour cuts on the cutaway horns. The body arching is more pronounced and the controls are positioned more ergonomically. Also the bridge is fixed with an additional screw to add stability.
But for now, I'd give it a 7 for features because it is a one trick pony. Not a versatile guitar, but if you use it for what it was intended for, you will be hard pressed to find fault with it. // 7
Sound: I use this guitar exclusively for djent. I play a lot of Meshuggah on it along with my own material. As explained earlier, the EQ boost switch plays nicely into this, as it makes post-processing a heck of a lot easier by pre-rendering the sound into a sonic signature as seen on the diagram on Ibanez's site.
The first thing I did with the guitar when I got it was to change strings. The 0.72/0.9 set of D'Addario strings that was on it was a nice token, but ultimately too slack for the 27" scale. I replaced them with a 0.75 Bass string and a pack of D'Addario EXL 120-7 (0.9/0.54) and re-tuned it to F tuning. I did have to peel the tip of the 0.75 string to fit it into the tuner, but that is not really an issue. I also replaced the batteries in it (as you would of course) with a fresh set. That tightened up the sound and response nicely. I have not yet replaced the pickups in it and am seriously questioning why one even would do such a thing.
For regular practice, I run the guitar directly into a small Roland Cube. Now, hold your horses all you eager ones, I know you can't hear the guitar's full potential on one of those, I only use it for practice by myself without giving myself lasting hearing damage. For recording I run the guitar through a Line 6 HD500 pod, a mixing unit and into the computer. By doing this you can pretty much sculpt any kind of sound you want really, so arguing about that is kind of subjective and pointless.
The stock pickups do their job well and have so far helped in making a sound that suits me quite well. I also sometimes play the guitar through a Laney LH50R 50W tube head & Laney GS412P 4x12 cab along with the HD500 pod into the effects loop. Again, the sound the guitar makes with stock pickups is remarkably good and as I said before, I honestly can't see why one would want to change the pickups at all. In comparison with a friend's guitar that uses Bareknuckle Warpig's, I honestly can't tell the difference, after a bit of tweaking on the pod.
The sound is a very nice and beefy djent sound. The bass is boosted around the 20-500 Hz range, with a mid dip at 900-1k Hz and then a boost of high-mids and highs from 1k to 20k Hz. That gives it a powerful, almost scooped sound, but doesn't get lost in the overall mix. The pickups are quite responsive and feel very natural to me and my style of playing.
I suppose if you were that kind of player and demanded more out of it, you can always turn the EQ boost off, which levels the EQ into a "dead" flat signature. But honestly, why would you do that on an 8 string guitar? Of course you would be disappointed by it, but hey, it's not intended for that.
Also using the pod, I like to make all sorts of non-traditional effects with it and so far it has not failed to perform. That in my opinion adds to it's versatility within it's field of specialization. So on that note, I give it a 8. There is room for improvement if you demand more, but if you are adept at sound sculpting and processing tools, it does the job very nicely indeed. // 8
Action, Fit & Finish: The action came pretty much perfect out of the box. I did not have to adjust a single thing. The intonation was bang on, there was no warping or torquing in the neck. The fret bars are all set perfectly and evenly with no string buzz along the frets (except for the 8th string, but that is to be expected). As I mentioned before, it did not have a single flaw on it. No damage, no scrapes. The pickups are very well fitted, no wobble or play in them.
The revised bridge is reinforced with an additional screw that makes it all the more solid. The lockers and tuners are all very well made and keep the guitar in rock solid tuning. The only gripe I could think of is that the screws on the neck lockers started to loose their paint shine, but that's nitpicking really. A solid 10 for a build quality in it's price range. // 10
Reliability & Durability: Will this guitar withstand live playing? Well, I honestly don't know, since I do not plan on playing live. But I do play it at least 4-5 hours every day if I manage to. I can only take an educated guess and say it probably could, judging by the build quality. For my home & recording use it's holding up without flaw. The hardware is very solid and gives the impression that it will last a very long time. A small factor might be my obsessive gear maintenance, but even with a sloppy and careless owner, it would stoically take the abuse for sure.
The strap buttons are inserted quite deep and have a wide surface area at the head, so you would have to be pretty clumsy to drop it. But for the coordination challenged among you, there are always strap locks. The finish on the guitar seems quite durable by Ibanez's standards. I did have some accidental collisions with my furniture, but they did not leave a single mark on the guitar. Because I can not tell you how it would hold up live, I will leave that to someone who has played it live. But for home use, I'd give the RGA8 a 10. // 10
Overall Impression: And we reach the final and overall impression. The guitar is a perfect match for my style of playing. I was debating long and hard about which guitar to buy. An important factor for me was the 27" scale (25.5" is just NOT long enough for this tuning scope). I find it crucially important with 8 string guitars. After a thorough evaluation of the competition, I concluded that this guitar has all the features that a good Djent guitar needs in it's price range. I have compared it to it's bigger sister the 2228 and I have to say, I much prefer the RGA8. Mostly because of the arched top which is just more comfortable to me.
I have owned it for just shy of a year now and played it practically every single day. I plan to use it on many a recording still to come just because it feels so comfortable and makes a very satisfying sound with the effort I put into it. That said, you can not expect it to work magic on it's own. You have to think of it as a tool in the line of other tools, which make a satisfying end result. In that respect, it is an ideal instrument for me. My favorite feature on it is definitely the EQ boost switch. It gives the illusive and mysterious "djent" sound many are after and helps greatly with post-processing. I also absolutely love the headstock. The shape and logo just mean business.
It is also super comfortable. The neck is a work of art. Having played 4 and 5 string basses and 6 strings before, with no 7 string before the 8, the guitar immediately felt comfortable and natural. There was no real trouble with the extra 2 strings. The only issue I had for a brief time was becoming lost in the string work. But after a while, it becomes as natural as a 6. That said, you do need quite big hands for it. People with smaller hands might find it a "handful".
The only thing I would change on it is to take away the neck pickup. Since one only plays the bridge pickup in djent, the neck pickup is absolutely useless; at least to me. I'm sure there are many of you out there who expect it to sound as warm as a Les Paul, but honestly, play a Les Paul for that! If it were stolen, I would probably hunt the thief down and strangle them with the 0.75 string. For overall impression and personal satisfaction of expectations, I give it a solid 10. On that note, I open the stage for the hate storm in the comments below. // 10