Price paid: $ 730
Purchased from: Zzounds
Features — 8
The RGIF7 is a multiscale, aka "fanned fret" 7-string guitar from Ibanez's Iron Label line. It's made in Indonesia. 24 frets on a rosewood fretboard on a Nitro Wizard 7 5-piece Maple neck with two Bubinga stripes. 25.5" scale on the high E 27" on the low B. The body is a typical Ibanez RG superstrat shape made of Ash and has a very raw looking gray stain job with a satin finish. This color is no longer offered, now it comes in a green/black stain or solid black paint, I believe. It utilizes two active EMG 808X (8-string) pickups. Ibanez did this so they wouldn't have to custom make offset 7 string pickups (EMGs do not have individual magnet poles for each string, just one big blade magnet). There is a 3-way pickup selector and one volume and one tone knob. The bridge is a custom multi-scale design. All hardware is a smokey chrome color. Tuners are non-locking stock Ibanez.
Sound — 6
This guitar is for metal only, for sure. I bought it to better suit my interest in progressive metal and take a stab at fanned frets. The guitar's natural tone is quite good and the sustain is good as well. The EMG 808Xs are honestly a bit disappointing, they sound rather lifeless to me. I know that is a typical complaint about EMGs in general. I previously had another Iron Label 7-string that was a regular 25.5" scale and it had EMG 707s in it. I do think the X series sound better and more natural. The non-Xs felt like they were absolutely ramming gain down your throat where the Xs are more under control. I play through an AxeFX II and I've used it to heavily doctor the input signal from this guitar to get it to sound how I'd like. Bridge pickup sounds pretty good. It will definitely "djent" if you use an EQ in your rig, but on its own its a bit muddy. I hate the neck pickup on its own, it is absolutely dead and muddled. The middle position is ok for cleans but would be better if the neck pickup had its own volume control.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Action from the factory was not great, I had to make some adjustments on the bridge and with the truss rod to alleviate fret buzz. Now that its set up, it has been solid as a rock. The neck absolutely does not move and it looks and feels great. There is a little bit of fret sticking out in a couple spots, but nothing that is going to cut you up (I tried out a RGDIX7MPB in a store and the frets were TERRIBLE. My RGIF7 is far better in this regard). The multiscale frets go parallel at the 12th which makes chords on frets 1 and 2 a little too difficult. There are other multiscale guitars out there that have the parallel fret on the 9th and that is a much better design.
Pickups are direct mounted and are very difficult to adjust up and down. Luckily, the bridge pickup is already at the perfect height. The neck pickup, not so much. The tuners are probably the weakest part of this guitar. There is a lot of play in the knobs when tuning. That being said, the guitar stays in tune very well when playing it. Along with the neck, one of the best parts of this guitar is the bridge on the opposite end. Very well designed and very solid. The stain job on the body is definitely unique and not for everyone. Ash is not a very pretty wood on its own, so Ibanez was definitely going for a "raw" look here. I kind of like it, but I can see how a lot of people wouldn't.
Reliability & Durability — 9
My RGIF7 has been very reliable and it is built like a brick shithouse. Very solid guitar and I have no problems with it playing live. My best tip is to replace the tuners if you can, they just are not up to par with the rest of the guitar. The finish seems fairly durable, however I have noticed picking line indents in the satin above the 7th string. They aren't full blown scratches, as my pick has never actually broken through the finish. I would play it live without a backup. I have yet to have a string break on this guitar and I've only replaced them once after owning it for about 9 months and practicing with it with my band every week.
Overall Impression — 8
If you are looking to play progressive metal, this is a great guitar to do it with as long as you have an EQ or a Tube Screamer to really tame the low end on this guitar. I've been playing for 10 years and this is the first multi-scale I've owned. It really does help even out string tension, especially when you use odd tunings. It is by far the best deal you can get for fanned frets. I don't think I've seen another guitar with that feature for less than $1000. The frets take a little bit to get used to, but not very long. Super solid build, you can just feel it when you play it.
My main gripes with this guitar are the tuners, the parallel fret placement, the pickups, and to a lesser extent the finish. The tuners are just plain shoddy. I wish Ibanez would make this guitar with the parallel fret at the 9th instead of the 12th to make playing on the lowest frets more comfortable. The EMGs are just too lifeless for me and take way too much doctoring to sound the way I want. Passive pickups would sound excellent in this guitar, but because of the positioning of the pickup holes, you can't really replace the EMGs unless you buy custom boutique pickups from someone like Bareknuckle. The finish is a little odd, but Ibanez has already stopped using it so that's a moot point. Overall, if you want to get into multiscale, this is the guitar to start with. It isn't crazy expensive and it's built very well.