Price paid: $ 699
Purchased from: Musicians Superstore
Sound — 9
I play hard rock & metal. I have wanted a 7 string ever since they became popular with bands like Fear Factory. When I saw this one, I decided to blow a little tax return money and finally get a 7 string. First off, these are EMG active pick-ups. The sound great, but can surprise players who are used to normal passive pick-ups. These EMG 707 pick-ups tend to pick up much more of the outside/natural sounds that come from playing. You'll notice more string noise from siding up and down the fretboard, and more pick noise from sloppy picking. Once you adjust the finesse in your playing, you'll hear that these pick-ups have high depth and awesome tone in every note. This is a 7 string, so the low B string is in the bass range. It is a low, sinister sounding guitar. This guitar requires a decent quality amp to really shine. There is no tone adjustment on this guitar. So, it's up to the amp and you effects to change the tone of this guitar. At first, I was finding this very frustrating, especially after spending a lot of time on the guitar setup. But with some patience, I started getting the hang of creating a powerful, balanced sound. I'm running this through a Marshall JMD:1 100-watt combo amp. Basically running a clean sound in the amp, and the crunch is created with a few modified Boss pedals. Again, once I took the time with my amp/effects settings, I am very happy with the sound of this guitar. Also, I'm using Powerex rechargeable 9-volts, and they seem to work great, lasting 6-8 hours per charge on 1 pick-up, and 4-6 hours using both pick-ups. The EMG 707 pick-ups are great, probably the reason I bought this guitar. The 3-way switch allow you to select bridge, neck, or both pick-ups. The bridge provides a powerful balanced tone. Great lows, and powerful highs with great sustain. The neck pickup is more bassy and mellow, but similar in tone. Both together is similar sounding to the neck pick-up, but with a slight bit more treble edge.
Overall Impression — 10
I have always wanted a 7-string, and this was a great choice. Like I said, I'm running through a 100-watt Marshall JMD:1 combo amp with a mix of modified effects pedals. The sound, once dialed in, is great. For me, the adjustment to 7-strings from 6 was easy. I have longer fingers, so the reach in no problem at all. Previous to this guitar, I also own a 16 year old Ibanez RG470. In companison, this new Iron Label definitely has the classic Ibanez feel. The 7-String neck is thicker in both width and depth, so it has been a slight adjustment. Also, this guitar is very good to improve your playing. The lack of fret inlay's showed me how much I rely on looking at the dots. The active pick-ups are much better at picking up sloppy playing habits. Things like holding the pick at an angle, muting strings, sloppy fingerings are much more apparent with active pickups. Playing this guitar forces you to improve, or you'll never be happy with it's sound.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar is built rock solid. In fact, it's a really heavy guitar. I own a 16 year old RG470 6-String, and this Iron Label is easily 2-3 pounds heavier. If you can handle the weight, this thing really is built like iron. The neck is solid and feels strong. It's well attached to the body, which feels solid as a rock. Ibanez advertised this as a rock-solid guitar for touring and live gigs. They are not lying. Provided that you have the balance adjusted well, and plenty of 9-volt batteries, I would have no problem playing this without a backup guitar. The standard strap buttons were solidly mounted in the guitar body, but I always replace them with strap-locks. Because of the weight of this guitar, I highly recommend strap-locks.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I guess the over all setup from the factory wasn't too bad. I am good at guitar setups, so I told the store not to. First thing I did was re-string it. I used a D'Addario .010-.059 7-String pack, which was a size up from the stock strings. Because of this, I threw the balance of the tremolo off. One nice thing is the guitar has open slots in the back plate so the tremolo adjustment screws can be accessed without removing the back plate. I did find it a little easier to go ahead and remove the plate, the new screws are tight, and you don't want to strip the head. Re-balancing the tremolo took a lot of time, but anyone who owns a floyd rose tremolo should expect this. It's a tricky, time consuming process. Once it's right, it's set for a long time. There were a few little things from the factory that could have been better. First, the tuners were slightly noose in the head stock. This just required a little tightening with a 10mm wrench. Second, the intonation lock screws weren't tight enough. While re-stringing, the low B bridge slid, so I had to re-set that too. I checked/tightened the rest of the lock screws before they moved too. On the plus side, the neck bow and intonation was very well set from the factory. The action was a bit high, but I lowered the bridge adjustment, and problem solved. The neck is flawlessly sanded and smooth, and the finish is perfect and scratch-less.
Features — 9
2013 Ibanez RG Iron Label 7-String w/ Tremolo - Nitro Wizard-7 3pc Maple/Bubinga Neck - 24 Frets - Basswood Body - Bound Rosewood Fretboard - Jumbo Frets - Edge-Zero II-7 String Bridge - EMG 707 (H) Active Neck Pick-up - EMG 707 (H) Active Bridge Pick-up Cosmo Black Finish. I.E. Gloss black finish with a 1/4" off-white stripe around the edge of the body. The hardware is all a dark graphite color and looks good with either black or chrome accessories (I add strap-locks to every guitar). The face of the fretboard does not have any inlay, which is a modern, neat look. The top edge if the fretboard does have a set of inlay dots for the player to see.