Sound — 7
The tone of the instrument itself was fine for playing anything really, and still is - though I am replacing just about every part in it because the body is comfortable and the neck is quite thin and awesome compared to other instruments in the same price range. Not much tone differentiation when changing pickup selections or turning tone pot. As far as effects are concerned, I have used/am using a Zoom 505, DigiTech GNX2, Ibanez Fat Cat Distortion, Danelectro Fab Metal (bad), Behringer Ultra Metal (bad), Behringer Digital Delay and a Line 6 Uber Metal pedal. No matter what effects you plus this guitar into, you'll have less interference/feedback issues than with most guitars double or even triple the cost of the Ibanez RX 20. On a clean tone, the bridge pickup is a bit too tinny for my taste, but when you change over to the neck pickup, it's unexpectedly thick and warm. Having both pickups selected gives you a tone that has a bit more bite, but not so much as the 'alarm-clock radio' bridge pickup. I'm replacing the pickups regardless so it won't matter. I'm changing the bridge pickup to a Seymour Duncan Dimebucker and the neck pickup to one I haven't chosen yet, probably a jazz pickup for thick clean ambient tones. Lord knows I'll get enough output from the Dimebucker for any distorted stuff.
Overall Impression — 8
I mostly play heavier music and it was a breeze to learn everything from Metallica and Pantera to Soilwork and Arch Enemy on this instrument. It's still my favoured guitar because I love the simplicity of the fixed bridge, the overall feel of the neck and how quickly you can change tunings. But having said that, it's still quite a basic model, and not many variables can be achieved, outside of using effects. This guitar is about as straight forward as they come, and very reliable. Ibanez just know how to make comfortable instruments for any level of musician. I also own an Ibanez RG350DX, which was also bought many years ago and with the wisdom of hindsight I probably should have bought another fixed bridge guitar instead. I will keep the neck of this guitar long after I have replaced everything else. The neck just works well and feels great.
Reliability & Durability — 8
In its original condition, this guitar would have been able to be used for gigs, night after night. All hardware is strong and well put together. The ony real part of the instrument that needed replacing before the aforementioned wiring/pickup issues arose, were the machine heads. Still, I'm sure they've had a good lengthy life. The finish on the body was very well put together, and having been sanding it back to bare wood, I've found it had a grey undercoat, then a clear coat, then black coat, then clear coat, then black coat, then clear coat to finish. So 6 layers all up. The gloss black looks good.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Upon purchasing this guitar, the action was a little high and my lack of guitar maintenance knowledge meant that I had to put up with it (not that I knew what good action was at the time). So there the action stayed for a year or two until I knew how to change it. Being an Ibanez though, I can imagine it left the factory with a decent action that someone may have changed before it found itself in my hands. After I adjusted the action, the neck played wonderfully. Even more so after buffing the frets. No buzzing, no imperfections. The neck is still my favourite part of the instrument. Only recently after 8 years of punishment (not even taking into consideration how the previous owner played it), a few of the electrics have begun to fail. The pickup selector itself when in the bridge position would sometimes just cut out, but that may have been a loose connection or a wiring/output jack issue too. Which once again gave a reason for refurbishing this sturdy instrument and give it a new lease of life.
Features — 8
This particular model was manufactured in Indonesia in approximately July of 1996, this date having been stamped on the base of the neck. It has a 22 Jumbo fret maple neck, and a 24-ply plywood super-Strat shaped body. The finish it had was gloss black with a white pickguard, but after many years of cosmetic changes, I'm sanding it back and starting again, just for laughs. The bridge is fixed with option for a tremolo arm. Factory/generic humbucking pickups (x2) are passive, seemingly quite similar and cheap. One volume pot, and one tone pot with a 3-way selector switch. The machine heads are also quite inferior to more recent Ibanez models, but they do the job. I am replacing them with updated Ibanez or Grover machine heads. Because I purchased this instrument 2nd hand, no accessories were really included. The condition of the guitar is still good. It's withstood being dropped once or twice as it was my first guitar and I was an unco-ordinated teenager at the time.