How to Buy an Ibanez Guitar
Buying an Ibanez guitar can be a daunting process. There are quite a number of different Series to choose from and several models contained within each Series. This article will try and shed some light on which guitar is right for you and your wallet. We'll just stick with solid body Ibanez guitars for now.
Ibanez Signature Series
These are the top of the line models and are endorsed by some of the world's leading guitarists. They are Ibanez's flagship models with guitars from Joe Satriani (JS series), Steve Vai (JEM series) Herman Li of DragonForce (EGEN), Mick Thomson of Slipknot (MTM) and Paul Gilbert (PGM series) among others. These guitars were purposely designed in conjunction with the artist and most guitars feature a Signature DiMarzio pickup. Signature series guitars will set you back about $2000 - $3000.
However there have been a few more affordable models that have been available. Joe Satriani's JS100 ($799) is the inexpensive version of the JS1000 ($1,749) with Ibanez AH pickups instead of DiMarzios and an Edge III instead of the original Edge bridge. The infamous JEM555 and also the discontinued JEM Jr are a cut down edition of the Vai's JEM7V and are built in Korea as opposed to Japan. The JEM555 is not available in the US but the JEM505 is the US equivalent with a maple fretboard and IBZ V7 and V8 pickups for $1499, a Vai JEM7V is $2599. Herman Li's (DragonForce) EGEN18 ($2,699) also has a little brother - the EGEN8 ($799). Gone are the DiMarzio HLM pickups and Edge Zero bridge. Instead this guitar carries the IBZ V7 and V8 pickups and the Edge III bridge.
With that said, the JEM, MTM and PGM are based on the RG series guitars. Satriani's JS is closest to a SA series. The DragonForce EGEN is an S series guitar whilst the STM and PGM Fireman are an Iceman.
Ibanez J. Custom
Officially only available in Japan, these guitars are quite rare. However a few boutique guitar shops do import them and every so often they appear on eBay. The J. Custom are mostly based on the RG series such as the RG8570Z with a flamed maple top, J. Custom neck with vine inlays, Edge Zero tremolo bridge and DiMarzio Air Norton, True Velvet and Tone Zone. The S8570 is based on the S series. The J. Custom's are approx $2680 USD.
Ibanez RG Series
The Ibanez RG Prestige (Roadstar Guitar) range is a high end Super Strat bodied guitar. Mostly made out of basswood they have either an Ibanez Edge Pro or Edge Zero tremolo bridge and thin 5 piece Wizard Prestige or Super Wizard Ibanez necks. Certain models such as the RG3550Z are equipped with DiMarzio pickups otherwise Ibanez IBZ or Vintage V series pickups are used. Prestige models are mostly built in Japan by Team J. Craft not to be confused with J. Custom. You can buy an Ibanez Prestige RG1570 for around $999.
Similar to the Prestige, the Indonesian built RG Tremolo instead uses the more affordable Edge III bridge and a slightly thicker 3 piece Wizard II maple neck with jumbo frets and shark tooth inlays. Most have a basswood body, with the exception of the RGT42DXFM and RGT42DXWH which are in mahogany. Pickups are factory Infinity INF or Vintage V series in an H-S-H configuration. Changing pickups to aftermarket ones such as EMG, Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio guitar pickups can greatly improve the budget line but takes a bit of effort and skill in soldering. Pickups will cost around $60 - $80 each.
One of the most popular guitars to buy in the Ibanez range is the RG350DX ($399) and RG370DX ($399). The RG350DX only differs by having a pickguard and a matching white colored headstock.
The RGD was introduced in 2010 and is a RG shaped basswood body guitar with extra scooped styled horns and body. It has a 26.5" extra long scaled neck that has been detuned a whole step down to D. The RGD uses the Edge III tremolo. The VK Down Tunz pickups are wired in parallel. This series was purposely built for shredding. A RGD320 costs $599.
The Indonesian built RGA is a RG shaped mahogany arched top body with a Gibraltar hard tail bridge and Wizard II neck. The RGA's use factory installed LZ3 active pickups. The RGA321SPB uses the hotter LZ4 active pickups. A RGA42 will cost about $499 and a RGA32 is $349.
The RG Fixed is similar to the RGA this time with a non branded fixed bridge, Wizard II necks and available mostly in mahogany with either Ibanez INF or V series pickups. The RGT6EXFX uses EMG 85 and EMG 81 pickups. An RG321 is priced at $299.
The GRG/GRX series are also known as Ibanez GIO. They are budget version of the RG Tremolo characterized by the inexpensive poplar body, 1 piece maple neck, Fat 10 bridge and factory installed PSND pickups. It's one of the most popular models and you can buy a GRG170DX for $249.
This is a baby RG with a fixed bridge and a 22.2 inch scale neck tuned to G instead of E. This is mainly for children and can sometimes be bought as a package with an IBZ1G 10 watt amplifier for $199. The guitar by itself is $129 so that's a pretty good deal.
Ibanez S Series
The S series (Saber) are characterized by an ultra thin mahogany body and a more contoured body closer to a Stratocaster. The S Prestige's are now built in Japan; some previous models were made in Korea. The S5470F, S5470RVK and S5470TKS all use the 24 fret Wizard Prestige neck, EDGE ZR-2 tremolo and hot Grinder HGD1 neck humbucker, Short Tracer ST2 middle single coil and HGD2 bridge pickups. There have been reported problems of sustain issue at higher frets circa 2009, Ibanez responded by replacing the middle pickup with a less powerful one which had too much magnetic pull on the strings. One of the main exponents of the S series is Herman Li before he introduced the EGEN. A S5470F costs $1599.
Similar to the S Prestige, the SV and retains the Wizard Prestige neck, but has the added benefit of the True Duo pickup system allowing for splits function on the True Duo humbuckers to single coil mode with a push/pull of the volume knob. In essence this allows for 10 different pickup modes. The SV Prestige also uses a non locking SynchroniZR tremolo. A SV5470F costs $1399.
Similar to the S Prestige but now has the 3 piece Wizard II neck, ZR bridge and Infinity INF pickups. An S570B is $599.
Similar looking to the SV Prestige but has a flat back. The SA comes equipped with True Duo buckers and Axis Single Coil pickups and a SAT Pro II bridge. A SA260M is $449.
Is an affordable version of the SA with an agathis wood body, PowerSound PSND pickups and a SAT 10 tremolo bridge. A GSA60 is $199.
The Xiphos, Destroyer and Iceman are extreme nontraditional designed guitars for hard rock and shredding. They feature neck thru construction and the very hot DiMarzio D Activator pickups. Some have an upside down headstock and also an Edge III tremolo whammy bar. A 27-fret XPT700XH Xiphos will set you back $899 , an ICT700 Iceman is $799.
Artist and Artist Prestige
The ART Artcore and ARX guitars are Gibson Les Paul and SG variations with mahogany bodies, paddle headstocks, fixed Gibraltar bridges and two LZ1 active humbuckers. An AS103 Artcore is $899, the ARX320 $449.
Is the GIO budget version of ART and ARX using basswood, non branded fixed bridge and PowerSound PSND2 non active pickups. A GART30 is $209.
The DN series Ibanez Darkstone guitars are a new heavy metal rock axe using a sapele body and neck, Tight-Tune fixed bridge and two PP1 humbuckers. To buy a DN500 will cost $599.
This FR is a Telecaster variation that uses an ash body, Wizard Prestige neck, Tight-End bridge and two Calm Crusher humbucker pickups. To buy a Neo-Classic Series FR1620 will cost $1299.
The JTK Jet King is an indie guitar reminiscent of a Fender Jaguar. The JTK30 ($299) uses HFS pickups (which looks a bit like TV Jones pickups) and a Full Tune III fixed bridge on a mahogany body. The JTK40 ($349) instead has a ACH pickups and a VBX60 Vintage Vibrato similar to a Bigsby vibrato.
The most popular models are the RG Tremolo series, GIO's, S series and JEM's. Signature series, J. Custom and Prestige's are mostly built in Japan.
Ibanez guitars are some of the most popular in the world. And with so many choices there is a model to suit everyone's budget. The affordable models are either built in Korea or Indonesia whereas the Prestige, J. Custom and Prestige lines are built in Japan. The GRX GIO series is a good economical starter guitar and some packages even include an amp. Moving up the range the RG Tremolo and RG Fixed offers better hardware at an affordable price. The Prestige models are designed for the intermediate to advanced player. The Signature range is for the demanding Pro player or any guitarist with deep pockets.
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