Best Ibanez Guitar for Metal and Rock

Updated on January 28, 2017
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Guitar Gopher is a guitarist and bassist with over 30 years of experience as a musician.

The RG450: One of the best Ibanez guitars for metal.
The RG450: One of the best Ibanez guitars for metal.

Top Guitars from Ibanez

Ibanez guitars are some of the best instruments in the world of metal and hard rock. But this isn't news. For decades Ibanez guitars have been spotted in the hands of the top guitar players on the planet.

Ibanez has always had their finger on the pulse of the guitar community. They led the way during the superstrat revolution of the '80s, and the 7-string revolution of the '90s. They continue to innovate today with their Prestige and Iron Label series.

If you play anything from classic rock to extreme metal, in my opinion you can't go wrong with an Ibanez guitar. My first real guitar was an Ibanez, about thirty years ago, and I've been a fan ever since.

But if you're thinking about an Ibanez guitar your biggest problem may be which one to choose. While you can universally expect things like fast necks, hot pickups and quality hardware from every Ibanez you encounter, there are differences between each series, and between models in each series.

This article will help you choose your first Ibanez, or add another to your collection. On to the gear!

Ibanez Iron Label Guitars

First, a word about Ibanez Iron Label Guitars. If you're into metal guitar and heavy rock these guitars are worth your attention. Even classic rock players will find some of the models in this lineup impressive.

Back in 2013 Ibanez introduced the Iron Label Series. The point was to build the ultimate metal guitars, and for Ibanez that's saying something. Their guitars are already the best in the world for metal, so what could they possibly do to them?

Ibanez utilized hot EMG and DiMarzio pickups. They upgraded their legendary Wizard neck to make it even faster and more durable. They stripped down the look of the instruments and added a kill switch to some models.

Of course they still use great Ibanez components like Edge Zero II trems and rock-solid Gibraltar Standard bridges.

The Iron Label Series got an overhaul a few years back, apparently making them even more metal. For 2017 some are even equipped with Bare Knucke Aftermath pickups. Point is, some of the models mentioned in this article are available as part of the Iron Label Series. For all the metal you can stand, check them out.

Check out the New Ibanez Iron Label RGs

RG Series

In the '80s the Ibanez RG first smashed its way into the guitar world. It has since gone on to become one of the top guitars for shredders and extreme metalheads alike. The RG was among the first superstrats to really change the guitar landscape.

The Ibanez RG series is a big reason Ibanez has ruled the metal world for decades. It has become a classic, and if you're looking for your first Ibanez this is a good place to start.

Some Ibanez RG models of note:

RG450: A solid choice for intermediate rock guitarists. It features all the quality components you'd expect in an RG, but comes in at a very friendly price.

RG655: Part of the Prestige series, this RG is seriously upgraded with DiMarzio pickups and a Wizard 5-piece maple/walnut neck.

RGD7421: Ibanez was the innovator of the 7-string guitar, and the RGD7421 is perhaps the ultimate weapon. It's built for metal, no messing around.

Ibanez RG Premium - RG6PCMLTD

S Series

In the '90s the Ibanez S series exploded in popularity. It may look a little like an RG, but the Ibanez S features a thinner, sculpted body. When it comes to tonewoods, RG models generally feature basswood bodies where S models feature mahogany, often with a decorative top.

Some of Ibanez's prettiest guitars appear in the S series. Certainly there are models appropriate for extreme metal, but these guitars are built to shred.

Some Ibanez S Series models of note:

S520: Great for intermediate players, and not too expensive. This model lacks the pretty tops of some more expensive instruments in the S Series, but it still looks great and features quality components.

S770PB: With a gorgeous popular burl top this guitar really stands out. More importantly, it has the right stuff under the hood. This is an awesome choice for advanced guitarists.

SIR70FD: Part of the Iron Label series, this Ibanez means business with DiMarzio pickups and a Gibraltar Standard II bridge.

AR and ARZ Series

The Ibanez ARZ is a classic design with some impressive modern alterations. The single cutaway body is mahogany, and some models feature unique tonewood tops. It has a set mahogany neck design, tune-o-matic bridge and block inlays in an ebony fretboard.

Sound like any guitar you know?

Some of the specs may be similar, but there are big differences. The ARZ is part of the Iron Label Series, and features active EMG pickups, a slim, fast neck and locking machine heads.

It may look classic, but it comes with an attitude unique to Ibanez and the Iron Label series.

If you like the look but need the heaviness consider the ARZ. It is one of the best Ibanez guitars for metal and rock.

You also might want to check out the AR series if you are more into classic rock. The Ibanez ARZ is an extension of the AR series, which are pretty good guitars in their own right.

Ibanez ARZ200FM
Ibanez ARZ200FM

X Series

Within the Ibanez X Series there are a couple of guitars that may appeal to metal and rock players.

The first is the Ibanez Iceman. The Iceman is one of the truly unique shapes in the guitar industry. There isn't much out there that looks like it.

Originally the Iceman was associated with Paul Stanley of KISS. These days, shredder Sam Totman of Dragonforce has a signature model based on the Iceman.

The Iceman is a classic, and a unique shape that will certainly help you to stand out.

Speaking of unique shapes, the Ibanez Xiphos is another guitar in the Ibanez X Series worth mentioning. This guitar is extreme in every way, from its wild, can-opener looks, to the 27-fret (!) fingerboard.

They may look wild, but X Series guitars features quality components and build techniques. These are solid instruments, and if extreme looks, sound and playability is your thing you may find the Ibanez Iceman or Xiphos is the best Ibanez guitar for metal.

The Ibanez Xiphos 27-Fret

Destroyer

Back in the mid-'70s the now-legendary Ibanez Destroyer first appeared. It may have looked a little too much like another famous guitar at the time, but with a few tweaks it soon made its own name in the rock community.

My first memory of the Ibanez Destroyer involves Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen. He played a black Destroyer II with three pickups and a Kahler whammy bar. Man, that was a cool guitar.

Eddie Van Halen also played an Ibanez Destroyer in the early days. The guitar would eventually go on to be known as the Shark after he took a saw to it and cut a large chunk away. It's rumored that Eddie used a Destroyer for some of the tracks on Van Halen's legendary debut album, and possibly thereafter.

Point is, this is a guitar with some serious rock history behind it. While the RG usually gets credit for launching Ibanez into the hard rock stratosphere, before the RG there was the Destroyer.

Ibanez S770PB
Ibanez S770PB

Ibanez Rocks!

If you're a rock guitar player there is certainly a guitar in the Ibanez lineup to meet your needs. Classic rock players might gravitate to the AR Series, and those who need a little edge might seek out the ARZ.

The RG is the classic hard rock guitar, and the S series is built to shred.

The Iron Label series takes metal guitars to a new level. If extreme music is your thing, they have what it takes.

But the choices is yours. Hopefully the article got you one step closer to choosing the best Ibanez guitar for metal or rock.

Your Opinion: Which is the best Ibanez guitar for metal and rock?

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