The author is a guitarist and bassist with over 35 years of experience as a musician.
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 its 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 30 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!
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 whether you are a seasoned pro or a newbie looking for your first Ibanez, this is a good place to start.
There are a bunch of RGs in the Ibanez lineup, so which guitar is best?
My choice: The RG450 is an outstanding guitar for players on a budget, but I am really impressed with the RG550. It's made in Japan, and while it is more expensive than the RG450, it is a considerable upgrade, and it's still fairly affordable. It's a guitar that holds its own for extreme metal but is also a good choice for shred, hard rock, thrash, and old-school metal.
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.
- RG550: 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.
The Ibanez Genesis 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.
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Some Ibanez S Series models of note:
- S520/S521: 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.
- SIX6DFM: Part of the Iron Label series, this Ibanez means business with DiMarzio Fusion Edge pickups and an Edge Zero II bridge.
My suggestions: For intermediate players, the S521 is a smart choice. Like the RG450 above it is an affordable, quality instrument.
However, serious metal guitarists need to check out the Ibanez SIXDFM. This is a masterpiece based on the S design, and it's part of the Ibanez Iron Label Series (more on that in a bit).
Ibanez Iron Label Guitars
The Ibanez SIXDFM is part of the Iron Label Series. 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 Iron Label guitars. 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.
The Iron Label Series improves every year, making these guitars a solid choice for extreme metal. Of course, they still use great Ibanez components, which is true for most models in their lineup.
The Ibanez Iron Label SIX
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.
Unfortunately, Ibanez does not have a current model Destroyer in their lineup as of this writing. However, if you can get your hands on a vintage model, seriously consider it.
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. IC520 if this is a guitar shape that appeals to you.
Ibanez Artist Signature Guitars
Ibanez has an impressive stable of metal guitarists with their own signature instruments. As one of the best guitar brands for metal, it is no wonder that musicians in genres as diverse as death metal, shred, prog, classic metal, and rock flock to Ibanez.
Here is a partial list of guitarists who play Ibanez and their signature instruments:
- Joe Satriani: JS
- Steve Vai: JEM/UV
- Paul Gilbert: PGM/FRM
- Paul Stanley of KISS: PS
- Fredrik Thordendal of Meshuggah: FTM
- Marten Hagstrom of Meshuggah: M8M
- Jake Bowen of Periphery: JBM
- Herman Li of Dragonforce: EGEN
- Sam Totman of Dragonforce: STM
- Nita Strauss of The Iron Maidens / Alice Cooper: JIVA
- Paul Waggoner of Between the Buried and Me: PWN
- Kiko Loureiro of Angra: KIKO
If you're a rock guitar player there is certainly a guitar in the Ibanez lineup to meet your needs.
The RG is the classic hard rock guitar, and the S series is built to shred. Both are outstanding instruments and there are many models in each series. Consider the differences between the RG and S as well as your own goals when making your choice.
The Iron Label series takes metal guitars to a new level. If extreme music is your thing, they have what it takes.
The Destroyer and Iceman and both classic designs that helped put Ibanez on the map.
But the choice 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?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.