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School me on Ibanez

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  • School me on Ibanez

    I can count on one hand the number of times I've touched an Ibanez guitar.
    But...I'm interested in them lately and don't know which ones I should be interested in.
    I've been looking at the 550-570 early nineties rg's and think that one of those may be what I'm looking for? But honestly have no idea.
    What I'm looking for is something that isn't the same but highly resembles the playing characteristics of my all time favorite guitars...charvel model series.
    Those in the I on the right path?
    I live on the edge of danger facing life and death every single day.....then I leave her at home and go disarm bombs.

  • #2
    I tend to target Japanese Ibanez RGs because they can be quite common and affordable (depending on era), and I have "general RG knowledge" (probably second to my Jackson/Charvel knowledge) so hopefully I can be of help. I'll limit my discussion to 6-string RGs, though I've also owned three 7-string RGs (two Japanese and one Chinese). The Ibanez S models also follow a similar timeline and could definitely be considered, if you like that body shape, but I have no hands-on experience with them so I cannot make any personal recommendations.

    Also keep in mind that the below discussion is extremely generalized and follows the evolution of one model, the RG550, through the years. Ibanez enjoys playing with its model naming scheme, its specifications, and even releases uncatalogued "spot models" (limited runs) that have small spec changes that are too numerous to mention here. They are better captured on the excellent Ibanez Wikia website:

    In all cases below, look for serial numbers that begin with F (Fujigen Gakki) and observe the first number (last digit of the 1900s century; example: F7 = year 1987) or the first two numbers (last two digits of 1997 onwards; F97 = year 1997 because they couldn't use "F7" again).

    The RG550 is the first/iconic RG which was released in 1987 as a no-frills, affordable JEM. Its siblings were the RG560 (HSS pickups, no pickguard) and RG570 (HSH pickups, no pickguard) and there were occasional variants and a variety of colors. Ibanez fans call this "family" of guitars the "Golden Era", which lasts until about 1994. The characteristics to keep in mind are the Edge or Lo-Pro Edge tremolo made by Gotoh (renowned as the best Ibanez trems), V1/V2 humbuckers, and tilt joint neck joint. For these reasons these would probably be the closest to the Charvel Model Series you like (blocky heel, in-house pickups, Japanese-built, same era, basswood bodies, shredder-thin maple necks, rosewood or maple fretboards, huge frets, dot inlays). The RG750, RG760, and RG770 are similar with bound fretboards/headstocks and DiMarzio-made USA/IBZ pickups.

    The next era can be considered "Pre-Prestige" which were from 1995 to 2002. Personally this is where I find my best deals. Virtually identical specs and feel to the Golden Era, but with all-access neck joint (which I prefer) and V7/V8 humbuckers (fans seem to prefer the V1/V2). Necks became stronger with multi-piece construction.

    The first Prestige era is 2003 to 2013. There is also the top-end j.custom product line which I won't discuss here (and I don't have personal experience with them.) It introduced a new tremolo, the Edge Pro, still made by Gotoh. This is a very comfortable trem under the hand. Where it loses points from hardcore fans is that, unlike the Edge or Lo-Pro Edge, the Edge Pro does not come with locking trem studs. Personally I don't see this as a problem because it's well-known that locking trem studs from the Edge or Lo-Pro Edge can be swapped in place if that locking function is desired, but also because plenty of other highly-stable trems such as the OFR also lack locking trem studs and hold tune just fine under extreme abuse. With this Prestige era, the RGs had four-digit model numbers. For example, the RG550 became the RG1550. That first digit also represented the trim levels. An RG1550 could be considered the base model with its V7/V8 humbuckers, the RG2550 could be considered a step higher with different inlays and DiMarzio/Ibz pickups, and the RG3550 could be considered higher still with different inlays and true DiMarzio pickups. The neck was multi-piece construction with the added strengthening volute near the headstock.

    At some point, the Edge Zero tremolo was introduced. Models that had this trem had the letter Z at the end of their name. This is a Chinese-made tremolo, not Japanese Gotoh. I'm not as knowledgeable on this bridge as the others, but if everything were equal, psychologically/snobbily I would prefer an Edge, Lo-Pro Edge, or even and Edge Pro.

    From 2014 onwards was the next Prestige era which saw the return of the Edge tremolo, but a renamed model naming scheme. (Ibanez likes to do that a lot.) If you've been following the lineage of the RG550 outlined above, this descendant is now called the RG655. You can think of it as RG-6string-550 (with last digit dropped). Stock DiMarzio pickups and Edge tremolo made this era stand out, pretty much a dream RG that didn't really need hotrodding.

    Up until this point, the Japanese RGs still generally maintained the same RG aesthetic. After 2017, the Prestige label seemed to be reserved for forward-thinking aesthetics, while the new Genesis line (still Japanese) took on the retro/classic RG aesthetic. The Genesis guitars most closely resemble the Golden Era RGs, including Edge tremolo and tilt-joint neck joint, but have the added benefit of multi-piece neck construction and volute for neck strength and stability, and subjectively worse pickups (the V7/V8 humbuckers of the Pre-Prestige era). If I had to design a modern-classic Genesis RG550, it would have the Edge tremolo, tilt-joint, strong neck, and the old V1/V2 humbuckers. I would have introduced the Genesis as the retro-flavored series and kept the RG655 (and its siblings) as the more modern variant for those who want classic-contemporary features... while introducing the very modern Prestiges seen today to be the cutting edge product line.

    I expect Ibanez to keep tinkering with its RG line, similar how to the Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul maintain some classic style guitars while also developing forward-thinking models. This is in sharp contrast to what I've noticed with Jackson's USA Select Series which has basically gone unchanged since 1996; a 1996 SL1 is identical in specifications to a 2020 SL1, personally because I feel Jackson got it right all along with nothing much else to refine. My attitude is, don't mess with the classics, but please feel free to innovate and introduce new models that don't completely replace the classics.

    This isn't to exclude RGs made in other countries, which can also be a steal and great guitars in their own right. But to me, in the same way a "true-to-original Jackson" is American, personally a "true-to-original RG" is Japanese so that's my snob factor to consider. And since I can find inexpensive RGs that are made in Japan, I tend not to bother with most of the others unless they're extremely cheap.
    Last edited by Number Of The Priest; 02-20-2020, 02:35 PM.


    • #3
      I am going to point you to the same website -
      I was against that guy taking over control of the portal. And I still agree with my decision. But his autism has definitely made it easier to find similar items if you have something specific you are looking for.

      Me, I don't seek out Japanese Ibanez - other than the originals when they were all made in Japan. I have found some amazing Korean models, and many Indonesian models can also be very good players (you may need to change hardware). In fact, my RG3XXV is from Indonesia and it absolutely blew my mind. I hate adjusting that model of tremolo, but once it is in place, I do not mind using it.
      And the reason I bring up the XXV, they were the 25th Anniversary models. You can get "authentic" "tribute" models from Indonesia at the fraction of the price of the Japanese models.
      My Korean RGT42 felt like it was a "better built" guitar, but my Indonesia RGT42 was very much a Soloist/Model 6 without the bulky heel.
      The one thing I don't do is buy "Iron Label". You are paying 3x the price for an Indonesian guitar.

      *As mentioned above. Make sure you check model and date before you blindly buy something. Today's 550 is not the same as another year's 550.
      Last edited by pianoguyy; 02-20-2020, 06:59 PM.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Number Of The Priest View Post
        The Ibanez S models also follow a similar timeline and could definitely be considered, if you like that body shape, but I have no hands-on experience with them so I cannot make any personal recommendations.
        I have had a couple S models. My body and the S body were not compatible. My fretting hand didn't hate them. But it is just hard to get a good feel for one part when the other part throws you off so much.


        • #5
          No idea what model this is
          I don't dig the "custom made" inlay all that much but I do like the look of the rest of the guitar..only thing is..I have no idea what model it is or if the asking price is relatively reasonable
          I live on the edge of danger facing life and death every single day.....then I leave her at home and go disarm bombs.


          • #6
            I live on the edge of danger facing life and death every single day.....then I leave her at home and go disarm bombs.


            • #7
              That is the VERY FIRST TIME I have seen the "Custom Made" inlay on an RG. Those inlays were more commonly seen on the early S Series, for example the S540. It's only an inlay, and never has it meant "custom" in any sense of the word, although it's not uncommon for the innocently ignorant and the deceptive sellers to try to emphasize that they were custom guitars.

              I'm going out on a limb to say that's a spot model (undocumented limited run with specification differences from the norm). The closest guitar it resembles is the RG520 which didn't debut until 1998. The pickups are Quantum pickups (, the trem is a Lo-Pro Edge (, the neck joint is an all-access neck joint ( Ash is a less common RG body wood, given the default is basswood. F5 serial number is Fujigen (Japan) 1995; the seller's description is truthful although begging for more details.

              The painted neck is odd to see on a bolt-neck RG. The reverse headstock is a neat touch. The only other model I remember having both those things was the MTM2 (budget Mick Thomson signature model). The painted neck looks to be factory, given that the serial number looks intact and underneath the clearcoat (and not like an amateur painted the neck and applied a serial number decal on top).

              Very interesting and legitimate model. Ibanez always surprises me when I see oddballs appearing like this. The base price (ignoring the shipping) is not for me, but probably not totally unreasonable for some of the RG fans who love spot models and rare variants but I cannot speak for them since I don't share that same level of fanaticism.

              pianoguyy recommended not buying Iron Label line of Ibanez guitars. I would like to add to avoid the Premium line too. Granted, I have played exactly zero guitars from these lines, but I simply don't bother when they're priced higher than an inexpensive used RG550/RG560/RG570 from 1987-2002 (Golden Era and Pre-Prestige) that aren't terribly difficult to find on Craigslist. The Jackson analogy would be similar to a hypothetical situation where USA Jacksons were common and $500; would you buy a brand new $1000 Indonesian import? No, I'll buy those USA Jacksons without hesitation and never pay attention to the imports.

              My theory for why the Golden Era and Pre-Prestige guitars can be found cheaply is that they simply don't say Prestige on the headstock and so ignorant sellers don't know how to research their guitars prior to selling and cannot identify their model; it's not uncommon to see a Craigslist ad simply say "Ibanez guitar $90" and the photos clearly show a Golden Era or Pre-Prestige excellent Japanese instrument but the seller simply doesn't know what they have because there are no other obvious identifying labels on the guitar and they don't know how to read the F-serial number. A Prestige label on the headstock allows an uninformed seller to research "Ibanez Prestige" and at least get in the ballpark of other "Ibanez Prestige" listings.
              Last edited by Number Of The Priest; 02-21-2020, 08:26 AM.


              • #8
                Thanks for the insight! Id really like to get my paws on that one whatever it is, but it needing to come from Russia, not knowing exactly what it is, and/or what it's worth, considering the over $500 office tag, I'm reluctantly passing on it. With glances back over my shoulder as I walk away 😂. That guitar intrigues ME but not so much my wallet lol.
                I live on the edge of danger facing life and death every single day.....then I leave her at home and go disarm bombs.


                • #9
                  I posed the identification question on the Ibanez RG Series Fans group on Facebook ( and they agreed it was a spot model, probably closest to the RGR620 ( or hypothetical RGR520 (never existed but that's what someone who is familiar with the Ibanez naming scheme would call the guitar if it were a production model).


                  • #10
                    ive had stacks of ibanez,the RG655 is a nice guitar,its better than 550 the 655 has dimarzio tone zone air norton pups,whereas 550 has v7 v8 which are ok but no better than ok


                    • #11
                      if you want to know why ibanez became so big find a late 80's 550 or 570 like you asked about...pickups are an easy change out...the necks changed in the mid 90's with a bubinga stripe wizard feeling even thinner than the original wizard...then changed again in the mid 2000's to a slightly beefier profile...i still prefer the originals myself but be prepared to get one in not so pristine condition if you want to keep the price down (many of mine have major dings etc but it doesnt affect the playability nor sound)...any other questions just ask...d.m.




                      • #12
                        I picked up a hammered 1990 rg570 a few months back
                        After replacing the broken edge with a working edge, and learning the neck...yeah I get it. Unreal players.
                        I live on the edge of danger facing life and death every single day.....then I leave her at home and go disarm bombs.


                        • #13
                          I can understand dinged RG bodies; the corners are sharp and squared off (contrast this to a proper Strat body which has very rounded corners) and the most common RG body wood is basswood, which is very soft. You almost expect used RGs to come with dings, even people who just bought their Prestige or their Genesis last year, played it a little bit so far, babied it a lot, and yet somehow managed to put a ding or three on it during the short time they owned it. The joke is that you only need to look at an RG and it will get dinged. (Also common are cracks in the clearcoat finish at the neck pocket, and cracks on the back of the neck where the locknut is mounted.)

                          But someone must have really abused the Edge if it was broken. They're hardy units. Not saying you made a bad choice buying that guitar; after all, you came out with a great player in the end and you seem to be happy, but it's not uncommon to see the price of an Edge unit exceed the cost of a fully-assembled, fully-working, used Japanese RG that comes with a functioning Edge. An Edge can be very pricey and it's often more economically sound to just wait for the next intact used, Edge-equipped, Japanese RG to be listed for dirt cheap.

                          Anyway, looks like you found a Golden Era RG570, which I advised would be the closest RG to the Charvel Model Series you like. Now that you've played both, how do they compare?

                          diablomozart, the bubinga-striped neck is called the Super Wizard. The dimensions are spec'ed identical to the original Wizard necks, but simply with the bubinga stripe for added strength. In theory the Super Wizard should feel the same as the Wizard in your hand. For me, they certainly do. I owned one Wizard and four Super Wizard guitars. It's probably the only choice for a "purist" who wants that original Wizard profile but with the added strength of multi-ply construction, and also wants the All-Access Neck Joint which is a great neck heel.
                          Last edited by Number Of The Priest; 05-08-2020, 12:06 PM.


                          • #14
                            It showed up from Japan with the trem decked.
                            I thought....weird and went about raising it up so I could set it up..
                            It just wasn't right..I looked closer fucking knife edges broken off and in turn broke the slotted part of the trem the knife edges reside in
                            I contacted the seller with pics and descrip and they covered the cost of a working edge shipped to me.
                            What's funny...I'm adjusting the pickup height a bit and I see something stuck to the side of the bridge eyes got wicked big and I said out loud..get the fuck out of here..knife edge was stuck to the pickup 😂😂
                            On those early ones the knife edges were indeed marketed as replaceable. They sold new replacements and I'm guessing that the hb does double a humbucker and spare knife edge storage. Smart ibanez..wicked smart
                            Last edited by bombtek; 05-08-2020, 02:29 PM.
                            I live on the edge of danger facing life and death every single day.....then I leave her at home and go disarm bombs.


                            • #15
                              agreed but many fail to take one thing into comparison, measurements can be the same (the swirl is a bubinga striped neck as well as a sparkle green 570 i don't have in the pic) but the neck shape/profile can be slightly me, the bubinga striped necks have slimmer shoulders and a slightly wider flat spot in the middle (making them feel different to me, thinner may be the wrong adjective)...theoretically all of mine should be the same but my 89 stripped 570 (my number 1 btw) and my 89 550 in atlantic blue are pretty different from the rest having a slightly rounder and beefier (for ibanez) neck on them...i've found the super wizards far more consistent in feel than my 87-92 ibanezes which, while all are thin, vary somewhat in feel...that being said an 89 desert yellow 550 i have feels more like a super wizard...i don't know if its manufacturing tolerances or just the fact that they were hand shaped back then but while they all feel similar they do not feel the same...weird how that works...d.m.

                              btw notp youre not wrong on pricing, i've paid 130 for the violet pearl 560, 100 bucks for a neon purple 560 (being refinned right now)...aside from my jem i dont have more than 400 in any of yeah if one is vigilant they can be acquired for very thing to note though, they are all getting older, most have been played a lot so a refret is usually in the cards (i'm about halfway through having stainless steel frets put on all of mine)...oh and yeah the necks on the premiums do not feel like the older ones...kinda...chunky lol
                              Last edited by diablomozart; 05-08-2020, 02:24 PM.