Ibanez is one of the most iconic guitar brands in the world. Originally sold out of a book shop in Nagoya, Japan they had risen to immense popularity amongst guitars by the end of the 80s with their unique designs and features.
Known for their popularity amongst metal guitarists, they were one of the first companies to push thin neck guitars with their Ibanez Wizard Necks and the first Japanese company to start shipping guitars globally.
Ibanez’ reputation for shred-friendly guitars has in some sense limited their ability to be viewed as a more diverse manufacturer in the guitar world. Despite this, Ibanez has made a diverse line-up of guitars that are suited for a variety of genres and should be considered by any experienced or aspiring guitarist.
What’s So Special About Ibanez Electric Guitars?
Ibanez guitars hold a special place in the hearts of many guitarists around the world. With the release of the RG550 in 1987, they were cemented as one of the most legendary guitar companies on earth.
Since then, their popularity has rarely dwindled and neither has their quality. For these reasons, plenty of professional and amateur guitarists have remained loyal to the Ibanez name.
Why Do People Like Ibanez?
If you were to ask any guitar player that rocks an Ibanez why they like Ibanez guitars you’d likely get a similar answer every time. That answer would be something along the lines of “I love them for their fast necks”. This is the most defining factor of an Ibanez guitar and what has given them their popular reputation, especially amongst people that like to shred.
The build quality of Ibanez guitars is another reason people like them. From entry-level to high-end, Ibanez makes consistently well built guitars.
They’re physically lightweight and feature heavy making them super comfortable to play. Ever since Ibanez started they have kept the majority of their production in Japan, currently at the FujiGen factory. The only exceptions to this are their GIO and Standard series guitars.
How Popular are Ibanez Electric Guitars?
Ibanez guitars are amongst the best-selling guitars that have ever been made. Their popularity rose to the heights it’s known for today when they became the coolest guitar to own during the 80s. This was when they released their first Super Strats.
Their popularity also stems from their accessibility. Ibanez has never been a boutique guitar manufactuer. When they started gaining popularity they moved quickly to get their designs into mass production.
This led Ibanez to create a variety of guitars at different price points for different markets. Meaning that there was an Ibanez suited to everyone from beginners to pros. So someone just starting to learn guitar could get an Ibanez and years later when they want something more advanced… get another Ibanez geared towards more advanced players.
Do Ibanez Electric Guitars Sound Good?
Ibanez guitars are known to sound aggressive and precise at the same time. While the Ibanez sound is most commonly associated with metal, their guitars are capable of tones suited to nearly any genre.
The original design philosophy of Ibanez was to create guitars similar to the popular Fender Stratocaster with more intense sounding pick-ups. That idea still holds true as the best way to describe the sound of an Ibanez guitar.
Their praised fast necks require them to make their guitars deliver a clean and punchy tone. What would be the point of making a guitar that could be played fast if it doesn’t have to sound quality to clearly hear each and every note being played as you shred to your heart’s content.
This sound is created by their use of active pickups that produce more output than the passive pick ups used in more traditional guitar designs. These hot pickups give their guitars a particularly firey sound.
If blazing hot pick ups aren’t your thing, however, you are still in luck with Ibanez as they also make guitars geared towards smoother tones such as their hollow body guitars aimed at jazz and country musicians.
How Good is Ibanez Quality for the Money?
You can pick up an Ibanez guitar for anywhere between $100 and $7000. With such a huge range of guitars, it can be a bit confronting trying to work out what level of quality you’re getting for your money.
While we’d all love to buy their most expensive guitar on the market, let’s look at their entry-level and mid-range guitars to get a good idea of the level of quality Ibanez brings to their guitars.
Luckily Ibanez are renowned for their build quality. If you’re looking to purchase one of their entry level guitars your still getting a well made solid-body electric. Their entry level guitars feature their legendary thin maple necks so you’re getting the feel of an Ibanez even at this price point.
The quality of materials does step up quite a bit when you get into their standard range which are aimed at mid-level guitarists. These guitars feature higher quality woods and upgrades to things like the tremolo arm and locking tuners.
Their standard series isn’t made in Japan, instead built in Indonesia but I haven’t found a single person that doesn’t agree that these guitars are on par quality-wise with their Japanese counterparts!
Their consistency in quality comes down to the way they design guitars. Ibanez does their best to make their guitars as low maintenance as possible so that they’re set up and ready to rock out the box.
It’s small details such as their mono-uni output jack that is made of a single piece to avoid common problems with inputs. Being such a high activity area (plugging in and out every time you play) can cause these jacks to come loose. Ibanez came up with a way to avoid this and it’s included on their cheapest guitar.
Are Cheaper Ibanez Electric Guitars any Good?
In short yes! Ibanez has two series of guitars that are aimed at the budget and beginners markets and both are praised for their great build quality and tone.
The GIO series is Ibanez’s most affordable series of guitars and for their price point offers some serious value for your money. They are perfect for a new player that doesn’t want to break the bank to get a guitar suited towards metal and rock music.
The GIO series gets you in the door for what Ibanez are all about before dedicating a pretty penny towards one of their more professional guitars.
While the GIO series doesn’t feature the same pickups as their higher end models, they still sound distinctly Ibanez. They also go through the same setup and inspection that their more expensive models go through to ensure it’s up to their standards.
If you want something a little better equipped without a massive price increase their Standard Series is probably what you’re looking for.
The Standard Series has versions of all of Ibanez’s most iconic guitar models with build quality that is closer to that of their main-line made in Japan models.
Here you’ll find guitars that seem to be built from the same construction manuals as their high-end guitars, the only difference is where they get put together (Indonesia instead of Japan).
This shouldn’t put you off them at all though. Their Standard Series are hard to outgrow and a blast to play!
Are Ibanez Guitars Overpriced Compared to Other Guitars?
Ibanez guitars can seem a little expensive when compared to what you get from other mainstream guitar brands. This is most evident in the high end models. When comparing a high end Ibanez with a similarly priced guitar from competitors such as Jackson and ESP you might be left feeling a little letdown.
There are some weird spec differences across their different models such as including their budget tremolo arm in some of their high-end models while upgrading it on others around the same price point. So just double check the specs if you’re looking to buy a new high end Ibanez.
If you’re looking at entry-level and mid-range Ibanez guitars you’re going to get much far more bang for your buck!
Ibanez’s guitars in this price range are feature complete and in numerous ways out-perform their competitor’s offerings for budget friendly guitars. Ibanez are renowned for their quality that’s why they became the go to guitar for so many metalheads in the 80s and that quality is still present in their guitars today.
If your buying a budget Ibanez your still getting an Ibanez and that comes with the build quality and playability that makes them great. A lot of effort goes into making their entry level models play and feel like the classic designs that made people fall in love with them.
So while their high-end guitars may be considered over-priced the reason people are still buying them is probably because they started with a budget Ibanez and got hooked on their amazing playability before looking for something worth a few more dollars!
Are Ibanez Guitars Only for Metal & Rock?
While the stereotype for an Ibanez player is a long haired metalhead, the belief that Ibanez guitars are only for playing rock and metal is untrue… but justified.
The idea that they’re only made for playing metal and rock is due to their popularity with metal guitarists that made incredible use of their signature Wizard Necks. These necks are great for shredding but they’re also great for other genres if a thin neck is what YOU find comfortable.
Ibanez have also released a series of guitars aimed towards a broader range of genres such as jazz, blues, and country to name a few. These guitars are part of their Artcore series that have reduced the output of the pick ups to give them a softer tone situated to more peaceful styles of music.