The 80’s Without the Sticky Mess … A Look at Ibanez 25th Anniversary RG / S Series Guitars

By Francis ‘The Grin’ Gray

One could accuse me of being bias because my primary guitar is an Ibanez SA220, but I assure you, I have no brand loyalty. With so many options to choose from, any one guitar will be hit or miss with any one player. Admittedly, I have difficulty playing a Gibson Les Paul, but I love my Ibanez and I wish I had another. The most recognizable models in recent years would be the Iceman/fireman, JEM, and the Satriani model. Now Ibanez guitars are re-issuing a 25th year anniversary of their successful 1980’s models. The RG and the S series came out in 1987 which featured the Ibanez Edge, a double locking tremolo system. Fender came out with the body style that we all know and love as the stratacaster. The Floyd Rose has been out since the mid 70’s, but it was Ibanez who reinvented the wheel by adding locking studs and bearings.

The 80s was about big flammable hair, loud colors, and “girls girls girls”. I’m honestly glad I don’t remember much about that time, do to the rise of the synthesizer. However, I will credit allot to this one decade because it held some points of guitar evolution. From Eddie Van Halen’s finger tapping to what would be the early days of Dimebag Darrells squeals, the 80’s was an essential time, although we could have done without Turbo Lover.

Armed with ceramic DiMarzio pickups made specifically for the Ibanez line, the RG stands out with the passion of a florescent hot pink or a loud ’83 camaro yellow, with the basswood body, that adds the quality we all love in a woman. A fat bottom!!….BAM! (at least I dig em) Ibanez gave us a five piece neck built of maple and walnut. Aside from music and guitars, I am also a history buff. The upon reading that, the first thing I thought of was a nordic blacksmith by the name Ulfberth. He was the Gibson of the time in both quality and the product that many were prone to counterfeit. He was known (if not started) for blending soft, low carbon iron and high carbon, hard steel with gold or silver on occasion. Why would I bring this up, aside from the reasons I have already mentioned? Well it is simple really and an answer we all know to be true. Something hand made with time respecting patience from the hand of an experienced individual, will always produce quality.

If you want my opinion, I would lean closer to the S1XXV. Why you may ask? Well it has features I favor over the RG. A three piece Maple neck and a rosewood finger board, bound in jumbo frets. It’s no secret at that the only place I have blind faith in is the word Alnico, and the S1XXV comes standard with infinity alnico-5 in the bridge and single coil pickup while the neck has a beastly ceramic magnet.  The S also includes an upgraded ZR Tremolo that uses ball bearing pivots instead of the RG’s knife edge.  What I think I favor above all is the mahogany body. The tone of a heavy wood but scaled to a blades edge for the intention of keeping it light. Very valuable for someone prone to back problems.

Ibanez has given us decades of loyal to player specifications with premium and affordable guitars. After only 25 of those years, we still look back, and remember the S and RG series for their speed induced necks. Whether it is Ulfberth’s alchemy that swings a sword that saves your live, or Ibanez’z battle axe that saves your soul, we will never forget the hands that graced us with their pride and discipline. There are many other luither companies but to Gilbert, Li & Totman, Satriani, Thomson, Vai, Cazares, Roth, Ihsahn, Abasi, and myself, Ibanez is home.

Watch the Full Ibanez Video Series Below :

RG Stand-Alone Review


S Stand-Alone Review


RG / S – Shoot-Out


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Filed Under: FeaturedReviewsGuitars

About the Author: Started playing bass at 15. It was Danko Jones who inspired me to play at all, and in a small town I couldn't be picky on what I can get my hands on, so I bought a squire with pride. Obtained a B.C. Rich guitar months later. Moved to the city at 17. At 19 joined my first metal band as a bassist which ended at 20. Joined a bass heavy rock band, which I loved being in whole heartily. I now wait to venture into a new project. For the time being though, I am exploring my abilities as a writer.

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