The Ibanez FR series dates back to the gloriously dim and distant halcyon days of, erm, 2008, but its Telecaster-meets-Charvel Surfcaster outline is also somewhat reminiscent of the little-known and little-appreciated Ibanez 580T Turbot and 580B Ballback [we're not joking, that really was its name - Ed] from 1987.
Happily, everything is much more successful here, and the FR6UC's matt black flat finish and lack of bling lends the instrument a mean, no-nonsense aesthetic that would be a perfect fit for the modern metalcore player.
"The FR6UC's suitably rock-looking distressed pickup covers house a pair of Bare Knuckle Aftermath humbuckers"
There's an ebony fingerboard and its neck is a five-piece affair, with two thin strips of 0.5mm walnut between three sections of maple.
The FR6UC's suitably rock-looking distressed pickup covers house a pair of Bare Knuckle Aftermath humbuckers with "accelerated bass response for exceptionally fast tracking of high-speed staccato riffing with crushing midrange and precise high-end articulation." The 14.7k-ohm bridge unit comprises a trio of ceramic magnets, while the neck is Alnico V with a DC resistance of 11.5k ohms.
This instrument is built cleanly with excellent fretwork, as you would expect from a Japanese guitar at this price point, although it has to be noted that - considering its relatively compact proportions - it's a little on the weighty side, weighing in at 3.8kg (8.4lbs).
There's no lack of resonance from it strummed acoustically, but it's something to think about if your live sets are on the long side or you suffer from back issues. Upper-fret access is also exemplary. It's almost as though the company has been doing this guitar-building thing with distinction for several decades...
Feel & Sounds
The FR6UC's Bare Knuckle Aftermaths in full humbucking mode are perfect for a gamut of king-size-yet- articulate heavy rock tones, from Foo Fighters and Queens Of The Stone Age right through to Deftones and Slipknot.
"You can switch to heavy-gauge strings and down-tune with confidence, too"
The combination of Gotoh Magnum Lock tuners and a long 648mm (25.5-inch) scale length means that you can switch to heavy-gauge strings and down-tune with confidence, too.
That said, the Aftermaths are by no means all about metallic high gain; back off the volume and switch to position two or four to get one of the inner coils in isolation and you'll enjoy pleasantly springy Strat-style tones. It may be none-more-black in appearance, but there's a broad range of hues on the FR6UC's sonic palette.
In many ways, the FR6UC is an easy sell. Ibanez has had a huge section of the metal and heavy rock guitar market sewn up for some time now, and the Bare Knuckle Aftermath pickups are an inspired choice on a rock-solid, ferocious-sounding guitar with a stripped-down charm that's just begging to be taken out on the road and played hard.
We'd like it even more if it was a little less hefty, but the days of getting lightweight mahogany instruments without paying boutique bucks for them seem to be long gone. Notwithstanding that, this guitar is a high-performance, real-world six-string that serious gigging musicians should check out.