The iconic Ibanez RG guitar series is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and it's remarkable that in all this time no-one has managed to put a guitar together that plays faster.
Sure, there's a lot of competition, and some guitarists would still opt for an ESP Horizon or Jackson Soloist over a top-of-the-range RG series, but the RG is the quickest.
"The Wizard III neck is just the sort of ergonomic come-hither that has made the RG series a go-to shred guitar for a quarter of a century"
It's all down to the neck. The RG3XXV's Wizard III neck is a three-piece maple build, with an emaciated 19mm thickness at the 1st fret. It's just the sort of ergonomic come-hither that has made the RG series a go-to shred guitar for a quarter of a century, and it's an integral part of this revamped modern classic.
Like Ibanez's Premium series, the RG3XXV is built in Indonesia, making these special anniversary models much cheaper than you might expect. But what we love more than the price is the spec.
It looks awesome, too, with a neat reverse headstock - the RG headstock always looked better in reverse à la Paul Gilbert's first signature Ibanez - allied to the absence of a pickguard and a maple fretboard, affording the RG3XXV maximum cool points.
Plus, you've got to applaud the generosity of Ibanez in kitting this out with a pair of hot DiMarzio pickups and the frankly awesome Edge-Zero II locking vibrato unit.
"The pickups and five-way switch offers a tonal versatility you might not expect from a guitar built for shred"
Let's start with the pickups. Making a nice change from the HSH pickup configuration, the RG3XXV has an Air Norton stacked humbucker in the neck, a D Activator humbucker in the bridge, and a five-way switch that offers a tonal versatility you might not expect from a guitar built for shred.
While the RG3XXV might be a bit aggressive in its aesthetic, sound-wise it has a lot to offer fusion players who value high speed and subtlety. The Air Norton is a great choice for the neck; it has a thick, warm and smooth voice, not only perfect for sweeping arpeggios with high gain, but for rhythm work, too, and is a suitable foil for the high-output D Activator.
The D Activator is DiMarzio's attempt at replicating the power and tone of an active pickup from a passive model, and the result is a harmonically responsive, pugnacious pickup, with all the bite and high-gain capability rock and metal players need.
If we're being greedy, then binding on the headstock and neck would have been the icing on this shred cake. But make no mistake: in any decade, this is a fantastic guitar at this price point.