Ibanez's new Iron Label RG series strips out the complexities from the range to create a plug-in-and-play tone machines, including this impressive seven-string guitar.
The Ibanez RG series has always been a favourite of metal players, and for obvious reasons. As the archetypal double-cut, it came fresh out the box with everything shredders needed: emaciated maple necks, double-locking vibrato units and hot pickups. The RG was built for speed and could deliver a riff.
But with the Iron Label series, Ibanez has called an EGM of the R&D department to build a range of mid-price electrics in six-, seven- and eight-string models that are strictly metal - not for the jazz guy who cuts loose on the fusion come the middle-eight, or the hair-rock power-ballad wuss.
The Iron Label series loads basswood bodies with active EMG humbuckers, with the option of hardtail bridge or Edge-Zero II vibrato (six- and seven-string models only); slim-line bolt-on Nitro Wizard necks and black-on-black finishes come as standard.
But to create a monster, you've got to venture off-piste, and here Ibanez has ditched the master tone, leaving just a three-way toggle switch and an on-off kill switch for those weird manual slicer effects (Ibanez calls it a "strobe effect") that Randy Rhoads was so fond of. The result is a series of guitars that embrace minimalism and brutal tone in equal measure.
Ibanez has gone to extreme lengths to make adjusting your shred game to seven strings as easy as possible. The RGIR27E's three-piece maple and bubinga Nitro Wizard-7 neck is ridiculously svelte. It measures up with a 19mm (0.75-inch) thickness at the 1st fret, which is all-important when it comes to orienteering across the wider fretboard. Meanwhile, a thick bubinga stripe runs up the centre of back of the neck to cope with the extra tension from a seventh string.
It's true that Ibanez might always be synonymous with seven-strings after being the first to mass-market the guitars with Steve Vai's Universe series, but don't make the mistake of thinking that this is a budget Universe.
Aside from the fretboard ergonomics, this Iron Label seven-string is a very different beast. Aesthetically, it's a million miles away. Like its siblings, there are no fretboard markers - you'll just have to make do with dots on the binding.
Tonally, it has a lot of weight, loaded with a pair of EMG 707 humbuckers, which were launched by EMG in 2001 to tighten up the seven-string sound.
Subtlety is not the metal guitarist's strongest suit, but any good player worries about their guitar's ability to articulate riffs in those lower registers, and the Iron Label seven-string has no problem in that department.
Its clean tones are similarly impressive, especially when you factor in its awesome locking vibrato for harmonic squeals, divebombs and other pyrotechnics.