Ibanez ICHRG2

A variation on the Iceman with a super sci-fi finish

You've probably never heard of HR Giger. Don't worry, neither had we. As such, when Ibanez announced they'd got this Swiss graphic artist to supply the finishes for a new pair of electric guitars, the news was met with blank faces.

It wasn't until we clocked the Ibanez display at NAMM that the penny finally dropped. Y'see, HR Giger is the geezer who designed some of the creepiest cinema monsters ever, including Species, Poltergeist and, yes, Alien.

All the hallmarks of Giger's apocalyptic style are at large on the new ICHRG2 and RGTHRG1, with both models looking like they've fallen off the back of the mothership.

All well and good, but It's not enough for these axes to just look the part. To get our approval, they also need to squeal like the Alien queen with her fingers trapped in a car door.

Overview

Don't be misled by the ICHRG2's futuristic appearance. Underneath Giger's graphic print, you're looking at a variation on the Iceman - an early Ibanez design that was being thrashed by Paul Stanley of KISS while you were still bobbing around in your nappies. It's amazing what a lick of paint can do.

There was no strap pin on the ICHRG2 we reviewed, but we'll put that down as a fluke because the rest of the build is so hard to fault.

The woods all look great - with a three-piece maple neck set into the mahogany body - and have been lashed together with the usual attention to detail you'd expect from Ibanez's Korean factory.

It's no surprise to see a rosewood fretboard (adorned with retro parallelogram inlays), but guitarists who have Ibanez pegged as the widdler's choice should note the ICHRG2's hardtail format (which relies on a BR-EG fixed bridge and Quik Change stopbar), plus the fact that you've 'only' got 22 frets (many Ibanez models have 24).

It's certainly rugged, though, with an unobtrusive neck volute adding strength and authoritative tuners ensuring your pitch doesn't slip when you try that bend in Whole Lotta Love.

Bursting out of the ICHRG2's stomach, meanwhile, are a pair of Axis humbuckers with an AH1 at the neck and an AH2 in the bridge position. You can keep them on a leash with the dedicated volume and tone controls, and move between them with a standard three-way selector.

The Iceman body design must be doing something right to last three decades in the rock game. Like we say, the absence of a strap pin meant we couldn't try this review model in our standard legs-akimbo stance, but it works surprisingly well for seated practice.

You might think the body styling and paddleboat headstock would bugger up the weight distribution, but you'd be wrong. Just be careful with that vicious body spike around your manhood.

Some more obvious fret markers on the upper edge of the neck would have been a nice touch - we sometimes got lost when widdling at speed - but otherwise we had a blast on the ICHRG2. The 24.75" scale means the neck will soon feel like home if you usually play a Les Paul, and there's a decent level of upper fret access to go with the comfort.

Sounds

On paper, two pickups and a three-way selector didn't strike us as a desperately exciting configuration, but when plugged in, we felt the versatility of the Axis humbuckers carried the ICHRG2 through.

Anyone who still thinks Ibanez only 'do' modern shred would be impressed with the vintage sneer we got at the bridge, while the neck is fat, clear and perfect for rhythm. Crank up the gain and you'll introduce a punchy bite that cuts through the mix like acid blood through a space marine's body armour.

One other thing to bear in mind is that Ibanez will be producing the ICHRG2 in limited numbers. We'll see you in the queue.

We were always gonna be excited about these guitars. We grew up with the Alien series, and to own a guitar that looks like one of those scaly buggers is the height of cool. But don't go thinking that these models are defined by their paintwork.

After we started playing, we found that HR Giger's iconic graphic is merely the icing on the cake. This guitar would still rock if it'd been painted by a GCSE art class.

The ICHRG2, with its dusty 1970s pedigree, fixed bridge, basic pickup configuration and 22 frets, is the natural choice for anyone who wants a great rock guitar with balls and no need for fiddling. It handles most styles well, and against many guitars in this price bracket, it'd romp home.

MusicRadar Rating

4 / 5 stars
Pros

Stunning looks and classic tone.

Cons

Doesn't cater for shred like some Ibanez models.

Verdict

An easy-to-use, quality machine in a rugged, well-designed package. Pity it's so expensive.

Available Controls

2 Way-Pickup Selector Tone for Each Pickup Volume for Each Pickup

Case Included

Yes

Country of Origin

Korea

Fingerboard Material

Rosewood

Neck Material

Maple

No of Strings

6

No. of Frets

22

Pickups

IBZ Axis AH1 (Neck) IBZ Axis AH2 (Bridge)

Scale Length (Inches)

24.75

Tailpiece

Quik Change

Unique Features

BR-EG fixed bridge

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.