Ibanez RGIR28FE review

Entry-level eight-string guitar

  • £648
  • €923
  • $1239
There is no question that the Iron Label eight-string is the most intimidating guitar in the series

MusicRadar Verdict

At this price, it's an excellent option, however unwieldy, for those new to eight-strings looking to hone their technique.


  • +

    Gut-rumbling tones. Competitive spec and price.


  • -

    Lacks note articulation.

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The world of eight-string guitar playing has just become slightly easier to access, thanks to the introduction of Ibanez's new back-to-basics Iron Label RGs.

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.

"This monster entry to the Iron Label series offers a really powerful guitar at an entry-level price"

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.

There is no question that the Iron Label eight-string is the most intimidating guitar in the series. When talking about eight-string guitars, there are always going to be some generic criticisms - these guitars are not for everyone, but then very few are.

What this monster entry to the Iron Label series offers is a really powerful guitar at an entry-level price. There's a 686mm (27-inch) scale length and the eight-string's headstock is an asymmetric spear point, with four tuners on each side; it has a five-piece maple and walnut neck, reinforced with titanium rods; and it's equipped with a pair of high-output EMG 808 humbuckers - active pickups built specifically for eight-string electrics.


From the factory, the RGIR28FE is tuned down half a step, meaning that low eighth string is an F. It takes a while for your ear - let alone your fingers - to adjust to having a low F, which is almost an octave lower than your six-string's low E. And it definitely feels weird, lacking responsiveness and clarity, even with the EMGs.

But what it lacks in note articulation it makes up for in power, and a growl that could test even the most reliable of sphincters. And isn't that why you wanted one in the first place?

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.