This guitar company started out as a Spanish brand which focused on designing and selling stringed instruments – not just guitars – during the years from 1908 to 1935. As stated at the beginning of our guide this company was eventually purchased by a Japanese brand that began producing acoustic guitars under the Ibanez name. Eventually these instruments – exported mostly to America – were just associated as ‘Ibanez guitars’. In 1957 the design shapes, number of strings, neck and body works, all began changing drastically and people began to comment on the ‘weird Ibanez designs’. Around the late 1970’s and into the 80’s Ibanez really began exploring and selling electric guitars – they even teamed up with Steven Vai and gave the world the very unique and wildly popular JEM guitar design with its squat body and tall neck, like our Premium Series pick the Ibanez JEM77WDP guitar.
Today this company still produces other gear, but mostly they’re known for their guitars and the wide range of guitar series they put out. They also offer hollow and semi-hollow options which are unique to their brand, as well as bass and acoustic guitars. An amazing range of artists has used these guitars and swear by the excellence of this brand. We can only attest to this, and add that Ibanez guitars have changed not only the instrument but the way guitar music is played all over the world.
Put simply, a guitar series is a group of related instruments designed and sold at the same time. For instance, the RG road gear series which is Ibanez’s most popular model and has a base that looks like a flame (curving on both sides before the neck) and then continues into a long neck with single-sided tuning pegs. For reference, the above guitars in the RG series are the Ibanez JS2410 and Ibanez JEM77WDP. However, these can be difficult to distinguish from the Prestige S series guitars like the Ibanez SIX6FDFM.
Knowing what series a guitar comes from will also assist you in finding similar guitars to one that you’re currently looking at because you can type in the Ibanez series name and see what other options in the series pique your interest. Be careful though, some series fit into a ‘prestige’ classification, like the RG prestige guitars above which are still RG styled but were made at a different time. For more details on certain series differences, please view the ‘body’ and ‘neck’ explanations where the differences are further explained.
How to choose a proper Ibanez guitar
First, if you don’t know them, learn the basic components of electric and acoustic guitars (also decide if you’d rather play the bass guitar or not). Learn where the pickups are placed – under the strings where the guitar is plucked – and how many volume knobs you’ll have the tone knobs, the location of the output jack, etcetera. Next, decide what body style you want – this will actually majorly affect your decision depending on your skill level; fancy and weird body styles are great for professionals, but the standard traditional body shape lends itself to easier learning of the guitar. You might also consider the different tones associated with different wood types, or just choose based on what your favorite musicians have played in the past. All of these are factors which should be analyzed and included in your decision-making process.
Tips on taking care of your Ibanez guitar
With an electric guitar, frequently loosen the strings so you can remove the dust that will likely gather around the pickups. For acoustic guitars also loosen the strings though only for removing dust by the bridge. Gig bags are a great investment which will protect your guitar from the elements – remember that the temperature (cold or hot) can cause your guitar to quickly go out of tune. Invest in an electronic tuner that clips to your guitar, it will make the tuning process 100% easier. For restringing, a tool called a ‘string winder’ actually makes the process quicker and causes less breaking tension on your strings.
Features to consider while choosing an Ibanez guitar
The following features have been listed above for their select guitars and they feature in the remainder of this guide so we can explain them to you and give examples of what features work the best for certain guitars and why.
Length and width
The length and width of your guitar might not seem all that important at first glance, but it has more to do with your own height and hand size than you’d think. To measure this, take the dimensions of your hand span and then consider this: the ideal hand span – from extended pinky to thumb – for a 24-inch guitar scale is 170mm. If your hand span is smaller or larger than this, adjust with a smaller or larger scale (otherwise you’ll be doing a lot of extra reaching). Next – and this isn’t as important – guitar experts say the ideal height for your guitar (from end to end) is the measured length (not span) of your hand multiplied by 9. So, if your hand is 200mm from the base of your palm to the top of your middle finger (times 9) your ideal guitar size is 180 centimetres or 1800mm.
Width of your guitar is arguably more of preference, but you might choose a different width based on your body size rather than on the guitar body shape you most like.
Hollow acoustic and electric guitars typically weigh less than full body electric guitars and hybrid guitars with semi-hollow bodies. For instance, the Ibanez AEG10NII with a hollow body only weighs 7lbs, where the full body Ibanez JEM77WDP weighs 18.6 pounds. The main difference is sound, where weight is concerned, is the type of wood used and the different tones which are associated with different wood types. For instance, Rosewood offers a lighter sound than ebony, and both will drastically change the weight of your guitar.
Ibanez offers two main body styles from the RG and S series and both are very similar in quality and added features. The main difference, the RG series comes with a 24-fret standard, whereas the S series has a 22-fret standard. Prestige models are somewhat different, where the Prestige S series model actually as 24 frets as of 2007. Additionally, you can usually tell an RG body by its curved base that looks a little like a flame.
The Ibanez RG and S series – where we get most of the guitars on this list – features four main neck types that can be difficult to distinguish from each other. The ‘wizard’ neck type is extremely thin and very long; the ‘super wizard’ is still just as long but a little thicker than the wizard; ‘prestige wizard’ is more natural and not as thin as the previous two, and ‘wizard II’ is very hard to tell apart from the others as it is the thickest neck but often hard to find unless you’re specifically looking at guitars listed MIJ (made in Japan).
Also known as a transducer, this is a device which creates an electromagnetic field around itself that ‘picks up’ the vibrations from the guitar while you are playing. This works because steels and nickel guitar strings interrupt this field and they are conducted into an amplifier as an electrical signal which in turn plays an audible sound. All guitars on this list feature pickups from the S series and Dimarzio sounding IBZ/DMZ series, although Ibanez offers a few different pickup styles listed below.
INF series: Budget pickups, they tend to have more treble.
Powersound series: The oldest Ibanez pickups that tend to give a lot of feedback while playing. Maybe stay away from these.
V1-2 series: High-end guitars and offer very clear sound.
Guitar strings are differentiated based on the type of guitar and the style of music played on them. The type of strings used basically depends on their composition, the thickness and whether it is a wound string or an unwound string. The combination of these three factors determines the type of string to be used on a guitar to play a particular style of music. Base guitars like the Ibanez SRH500F feature 4 strings, while other acoustic and electric guitars typically feature 6.
Also known as the ‘fingerboard’, it is a long strip of material usually laminated to the instrument and allows the musician to press the vibrating strings against it to control the pitch that is being played. The best fingerboards are those which use dense woods like ebony for the most control while fretting each cord, for instance, the Ibanez LGB30 is a great pick for added control over the pitch.
The bridge is the device that supports the strings, so choose a bridge with strong wood that matches the strength of the strings that you use. The bridge also transmits the vibrations of the strings to the instrument, which is why pickups are typically positioned under or beside the bridge.
The Ibanez SRH500F is a great example of how controls work and add to the functionality and sound of a guitar. This guitar has 5-way lever controls which allow the musician not only to adjust the volume while playing but also the tone, bass sound, reverb, etcetera. If you’re choosing an electric guitar know that more controls are great if you know how to use them to improve the overall sound of your play by fiddling with the tone etcetera.
However, don’t just make your choice based on a high number of controls – often all you need is to control the volume and the tone.
Padded extras which might pique your interest are guitars which come with protective cases, like the Ibanez JS2410. Other extras are two pickups rather than one, including clip-on tuners, and guitar stands. You can also consider purchasing sound-improving amplifiers, that come in many models and budget ranges, for example, amplifiers under $300.
All Ibanez guitars sold in the USA come with Hoshino USA coverage which guarantees that the instrument itself is shipped to you without any defects. From the moment you’ve purchased an Ibanez guitar, you will have a limited 1-year warranty on any part of the guitar as long as it was not damaged by abuse. Also, if you have decided to improve your Ibanez guitar even a little bit – chances are high, that your warranty ends up there since no additional parts or equipment can be repaired and nobody can guarantee that you did not damage your instrument while upgrading it.