Review of Ibanez Iron Label -
Brand new for 2013 the Ibanez Iron Label series. Guitar
Interactive was offered an exclusive first look. 'Which one would
you like?' they asked. We thought about it for a while. 'Go on
guys, let's try the 8-string. We reckon Tom Quayle can handle
Back in the '90s Steve Vai pioneered the use of 7-string guitars
in Rock and Metal, being swiftly followed by a small army of
artists who wanted the low-end grunt offered by the extended range.
Now, it seems that 7 strings aren't enough and 8-string guitars are
being used by some of the most cutting edge players on the planet.
Thanks to the Djent movement, 8-string guitars have become very
desirable, with Ibanez spearheading the manufacture of models in
their Prestige range, as used by players such as Tosin Abasi from
Animals as Leaders.
These are expensive, high-end guitars and most of the
alternatives are made by custom shop, boutique builders, commanding
price tags starting at many thousands of dollars. So it makes
perfect sense that Ibanez should now be starting to produce more
affordable models in its Indonesian factory, where, we have to say,
have come some of the best value guitars we've reviewed in this
publication during the past 12 months.
So here we are. It's 2013 and the well named Iron Label range
will very soon be appearing in guitar shops the world over -
Ibanez's new line of affordable, quality Metal and Rock guitars,
aimed at those players who can't afford a boutique level,
Japanese-made instrument but still want a great playing guitar.
The RGIR28FE-BK is the 8-string model in the Iron Label range
and is accompanied by a series of 6 and 7-string models. It's not
hard to see who these guitars are aimed at, with that their piano
black finishes, US-made EMG active pickups on some and DiMarzios on
others, with Kill switches across the board. Our 8-string review
model has all of these features plus, of course, the low B and F#
strings that allow for the extended, crushing riffs that have
become a staple within many modern Metal sub-genres.
The RGIR28FE has a basswood body and 5-piece maple/walnut neck
with a rosewood fretboard. The body is finished in white binding,
giving a classy but certainly aggressive looking style. Ibanez's
chosen neck profile is the now famous Nitro Wizard II shape, which
is skinny but flat, with a surprisingly un-daunting and comfortable
width considering the extra pair of strings.
The pickups on the 8-string are active EMG 808's and require a
battery, as you'd expect. The bridge is a Gibraltar Standard and is
a huge improvement over older Gibraltar bridges that were bulky and
cumbersome. This version has been slimmed down significantly and
both feels and plays more comfortably than previous versions. A
3-way selector switch, volume control and kill switch complete the
As we've come to expect from the current crop of Indonesian-made
Ibanez guitars, the build quality is very high with just a few
nicks and flaws to remind you that this isn't a Japanese handmade
model. The fretwork on our sample was very good indeed, and the
finishing was of a high standard, with a flawless paint job and
tightly executed binding. The only flaw I could find was a small
amount of flaking around the binding on the lower horn but I really
had to look to see it. The factory set-up was also very good with a
very low action and no fret buzz anywhere across the neck.
Unfortunately, with strings this low, you'll always get a certain
amount of looseness to the F# string and, if hit hard, it flaps
around in an unpleasing way, leading to poor tone, especially on a
clean sound. This is a downside of such heavy gauge strings and not
a reflection on the guitar itself.
Tonally, the RGIR28FE is everything you'd want from a guitar
like this, with very pristine and clinical clean tones in all three
positions and with a surprisingly good dynamic response. This
guitar will eat up any level of gain you can throw at it and
responds with a tight and fat tone that is so easy to play with.
Whilst not meant to be a subtle guitar, a surprising number of
tones can be achieved with the two humbuckers and you'll find
yourself playing some creative chord voicings on your clean channel
as well as writing deadly riffs!
I have a feeling that Ibanez will do very well indeed with this
range and will hit the market at just the right point, as the
desire for extended range instruments is reaching a fever pitch
right now. For not a lot of money, you're getting a very good
quality instrument that may not only appeal to those who've wanted
an 8-string for a long time but could never afford one, but may
also tempt some people to cross over to the dark side, having never
considered an extended range instrument before. Early indications
suggest it's going to be on offer at a killer price, too, so, once
again. Ibanez has shown its uncanny knack of hitting exactly the
right spot at the right time!
Check out the full review inc. video of the Ibanez
Iron Label by Tom Quayle featured in Issue 15
of Guitar Interactive