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This article was originally published in issue #30
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The Beast is Back! Ibanez has reprised its classic and much-loved 1975 Destroyer for a new century - and it's done so at a wallet-friendly price. But is it still a killer? Tom Quayle bravely volunteered to enter the Destroyer's cage.
The Ibanez Destroyer was originally introduced in 1975 and has been an iconic part of Rock 'n Roll history ever since. The newest incarnation of this model is the DT520, featuring some updated hardware and two finishes and comes at a very attractive price.
The DT520 is based on the classic Destroyer design with a single piece mahogany neck, mahogany body and rosewood fretboard adorned with mother of pearl and abalone block inlays. The design has been updated with modern hardware in the form of US DiMarzio pickups and Ibanez’s own Tight-Tune bridge and tailpiece, designed to offer better tuning stability and resonance, thanks to improved translation of string vibrations to the body.
The DT520's bridge pickup is a Tone Zone and the neck position contains an Air Norton. These are authentic US-made DiMarzio’s through and through, offering impressive tonal capabilities for this sort of money and preventing the user from needing an expensive pickup upgrade further down the line. Ibanez has also included its Sure-Grip III control knobs, giving a vintage look but with rubber grips for accurate stage use. Control is provided by way of a 3-way selector switch and two volume and a single tone knobs. Our review model also came with a lovely Cherry Sunburst, Flame Maple top but the guitar is also available in Black for those requiring a more traditional ‘Rock’ look. Cream binding runs around the entire body, neck and headstock to complete the design and matches very nicely with the chrome hardware and tuners.
As you’d expect with a modern Ibanez, the DT520 is extremely well built with no obvious corner cutting on the body or neck. The fretwork is superb with comfortable rounded edges and a very level set-up and finishing, whilst the body on our sample was flawless in every respect. The body and neck are produced from mahogany, giving an impressively light and resonant guitar that sustains and rings acoustically for days, almost like korina. Considering the price of the DT520 this comes as a bit of a shock (in a good way of course) and makes the guitar very responsive to play. The Tight-Tune bridge and tailpiece are attractive in design and do a great job of keeping the guitar in tune and intonated. As usual we had to stretch the strings in upon getting the guitar out of the box, but once stretched the guitar remained resolutely in tune across its entire range. The neck is a C-shape but thicker than the usual ‘Wizard II’ or ‘Prestige’ neck that some Ibanez users may be used to. It is supremely comfortable though and will take no time at all to acclimatise to. In fact the whole design is far more comfortable to play than the shape might suggest and fits very nicely into the body whether sat down or stood up.
Acoustically, the DT520 has a very rich tone that matches beautifully with its sustain and feels far more ‘expensive’ than the price would have you believe. You really feel the guitar resonating against your body with an enthusiasm unmatched by most budget production guitars.
Plugged in the DiMarzio pickups do a superb job of translating that natural resonance into your chosen amplifier and give a professional set of clean and overdriven tones. The two humbucker, 3-way switch design is never going to win any awards for versatility, but the tones on offer are as good as most guitars you’ll play costing twice or three times the price here. The Tone Zone is a high output 17k pickup but is still nicely dynamic and responsive, offering great edge of breakup and crunch tones, matched with tight high gain rhythm and lead tones that really sing thanks to the natural sustain of the DT520. In the neck position the Air Norton offers fat clean tones and creamy lead tones that are a great combination of classic and modern sensibilities.
Ibanez has really hit the ball out of the park with the DT520. Certainly the now classic design won’t be for everyone and it really lends itself better to certain genres than others, but the quality of woods, hardware and tones on offer here really add up to a package that is far better than the price point would suggest. In some ways the DT520 feels like a guitar costing twice or three times the price and represents a serious bargain for those that can handle the shape! After much deliberation, we're so impressed we even managed to squeeze an extra quarter star out of box to give the DT520 the almost unprecedented score of four and three quarters!