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This article was originally published in issue #36
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The Ibanez RG series has been a staple of the Metal and shred scene for three decades now, almost defining the genre in terms of aesthetics and sound. Ibanez has been updating and modifying the design since its inception and the RG2550z is one of the latest models to be released for 2015 in the company’s Japanese made, Prestige range.
The RG series has aged incredibly well and the RG2550z still looks modern and cutting edge with its ‘superstrat’ design sporting deep cutaways, pointy horns and sleek headstock, matched with high end hardware. This particular model has an industrial feel thanks to the use of metallic paint finishes, mirrored scratch plate and hardware finished in a dark chrome that Ibanez call ‘Cosmo Black’. The RG2550z follows the traditional RG construction format with a basswood body, five-piece maple and walnut neck, rosewood fretboard and a trio of DiMarzio pickups for a wide range of tones.
Ibanez has opted for a unified pickup selection across the Prestige RG range going for a DiMarzio Air Norton, True Velvet and Tone Zone in the neck, middle and bridge positions respectively. The hardware is completed with an Edge Zero floating bridge with the ZPS3 adjustment system, Jumbo frets, locking nut and a five-way switch with the standard volume and tone control.
Build quality on all Prestige guitars is superb thanks to the workmanship of the Japanese factory, where small details are never overlooked. More budget minded Ibanez guitars have got better and better over the years but the Prestige range has some lovely touches that remind you that you are playing a higher end guitar, such as the rolled and polished fret ends that make the playing experience all the more smooth and luxurious. The finish and set-up are also exceptional, making the RG2550z a very good looking guitar, especially with the classic shark tooth outline inlays. Ibanez offers two metallic finishes in this model, our review model sporting the beautiful White Pearl Metallic option with a dark blue Mystic Night Metallic finish available for those after a more moody look.
The original Prestige neck shape has been updated to the new Wizard HP neck profile, offering better grip, feel and tone according to Ibanez. In practice the neck feels supremely comfortable and fast thanks to the classic thin, wide design with a flat radius that is perfect for technical playing and sustained practice sessions or gigs. The oiled finish is very welcome and the combination of three pieces of maple matched with two strips of walnut offers a huge amount of stability considering how thin this neck is.
The Edge Zero bridge offers a massive amount of control and the ZPS3 system means that the tension can easily be altered as required and the addition of a deployable stop bar means that tuning will be stable even if you snap a string. The bridge is set-up very stiff from the factory making flutters and more subtle movements a little tricky, but this can easily be altered and set up to suit each user.
Played acoustically the RG2550z has an impressive amount of snap and pop to its tone with a fast attack and surprisingly loud volume. Sustain is good and the body feels resonant thanks to that classic basswood, maple body and neck combination. Plugged in, the five-way switch offers a wide range of tones with the standard neck and bridge humbuckers supplemented with split single coil tones for Ibanez’s take on the classic position two and four Strat-style tones.
The chosen DiMarzio pickups are a classic combination that are tried and tested to work superbly together. The Tone Zone in the bridge offers punchy, tight rhythm and lead tones with tons of sustain whilst the Air Norton in the neck gives smooth and velvety sounds, perfect for both gainy tones and clean passages. The single coil tones are also very cool thanks to the True Velvet mid pickup, working very well in split combinations with the neck and bridge positions. The RG2550z is a very versatile guitar that can easily cover far more than its technical rock and metal roots and would be more than happy on a Jazz, Blues or Pop gig.
The Prestige RG range has always been an impressive series of guitars and the RG2550z is no exception. It’s a great looking, playing and sounding guitar that won’t break the bank and is easily good enough and versatile enough to suit anyone from professional to hobbyist players. The inclusion of a good quality hardshell case sweetens the deal further making this a guitar that should be very high on list to check out. The general consensus at GI Towers was that this is a cracking guitar at an equally cracking price.