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This article was originally published in issue #42
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Ibanez is famous for its guitar innovations over the years, from the fast Wizard necks all the way to making 7, 8 and even 9 strings at accessible prices. In this review we are going to be taking a look at a new Ibanez 7 string guitar that is new this year and which reveals a few more technical advances in terms of build quality and innovation. This guitar is an Iron Label series, a series in which the company has aimed to make instruments designed for Metal players. This guitar features active EMG pickups, big frets, a fast neck, RG shaped body and locking tuners. Iron Label’s aim as a product line is to create a quality Metal shred machine, with unique features/design at an affordable price to the gigging musician. This guitar is what you would expect from Ibanez - however the most unique feature of this instrument is the multi scale neck. I'll explain.
I think it's important to point out that scale length means a lot in the world of Extended Range guitars, the length of the string between the bridge and the nut makes all the difference in terms of how the strings vibrate, and in turn how they sound. Most Ibanez RG guitars 6 and 7 string are 25.5 inch scale length, this is great for standard tunings (7 string B, E, A, D, G, B, E.) however with music styles evolving and changing it’s a very common thing for artists to drop their 7 strings a whole step down, and on top of that, even dropping that low string down to a low G! Things start to get a bit flabby in the low end when this happens! The perfect solution to this is having a longer neck to give a bit more tension to that low string. This means you don’t have to buy super high gauge strings in order to have some low end fun. Ibanez does make some 7 and 8 strings which have scale lengths of 26.5 and 27 inches and they play great. However…there is one issue, the longer the neck, the wider the fret spacing, and also the harder it becomes to bend on the higher strings. avHA multi scale neck is the perfect solution to this issue. This Ibanez RGIF 7 has a regular scale length on the top of 25.5 and fans out gradually to 27 inches on the low end side of the fretboard. This means we even out the tensions and we maintain playability across the neck. Multi scale necks aren’t a new thing, they have been around for many years on different stringed instruments. However they are usually reserved for custom built guitars that can go for many thousands. Ibanez has now made it possible for people to try and buy a quality multi scale guitar for a fraction of the cost. Hurrah!
Ibanez is famous for fast necks and the company has made this multi scale neck much like the regular ones we all know and love. It's thin, has big frets, great upper fret access and it feels super solid and resonant. However, even though I play 7 and 8 strings myself sometimes, the ‘fanned’ fret multi scale finger board on this model is a sight to behold when you first try it out! Nevertheless, after a few minutes of playing it started to feel like home - so much so when I got back to my regular neck RG, I had what can only be described as visual sea legs looking at the vertical frets! Bending and travelling around the multi scale neck is nice and easy, as intended. In fact it makes doing stretches down to the lower strings feel a bit more natural in some cases.
The guitar unplugged is very resonant and solid. Due to the scale length, everything rings out as intended, with nice and clear full lows and highs across the neck. I know a lot of metal players love active EMG pickups, they do have a lot of attack and sound great with a processed sound. That said, I would love to hear this guitar with passive pickups as I feel they would let you really hear some of the qualities of this guitar's natural resonance and voicing.
So there we have it: yet another well-built Ibanez 7 string with a great multi scale neck and selling at a very good price indeed, considering how advanced it is. Perfect for the new wave of progressive styles of music demanding new technology. Try one and see if the multi scale is for you - and yes, for the really adventurous, there's an 8 string version on offer, too.