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This article was originally published in issue #45
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Ibanez's retro styled Roadcores may not be the guitars the company is best known for but they have been steadily gaining ground since their launch and are now a firmly established choice, proving the point that not every Ibanez instrument has to wear a pointy headstock! Now there's a 'Prestige' version. Tom Quayle gets an early look.
Ibanez is best known for its highly successful, pointy superstrat guitars, primarily based around the RG series, that have become some of the most iconic and recognisable guitars in the industry. However, the company also makes a range of more retro-oriented guitars, designed to retain the playability and modern tonal features of their Rock and Metal guitars, but with a more reserved look and sound that will appeal to a different kind of player. The Roadcore models make up a significant portion of this more retro-focused aspect of Ibanez’s line-up with the Japanese made Prestige RC2720PR we were sent for review topping the range. We've looked at Roadcores in previous editions of GI, but this was a chance to see what the Ibanez mothership in Japan could do with the concept.
The RC2720 features a rounded, sleek looking alder body and one-piece maple neck with a rosewood fretboard. The Ibanez DNA can be seen throughout the design with its sporty looking double cutaway form, but everything is rounder and smoother than an RG, with shorter horns and contoured edges that give the RC series a look that is reminiscent of an RG that has been sucked like a boiled sweet!
It’s a lovely design and looks superb with its asymmetrical black scratch plate and Dark Cherry stain. Being part of the high-end Japanese Prestige range, the RC2720 sports great hardware too with a pair of Seymour Duncan P-Rails pickups, locking tuners and a Tight-Tune bridge with string-through construction, all finished in Cosmo Black for a modern twist on this retro influenced shape. Ibanez has chosen medium fretwire with its renowned Prestige fret edge treatment for each of the 22 frets and has used simple acrylic block inlays for the fretboard, enhancing the vintage appeal of this guitar further.
The RC2720PR is an exceptionally well made instrument that represents the excellent work put into the Japanese Prestige line. Construction is top class and extremely solid throughout, with workmanship and finishing every bit as good as a boutique custom guitar. The locking tuners provide great tuning stability and all of the switches and knobs feel secure and immediate in their use. It may not sport a fancy figured top or intricate inlays, but this Ibanez is as well made as any high end guitar and is a professional instrument in every sense, rather than a cut down, budget friendly alternative to one.
Playability is the biggest surprise with this retro style guitar as it’s every bit as fun and easy to play as an RG, but with a bigger, more traditional neck profile that should appeal to a much wider audience of guitar players than the skinny necks of the more Rock oriented RGs. The neck has a 25.5” scale length and radius that makes both chordal and lead work a breeze with a factory set-up that is as good as any we’ve seen at GI magazine. The slick neck finish and excellent medium frets make this a surprisingly fast neck that suits both restrained and more technical playing with ease.
Tonally this is an impressive guitar, too. Due to the relatively light weight piece of alder for the body and the string through construction, the RC2720 has bags of sustain and body to its unplugged sound that carries through to our studio amp with ease thanks to the very cool Seymour Duncan P-Rails pickups. These are designed to match a P90 coil with a single coil rail for pure P90, pure single coil or matched together for humbucker sounds via a three-way switch behind the tone control. Matched with the three-way pickup selector switch you get nine different sounds from two pickups – impressive stuff! You can use both P90’s or Rails together for hum cancelling sounds, since the neck P/U is wired out of phase with the bridge. Offering authentic Strat-like single coil tones, fat and rich humbucking lead tones and classic P90 sounds for one of the most versatile guitars we’ve reviewed recently.
The RC2720PR is a fantastic instrument, especially when you consider that all of this quality and tonal versatility can be had for a pretty modest sum compared to other guitars that match in terms of level. It’s not a cheap Ibanez by any stretch but for what you get it can certainly be described as good value for money. If you are looking for a retro inspired guitar with great looks, amazing tones and modern playability then the Roadcore RC2720PR would be a great place to start your search. Highly recommended.