Ibanez RG550 Electric Guitar Review: A Classic Reborn
The Ibanez RG550 is an electric guitar that has been making waves in the music industry for over three decades. With its sleek design, excellent playability, and versatile sound, this guitar has become a favorite among professional musicians and hobbyists alike. In this review, we will take an in-depth look at the features, performance, and legacy of the Ibanez RG550 to help you decide if it’s the right guitar for you.
The History of the Ibanez RG550
The Ibanez RG series was first introduced in 1987 as a response to the growing demand for high-performance guitars with a focus on speed, precision, and versatility. The RG550 quickly became the flagship model of the series and gained popularity among hard rock and metal guitarists for its sharp looks and aggressive sound.
Over the years, the RG550 has undergone several iterations and refinements, but its core features have remained largely unchanged. In 2018, Ibanez released the RG550 Genesis Collection, which is a faithful reissue of the original 1987 model, bringing back the classic vibe and performance that made it so popular in the first place.
Design and Construction
The Ibanez RG550 features a double-cutaway body made from basswood, a wood known for its light weight and balanced tonal characteristics. The guitar’s slim profile and contoured edges make it comfortable to play for extended periods, while the deep cutaways provide easy access to the higher frets.
The neck of the RG550 is constructed from a five-piece maple and walnut combination, which adds stability and prevents warping. The neck also features Ibanez’s renowned Super Wizard profile, which is incredibly thin and fast, allowing for effortless playability.
The fingerboard is made from maple or rosewood, depending on the finish option, and features 24 jumbo frets with the iconic Ibanez “sharktooth” inlays. The 25.5-inch scale length and flat 16.9-inch fingerboard radius make it perfect for shredding and fast playing styles.
The hardware on the RG550 is top-notch, featuring an Edge locking tremolo system for extreme dive-bombs and pitch bends without losing tuning stability. The guitar is also equipped with Gotoh tuners, which are known for their precision and reliability.
Electronics and Sound
The Ibanez RG550 comes loaded with a trio of Ibanez V-series pickups: a V8 humbucker in the bridge position, an S1 single-coil in the middle position, and a V7 humbucker in the neck position. These pickups are designed to provide a wide range of tonal options, from thick and heavy distortion to bright and crisp clean tones.
The guitar features a five-way pickup selector switch, along with master volume and tone controls, allowing for even more tonal versatility. In positions two and four of the selector switch, the inner coils of the humbuckers are combined with the single-coil pickup to create a unique “quacky” sound that adds character to the guitar’s overall sonic palette.
The RG550 is capable of producing an impressive array of sounds, making it suitable for various music genres, from hard rock and metal to jazz and blues. The bridge humbucker delivers a powerful and aggressive tone, perfect for heavy riffs and solos, while the neck humbucker provides a warm and smooth sound ideal for melodic leads and clean passages. The single-coil pickup, on the other hand, offers a bright and snappy tone that works well for rhythm playing and funkier styles.
One of the main reasons the Ibanez RG550 has remained popular over the years is its exceptional playability. The Super Wizard neck profile, combined with the jumbo frets and flat fingerboard radius, make it a dream to play for guitarists who prefer fast and technical playing styles.
The Edge tremolo system is also a standout feature in terms of playability, as it allows for extreme pitch bends and dive-bombs without sacrificing tuning stability. This is particularly important for guitarists who rely on their whammy bar for added expression during solos and other performances.
Pros and Cons
- Iconic design and construction
- Exceptional playability and comfort
- Versatile sound suited for various music genres
- Reliable hardware and electronics
- May not be suitable for guitarists who prefer thicker neck profiles
- Some players may find the tremolo system challenging to set up and maintain
The Ibanez RG550 is a classic electric guitar that has stood the test of time, thanks to its unbeatable combination of style, performance, and versatility. Its sleek design, fast-playing neck, and wide range of tonal options make it an excellent choice for guitarists of all skill levels and musical styles.
While it might not be the perfect fit for everyone, especially those who prefer thicker neck profiles or fixed bridges, the RG550 remains a solid option for those seeking a high-performance guitar with a proven track record. With the reintroduction of the Genesis Collection, fans of the original RG550 can once again experience the magic of this iconic instrument.