|Body And Neck:|
Launched back in 1987, Ibanez’s RG – originally part of the brand’s Roadstar Series – remains one of the most famous Superstrat guitars on the market and is a familiar face in all price ranges. Today’s featured axe, the RG421, is a step up from the budget GIO Series, yet at under $300 it proves incredibly affordable for the quality on offer. Today we’re taking a closer look at the cheapest ‘proper RG’ out there – and how it stacks up to the more expensive Ibanez RG450DX.
Off the bat, there’s no hiding that this guitar is a part of the RG Series, as it sports the distinctive Superstrat body, with a generous double cutaway. While you can find it in an interesting fading grey metallic finish, the ‘Blackberry Sunburst’ is particularly tasty – it oozes attitude.
The guitar shows off a good dose of RG playability, with Ibanez’s celebrated Wizard III neck, made of maple. It is often described as the fastest guitar neck available and people have a point. With a smooth satin finish and thin, comfortable feel, it’s like butter to play – warm butter, at that. The rosewood fretboard offers 24 jumbo frets, giving you the full two octaves to play with.
The rest of the guitar stands up to scrutiny too, with a solid basswood body – a tonewood used even in high-end Ibanez models. Fit and finish is decent for what is still a very affordable guitar, while the headstock bears the classic RG shape and finish.
Firstly, the pickups and the RG421 is fitted with two of Ibanez’s high-output Quantum humbuckers. These are quite standard, although a definite step up from the generic stock pickups used in the GIO series. These passive pickups are controlled by a volume and tone control, as well as a selector switch for the pickups.
One thing that may surprise you is that it features a fixed bridge instead of offering tremolo capabilities – a little disappointing if you were hoping to channel your inner Iron Maiden, but at least it offers good tuning stability. Standard sealed tuners with a black finish complete this guitar nicely.
Before comparing this axe to the RG450DX, it’s worth pointing out that it uses the same humbuckers, which sound awesome for the price. For passive pickups, you get huge power and good articulation, with a rich and chunky overdriven tone – excellent for rock and metal, whether playing power chords or lead licks. Yet, despite offering just two humbuckers, it produces some very commendable blues and jazz tones – clear, with satisfying warmth when clean.
We have established that the RG421 is a very solid guitar with a price tag under $300 – both beginners and more experienced players will find great use from it as it is, although the solid build and Wizard III neck make it a good choice for modding too. Compared to the higher-priced RG450DX, it lacks a few things, such as a middle single-coil pickup, pick guard, locking tremolo bridge and locking nut, but if you can’t stretch past $300, the RG421 is a seriously good choice for rock and metalheads.