Ibanez S521 – Latest S Series Wonder

4.6 out of 5 stars

Ibanez S series is a rather old family of guitars, but one that keeps on surprising us even after all this time. They’ve designed the S line to showcase their latest tech, but over time many found it to be a sanctuary of proven performance in all price ranges where it’s available. The one we are looking at today, the Ibanez S521, is a perfect example of what that means. For $500, this is probably one of the best guitars you can grab at the moment.

Body And Neck

S521 features the standard slim S line body shape that we’ve seen being used many times by now. Tonewood of choice is mahogany while the Wizard III neck is made of maple. Speaking of the neck, the rosewood fretboard it’s fitted with sports that trademark S line inlay configuration. Ibanez offers this model in several finishes, including the beautiful Blackberry Sunburst. Aside from being a very comfortable guitar to play, Ibanez S521 features great build quality and a lot of attention to detail. If looks are a factor to you, then this guitar is definitely not going to disappoint you.

Hardware

When it comes down to hardware, Ibanez S521 keeps things simple but effective. You have a fixed bridge with six fully adjustable saddles one end, and a set of great die-cast tuners on the other. While it is far from extravagant, the hardware choice they’ve made for the S521 is rock solid and that is all that really matters. You get great tuning retention, comfortable action setup, and lots of sustain.

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Electronics

Ibanez went with their Quantum humbuckers for this build and it’s not hard to understand why. These pickups have been around for a while, and have proven their worth over and over. You get a decent amount of clarity for a passive set, all of the expression potential that is expected and just an awesome range. Pickups are wired to a set of two knobs – one for volume and one for tone. Along with the pickup select switch, these are all you get for tone shaping.

Sound

There’s just something about well made ceramic magnets that gives them a unique tone. Ibanez S521 offers a bright sound that is pretty clear, clean and often times clinical. With that said, there’s plenty of mids to work with, as well as lows. If we had to describe the tone of this guitar in one word, it would be – dynamic. Ibanez S521 is by far one of the most versatile guitars in its price range.

Conclusion

With this relatively new addition to the family, Ibanez has once again proven that their S line is among the best at what it does. Great design solutions, comfort rarely seen in this class, and an awesome tone is why we can recommend this guitar to anyone. If you’re on a budget but you’d like to have a more refined guitar, check out the Ibanez S521. You won’t regret it.

For more info about the Ibanez S521 (S Series), click here.
For more electric guitars under 500$, click here.


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Comments

  1. Marty Canaday says

    My Ibanez S521 is the first Ibanez guitar I’ve owned. My go to guitar is an American Standard Strat with a 9.5” radius. I love my Strat. It is a great playing and sounding guitar.

    I was somewhat skeptical that I would like a 15.7” radius guitar, because I chord a-lot. But I’m trying to get better at sweep-picking and thought having the Fender Strat and the Ibanez S521 would make a good combination for my musical needs. I play diverse genres.

    But, I’ve been blown away by the S521! Let me tell you why.

    Against my understanding that a guitar with a 9.5” radius is better for chording than one with a 15.7” radius, my experience with this Ibanez has defied all logic. I don’t know if it’s the thin Wizard III neck, or the fact that I can get lower action with the flatter fretboard, or some other mysterious explanation, but I’m finding chording on the Ibanez to be easier than chording on my Strat! And my Strat has low action. Not kidding! I’ve played the S521 for hours on end several times . . . at least 4 hours non-stop playing chords to songs on my Chordify program (1,053 songs to date), and I find myself prefering the Ibanez over my Fender. I can play barre chords on the Ibanez much further down the neck than I can with my Strat. And my hand doesn’t tire as much!

    Could someone please explain this to me? By the way, I don’t drink! Ha!

    I couldn’t be more satisfied with the purchase of my S521. It holds tune well even though it doesn’t have locking tuners. And, the Quantum pickups and 5-way position switch provide excellent tonal range.

    I truly believe I can be perfectly content with just this one guitar. And, that’s a heck of a statement coming from someone who has purchased so many guitars over the past several years.

  2. robbo says

    I too have a strat and an old RG350 that I just cant get rid of because it plays so easy and the tremolo with locking nut stays in tune no matter how hard you whammo on it! Im still amazed every time I play it. now Im no shredder but I still love the RG and Im looking to add another thats a little more domesticated and this S521 might be the one. I pulled one of the rack at the guitar store and it plays so easy I wanted to buy it then, but the amp I was practicing playing guitars on sounded good too! so I left with the amp. I’ll be back to pick up one of these… where you going to find a better guitar at this price point? your not. Rock on!

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