The iconic RG body is an off-set double cutaway design similar to a Fender Stratocaster but with thinner, pointier "horns" and less rounded edges. This basic body style came to be known as the "Superstrat". The second primary feature of the RG are the ultra-thin, flat necks with flatter double-octave (24-fret) fingerboards. The third key feature of many RG models is the Floyd Rose-style floating, double locking tremolo bridge (particularly the revered Edge and Lo-Pro Edge tremolos on the higher-end models), although hard-tail RGs are also produced.
The inaugural RG model was the RG550, which was unleashed in 1987. The RG550 was a less-expensive derivative of Steve Vai's original Ibanez Signature model, the JEM777. The RG550 lacked some of the JEM's showier features like the monkey grip and the lion's claw tremolo routing, as well as the custom DiMarzio pickups, but it retained much of the JEM's playability, starting with the Edge tremolo and slinky Wizard neck.
RG originally stood for Roadstar Guitar; the original RG models were part of the Roadstar series. The Roadstar name was dropped around 1992, with the series henceforth simply known as RGs.
Roadsters and Roadstars
Although the first modern RG with the now common body shape was introduced in 1987, the original Roadstar with an alternate body shape dates back further. The first Roadstar, then known as Roadster, was introduced in 1979. It was the first "Fender" styled Ibanez since the early 1970s copy models. The typical Fender specs found on the Roadster models and not on other Ibanez models were the bolt-on neck construction, SSS pickup configuration and the double cut body shape combined with a 'six in line' headstock. In 1981 the Roadster was replaced by the similar but more affordable Ibanez Blazer introduced in 1980. Again modified, the Roadster returned in 1983 as the Roadstar II.
In 1986, more changes were made to the body shape and the 'II' was dropped. It was also the first year the 'RG' abbreviation was used in model names, all pre-1986 model numbers started with RS.
- Main article: 1987
When the Ibanez JEM series was introduced in 1987 so was its derivative, the RG550, as part of the Roadstar Deluxe series. The RG550 featured the JEM's body shape, woods and hardware, but lacked the costly inlays, DiMarzio pickups, monkey grip and lion's claw tremolo cavity. The 1987 and 1988 Roadstar line-up included new RG body shape models as well as the old-style models. The latter disappeared in 1988. The new iconic headstock design was now the only offering and the modern Ibanez "look" was set in stone for decades to come.
From 1987 until 1992, the Roadstar name was used in various fashions. At which point in time the RG series definitely replaced the Roadstar series, is open for interpretation. Ibanez ultimately stopped using the Roadstar name in promotional material after 1991, so the RG series definitely settled in 1992. On the other hand, the Roadstar name was already less dominantly placed in promotional material after 1987 in favor of a simpler RG designation and the Roadstar Deluxe and Standard subseries were already replaced by the RG700, RG500, RG400 and RG300 subseries. Retroactively you could say that the RG series started with the first modern RG, the 1987 RG550 and all the models that followed. 1987 can be considered a transition year with the Roadstar Deluxe and Standard series still in function and the period from 1987 until 1992 somewhat of a transition period with a few mentions of the original meaning of 'RG'.
The RG series started with division between RG500 and RG700 models. The RG500 models such as the RG550 and the RG570 were the 'standard' models, featuring Edge tremolo's, dot inlays and Ibanez made pickups. The RG570 was the same guitar as the 550, without a pickguard. The RG700 models such as the RG750 and RG770FM were the more upscale models with fingerboard binding, deluxe inlays and American made pickups.
The first budget models with the new RG shape were the Korean made RG140 series,RG300 series and EX series (short for "Experimental") introduced in 1988. The RG300 models such as the RG350 and RG360 featured the new body shape but cheaper tremolo and pickup models. The EX models were lower-end RG 'clones' were named differently because they might hurt the reputation of the RG name. The EX series ultimately faded into the Ibanez RX series, the pre-GIO series GRX models.
The RG100 and 200 series were introduced in the 1990s. They became part of the GIO series in 2003 and renamed GRG.
RT and RX series
|The RT650GF TR|
The Ibanez RT series were introduced in 1992 in an attempt to combine the look and sound of a vintage guitar with the modern feel and technology of an RG. The RT features the RG body shape, Ibanez pickups and a 24 fret neck combined with a non-locking synchronized tremolo and an alder body. Apparently not too successful, the RT series was discontinued two years later.
The RX series partly continued the tradition of the RT series with a mix between traditional guitars and modern instruments. The main difference is a 22-fret neck instead of a 24-neck and maple body wood instead of alder or basswood. The RX series also includes the most inexpensive 'RG type' models formerly released under the 'EX' flag. The RX series is continued to this day, although only as part of the GIO series as GRX models.
Prestige and J Custom
Flagship series J Custom and Prestige include many RG models, including some of the first ones. Introduced in 1996, both series feature the more exclusive Ibanez models with special specifications and finishes. The J Customs are mainly limited edition models for the Japanese market, although some models are showcased elsewhere, like the RG-ARCH1, RG-ART1 and RG-GEAR1 at the 1996 Winter NAMM Show.
Prestige models differ from the standard RG line by having a hex key holder on the back of the neck, a multi-piece neck construction, higher quality electronics (volume and tone pots, sometimes pickups and JEM-style SPLIT-5 wiring, which gives players more tone options by splitting the hum bucking pickups to single-coils when in 2 and 4 position) and higher quality tremolo bridges.
Since 2003, all Japanese made models are issued as part of the Prestige series. In 2003, all Previous Japanese made non-Prestige models were renamed, for example the RG570 became the RG1570. All Prestige models were updated with the new Edge Pro tremolo.
The RGT series comes with neck-thru construction. For example: The Ibanez RGT42FXQM Electric Guitar has a mahogany wing body with a quilted maple top and a 5-piece maple/walnut neck with rosewood fretboard. Neck-thru construction means excellent response and sustain. Ibanez INF open coil humbuckers, 3-way pickup switch. Features include:
- Mahogany wing body with quilted maple top
- 5-piece maple/walnut neck
- Neck-thru construction
- Rosewood fretboard
- 3-way pickup switch
- Ibanez open coil humbuckers (INF1 ceramic neck/INF2 alnico bridge)
- Off-Set Dot Inlay
quoted from musiciansfriend.com
- Main article: RGA series
The RGA models are based on the RG but have a solid arched top. The series started as Prestige hard-tail models only but was expanded with non-Prestige models in 2009 and tremolo-equipped models and extended-range models in 2010.
- Main article: Mikro series
The Mikro (or miKro) models are a line of instruments with smaller bodies and short-scale necks which are targeted at adolescent players and small adults as well as those in need of a travel guitar. The first model in the Mikro line, the GRGM21 was released in 2005 with a shape modeled after the RG series. Although there have been a couple of Mikros released with other body styles, the RG-based models are the most common. As such, Mikro is not so much a sub-set of the RG series, but rather a distinction somewhat similar to the affordable GIO series (of which most Mikros are also included) in that it can encompass more than one style.
- Main article: List of RG players
The Ibanez RG is a "superstrat" design, resembling a Fender Stratocaster but with a more aggressive look, sharper horns and headstock, an increased number of frets and the inclusion of humbucking pickups and double locking tremolo systems.
In terms of the sheer number of variations, the RG is the most prolific guitar in the world. RGs with all kinds of woods, constructions, finishes, bridges and pickup configurations have been created since 1987, including 7-string and 8-string models. Ibanez was the first manufacturer to offer an 8-string electric guitar with the RG2228.
The most common body wood used on RG models is basswood. Before the introduction of the JEM and RG, basswood was typically used for less-expensive guitar models. Other woods used for RG bodies include more 'standard' body woods such as mahogany (e.g. the RG321MH) and ash (e.g. the RG370AX). Most JEM models were made from basswood, then switched to alder with basswood veneer with the introduction of the JEM7VWH.
In some cases a body wood is combined with an additional body top wood which is usually only a small layer of wood for decorative reasons. The most commonly used top wood is maple with either a flamed pattern like the RG770FM or a quilted pattern like the RGT320Q.
Most, if not, all RG necks are made of maple. Older RG necks were made of a single piece of maple, but to increase sturdiness multiple layers of wood can be used, something Ibanez started doing on most RG guitars since 2005. Prestige model necks are made of three pieces of maple and two pieces of walnut or wenge in alternating order. Walnut is used for 6-string guitars while wenge is used for 7- and 8-string guitars. Most non-Prestige models feature a neck made of three pieces of maple. Earlier laminated neck models include the Super Wizard which was made of two pieces of maple and a piece of bubinga.
The most common wood used for RG fingerboards is rosewood. Although the first RG550 models were also available with maple fingerboards, Ibanez has used rosewood almost exclusively for a long time. Since 2009 Ibanez started reintroducing maple fingerboards on various models such as the RG2550MZ, RG1527M and RG350M.
Most RGs have a bolt-on neck. Older RGs feature the Tilt Joint still requiring a screw plate. All post-1994 models have the sleeker All Access Neck Joint. RGT models feature a neck through body construction and on rare occasions a set-in neck construction is used like on the GRGS22.
Ibanez RGs are famous for their thin necks also known as Wizard necks. All kinds of Wizard necks, all with (slightly) different dimensions and shapes have been used on RG models.
Most RG models feature an Ibanez designed and build double locking tremolo system such as the Edge, Lo-Pro Edge, Edge Pro and Edge Zero. A Strat-style non-locking synchronized tremolo is usually found on RG derivatives like the RT and RX. Some RG models are equipped with a hard-tail bridge, such as the RG1521 and RGT6EXFX.
RGs are known for its combination of both humbucking and single coil pickups. The first RGs had a HSH pickup configuration, meaning they had a humbucker in neck and bridge position with an additional single coil in mid position. Other common configurations are HH and SSH. Less common configurations are SH (a bridge humbucker with a single coil at the neck like on the RG565) or a single humbucker in the bridge position (e.g. the RG2610Z)
Ibanez uses both self-produced pickups as well as pickups produced by other companies. Most non-Ibanez pickups are produced by or with DiMarzio although some RGs were issued with Seymour Duncan and EMG pickups.