Review: Ibanez Iron Label RGIR28FEBK Eight-String Guitar
In recent years, eight-string guitars have enjoyed increased popularity thanks to progressive metallists like Meshuggah’s Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström, Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders and Periphery’s Misha Mansoor.
But eight-string guitars are a smart choice for any player who regularly tunes way down, allowing you to get massive low end without the flubby sound and weak responsiveness of detuned strings on a standard six-string.
Ibanez has long been a leader in seven- and eight-string guitars—not surprisingly, all of the above-mentioned artists play Ibanez eight-stringers.
The Iron Label RGIR28FEBK is the company’s latest eight-string creation, one that is aimed squarely at the metal market. With its 27-inch scale, thin but strong neck construction, powerhouse electronics and unerring playability, the Iron Label RGIR28FEBK is a solid addition to the company’s unmatched armory of extended-range axes.
A great deal of engineering is built into the RGIR28FEBK, and most of it is focused on the neck, which has to be thin enough to accommodate typical-sized hands yet stable enough to withstand the extreme pressures of eight, fully tensioned strings. To realize this goal, the RGIR28FEBK utilizes five-piece maple/walnut construction and KTS titanium reinforcement rods.
The neck is bolted to the contoured body heel with Ibanez’s own four-bolt pattern. The familiar and popular RG-style basswood body helps the guitar remain lightweight and still create the classic, clear midrange and warm bass for which Ibanez is famous.
Ibanez wisely chose a set of specially wired active EMG 808 pickups to deliver the RGIR28FEBK’s ripping tones. They’re connected to a single volume pot (sans tone control), a three-way selector switch and a kill switch (an easy-access battery door is located on the guitar’s backside). The lack of a tone control equates to better resolution of high-end details, and the kill switch is useful both for strobe effects and stopping the guitar’s Richter scale–registering resonance from reaching the amp during inopportune moments.
I’m certainly not a seasoned eight-string player, nor do I have big hands, so I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I adapted to the RGIR28FEBK’s neck. It was extremely comfortable, with low and even action, jumbo frets and a beautifully sculpted profile.
As for tone, the sheer mass of the neck, combined with the basswood and EMG 808s, gave the guitar incredible sustain and notable depth in all registers. When connected to my Mesa Mark V’s high-gain channels, the active pickups’ purpose-tuned preamps illuminated layers of overtones while maintaining ideal string-to-string balance. Although I know that most players will use the RGIR28FEBK as a metal tool, which is exactly what Ibanez intended, it’s equally capable of creating, rich, piano-like clean tones through the neck pickup.
List Price $1,239.99
Manufacturer Ibanez, ibanez.com
The RGIR28FEBK’s relatively thin neck is stable without being rigid, thanks to five-piece maple/walnut construction and KTS titanium stabilizing rods.
Active EMG 808 pickups, wired without a treble-robbing tone pot, deliver a cornucopia of harmonic nuance, sustain and aggressive attack.
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re a technically gifted freak, a bottom-crazed industrial metalist or a guitarist just looking to expand your tonal horizons, Ibanez’s Iron Label RGIR28FEBK may be the perfect weapon to conquer your musical foes.