Thought Ibanez just did slim-necked shred machines? We see how far they disprove the theory in our Ibanez Roadcore RC320 Review
The rise of Ibanez has been somewhat meteoric. By listening to guitarists’ needs, and creating the kind of instruments they wanted to play but couldn’t buy, they didn’t so much carve a niche for themselves as create a whole new area of guitar design, aimed squarely at those playing extreme, shred style guitar.
However, people forget that Ibanez has produced some amazing guitars of all kinds and at all price-points over the years.
Now, it seems the Japanese brand wants to remind us of this fact. Introducing, the Ibanez Roadcore RC320…
With classic retro looks, but the shredder’s favourite brand name on the headstock, you’d be forgiven for wondering where exactly this fits in the grand scheme of things.
We take a look in our Ibanez Roadcore RC320 review…
Stunning, retro looks
The most immediately striking thing about the Roadcore is its look. With its compact, asymmetric body, unfussy flat design, chrome hardware and contrasting binding, it oozes the kind of vintage charm that is a world apart from Ibanez’s modern looking shred and rock focussed models.
Though it has a certain familiarity, the Roadcore is very much its own guitar aesthetically, however. With a slab mahogany body, bolt-on maple neck and rosewood fingerboard, it’s easy to see that this made with a winning combination of ingredients.
Twin Core Tone humbuckers provide the guitar’s ‘voice’, and a Tight Tune bridge keeps things anchored down, via a strings-through-body design.
Picking the Roadcore up, the build quality is perhaps, the first surprise. This is, after all, a sub £320 guitar (price correct as of 9/2013). And yet, it’s a very tidily finished guitar, with binding (front and back), and everything as you expect on a substantially more expensive instrument.
Fans of the super-slim neck profiles of Ibanez’s shred oriented guitars might be disappointed here. The profile is far from chunky, but has the kind of comfortable, rounded feel you might more commonly find on a US made guitar.
Finished in gloss, it has just enough heft to give you something to grip, but never feels big. Again, it feels more ‘expensive’ than the guitar’s price tag.
The Core Tone humbuckers are also something of a surprise. The bridge pickup has plenty of gain tone, with a sound that veers from rich and warm when clean, to pure, punk trashiness when overdriven. I liked this. A lot…
Switching to the middle setting activates both pickups, and gives the tone a bit more glassy, ‘snap’. The neck position adds a bit more punch, and woodiness (and sounds great with little bit of ‘crunch’…)
The bridge deserves a bit of a mention. Typically, on guitars at this price-point, bridges tend to be ‘functional’ rather than anything of any note. The Roadcore has the kind of sustain you just don’t expect on a guitar of this price, however, thanks to the neatly engineered Tight-Tune.
In all, the RC320’s versatility was as impressive as it’s tone quality. Despite simple, uncomplicated controls and design, it encouraged you to play, and search for ‘that’ tone.
Ibanez has arguably been the crown holder in the world of shred guitars for decades. With the launch of the Ibanez Roadcore RC320, the brand is showing a different side to its ‘personality’, and doing so at an eminently affordable price.
The greatest surprise, however, is the level of quality on offer here. The RC320 is very well constructed and finished, with stunning retro looks. It plays beautifully, and, despite uncluttered, simple controls, is a very versatile guitar, with a range of great tones on offer (fans of punk will be particularly enamoured, I suspect…).
So, it looks great, it plays great, sounds great and doesn’t cost very much. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?
Unfortunately the Ibanez Roadcore RC320 is currently no longer available, but there is a huge selection of great Ibanez guitars over at the Dawsons website.
For more information or advice, call our stores or customer service team (01925 582420).
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.