Ibanez makes a lot of guitars and they’re incredibly diverse in terms of quality.
With a whole slew of cheap electric guitars under $300 and plenty of quality instruments coming in north of $1000, there’s something for just about all variations of interest, skill level and enthusiasm.
As we look at digging up the best Ibanez guitar in our price range (under $1000) I’ll look for at least one of the following features in each guitar we list:
- Brand pickups (EMGs, Seymour Duncan, etc.)
- Floyd Rose or Edge Tremolo System
- High grade tone wood
If you want to jump right into the guitars, here’s what made the final cut:
Iron Label S Series
Ibanez JEM JR
Additionally, I look at the retail price, reputation of the guitar and the overall quality when deciding what to recommend.
Value is most accurately assessed when considering all these factors in conjunction with the features that you need.
- Sound and Material Quality
Instead, this list is meant to give you examples of guitars that meet the requirements we’ve already set forth.
Use them as templates if none of the five listed work for you.
The best Ibanez guitar?
Obviously the best Ibanez guitar would be the one that simply costs the most, which right now I believe is an Ibanez electric around $5000.
However its not at all practical for most of us (dare I say, all of us) to go out and throw that much money at a guitar.
Whenever I can do that, it’ll be a good day.
Instead, we’re looking for a the correct combination of quality and cost.
Ibanez usually gives you a great guitar for what you pay, so here we’ll narrow things down a little more and look at some of the best Ibanez guitars, all under $1000.
The Iron Label series kicks things off for us.
1. Iron Label S Series
This is one of the most popular Ibanez electric series and actually comes in four different variations, depending on which model you go with.
- Six-String Fixed Bridge
- Six-String Tremolo
- Seven-String Fixed Bridge
- Seven-String Tremolo
The base specs for each model are all fairly.
My preferred recommendation is the six-string tremolo version, since you get the Edge Zero II and locking tuner systems. Without those, the guitar just feels a little empty.
The body of the guitar is a stained Mahogany which produces a warm and thick metal guitar tone, aided by the presence of two DiMarzio Fusion Edge pickups.
Ibanez throws in a kill switch for good measure.
It’s the complete package and a good baseline representation of what to expect from Ibanez.
I’ve got no complaints.
FEATURES: DiMarzio Edge Fusion pickups / Solid Mahogany Body / Edge Zero Tremolo
2. Ibanez JS140 Joe Satriani Signature (discontinued - alternative pictured)
The JS140 is more about the Joe Satriani “vibe” than it is an actual replica of Satriani’s guitar.
To get that, Ibanez has a far more expensive version that’s true to the guitar Satriani actually plays.
There are always good reasons why one guitar costs $800 and another costs $2500.
Yet, there’s still a lot to like about the JS140.
First, the use of solid basswood for the body of the guitar is a plus, despite the fact that basswood is plentiful and affordable.
While it’s typically used in economy guitars (like this one) its tone is quite good, providing a thick low end with a punchy mid range. As tonewoods go, it’s a decent compromise.
Basswood is also really light, which you’ll notice when you picking up any guitar that’s made from it.
Another notable feature is the coil-tapping ability from the tone knob.
Ibanez diagrams all your options here:
Once again, the Edge Zero II tremolo system holds down the bridge, while Ibanez goes with their Infinity pickup at the neck position (the single coil version) and another Quantum humbucker at the bridge.
The full version of Satriani’s signature guitar is loaded up with Dimarzio pickups, which we’d love to see here.
Even still, you can buy this model and put Dimarzio or something else in yourself.
It’s plenty of guitar for $800 and a great value.
FEATURES: Basswood Body / Edge Zero Tremolo / Coil-Tapping
3. Ibanez Artstar Series
The Artstar models are nice mix of the hollowbody design on the thin, fast Ibanez-style necks, resulting in an electric guitar that's good for jazz or even doubling as a jazz and rock guitar. At 1.69 inches on the first fret, it's a fairly thin neck, even by electric guitar standards.
We're always surprised by how fast the Artstar series plays and feels.
The Super 58 Custom pickups sound decent, but they're not a branded humbucker (no Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio). We'd recommend a pickup upgrade of some sort, preferably a ceramic magnet since that's what's in the Ibanez Super 58s. This gives them a warmer, more mellow tone that's consistent with the hollow-body design.
We also got some decent brightness and chime out of the upper register, which should only increase with a more dynamic humbucker variant.
FEATURES: Maple Body & Neck / ART-1 bridge system / Great balance of speed and subtlety
4. Ibanez JEM JR
One last time we must put aside our expensive tastes and put up with the “economy” version of a guitar that is actually much nicer.
The full-scale rendition of Steve Vai’s guitar is, in my opinion, legitimately worth every one of the nearly 300,000 pennies is costs.
This doesn’t even consider the discontinued models Ibanez no longer makes, which date back to the late 1980s.
As for our $500 version, the main attraction is the Mahogany body and Vai-centered aesthetics.
We get back to the Ibanez Quantum pickup configuration and downgrade to a DL tremolo bridge with locking tuners.
It’s disappointing to see the Edge Zero system go but, for $500 we can’t really complain.
And that’s the kicker with this guitar.
At such a low price point, you do get some value, especially when you consider that the Mahogany body and Quantum pickups, being present in so many other more expensive guitars, make up the core of this one.
FEATURES: Mahogany Body / Wizard Neck / Vai Tree of Life Inlays
Other Good Choices
Now for my disclaimer:
With lists like these, there are a lot of other great guitars that I didn’t include. As I said earlier, that’s because this list isn’t meant to be comprehensive.
It’s meant to give you templates and starting points.
Further, it’s what I would recommend, in an honest objective effort, to someone looking for a solid and reliable guitar in the allotted price range.
Thus, I welcome additions, subtractions or any and all constructive criticism.
If you want to share your opinion on the best Ibanez guitar, these picks or anything else, you can use the comments section below.