Updated by Bobby
Updated on January 27th, 2022
Added the Ibanez RGIXL7, the S670QM, and the AM153QA, all to replace models that we had previously listed but were discontinued. All links and content (references to older models) have been updated.
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:
Best Ibanez Electric Guitars (top four picks)
Ibanez Iron Label RGIXL7
Ibanez Artstar AM153QA
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. Ibanez Iron Label RG Series (RGIXL7)
This is one of the most popular Ibanez electric series and we've seen it come 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
Keep in mind, the availability of these versions has changed over the years, so we can't be sure of which ones will be available and when. However, we should note it's the RGIXL7 mode specifically that retails under our $1000 price point.
The base specs for each model are all fairly similar.
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.
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 (in certain versions)
2. Ibanez S670QM
There's a lot to like about the Ibanez S670QM
Note that this guitar uses a tonewood called Meranti, which is cheaper but also lightweight, which you can feel when picking up the S670QM. We'd prefer a Mahogany body, but the Meranti is mellowed out by the presence of the quilted Maple top, which is smooth and contoured, almost like a carved PRS top.
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, Meranti a decent compromise.
Another notable feature is the coil-tapping ability from the tone knob, which you can utilize via the five-way pickup selector.
Here's how the options break down:
The Edge Zero II tremolo system holds down the bridge, while Ibanez goes with their Quantum single coil pickup in the middle position (the single coil version) and Quantum humbuckers at the bridge and neck.
Note that the humbuckers both use ceramic magnets (provide a little more warmth and thud), while the middle pickup uses a brighter-sounding Alnico magnet.
An pickup upgrade to DiMarzio or EMG would go a long way here.
FEATURES: Maple top / Edge Zero Tremolo / Five-way selector switch
3. Ibanez Artstar Series AM153QA
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 1.692 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 instead of the Alnico in the Ibanez Super 58s. Ceramic magnets would give 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 / Gibraltar artist 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 pretty decent.
Though 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. Per the Ibanez web site, there are actually a lot of Vai Signature models you can pick from:
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 left out, 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, are included here as well.
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.