Are Cheap Ibanez Guitars Good? – The Good and Bad

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They look good. They even sound good in Youtube sound demos. And the price tag? It’s the best part! It actually looks like we guitar players can afford these. But still, we are not sure…

I’m talking about cheap Ibanez guitars. When browsing a guitar selection they are tempting options for sure… The great thing is that I have tested a ton of them! And in this article, I reveal all the pros and cons of cheap Ibanez guitars that I’m aware of.

I personally like these budget-friendly axes a lot, but they are still not perfect.

Let’s get started!

In this article, I considered cheap to be $100-350.

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Author: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I also noticed that most guitar websites don’t do a really good job, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website. I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar. I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog(I guess that went the right way…).

Are Cheap Ibanez Guitars Good? Quick answer: Yes they are. They can have the same issues as any cheap guitar (bad setup, rough fret edges, fret buzz etc.), but in general they offer really good value for the money, sound good, and are fun to play. Just don’t expect perfection from them.


Cheap Ibanez Guitars

image displays a Cheap Ibanez Guitar - Ibanez GRX70QA
My cheap Ibanez guitar – Ibanez GRX70QA.

You can check my full review of Ibanez GRX70QA here.

Let’s now look at the good and bad qualities of affordable Ibanez guitars and then I’ll answer some important frequently asked questions.

What’s Good?

Electric GuitarsAcoustic Guitars
Easy playabilityEasy playability
Also quite lightweight. Usually around 6.8-7.5 lbs. (Ibanez GRX70QA was 7.38lbs = 3.35kg).Great variety of different neck and body types to choose from
Usually slim necks (AZEZ models have a bit thicker neck)Some models have solid tops
Sound good even with stock pickups (don’t expect too much tho)A couple of models even have a bone/compensated bone nut
Versatile tonallyGood build
Good build & UpgradableAffordable
AffordableGood value for the money
Good value for the moneyPlenty of models to choose from (different tonewoods, body shapes etc.)
Plenty of models to choose from (different pickup configuration options etc.)Upgradable
Usually good upper fret access (E-A.D strings below the 13th fret)A ton of acoustic-electric options too

I’ll dive deeper into a couple of the most important factors.

Easy Playability

For me, the Ibanez guitars (cheap ones too) are one of the easiest playing axes out there. The neck is fast and shifts around the fretboard are smooth.

I know that some Ibanez Guitars, such as AZ models have meatier necks, but these are still easy to play.

Easy playability is super important for beginners. Who wants to struggle unnecessarily because of the guitar that is hard to play? Not me at least. 

The neck shape between different models varies quite a bit and Ibanez doesn’t usually use the common “C” “D” etc. neck shapes to describe the neck of their guitar. But due to my experience, Ibanez guitars have necks that are smooth and nicely round. They fit my (small) hand well and are easy to shred with.

The ease of play is one of the key reasons why I like affordable Ibanez guitars.

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Sound Good and Versatile

Don’t expect a premium sound…but still, with a budget Ibanez, you can shred with good tones for years. At least I have never felt like I should replace the pups right out of the box.

Versatility is the one thing. Cheap Ibanez guitars are one of the most versatile budget guitars out there. Hands down. They can handle different stuff from gentle cleans to mean metal riffs. 

This is awesome news for beginners and for those who just like to explore different genres.

Check how my cheap Ibanez GRX70QA sounds:

YouTube video

Good Value for The Money

This is really important for me. Probably for you too. People work hard to earn money and they should get awesome bang for the buck when buying stuff. Based on my experience, Ibanez guitars do just that.

For $150-350 you get:

  • Solid stock pickups
  • Easy playability
  • Versatility
  • A ton of different color options to choose from
  • Overall good design for comfortable playability
  • Solid top with some acoustic guitars

If that’s not good value for the money, I don’t know what is!

Solid Top With Acoustics

A solid top does age better than a laminated top. The tone stays more stable over the years. Also with a laminated top, wood pieces are glued together instead of the top being solid wood. A solid top (solid wood) resonates a way better and can deliver a meatier tone.

But if we were blind tested, I would guess that most of us can’t hear the difference. But I still prefer a solid top guitar.

But there’s a scenario where laminate tops perform better. If you expose your guitar to humidity and temperature changes, the laminate top handles it better. Solid top guitars are prone to crack easier under extreme conditions. So keep this in mind.

What Flaws Can Be Present?

You guessed it. Cheap Ibanez guitars are not perfect either. Usually, flaws have something to do with quality control, lemons slip through, etc. Here are some of the most commons issues people and me have experienced:

  • Tuners don’t hold the tune that well
  • Rough fret edges
  • Small issues in finish
  • Bad setup out of the box
  • Fret buzz

Look, these can happen with way more expensive guitars, so I wouldn’t fret about these too much. But of course, if some of these happen to you it’s annoying. You have waited for a long to get that dream Ibanez but when you receive it, the fret edges are rough and make playing uncomfortable.

The great thing is that most of the time, even with low-end Ibanez guitars, there are no issues out of the box. I have gone through 100’s of customer reviews and over 90% time, those reviews are positive. They are happy with their purchase.

But what to do if you receive a guitar with flaws?

  • Bad setup. Just learn how to set up the guitar yourself. Youtube is full of great tutorials.
  • Fret edges are rough. You can try to smoothen those a bit (Youtube is your friend). Or if you are too scared to do it yourself, let a professional handle that. If the fret edges are really rough and you don’t want to go through the trouble, you can usually return the guitar for a refund.
  • Small issues in finish. Do those bother you? If not, just keep playing and don’t care. If yes, learn how to fix those or contact the seller.
  • Doesn’t hold tune well. First, stretch the strings(Youtube). If the guitar just doesn’t stay in tune after a week or so, just accept it and tune more or contact the seller.
  • Frett buzz. First, adjust the action higher(Youtube).. If that doesn’t help, check if the neck has relief, and if it does, adjust the truss rod. If that doesn’t help some frets are probably higher than the others. If that’s the case, you have 3 options. 1. Learn how to fix that. 2. Let professionals handle that. 3. Contact the seller.

That’s a little action plan in case you are going to face issues with your next Ibanez or with any other guitar.

What Features Do Cheap Ibanez Guitars Offer?

I already revealed that with low-end Ibanez guitars you get qualities like:

  • Easy playability
  • Good tones
  • Usually solid quality etc.

But let’s look at what kind of features different Ibanez guitars have when we look at differently priced cheap guitars:

Electric Guitars

Price RangeWhat You GetWhat’s MissingExample Model (Affiliate Link)
$150-200-Infinity Ceramic pickups
-OK tuners
-Both tremolo arm and fixed bridge options
-Gloss Polyester finish
-Medium-sized frets
-Alnico Pickups
-Really Stable Tuners
-Coil-split or alter switch
-Other than plastic nut options
Ibanez GRX70QA (I own this)
$201-250-IBZ-6, Classic Elite, or Infinity Ceramic pickups
-OK tuners
-Both tremolo arm and fixed bridge options
-Satin Polyurethane or Gloss Polyester finish
-Medium and jumbo-sized frets
-Alnico Pickups
-Really Stable Tuners
-Coil-split or alter switch
-Other than plastic nut options
Ibanez Gio GRG121DX
$251-300-Separate Top in some models
-Both tremolo arm and fixed bridge options
-IBZ-6, Classic Elite, Essential, or Infinity Ceramic pickups
-Alter Switch that enables series-connect Single-Coil pickups (Azes models).
-F106 Bridge with Round Steel Saddles on AZES models
-Medium and jumbo-sized frets
-Little bump in finish quality
-Alnico Pickups
-Really Stable Tuners
-Coil-split
-Other than plastic nut options
Ibanez AZES31IV
$301-350-Better quality tuners on RG models
-Alter Switch that enables series-connect Single-Coil pickups (Azes models).
-Quantum or Essential Ceramic pickups
-F106 Bridge with Round Steel Saddles on AZES models
-3 piece neck on RG models
-Wizard III neck shape on RG models
-Medium and jumbo-sized frets
-Little bump in finish quality
-Alnico Pickups
-Coil-split
-Other than plastic nut options
Ibanez RG421

There are a ton of small differences, but not that many big ones. But there’s a couple worth mentioning:

  • Quantum and Essential pickups are clear upgrades to the Infinity and IBZ-6’s
  • Azes models bring the alter Swtich to the table
  • RG421 gives us the smooth and slim Wizrd III neck.

Acoustic Guitars

Price RangeWhat You GetWhat’s MissingExample Model (Affiliate Link)
$150-200-Spruce, okoume, or sapele top (laminate)
-Nyatoh or sapele sides (laminate)
-OK tuners
-Electric acoustic options
-Solid top
-Solid back and sides
-Other than plastic nut options
Ibanez PC15
$201-250-Spruce, okoume, or sapele top (laminate)
-Nyatoh, okoume, or sapele sides (laminate)
-OK tuners
-Electric acoustic options
-Solid top on Ibanez AW54
-Solid top on Ibanez AAD50
-Electric acoustic options
-Most models don’t have a solid top
-Solid back and sides
-Other than plastic nut options
Ibanez AW54
$251-300-Spruce top (laminate)
-Sapele sides (laminate)
-Electric acoustic options
-Really fast-playing Altstar ALT30 electric acoustics
-Some models don’t have a solid top
-Solid back and sides
-Altstar ALT30 doesn’t have a solid top
-Other than plastic nut options
Ibanez Altstar ALT30
$301-350-Solid spruce or okoume tops
-Okoume, or sapele sides (laminate)
-Electric acoustic options
-Bone/Compensated Bone nut (Ibanez Artwood AC340)
-Most models still have a plastic nut
-Ibanez AEG50 doesn’t have a solid top
-Solid back and sides
Ibanez Artwood AC340

Again, a ton of little differences, but here are the ones that make a real difference:

  • I would aim for solid top models (they age better and keep sounding great longer)
  • Ibanez Artwood AC340 has a bone/compensated bone nut instead of plastic one. This improves sustain and overall tone a bit.

What Music You Can Play With Cheap Ibanez Guitars?

Well, almost anything. They are really versatile. Budget Ibanez guitars I have played handle anything from country to metal.

My favorite stuff for Ibanez guitars are progressive rock and metal music. That’s what fits them best in my opinion. But I play all sorts of different stuff with my Ibanez with no problems.

Are Cheap Ibanez Guitars Good for Beginners?

Yes. They are 

  • affordable
  • easy to play
  • versatile
  • sound good

Especially if you value a guitar that can provide you with all kinds of different tones and you want to explore different genres, then affordable Ibanez guitars are excellent options.

I have small hands and Ibanez guitars have been a great fit for my small mits. That’s good news for kids, teens, gals, or anyone with small hands.

Where Are Cheap Ibanez Guitars Made?

Made in China. Here’s proof:

image displays where ibanez guitars are made
My Ibanez GRX70QA

I also checked other cheap Ibanez guitars, both electric and acoustics, and they are also made in China. I also went through Ibanez acoustic guitar selection online, and by zooming through the soundhole, you can clearly see the label that states “Made in China”.

Why Some Ibanez Guitars Are So Cheap?

Ibanez doesn’t manufacture their low-end guitars in Japan. They are produced in China, which lowers the cost a lot. The cost of labor is just so much lower there, and we can see it in the prices we pay.

Factories where guitars are made, are fine-tuned the workflow to be efficient and minimized the cost and time that goes into building each guitar. That’s why we can enjoy guitars this cheap.

Also, the materials used on the low-end guitars are usually cheaper. There are no real bone nuts, all solid body acoustics guitars. No Seymor Duncan’s or Fishman fluence pickups. Everything is lower in quality. But this doesn’t mean that these cheap guitars are terrible, the quality of materials is just lower.

How Cheap Ibanez Models Compare to Other Cheap Guitars?

Really, well. In versatility, they are pretty much unbeatable. Sound and playability are top-notch too. Only in finish quality, some other guitars(ESP model) managed to pull off better stuff. You can check my full comparison of 5 cheap electric guitars here.

Conclusion

Yep. I like chepa Ibanez guitars. A lot. There are some flaws in the for sure, but the playability and ease of play are just something that I can’t ignore. Plus, they offer great value for the money. That’s why I will continue to play them.

Hopefully this article helped you out, if you have any questions just leave a comment.

I wish you all the best and keep rocking!

Teemu


Here’s Our Favorite Gear Right Now!

Our Favorite Guitars:

Consider all links in this post to be affiliate links. If you purchase, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. It helps us to keep the lights on, thanks! 🙂

Electric guitars:

For beginners and tight-budget guitarists, Ibanez GRX70QA was the winner after hours of testing. If you are a metalhead, Jackson JS22 Dinky is our favorite.

If you have more room on your budget, Yamaha Pacifica 112V gives you a great bang for your buck, and Fender Player Telecaster HH will serve intermediate Players well.

Our favorite Electric guitar of 2021 was the PRS SE Custom 24-08. It gives so much versatility, comfort, and good tones that it’s impossible to ignore.

Acoustic guitars:

For beginners, Yamaha FG800 is our go-to guitar. It offers more than any other guitar in the same price range.

For intermediate and beginners with bigger wallets, Gretsch G5024E Rancher offers so clear and detailed tones, plus easy playability that I had to include it here.

Seagull S6 Original is the best acoustic around the $500 mark. It has the construction, sound, and feel that many more expensive guitars don’t achieve.

Our Favorite Amps:

For beginners, Fender Mustang LT25 offers the most. It’s versatile, sounds good, and is simple to use.

For most home players, Boss Katana 50MKii is the amp that serves you in any situation. From country to metal.

If you are searching for a tube amp for home use, Blackstar HT-5R MKii is my go-to option because it sounds so good, and you can adjust the wattage(power).

When it comes to acoustic guitar amps, Fender Acoustasonic 40 will serve most people really well. But our favorite is Fishman Loudbox Mini BT. It offers a professional level tone and volume with a price most people can afford.