It’s mid year. Under normal, non-pandemic circumstances, the guitar community will be stirred by some excitement in the form of Summer NAMM. Regardless of its absence, manufacturers are perpetuating the tradition of releasing new gear to the masses at this time of the year but limited to their own domain. Ibanez, it seems, is trying its best to appeal to that elusive cohort who are not as detailed in their gear obsession but showing keen interest nevertheless. The conception of the Iron Label logo (above) in an extreme visual format is its mark on that intention.
It is actually a precursor to the launch of some instruments designed to further extreme music. Seen here is the new XPTB620 in a very black, foreboding presence.
The XPTB720 is the obligatory 7-string version for the rest in the metal domain who wish to dwell deeper in sonic extremity.
The all black format is not a fresh bid to re-kindle interest, the LTD Black Metal series had been there with some degree of success. Ibanez should re-consider the inclusion of whammy bridges (in this case, the ZRII) for guitars in this offering because if we listen closely to the bands plying this trade, they don’t embrace it much. For those who do, they invest in good money to ensure reliable units like the Floyd Rose or even Ibanez’s own Edge are in their instruments.
This brings us to the more sensible offering – the ICTB721; a no frills fixed bridge affair (mono rail) in an equally menacing finish.
Ibanez re-launching the Xiphos model in this series is a smart move. It had proven to be successful in its heyday & died a natural death due to a lack of commercial propulsion. The Iceman had been there all along & giving it a new lease of life now is also a sensible move. As opposed to the Iceman, I expected the Destroyer to be a formidable member here as its outline is more in tune with the extreme mentality. Ebony fretboard for all models seems to be the best in this case in view of its very dark nature. I’m also happy DiMarzio‘s D’Activators are the default pickups here, I believe this is DiMarzio’s extreme performer together with the X2N. I can vouch for the D’Activator’s clarity when it comes to down tuning & large servings of distortion. The trio here are 25.5″ scaled instruments & equipping them with 10-52 gauge & detuning a whole step from the factory might not be a wise thing to do.
In closing, I would say Ibanez appealing to the extreme masses is an uphill task. The metal heads out there have already embraced the RG to deliver their bidding & the X-Series being expunged from the catalogs repeatedly is enough proof. The good thing though – Ibanez did not stop trying.