Ibanez GRX20 Review: A Player Review

Ibanez GRX20 Review

In my 25+ years of playing the guitar – both acoustic and electric – I’ve had the opportunity to get my hands on quite a few beginner and entry-level guitars. Some are great, others are not, but I’ve never felt like I can rely on Amazon reviews. That’s why I thought it might be helpful to share my own Ibanez GRX20 review – from an actual player who’s not associated with a particular music store.

Ibanez is a private guitar maker based out of Japan that began making guitars as early as 1908. They’ve become known for their bizarre guitar designs as well as 7 and 8 string guitars and over the years Ibanez has become a favorite of the heavy metal style guitarist.

The Ibanez GRX20 is one of their entry-level electric guitars that they produce for those players who want a unique, playable guitar at an affordable price.

My Ibanez GRX20 Review

Ibanez GRX20 midnight black grunge electricThe Ibanez GRX20 is similar in shape to the Fender Stratocaster series (see my in-depth review here) but most everything else is quite different.

Ibanez uses Basswood for the body of the GRX20 along with a maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. All of this is pretty standard for an entry-level guitar, which means that what you’re giving up in quality with the basswood you’re making up for in price savings.

The GRX20 is equipped with dual humbucker pickups, which is one way that the Ibanez distinguishes itself against the Stratocaster. By combining the two humbuckers, Ibanez has been able to create a grunge sound that suits the rock and heavy metal genre well. The pickups are controlled by tone and volume knobs as well as a 3-way selector switch.

The second, more noticeable way that the GRX20 is different than the Strat is in price: the Ibanez retails for around $50 less than the Squier. Considering that these guitars are quite comparable, price could play a huge role in many beginners decisions.

Ibanez GRX20 Playability

The Ibanez GRX20 offers excellent playability for the price, one of the reasons it has become such a popular entry-level guitar for those in the market for an electric.

The maple neck is smooth and thin, making it easy for smaller hands to grab or for bigger hands to control. Based on my experience opening and setting up many of these guitars at a guitar store, they’re often good to go straight from the factory, which should set your mind at ease if you plan to purchase online.

What this means is that the action (the distance from the strings to the fret) is quite low, making it easy to play.

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The Hardware

I’m happy to report that the hardware on the Ibanez GRX20 is durable and doesn’t feel like I’m going to snap it or bend it too easily (which is the case with many entry-level guitars).

The pickups are good but not excellent. The good news, however, is that if you plan on playing rock or heavy metal, it shouldn’t make too much difference to you in the beginning.

The strap nuts were a bit loose for me and I’ve heard from others the same complaint. This isn’t a big deal, it just means I’ve had to readjust and tighten them from time to time. It’s not a big deal unless you plan to play on stage.

The Sound

Personally, I’m not much of a heavy metal guy but I can appreciate the tone of any guitar no matter what style. The thing about this type of guitar (or most electric guitars for that matter) is that you’re more than likely going to want to invest in a good amplifier to compliment the look and sound of the Ibanez guitar. What you buy will have a big impact on final sound.

Overall, however, I think that the Ibanez produces a tone that matches that of the Stratocaster but at a lesser price.

It’s important to note that what plays best on this guitar is a grunge sound. If you’re wanting something more clean for jazz or blues, consider the Squier Telecaster or the Epiphone Les Paul.

Color Options

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, you have two options when you’re looking at the Ibanez GRX20: black and dark blue.

Both options are a high gloss finish with pick guards and headstocks that match the color. The colored headstock is quite uncommon and makes for a very unique look when compared with other electric guitars.

Ibanez GRX20 blue                        Ibanez GRX20 Black electric guitar

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Final Thoughts on the GRX20

Are youe looking to purchase your first electric guitar?  Or do you want to add a rock guitar to your collection without breaking the bank?  The Ibanez GRX20 is a great option.

You’re going to get a guitar that will last.  And at a price that is pretty much the lowest you’ll want to go. Any guitar priced lower than this just won’t be a good guitar, that much I can guarantee you.

6 thoughts on “Ibanez GRX20 Review: A Player Review

  1. i have a similar experience to you -but i find the basswood excellent and it rings much better for me than alder mahogany etc – i actually dont get why people put it down including it seems .. you ibanez signature series are featuring basswood as also some japan strats and they absolutely wail -I wish players would just tell the truth about how good basswood sounds Me? i’ve owned 14 les paul customs -12 usa strats 60 jcm 800s (yes 60 )and countless other musical gear -was a storeman for brash/palings and i absolutely know how to get a good tone from an amp ..and i can tell you basswood rocks -it breathes you can feel your instrument wailing ..anyway my five cents

  2. Basswood is becoming ever more popular for guitar manufacturers. It’s a soft wood, so it is easy to cut and is gentle on CNC router bits. It’s easy to sand and paint, all of which translates to less time manufacturing and improved profit margins for the manufacturer.

    When sprayed with a thick polyurethane top coat, it improves the robustness of the soft wood.

    Tonally, if Ibanez are happy to use it in their top-end guitars, they must be happy with it.

    In fact, the only knocks I’ve heard about basswood is that the strap pins pull out fairly frequently if abused.

    Now, having said all that, I was presented with a choice between a basswood Jackson and a mahogany Ibanez RG421, I did go for the mahogany Ibanez ;-p

  3. i think these are fantastic guitars. I bought a used one but the grx40 and I was shocked with the Price. I paid around 50 dollars used and the guitar stays in tune very well even with the tremolo. Please you need to set up the guitar, its important. Yesterday I bought a second one this time a 20 grx. I cleaned it up, polished , oil on the fretboard, polished my frets and the guitar looks fantastic. I bought a new set of strings which I will install after I go home from work. I can wait!! The set up was terrible, but you can lower the strings very much and after polishing the frets and fretboard, the guitar will scream! The second one I got it for 40 dollars aprox.

  4. I own a gr20 and 2 grx40 and I love them. I’ve had les Paul’s and fenders and these are sweet guitars. I even own a 540s and I play my lower price grx20 and grx40 more. They are that good.

  5. I never played too much rather for hobby house relaxing.
    But tried several other guitars amd found the GIO was feeling great in my fingers allowing me to enjoy while learning.
    Don’t know if all were made the same but mine was enjoyable to play. No needed of hard press in the fingers.
    Tried some friend expensive for a while and noticed were made by someone who plays as lot they were hard to get a clean note without pressing hard the string in the frets.
    Tried with different strings. The GIO has the space from the strings to the frets really close but as still in the high notes were soft to play and enough space to made a clean note.
    In the world today big companies create bad comments and use a lot of media to make bad reputation for new brands or overseas manufacturing. ALL FOR THE MONEY.
    I understand in the 50’s, up to the 80’s where still the companies were fabricating in USA, because the quality was great in those years.
    After that technologies were exported to other countries specially to China and the manufacturing in United States came to the bottom.
    I growth listening my parents about the United States great products from a single pen to a car.
    Today even the services in the restaurants are not comparable with for instance the Mexican restaurants
    Including the weapons. The best firearms today are imported.
    Point: to learn you don’t need an expensive guitar. Get a new one when you believe the one you have is not enough for your knowledge and skills. If you want one wait and get the second between the best you believe and keep it. You won’t do nothing buying several guitars to use as an exposition at home. You won’t impress nobody unless you know how to play good.
    And pray for the industries to comeback to the country unless you want the UNION converted in a country depending of imports (IT IS LIKE BE AN SLAVE)

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