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
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.