Many affordable guitars claim to be made for the hardest types of rock and roll and metal. The manufacturers refer to them with provocative words such as tan axe, beast or some other nonsense. Yet there are few that actually live up to their adjectives and names. The Ibanez GRX20ZBKN, a guitar with a serial number for a name, actually does a decent job of living up to the description. Let’s take a closer look and see what makes this instrument stand out amongst all the others.
The body of the very specifically named GRX20ZNKN is a mix of things. Yet when looking at it you can see the influence the classical Stratocaster design had on the manufacturers. Attractive, full bodied guitar with pick guitars, and a C shaped neck. Something you can recognize right? Well, that is not a bad thing at all. Having a strat copy doesn’t mean you’re any less better than a strat owner. This guitar might actually beat the strats in its price category.
The body of the guitar is constructed out of basswood. This wood is traditional among the affordably priced guitars because of how easily available and cheap the hardwood is. Despite this the hardwood has many other qualities that make such an attractive buy. The tonewood is known to be very light, meaning that even the full bodied strat style guitar will not have a problem being light in your hands. Basswood is also known for its warm tone and resonance with the bass range of sound, a very attractive feature indeed. Unfortunately all of this comes with a price: basswood is a very soft wood. The softness means that its resistance to dents and scratches from collision is very low. Easily avoidable if you get a nice gig bag and pay attention to where you are going.
The neck of the guitar is constructed out of maple. This material is also quite traditional in the cheaper guitar manufacturing world. Maple is known to be extremely sturdy, meaning that the neck will only benefit from this hardwood. Collisions, dents, scratches are no match to the famous maple. The neck is bolt on, as is expected of an affordable guitar like this, though it is not much of a problem. The rosewood fretboard is a pretty, dark colour and is rather smooth and easy to play.
First, let’s talk the bridge on this beauty. The FAT6 vibrato bridge/ tailpiece is an amazing thing especially at this price. You get a very solid bridge, easy to string through and with it comes a vibrato bar. Play around with the sound as much as you like, except consider, that on cheap guitars like this tuning stability might be a bit of an issue.
The nut on the guitar is, as expected, plastic. I have said many times and I will say it again, plastic is not that good a nut material, unless it is a specific type of synthetic material built specifically for this purpose. You get a nice harmony, but string buzz might be a danger.
The tuning machine on this little monstrosity is the weakest point. While the rest of the guitar might be solid, this item is unstable and has a tendency to lose tuning every few days. Cut that time down in half or more, if you use the vibrato too much.
The guitar is gifted with two very interesting humbuckers. The Powersound PSND1 Humbucker and the Powerfusound PSND2 humbucker, located and the neck and bridge of the guitar, respectively. These tiny electronic beasts are not the top of the line among humbuckers, but they are definitely something of luxury for a beginner. Powerful, clean sound with the ability to go as heavy as a beginner guitarist can reasonably dare. Just watch out that the pickups don’t go flat without you noticing it.
The controls are pretty standard. There are a couple knobs for controlling volume and intensity, as well as lever for controlling which pickup, or the combination of them, is playing. Very useful, nothing out of the ordinary though.
Despite the string buzz and the tendency to get out of tune, the guitar has a great sound. The humbuckers and the basswood combine into a beautiful, deep and yet energetic sound. Warm to the ear you will be pleased to no end, especially when you hit the distortion to its full extent. This guitar has great potential to be a great metal guitar, and yet its versatility allows for something for softer as well. Definitely a sound for a beginner that knows what they want.
Overall a very decent guitar, especially for the money you will be giving up to get it. Beginners be excited because there is rarely a guitar this cheap that is also this ambitious. Definitely recommended, though if you are a professional player I would suggest you go on to look somewhere else.