Review: Ibanez RG721-FM BIF

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Here’s my quite recently purchased Ibanez: the RG721-FM in Black Ice Flat finish! I wanted a 25,5” scale 6-string again to write and play songs in Drop B. I had some GAS to satisfy and compensate the waiting for a custom guitar, so here we are. Before I go into detail, let’s take a look at the specifications:

Model: RG721-FM BIF

Construction method: bolt-on

Scale length: 25,5”

Body: American basswood

Neck: 5-piece maple/walnut “Wizard” neck

Top: flamed maple

Finish: Black Ice Flat (satin)

Fingerboard: rosewood

Inlays: offset dots

Bridge: Tight-End Ibanez bridge

Tuners: Ibanez

Frets: 24 frets w/ special fret edge treatment

Pickups: Ibanez CAP-VM

Controls: 1 volume, 1 tone, 5-way switch

Feel

The first thing to notice is the exceptionally low weight of this instrument, which is one of the main points that I really like on this. The finish feels very smooth overall, although most edges of the body feel a bit pointy. Pointy is understated regarding the lower horn. It literally hurts when you press your finger onto its edges. I don’t know if all the new RG models have such an aggressive shaping, I can’t remember my first-generation Iron Label RG to be that pointy. Enough pointyness. The Wizard neck feels great. A big plus is the special fret edge treatment. The frets are perfectly round and truly the best I’ve ever experienced. I really like the Tight-End bridge, it is not only comfortable, it also looks better than the standard Gibraltar bridges on mid-budget Ibanez’s in my opinion. I absolutely adore that flamed maple top in Black Ice finish, the binding is also lovely and gives the guitar a really classy look. The neck actually has binding too, which you can barely see because it’s wood but is a nice detail to me. The back isn’t boring either since the finish is slightly see-through so you can actually see the texture of the basswood body.

Something that really turns me off is some crackling sound coming from inside the headstock, like something’s loose or so I still haven’t found out. Also I’m pretty sure the trussrod screw got botched after turning it for the first setup after purchase. I’ll take a look at that when I’m filming the review video. Another minus is neck stability. When you play an open note and lift the guitar horizontally, holding it on the body and upper neck, the note actually goes noticeably flat because there’s that much movement of the neck. I’d expect more of a 5-piece neck. Not sexy.

To end this with a positive aspect, I have to mention that the playability and string action is very good though!

Sound

Not much to say about the sound, really. It’s a mid-budget Ibanez. If you’re expecting to enter the world of a total crispy-candy-chuggy sound you’re not spending enough money. Regarding the price tag though, it doesn’t sound bad at all, don’t get me wrong. For a live-guitar it is totally sufficient, tracking is also very okay. I’m slightly disappointed by the 5-way switch, of which I expected a more broad variation in sounds, but the difference of the various positions is not really that big honestly. You get a nice crunchy sound on position 4 though. To the guitar’s defence, this is probably due to the wiring since it’s not the single coil of each humbucker in position 2 and 4 that is selected but it’s the inner coils on position 2 and the neck pickup in parallel connection on position 4.

Verdict

I like and enjoy the guitar, but it’s definitely and honestly not my dream 6-string, I’m still frowning from time to time. I’m not sure if it has something to do with that I’m used to a quality level of my Carvin or if Ibanez’s quality really is decreasing. I feel like they started to build (at first sight) fancy looking guitars that are not as good anymore at what Ibanez always were amazing: strict functionality and pure performance.