Ibanez introduced the RG series in 1987. The RG has since become arguably the brand's most recognizable line, known for simplicity, speed, and durability. The RGIB6 Baritone is part of the "iron label" collection of RG guitars, a sub species touted as being optimized for metal players.
Ibanez bills the RGIB6 as the ultimate baritone electric for metal and rock enthusiasts and as a top notch working musician’s instrument. Does the RGIB6 live up to its manufacturer's claims? Is it the electric baritone baritone for you? We’ve got five reasons that the answer to both questions should be yes.
Oh, and reason five contains one of the boldest claims we’ve ever placed in an electric baritone review.
Reason One: Solid quality on a working musician’s budget
The RG Iron Label Baritone punches above its price category when it comes to design and quality of build. You can expect your RGIB6 to feature solid fretwork, without rough edges or stray spots of adhesive, and a great finish without blemish. Like all of its Ibanez RG cousins, the RGIB6 is a balanced and comfortable guitar.
At $699.99, this baritone is not in the cheap category, but it is also not out of the question for a working musician serious about his or her craft. Thanks to the clean design and solid build we’ve come to expect from the RG series, the Iron Label RGIB6 seems to have hit the mark in the “quality you can afford” category.
Reason Two: The RGIB6 has all the features you need (unless you need a flashy design)
Now, if you find yourself attracted to flashier guitars, this Ibanez baritone may not be your cup of tea. It is the opposite of a BC Rich Warlock or anything with a Flying V or Explorer body. The RGB6's almost mirror-black finish, right angles, and binding give it a simple-but-sharp suit and tie vibe.
Even the electronics are simple, perhaps even stripped down. The Iron label RGIB6 features a volume knob and a three way selector. If the lack of a tone knob leaves you perplexed, try and recall the last time you needed to use the tone knob on any guitar.
For those of you that like bullet points, here is a list of features the folks at Ibanez have packed into the Iron Label Baritone:
All things considered, the build and design of the Ibanez Iron Label Baritone is a study in quality and simplicity. No fret markers, no tone knob, no wacky design quirks. The RGIB6 is truly a working musician’s ax that delivers on functionality.
Reason Three: Kill switch
There is one exception to the Iron Label Baritone’s ethic of simplicity - the kill switch. The kill switch is a simple toggle switch that shuts on and off the guitar’s output. It’s a fun and useful effect employed by folks as diverse as Tom Buck of REM and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. Searching for “kill switch guitar” on youtube will give you numerous examples of the effect in action.
The effect is as distinctive as it is addictive - so have fun but don’t overuse it. Thankfully, the folks at Ibanez have placed the kill switch out of the way on the lower bout of the guitar, so unless you are doing a crappy Pete Townsend windmill impression, you shouldn’t worry about accidentally hitting the switch. On a less thankful note, it’s a toggle switch. In our opinion, old school buttons generally work better for kill switches, because they offer a more quick-firing action.
Reason Four: Idyllic metal and creamy rock tones
The RGIB6 delivers crisp high output lead tones through its EMG 81 bridge position ceramic humbucker. The combination of the EMG 81 with the guitar’s basswood body and scale length make for a guitar whose output has a strong attack and a balanced response, with notes remaining defined even in high output situations - it’s the perfect tonal weapon for your hardest hitting rock numbers.
Things get interesting when the neck position pickup is engaged. Many purveyors of rock-oriented guitars have opted for two EMG 81 pickups - doubling down on the high output, modern sound. With the Iron Label baritone, Ibanez has opted for an EMG 60 ceramic humbucker in the neck. The EMG 60 offers slightly more subdued tones, more akin to a higher output Les Paul. In this way, the RGIB6 offers more versatile tones than similar guitars equipped with a pair of EMG 81s.
Reason Five: It’s the most shred-ready baritone on the market
Now, anytime you say that a given guitar is the “most [insert any desired quality] on the market,” someone somewhere is bound to have a contrary opinion. However, I am going crown the Ibanez Iron Label RGIB6 as the most shred-ready baritone on the market for the following reasons:
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