The Ibanez RG5EX1 Electric Guitar Review

The Ibanez RG5EX1

The Ibanez RG5EX1

My Ibanez Electric Guitar Story

I have been playing Ibanez electric guitars since 1985, when while on a vacation to Europe, I could not stand being without a guitar for the three weeks I would be traveling. So I asked at the hotel front desk for the guitar store in Amsterdam with the best selection. The responder said to go to Dikjman Muzikinstrumenten.

I walked for about 20 minutes and located the store. Once inside I was faced with a wall of guitars, probably about 250 different models in both acoustic and electric. I spent about ten minutes perusing the inventory, and sighted an Ibanez, dual-humbucking model, based slightly upon the Gibson SG but rounder and smaller body contours.

The neck-through body construction was solid and when I plugged it in and played it, I stopped looking. The action was low, the pickups growled when turned up, and sang sweetly when turned down. In addition this guitar had coil-tapping switches for each of the pickups, to afford that famous out-of-phase sound so prevalent even today

The cost out the door, (remember in 1985 the Dutch were still exchanging Guilders not Euros), and at 3-1/2 guilders to the dollar I purchased the guitar, a soft case, a guitar cord, guitar picks, a Personal Studio, battery-powered headphone amplifier with reverb, distortion and chrous effects, for a grand total of $200.00 USD.

Fast-Forward To 2008

So now it’s 2008, and I’m still playing this Ibanez, but wanted one with a Floyd-Rose type whammy bar to have fun wiggling notes, and dive-bombing notes down low, then back to normal pitch, without detuning the strings. My favorite sales manager at the local Guitar Center, saw me trying out the Satriani-Model Ibanez guitars on the floor. I really liked the style and playability of these, but the prices were too high for my budget.

Then he said, “you know what, I have a guitar in the back that is last years model, and a model designation down from the Satriani series, and at a reduced cost”. I said, I’m willing to check it out. He disappeared for about 30 minutes, (!) and I was getting ready to leave, when he produced a cardboard carton with the RG5EX1 inside. When I picked up the guitar I was greeted with a silky, satiny neck, with wide frets and low action.

I plugged it in and went throught the pickup selections. This one has the 5-way switch, and positions two and four give you that out-of-phase coil tapped sound I liked. The locking nut and locking Whammy bar tailpiece has the Floyd-Rose like fine tuners, so you unlock the nut-clamps, 3-each allen bolts, one per pair of strings, unscrew the fine tuners alll the way out, tune the guitar to pitch, lock the nut again, and fine tune to pitch.

This guitar is flat out fast! With low action, a wide neck and wide flat frets, the hand falls comfortably onto the strings, and string pressure required is minimal to sound clean ringing notes. The strings stay in tune, and the pickups arrangement (Humbucker at the bridge, Single-coil in the middle, and Humbucker at the neck), all deliver stinging lead tones and mellow chords when strummed.

This particular guitar was list priced at over $740.00, but my friend the manager said, this is last years model, it’s a bit dusty, how about $410.00 tax included. I said….ahhhhh SOLD! I decided to not purchase a case for this one, as it would stay off the road. I have recently purchased a RoadRunner semi-hard case for traveling. This guitar just gets better with time. I enjoy rocking-out, or playing slow ballads, with the powerful array of tones available.

If you are looking for a reasonably priced guitar, that has a range of tones, and that dive-bombing whammy bar, check out the Ibanez RG5EX1. You will not be disappointed!

Please leave me a comment below, what you liked, or did not like about this review?

Respectfully, Nicholas


  • Basswood body
  • 3-piece maple neck
  • Wizard II neck profile
  • 25-1/2″ scale
  • 24 jumbo frets
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Sharktooth inlay
  • Reverse headstock
  • Edge III tremolo bridge
  • INF3 humbucker neck pickup
  • INFS3 single coil mid pickup
  • INF4 humbucker bridge pickup
  • Tone and volume controls
  • 5-way pickup switch



23 Responses

  1. Please leave me a comment! Respectfully, Nicholas

  2. I like your review. I myself just bought this same guitar and love the feel and the action, I feel the pick ups are a bit high but the over all sound is great. I am having one problem? I can not get it to stay in tune. I changed out the strings to Ernie Ball 9’s as suggested and can still not get it to tune up. The trem is ballanced with the body and I get it in tune then lock it down and the notes are droping, I then fine yune it but with every string fine tuned it is pulling the others out. Any advise for this problem? I have a realy good friend that has an 80’s model with a Floyd Rose and he was amazed with this piece, he checked it out and is stumped also with why this is not staying in tune. With his he tunes it locks it down and can leave it for an amount of time unplayed and it is still in tune. We are both stumped as to how to get this to stay so I can play. Sorry about the questions but your reveiw was great and thought you may have went thru this at one point.

    • I had bought this guitar about a year ago. Loved it in the store… I have been playing guitar for a long time, but never owned a floyd rose. so being a total newbie to that, i promptly cut the stock strings off of it, and blamo… had a miserable time getting it back in tune. Now I know what i did wrong… Make sure you stretch the strings aggressively and tune it up, stretch them some more…. i tuned the e strings then worked my way in to the middle. after some fine tuning after locking the nut down it is the sweetest guitar I own (9 guitars in all)…

  3. That’s awesome!!! I look for acoustic guitars for my boyfriend.And how to choose it.Which brands is the best ?I saw many web about this but your web is the best for me.Thank you.

    • There is no “one” brand of guitar that is the best. It is subjective. Ibanez is good though, that was actually my first guitar.

  4. I love my RG5EX1. It has stayed in tune since I got it almost a year ago… amazing. I have an urge to put a pickguard on it… but of course there is no standard pickguard to choose from. I am having to order tracings of other guards to see if it will fit.
    Any direction or ideas?

  5. Hi there…My blog isn’t about guitars but I play guitar too…I like your blog. could you put me into your “friends website”? email me at so i’ll put yours too…:)

    Good job sir!

  6. Just picked up the RG5EX1last night. Played a few different, more expensive models while I was there and found myself going back to the RG5EX1. I loved the smooth feel of the neck. I thought the white binding around the neck was a nice enhancement too.I picked up the flat black model. With the dark color, the almost black sharktooth inlays on the fretboard & the pewter colored hardware, it has a really goth look to it. I tried this model on a little Marshall practice amp. No Fx pedals, straight through the amp. The pick ups had such a hot sound to them. I couldn’t believe they were just stock pick ups. The guitar tech did a pretty descent job setting up the action, but I think I can do a little tinkering with it to make it lower. This model may not be one of their most expensive guitars, but with the right set up, it plays great. The guys @ Guitar Center in Cherry Hill N.J., gave me a great deal on this guitar. I got it for $349.00, before taxes. I forgot to mention that this is a new guitar, not used. They even gave me a great price on a gig bag too. That’s why I keep going back to those guys, they’re the best!

  7. I prefer Gibsons ES 335 guitar for that homey traditional sound.

  8. I bought this guitar this weekend, I started playing back in the 80’s on Kramers, when they went out of business, I switched to Gibsons, and Fenders. I got tired of hearing my son’s friends rave about their Ibanez guitars, so I decided to check it out. Walked into Guitar Center told the sales guy what I used to play and what I play now, and I wanted to check out the Ibanez guitars. He walked over to the wall picked up a RG5EX1 and asked me what amp I used, took me to a glass room with a Marshall close to mine. The trem system is really close to the floyd pro, and the pickup’s are decent for stock, and action down the fretboard one word WOW!!! I’m a fan now!!!

  9. I have owned a couple of nice Ibanez electrics in my time. Nice to play, great sound and highly recommended.

  10. I had an Ibanez for a few years, but now have a Musicman Axis.

    Rock on!

  11. i like your review! i always love reverse headstock, and also i love ibanez guitars, even their low end guitars sounds and feel better than other hi end brand guitars..

  12. hey to all of you that hate this guitar!!! i dive bomb it all night long and have no problems with it at all and the action on it is great! maby if you were a little mechanically inclined you could figure this beautiful guitar out and for the price you cant beat it. you did a great review and agree with you on all!

  13. hey to all of you that hate this guitar!!! i dive bomb it all night long and have no problems with it at all and the action on it is great! maby if you were a little mechanically inclined you could figure this beautiful guitar out and for the price you cant beat it. you did a great review and agree with you on all!

  14. i like your review! i always love reverse headstock, and also i love ibanez guitars, even their low end guitars sounds and feel better than other hi end brand guitars..

  15. Hey there. When I was 14 (I’m 16 now) I got this guitar for Christmas. I wasn’t very much into guitar but I had been looking into starting to learn. When I started playing it, I didn’t know very much about guitars or the accessories and never noticed how rusty the strings were. So whenever I tried to play a chord, it sounded wrong and I thought I was doing things wrong. I eventually got frustrated and put down the guitar until this past Summer. By now, I learned that the strings were extremely rusty and I had to get them replaced. I got some Light Elixer strings and tried to restring it with my friend who has been playing for over 6 years. He replaces all his friend’s guitar strings and he’s known as the one to go to when help is needed. He was completely stumped when he tried to string this guitar. Every time we had three strings tuned perfectly, the other three would be horribly out of tune. At one point the bridge was almost perpendicular with the body. We eventually put it down in frustration. Then back in September, the person who gave me the guitar taught me how to restring it. It was incredibly complicated for someone who had never strung a guitar like this but semi-simple for people who knew this guitar style specifically. After 30 minutes of stringing and learning, it was in tune. Perfectly. And it has not needed retuning since.

    I love this guitar. It is my prized possession and everyone around my town wants it. I never want to take off the tune locks but luckily for me, I can use the fine tuning knobs to change it from standard tuning to drop D, which are the two tuning styles I use most frequently, without messing the other strings up. This guitar looks and sounds just beautiful. My amp does not do it justice. Because of this guitar, I have advanced in guitar skill quite quickly, as I play it for hours a day when possible. I’m looking into getting a louder, better amp to make everyone in the neighborhood happy with the spectacular sound of this guitar.

    The stringing and tuning complication is completely worth it.

  16. It’s tough trying to pick out a guitar! Especially for beginners, and a friend has recommended a guitar from Ibanez. I really don’t understand the different, but curious to see what your thoughts are on the Ibanez ag75?

    • Hi Tatum,
      It really comes down to the kind of guitar that just feels correct for your style of music. Visiting a guitar store is critical to getting everything that you want in a guitar. Going with a friend who plays guitar will help as they can point out positive and negative features of several guitars. My first guitar was an acoustic, and I played it for hours before trading in my saxophone for an electric guitar and amp. Buy a guitar that stays in tune, is easy to play, ie neck radius is not to large to get your hand around.comfortably.

      Here are two link to sites for beginners and how to choose that first guitar : and

      Hope this helps you select that perfect first guitar.

  17. Hello Nachase, It is Darmelan from i really like your review of the Ibanez RG5EX1 Electric, i only had the chance to play this guitar a few times and i would rather say even the heaven rocks to its tunes:)

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  19. The sound is quite good considering the price. It is nothing special but isn’t bad. The neck humbucker has quite a nice round sound to it but is very muddy if you use it on lower strings. The bridge humbucker is nothing special though does make the notes squeal with a bit of coaxing (half pinch harmonics etc). The middle single coil is a bit pointless as it doesn’t sound good as a single coil for playing with lots of drive and the volume knob on the guitar on full. And if you do get a sort of bluesy sound then this pickup sounds too metally so I think it is a bit useless, apart from when combined with the bridge it sounds very good for a clean setting. The sustain on this guitar is not good, as notes end up dying in about 5 seconds. Overall the sound is not bad, but is nothing special.

  20. Isn’t it rad coming across those old gems? A friend of mine had a similar incident, only he came across one of the LAW SUIT Les Pauls, basically new in a second hand store.

    Holy crap it is also amazing. Ibanez make such good guitars it always amazes me that they are not used as much across all genre rather than the heavier end of things.

    Thanks for this post man, i’m going to go dig out my RG!

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