Okay, so I have to admit I have a few hang-ups about the venerable floating trem system of 80’s metal guitar ubiquity. Those of you who were twiddling in that era will know all about the pros and cons of an enterprising solution that on one hand let you perform utterly outrageous, electric whale-song dive bombs, while at the same time leaving you completely at the mercy of unexpected and cruel string breakage incidents that could leave a shredding virtuoso looking like a plum – and left holding a guitar rendered instantly unplayable. A double-edged axe to say the least.
However, I’ve recently come to suspect the following; firstly, that most of my issues with the locking trem system arise from fighting with a guitar equipped with a horrible licensed copy and secondly, things have moved on an awful, awful lot since then!
Enter the succinctly named RG470AHZ from Ibanez. This instrument is a far cry from the ill-engineered planks of rock guitar yesteryear; it hails from a new breed based on a design that has truly served with distinction for over two decades, and has a modern trem system that far outstrips its predecessors. The idea of locking the string at both ends remains, but the quality of the design and components is very much superior. The Edge Zero II bridge on this guitar is a two point fulcrum system and in this way is familiar but it has several innovations – for example, changing the tension is achieved via a simple finger tightened roller on the back of the guitar. No more unscrewing the back plate and stripping a vital screw with a screwdriver that, let’s be honest, isn’t the right size and is too pointy. You know you’ve all done it.
Another interesting idea is the ZPS system. This consists of a sprung stop bar placed behind the block that – should the worst happen and a string break mid solo – will help keep the overall tension and maintain tuning. This system is of course not infallible, but it is a definite step in the right direction for those looking for a bit more confidence in their insane-solo-capable rock guitar.
So, onto the sounds – and this guitar has a good few up its sleeves. I couldn’t resist playing it through the new, limited edition Orange Union Jack finish Rockerverb 50 head, and both clean and distorted sounds are very well served by the RG470AHZ’s INF series pickups. The HSH configuration coupled with a five-way switch gives you access to single coil middle, neck and middle, bridge and middle sounds as well as full on bridge and neck humbucker tones. Perfect for the metal and rock player who wants a versatile beast for the odd Gilmour solo or clean funky strummathon. Whichever sound chosen, the Wizard III neck serves as a skinny and comfortable platform for solos and rhythm playing alike, with the usual Ibanez quality of finish and playability.
Finished with a very fetching natural ash, the Ibanez RG470AHZ is a great little rocker which punches well above its sub £500 price tag. And it goes some way towards laying to rest the ghosts of my late 80’s whammy bar nightmare…..!