1987 called, it wants its shredder back! Well, maybe you can ignore the call for a little while…The Ibanez Genesis Collection RG550 is an earnest attempt to recreate one of modern metal’s most iconic guitars at price point that doesn’t gag you with a spoon. Does it bite?
The Genesis Collection RG550 is perhaps one of the best remodel guitars on the market, fully capturing the firebrand scream of the original RG550 while providing enough tonal versatility to work in different genres and styles.
|“Super Wizard” neck profile allows for warp speed shredding||Edge tremolo might require setup and maintenance|
|Pickup configuration allows for versatile tonal capability||Price point is on the higher end, not a budget guitar|
|Edge tremolo bridge is stunningly capable||Does one thing incredibly well and several things very well, but if you’re not into hard rock, you might want a guitar that sounds and looks a bit more versatile|
|Aesthetic is 80’s MTV…in the best way possible|
The Ibanez RG550 is a seminal guitar in the history of rock and metal. Released in 1987, the RG550 quickly became known as a workhorse for hard rock tones, producing a growl that was as cutting as it was organic. The guitar became a favorite of Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel and world-renowned musician, luthier, and guitar tastemaker Phillip McKnight, to name just a few.
The original RG550 boasted a basswood body, single-piece maple Wizard neck, Ibanez Vintage pickups, and a smoldering tremolo bridge. The Japan-manufactured instrument was meant to be affordable and tour-ready (the original name for the RG series was “Roadstar Deluxe”. Due to its sustainable build and reasonable price point, the RG550 came to signify the pinnacle of hard rock passion: where craft meets performance.
More than thirty years later, the RG550 has been given a full on Robocop upgrade. The workhorse of metal has been given a new five piece “Super Wizard” maple neck, a collection of humbucking and single coil pickups, Gotoh locking tuners, and an Ibanez Edge tremolo system that’s downright biblical.
At a reasonable price, the RG550 is a revamp of a golden oldie that not only matches its original, but supersedes its counterpart’s abilities. Let’s dive in.
Why We Like It
The Ibanez Genesis Collection RG550 is a concoction of nostalgia and sleek, modern ability. It’s capable of providing the hardest, most cutting metal tones in one moment, and a smooth clean rhythm section in the next. And though looks aren’t everything, this guitar is just gorgeous to look at; not too stately, not too eye-popping, just the right amount of Twist for this Sister (they’re still cool…aren’t they?)
Let’s get into what makes Genesis RG550 such a standout. While the Genesis (also made in Japan) borrows the sharp devil horn double cutaway style from the original RG550, the Genesis has now upgraded the original’s one piece maple neck with a five piece, laminated “Super Wizard” profile neck. The neck has a daring “C” to “D” profile, beginning in the rounder formation at the headstock, and flattening as it approaches the body. The 24 jumbo frets rest on a maple fingerboard that allows for easy navigation, shredding, and bending.
Uh-oh, did someone say, “bending”!? At the bridge is perhaps the most signature and metal element of this gorgeous machine, the Ibanez Edge Tremolo System. The Ibanez Edge system is nothing short of guitar ambrosia; a luscious steering wheel of pitch, tone, and squeal that carries an unholy amount of expression. Aficionados, beginners, and anyone in between will marvel at the Edge system’s capability.
The guitar’s pickup combination provides fierce capability. The neck and bridge pickups are V7 and V8 Ibanez Humbuckers. Though their high output alnico kick might not be to everyone’s liking, I think they’re both highly capable stock pickups. The middle pickup is an S1 single coil, and it’s a classic single coil mix cutter. The five-way pickup selector gives ample room for experimentation, and the master tone pot can be dialed for further personal precision. The Gotoh locking tuners provide fantastic sustain while shredding, bending, and…”Edging”?
Aside from these bells and whistles, the guitar is just stunning to look at, with luscious primary color finishes, a graceful 80’s “check mark” headstock, and a terrifically industrial black pick guard.
The Genesis RG550 is a powerhouse instrument that improves upon its predecessor and provides ample tonal versatility. Yet there are some pitfalls with the Genesis, and the biggest one unfortunately lies is one of its greatest strengths: the floating tremolo system.
As fantastic as it is, the bridge requires a more thorough degree of setup and maintenance than most normal guitars. Thanks to the locking tuner system, there aren’t any “Hendrix-on-stage-asking-Clapton-to-help-tune” worries, but the bridge will experience pull when you replace the strings. This will be annoying and overtime might degrade the structural integrity of the bridge and tremolo system. It’s not a one-fix-all solution, but making sure that your string gauge is small enough (10 is the sweet spot) will help ensure that the tension doesn’t overload the bridge.
Another pesky aspect is the price point. The Genesis RG550 isn’t particularly expensive for a guitar, but it’s not allowance money either. This guitar is meant to be a lifelong companion, and therefore is understandable as an investment.
Aside from these caveats, the Genesis RG550 will give you one of the heaviest metal tones you can imagine, and can also do several cleaner styles very well. However, this is a jumbo fret solid body with a floating bridge. Even if you dial in a Les Paul tone, the very design will direct you to play harder. This is a very important distinction to make, and one we touch on often here. Electronics can be changed, playing styles can evolve, and tones can be dialed in, but a guitar’s construction will influence you to make choices that no conscious effort can (and arguably should) radically change.
The Ibanez Genesis Collection RG550 has several different finish option that make it elegantly pop. Among them are Red Flare Red, Desert Sun Yellow, White, and Purple Neon. The finishes aren’t flashy, but rather look like they were pulled from the still frame of a late 80’s music video: saturated, but simple. Upgrade the pickups to your tonal liking, and make sure the strings are light enough for the floating bridge.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the Genesis RG550 with a less intensive tremolo bridge, the Charvel Pro-Mod DK24 is a great choice. Similar to the RG550, the DK24’s tremolo system works well and is an integral part of the guitar’s sound. However, the DK24 lives in a slightly higher price point, so keep that in mind when searching.
he Ibanez Genesis Collection RG550 is a powerhouse guitar that fully delivers on its promise to emulate the original king of all metal tones. The Genesis also expands on the original with a killer pickup selection, a souped up neck, and a floating bridge with a tremolo that will make heads spin. You can also get an exceptionally clear clean tone from it that still cuts through a mix.
The Genesis isn’t exactly cheap and it’s not the easiest guitar to setup and maintain, and it’s meant to take you to shredding Heaven. So be cautious before you purchase, as it’s an investment guitar that, while versatile, is designed to give you a high-gain experience.
All in all, the Genesis Collection RG550 is one of the best bang-for-your-buck guitars on the market, and if you’re into its luscious quirks, you’ll be happy for years to come.
- Top/Back/Body: Basswood body
- Neck Type: Super Wizard5pc Maple/Walnut neck
- Fretboard: Maple fretboard/Black dot inlay
- Number of Frets: 24
- Fret: Jumbo frets
- Bridge: Edge bridge
- String Space: 10.8mm
- Neck Pickup: V7 (H) neck pickupPassive/Ceramic
- Middle Pickup: S1 (S) middle pickupPassive/Alnico
- Bridge Pickup: V8 (H) bridge pickupPassive/Alnico
- Factory Tuning: 1E,2B,3G,4D,5A,6E
- Strings: D’Addario® EXL120
- Nut: Locking nut
Frequently Asked Questions
Though active pickups work well for harder tones, you won’t be missing them in the Genesis Collection RG550. The V7, S1, and V8 passive pickups are perfect for the metal punch.
The “Super Wizard” neck profile on the IBANEZ Genesis Collection RG550 is a unique combination of two common neck profiles: the “C” and “D.” This allow the guitar to have a chunkier anchor in the cowboy area and a shred-ready feel up the neck.
The IBANEZ Genesis Collection RG550 features the Edge locking tremolo system. This bridge allows unparalleled pitch bend and expression, while the guitar’s locking tuners ensure usage in long sessions.
The body of the IBANEZ Genesis Collection RG550 is made of basswood, a great tone wood for warm character guitars, and the same tone wood as used in the original RG550.
While the “Super Wizard” neck profile allows for great shredding capability, the sloping nature of the neck from headstock to body might feel strange to some players. Give it a Guitar Center whirl before making the purchase.
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