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Microphone Month 2

Guitar of the Day: Ibanez RG550XH Blue Sparkle

Ibanez’s RG-series guitars have long been a staple among rock and metal guitarists. Sleek styling, fast playability, dive-bomb-capable tremolo systems, and massive tones are all hallmarks of the RG series. Ibanez took their latest update, the RG550XH Blue Sparkle in a totally unexpected direction: they added six extra frets to the upper register of their 24-fret design. Yes, that’s a 30-fret guitar!

The basswood body has a hyper-extended cutaway, which allows easy access to the extra frets. The resulting wicked-looking horn that is created from this deep cut looks more like a sickle or sling-blade and really gives this guitar a distinctive look. More importantly, the upper register notes sound amazing, are totally infectious to play, and the frets are surprisingly easy to navigate despite their small spacing. Another plus: the extra frets are like guides for super-high touch harmonics.

The 3-piece maple Wizard III-XH neck is slim and lightning-fast, with plenty of substance for grabbing chords. The rosewood fretboard, with an exacting 15.748″ radius, and the neck’s 25.5″ scale length also add to this guitar’s shred-ability. Make no mistake, the RG550XH is built for speed.

The Cosmo black, Edge Zero II locking tremolo features the Zero Point System for rock-solid tuning and flawless performance, no matter how much whammy abuse you can dish out. A great addition to this tremolo system is the ZPS3Fe spring-tension adjustment dial. Located in an easy-access panel on the back of the guitar, the ZPS3Fe allows for instant tremolo spring tension adjustment, for dialing in that just-right tremolo feel or readjusting tension for drop-tunings.

The bridge pickup is Ibanez’s Infinity IV humbucker, a passive pickup with a large, ceramic magnet for monster distortion tones that are fat and clear when played with a clean sound. The bridge pickup splits to single-coil when combined with the Infinity III passive, single-coil pickup; which is spaced in what would normally be considered the middle pickup position. So, where is the neck pickup and why is there a 5-way switch on a two-pickup guitar? The answer is Ibanez’s neck pickup simulator circuit. Utilizing the output of the bridge pickup, it’s a 9-volt, active EQ circuit that is engaged when the 5-way pickup selector is in either positions one or two, convincingly simulating single-coil and humbucking neck pickup sounds.

If shred is your game, the 30-fret, Ibanez RG550XH Blue Sparkle has the look, feel and sound to take you there and beyond.

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