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Ibanez RGA42FM

 
The Ibanez RGA42FM is a mahogany solid body archtop loaded with active LoZ3 pickups and a active EQ circuit that is bypass switchable. It also features a Gibraltar fixed bridge for extra stability and sustain.


Price: $223 to $331 at 3 stores
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Mahagony bodied tone with active EQ cutting power. featured

Sound So after testing the Matt Bachand MBM1 RGA Prestige, i've been getting the fever more and more for these comfortable arched top RGA models (especially now that the 2010 models are tremolo equipped and have the snazzy new inlays instead of dots!) So, I decided after some more extensive testing of this RGA42FM to enter in this review. I tested it on a 6505 combo, Mesa Mark V combo, and for testing just how clean the active EQ is; a Fender Blues junior.

Like it's expensive brother, the thick mahogany tones roar to life (but not the same as the EMGs...); the LoZ3 pickups lack a little bit of character and luster even with the tone knob wide open. Gain is extreme. Thankfully the thick maple cap balances the tone quite well. After some tedious tone tweaking its pretty easy to find great tones with this axe. Bass presence is tremendous and blends with the low mids in what one might call "thick and honkin"...its pure mahogany tone for sure - you wouldn't mistake it for a basswood RG! On high gain settings and shredding or riffing, it's difficult to tell when you have the active EQ engaged; while the LoZ3 pickups are definitely more clear and refined than the INF series (very similar to the EMG selects) the active EQ acts more to clear up high frequencies than a booster or anything. This helps more with clean tones than gain. This became more obvious on the Mesa than the gutter gain monster 6505, and even moreso on the pure clean Fender. The neck pickup sings out for solos (dark, and a little hard to balance, but not too hard...easy to get used to once the amp is EQ'd at volume) The bridge pickup is also dark, but cuts through excellently. The guitar is balanced incredibly well, clarity is not the issue at ALL! Thankfully, unlike the muddy and mucky INF pickups you have to account for the dark tone wood by playing with the amp's EQ. This is quite refreshing actually. By having tones of tone and clarity on tap, you get to just EQ and find the right presence until you hit that perfect sweet spot, then BLAMO - tone city.

Clean tones are AMAZING. I'd actually prefer this system to the EMG actives. While they aren't passive pickups and you don't have a coil splitting option, the active EQ gives it a more more chiming and organic feel because it isn't boosting the preamp into the stratosphere. The mahogany body gives the guitar a rich and dark tone which you just WANT to hear but the maple cap balances the chime out nicely. Finding awesome clean tones were much much easier than dialing in gain thanks to the dark tonal balance of the guitars wood.

My one complaint is that the active EQ switch is REALLY REALLY tiny and stiff - very difficult to hit, even casually. While it's super sturdy, I couldn't imagine dealing with it if I were on stage and in a fast passage of a song; it would be next to impossible.


Action, Fit, & Finish Finish - awesome. Period. The flame top looks great, and the body lines of the arched body makes it stand out even more! The binding on the maple cap and fretboard make for a very classy and attractive axe, especially in it's price range. The guitar just says "Play me - I'm cool." I'm kinda glad it doesn't have sharktooth inlays versus the dots, although the dots look kinda cheesy, but the new models have SUPER cool inlays...so that's a plus. The Gibraltar bridge is very very stable, but during my testing it fell out of tune multiple times, which is kinda -meh-...my PGM301 never goes out of tune and it has a less hefty version of a Gibraltar. The action was very good, could use a setup but better than most RG's i've handled fresh from the factory; a definite plus! The lacquer looked great and thick which is good for black guitars, it looked much much better than the MBM1 I tested, I wouldn't trust the finish on it for 3 months on stage.


Reliability & Durability The RGA42FM would be a GREAT investment for a guitarist of any level of playing. It's sleek, stylin', plays GREAT, the neck profile is awesome, and has awesome tone. With the Gibraltar bridge you don't have to worry about constant setup issues and while my tester slipped out of tune a couple of times that's not to say it might have needed a break in. I would say the RGA series is awesome, and the flamed maple topped one is the one to get. Two thumbs way up!


Customer Support Ibanez and their dealers are great. I've been one! Always fast and friendly.


Liked about it 1) Thick mahogany tones!
2) Awesome looks and archtop curves
3) Excellent clean tones


Didn't like 1) Really hard to hit the EQ toggle; it's small and the switch is stiff
2) Tester fell of of tune. Dunno if it was the tuners or needed a good break in.

Still gets 5 stars. It's priced very well and once EQ'd properly has more clarity than a RG and tones are awesome!


Overall satisfaction:
 
5.0

By SonicProvocateur
Apr 17, 2010
 
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Price: $223 to $331
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Great fixed bridge guitar!

Sound I agree a lot with the previous reviewer on sound. I happened to be in a local music store killing time and decided to try this guitar out. I'm not into active pickups but this guitar sounded great. Very, very clear clean tones with an overall nice balance of clean highs, mids, and defined lows. I might be wrong, but it seems Ibanez has been upping their game on stock pickups, especially on entry-level models. Distorted, this guitar has nice chunk that you'd expect on the low end with a mahogany guitar. The active pickups seem to keep it clean. As stated previously, the maple top seems to balance the sound out nice. The sound is a tad weak, though, with the EQ bypassed.


Action, Fit, & Finish Setup was okay out of the gate. After a quick tuneup it seemed to stay in tune fairly well. Better machine heads would improve tuning stability. I LOVE the new Gibraltar bridge! I have it on my RG7321 and it's equally nice on a six-string. Very comfortable and easy to maintain and setup! It seems to sustain better than the old Gotoh-style fixed bridge.


Reliability & Durability It seems as durable as any other Indonesian Ibanez. Indy's are very good for the price. Still, it's kind of sad to see there are no production Prestige fixed bridge RGA's made any more. The EQ switch IS tiny and hard to hit on the fly. I didn't buy the guitar so I can't say much on long-term durability. I might buy in the future...


Customer Support N/A


Liked about it 1. Balance. This is a very comfortable fixed bridge.
2. I like the new Gibraltar a lot. Very comfortable and sounds great.
3. Interesting colors available.


Didn't like 1. No passive-pickup version. While the active LoZ3 pickups are nice I would probably gut this guitar and put in passives if I could. This guitar would probably sound SICK with a Super Distortion or a Tone Zone in it.
2. Small EQ switch.
3. Sounds a bit weak without the EQ switch on.


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.0

By mike570
May 31, 2010
 
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Price: $223 to $331
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