Prestige RG5220 or 5120M (Fishman vs Bare Knuckle), opinions please - Jemsite
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  • 1 Post By Frankhenrylee
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 01-14-2020, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2020
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Prestige RG5220 or 5120M (Fishman vs Bare Knuckle), opinions please

New to forum and looking for opinions. I am usually pretty firm on my guitar choices, but this time I am stumped. Because of the price of each guitar, I want to try and make the best decision, as I will never be able to play either guitar live to compare (just not available in stores). I am looking for opinions on the pickup choices that come in each guitar. The specs of each guitar are the same, other than pickups.

Some background, I am a classic metal player (Randy, Maiden, Yngwie, EVH, Lynch). I don't usually play in drop tunes. I have owned many guitars over the years, but currently have an Ibanez Prestige RG652AHM, Charvel DK24, Jackson Soloist, 1987 Ibanez S. The guitars have classic Symour Duncan's or Dimarzio's humbuckers. I am a HH player and have no need for single coil. I play through a Boss Katana head into an old school Peavey cabinet or a 1990 Ampeg VH140C. So I play solid state.

While I play classic metal mostly, I am intrigued by the new progressive high gain metal sounds. Not a fan of the music style per say, but I like the clean, crisp high gain sound.

I love Ibanez prestige guitars by far above all my guitars, the RG652 stands heads and shoulders above the rest. My 652 is an Ash guitar with Dimarzios. I want a Mohagany Prestige RG guitar with SS frets and something other than Dimarzio's or Seymours. This brings me to the 5220 and 5120. I also only play maple necks...just my thing.

So it comes down to these 2 models with the exact same specs, but one has Fishman pickups and one has Bare Knuckle. I have no experience with either. Which would you choose and why? Please only stay with these 2 choices.
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 01-16-2020, 06:40 PM
Join Date: May 2017
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Re: Prestige RG5220 or 5120M (Fishman vs Bare Knuckle), opinions please

I had the RG5221 and the RGR5220. I played the RG5120M at a local GC.

Both are great so you can't really go wrong with either. The following is just my opinion so you know how that goes.

The finish on the 5120M is much nicer. The green is basically a matte finish and it's not open pore where you can feel the grain. I happen to like bright green, but this finish up close just seemed like a very thin veneer rather than a true ash top.

I really liked the coil split sounds on the RGR5220. In humbucking mode the bridge pickup was good, the neck was average. These pickups are on the lower end of high gain or upper end or mid gain. I thought these pickups were pretty versatile. I didn't feel that these pickups were exceptional, but were still good/great depending on what you like.

The RG5221 was all high gain. It comes with ceramic in both positions which is moronic. There are other options for coil splitting that I never got to explore. The separate voicing's aren't necessarily that useful. Voice Two is darker and rounder. Voice One is brighter and edgy. I always wanted to just choose one or the other and add the coil split, but never did. I think with the alnico neck and coil split option these could be a very versatile set too. One thing about the Fishman's that's awesome is they are quiet like having a noise gate on. They also have a very quick pick response. I did notice a bit of upper mid range harshness that I didn't with other passive high gain pickups(Titan and Aftermath). Caused listening fatigue, but could've just been a bad combination with my other gear. Those pickups were very different than anything else I had and the settings on everything needed to be adjusted to accommodate. I became very interested in the Fishman lineup after using these though and want to try them again.

I bought mine used on the cheap, pretty much mint condition. However, there were some issues with the finish I didn't care for. The binding on the RG5221 body was cream, while the binding on the neck was white. Also there were inconsistencies with the finish where the binding met the mahogany. These are three piece bodies and neither of my examples were very resonant. On the RGR5220 there were white streaks in the walnut neck stripes. There was also a side dot that was out of round. The RGR5220 just wasn't finished as nicely as the RG5221. The RG5221 was almost perfect except for a few of those binding issues that were much more minor. Maybe it was just poor masking, or poor sanding before they decided to go ahead with the clear coat. I guess I'm just saying that these guitars are expensive so watch out for those things if you're buying new. If those things don't bother you, you can find them in the $1300-$1400 range if you wait. I sold both of mine for that and got them cheaper than that to begin with.

All that said, I wish I'd kept the RG5221 because it just felt so easy to play and part of that was the Fishman's. I'm also tired of not being able to tune how I want with locking trems. They're stable, but you're kind of stuck in one tuning.

I was hoping to see a fixed bridge in the same green with the ice finish for 2020, but needless to say it didn't happen.
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Last edited by Frankhenrylee; 01-16-2020 at 06:46 PM.
Frankhenrylee is offline  
post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 02-15-2020, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 41
Re: Prestige RG5220 or 5120M (Fishman vs Bare Knuckle), opinions please

A timely thread...I've been looking at a 5120 at GC for the last 6-8mos. I'm just not going to pay the new price. They are great guitars, but the one I played had pretty bad fret sprout, and a mediocre setup. That means time out of my life to correct the issues. So if I'm gonna pay full price I'll just throw Rich a bone and buy one of his that I know is NICE!

I talked to Frank Falbo about the Fluence Moderns in that guitar and from my description he said it sounded like Ibanez just used a set of ceramics, not an Alnico/Ceramic set. I think the tone and sustain is pretty killer for the bridge and neck both...I don't know if the amount of output would eventually wear on my ears though. The Ceramic is like a Super D or Duncan Distortion on one voice and an EMG 81 on the other. I think I'd be tempted to flip positions so the neck is normally in the "lower output" setting.

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