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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I currently have three guitars (all Ibbys) that I really enjoy playing, but I constantly find myself wanting to play something in a tuning that none of them are set up for. Although I'm comfortable retuning, it takes up time that I would otherwise spend playing and often means changing string gauge (if I changed tuning as often as I want to, I'd be constantly throwing away strings that still have plenty of life left in them).

Adding a fixed bridge model to my collection would satisfy my needs, at least for the intermediate term, but tremolos would probably mean buying two more guitars.

As well as advice on what to buy, I'd also appreciate some advice on which of my current guitars is most suited for each tuning that I intend to use frequently (E, drop D, Eb, D, B & drop A) - this also affects my choice for the new guitar.

These are my current guitars, with details of the specs (see links), tunings and some examples of what I play:

S2170SE (DiMarzio/IBZ pups) - currently in E standard w/ 9 gauge (80s thrash, hard rock, traditional metal, prog)

RG2550Z (DiMarzio/IBZ pups) - currently in drop D w/ 9 gauge (mostly '90s rock & metal - think along the lines of Soundgarden, not nu-metal)

XPT700 (DiMarzio D Activators) - interchanged between Eb / D standard w/ 10 gauge (old school death metal, melodic death metal, European power metal)

What I'm missing is something to use in B standard and drop A, for bands like Amon Amarth and Carcass. The extent of adjustments required to switch a guitar to these low tunings is really impractical on a regular basis (13 gauge strings, trem screws, truss rod etc.).

Thanks in advance! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Some additional comments:

I'm fairly happy with the tone and playability of all of my guitars in the tunings stated above. The DiMarzio/IBZ pickups are not optimal for any particular tone/style, but they are versatile and (at least to me) sound decent for pretty much any style E / drop D...I'm not sure whether they'd be tight enough or give the right tone for really low tunings though. The D Activators sound good in E standard, but really excel in D standard...again, I'm not confident they'd be as ideal in a much lower tuning - may well become muddy, especially as they're in a mahogany body. I find the S series most comfortable to play (sitting & standing), but assume an RG would be more optimal for death metal in low tunings (maybe I'm wrong?). I love the superior fret access of my neck-thru XPT700, but neck-thru only seems to be available for Premium / Iron Label models - I ideally want another Prestige.

I would not consider maple fretboards or the old-style neck joints (tilt joint?). Rosewood and neck-thru would be perfect, but ebony and AANJ are also more than OK.

A lot of the available Prestige RGs seem to have Air Norton / Tone Zone or Fusion Edge pickups. The more affordable fixed-bridge models seems to have ash bodies. I'm not sure how suitable any of these are for low tunings, without at least swapping out the pickups. I would happily pay extra (within reason) for something equipped with superior pickups, if required - e.g. BKP, Liquifire/Crunch Lab etc.

My budget is somewhat flexible, but I am looking for bang-for-buck. From a bit of scouting around online, Ibanez Prestige prices have gone up significantly since my last purchase, with the used market increasing by proportionately more than new. A slightly dinged Prestige goes for as much as a new Genesis. A mint / near mint Prestige goes for 90% of the new cost, even if it's 10+ years old (used to be more like 70%). J.Customs seems to have stayed at the same price, making them seem less unreasonable (but still expensive!).
To put it in context, in 2017 I bought my RG2550Z for £550, in mint condition. The seller drove several hundred miles to hand-deliver to me (included in the price). Today, for that price I'd struggle to get a similar model with multiple dings, scratches, considerable fret wear etc.
I have no objections to buying used instruments that are decades old, but I'm definitely not of the mindset that "well-played" guitars look cool or more authentic. I really look after my gear, so will only buy from people who do the same.
 

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Honestly not so much neck wise, but I feel they have a little bit more comfortable body. I had one but I really like trems so I sold it and bought another 2550 instead. Another difference is that the body is mahogany which sounds a little bit more nasal
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Honestly not so much neck wise, but I feel they have a little bit more comfortable body. I had one but I really like trems so I sold it and bought another 2550 instead. Another difference is that the body is mahogany which sounds a little bit more nasal
Sounds like it's somewhere between my comfortable, mahognay S series and my RG...both of which I love.

In your opinion, is basswood or mahogany more suited to low tunings?
 

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Sounds to me you have the same problem as me. I have multiple guitars but want the flexibility of changing tunings without the hassle. As far as I know, there are only two solutions: 1) You buy lots of guitars, or 2) You buy a Variax.

I've been looking at one for ages and it's the only thing that has the versatility to do what you want. Of course, you will also need a Helix or Firehawk to get the most out of it. Means you can instantly change tuning with a tap of the footswitch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I definitely prefer solution 1! 13 would sort me out for every half semitone and drop tuning from E standard through to A standard...just need a bigger house.

The first review I found for the Variax opened with "feels very like a brand new Mexican Fender Classic with that all-too-new-feeling gloss neck finish. It makes playability a little sticky initially and you have to fight this one." So basically it feels like the polar opposite of a wizard neck :(

I do also like feeling the difference in tunings, and sometimes looser strings (lower tension) are essential to getting the right tone.
 

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The first review I found for the Variax opened with "feels very like a brand new Mexican Fender Classic with that all-too-new-feeling gloss neck finish. It makes playability a little sticky initially and you have to fight this one." So basically it feels like the polar opposite of a wizard neck :(
There are many different types of Variax. The two groups that might interest you are the JTV89 (comes with or without a floyd and even looks like an RG) or the Shuriken (come in baritone scale or std scale). These two are as far away from Strats as I can think, so I don't know what your reviewer was looking at. I've played the Shuriken, very solid guitar, and total opposite to Strat, built for metal. I haven't played a JTV89, but I understand it is designed to be like an Ibanez in terms of feel. Again, built for metal/rock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I couldn't find a good deal for an RGA121 (or other Prestige RGA), but ended up buying two new Prestige RGs. A store was selling off several display models of older stock at very good prices and I couldn't resist snapping up both - the way Prestige prices are climbing in recent years, I doubt I'll ever find such a good deal again.

I got an RG652FX (fixed bridge...whoop!) and an RG2550Z. They also had an RG2550Z in Galaxy Black (which I prefer), for the same price, but I already had one of those...



 

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