Whether you are a long-time guitar player or new to the world of guitars, it is a pretty sure bet that you have heard of both Ibanez and Fender guitars. These are two of the most well-known and respected guitar brands on the planet, each with several models from acoustic to electric to bass guitars.
Both companies are also known for making some pretty great amplifiers. But, we’ll leave the amps for another day and take a closer look at the differences between Ibanez vs Fender guitars. Let’s get started.
Guitars for Players of all Levels
Obviously, when you think of Fender guitars, one of the first things that comes to mind would be the Stratocaster or the Telecaster. Ibanez is well-known for some great newer classics, including the Destroyer and the RG line. While these are among the more costly options from these brands, there are many models offered that are in price ranges for all, and there is something for guitar players of all levels.
Guitar Brands with Long Histories
Let’s start by talking a bit about Fender guitars. Fender has a long history of building guitars that musicians want, whether they are looking for acoustic or electric guitars. They were the creators of the first solid-body guitars, as well as electric bass guitars. Their most famous guitars, Stratocaster, Telecaster, Precision Bass, and Jazz Bass have been the go-to’s for many well-known guitar players, and they continue to be among the most popular guitars in the world.
For many guitar players, the American-made Stratocaster is the holy grail of guitars. Unfortunately, if you are just getting started as a guitar player and you don’t have a huge budget, this is going to be far out of your reach, at least for now. But worry not, because there is the Fender Player Series line of guitars. These have many of the same qualities as the Strat, and it looks just like one. The biggest differences are, this guitar line is made in Mexico, and it costs around half of what an American-made model would.
Now, it’s time to take a look at the Ibanez brand. This is a brand that has a very good reputation worldwide, with guitars and bass guitars for musicians of all levels. You will find a good number of professionals using Ibanez guitars, not only because they look really cool, but they are also darned well-built guitars.
Many people think of Ibanez as a newer brand, but you might be surprised to learn that the Japanese brand is even older than Fender. In fact, it dates back to 1929.
It wasn’t until the 60’s and 70’s that Ibanez began creating their own versions of popular American-made guitars. For instance, their ever-popular Destroyer was based on the Gibson Explorer. There were a few legal issues over the years, and now Ibanez is a leader in the industry, with many original models to choose from.
In fact, Ibanez guitars are often the go-to for many hard rock and metal guitar players. The RG and S lines can easily compete with the Stratocaster.
Ibanez and Fender Compared
If you are a beginner or intermediate guitar player, and you are looking for a guitar that has everything you are looking for at a reasonable price, you can’t go wrong with both Fender and Ibanez. You probably also know that there are some marked differences between these two brands.
In the 1970’s, many musicians were modifying their Strats by adding humbuckers. This gave them a hotter sound that was more in tune for rock and roll music. Over time, these modified guitars were called Superstrats. By the 1980’s, a lot of brands were using these Superstrats as the basis for their own models, Ibanez included. In fact, Ibanez really ran with this idea, and improved on it.
The Superstrat led to the creation of the RG line, and later the S series. The tonewoods are more resonant, and the pickups are hotter. The necks are slick so they play faster, and the hardware is second to none.
Of course, the tremolos are awesome. If you want the quality of a Strat but can’t afford it, the RG from Ibanez is a great alternative. Just as with Fender guitars, the RG and S series guitars range from beginner to professional models.
Obviously, there just isn’t enough space in a single article to compare ever guitar Fender and Ibanez makes, so for the sake of keeping it short, we are going to take a look at the specs for the Fender Stratocaster and the Ibanez RG.
- Pickups – The Strat and the RG both have three single coil pickups with humbuckers.
- Pickup Selector – Both models have a 5-way switch.
- Volume and Tone Buttons – Each guitar in these lines have two volume/tone buttons.
- Tuners – Fender tends to use Schaller tuners, as opposed to Ibanez, which uses Gotoh tuners.
- Body – The Strat has an Alder body, while the RG body is made from quilted maple over mahogany.
- Tremolo – The Strat has a floating tremolo, and the RG has a Floyd Rose tremolo system.
- Fingerboard – The RG has a Bound Panga Panga fingerboard, and the fretboard on a Strat is made from rosewood.
As you can see, many of the features on each of these guitars are the same, but there are also some pretty big differences in some areas.
One thing we really should discuss while comparing guitars from these brands is the bodies of the guitars. They are made from different materials, for various reasons. The solid body styles from Fender greatly influenced many of the models from Ibanez and other brands. Ibanez really took this style and ran with it, creating their own versions that use other innovations.
The body of most Fender electric guitars are made from alder and have a contoured joint. They tend to be topped with maple. While Ibanez is also topped with maple, the big difference is that they use quilted maple instead of the plain maple that Fender uses.
Many musicians like the fact that Ibanez guitars have slim bodies, which make them quite lightweight. This is a great thing for beginners who aren’t ready for a heavier guitar. On the other hand, there are many musicians who prefer the heft of a Fender Strat.
The Neck and Fingerboard
The next thing we need to look at is the neck. The RG neck is flat, whereas the Stratocaster neck is arched. The design on more Ibanez guitars includes a neck that is slimmer and flatter, making it better for younger players with smaller hands who are just getting started. As they grow, it isn’t uncommon for young musicians to make the jump to the Stratocaster or other popular Fender guitars.
While talking about the neck, we need to mention the fingerboard. Both brands use rosewood and maples for their fingerboards, and again, the choice often comes down to personal preference.
Some guitar players like the grip with the rosewood, while others, particularly lead players, like the fact that their fingers will seem to slide across the fretboard. The Ibanez has jumbo frets, which many players find take a bit of time getting used to. Also, the strings on Ibanez guitars are closer together than Fenders and other brands. Both brands have bolts on the necks.
Whether you choose a Fender or an Ibanez guitar to add to your collection, or to get it started, know that there are models from both brands that are reasonably priced. Of course, as we all know, when it comes to guitars, you really are getting what you pay for.
Fenders are usually the more expensive option, so if you are looking for a high-end guitar at a decent price, Ibanez may be your best option. Of course, if the Strat is your holy grail, it will come to you at some point!