The Ibanez GRX20 series is part of Ibanez’s GIO lineup, a range of more affordable guitars. Unlike companies like Fender, Gibson, and ESP, this slightly lower end lineup still proudly carries the parent company logo on the headstock. There’s no confusing who made these guitars, and you won’t have to feel any “lesser” for playing one by any means. At present, Ibanez offers two different GRX20 models: the GRX20Z and GRX20W. Prior models such as the GRX20ZJB and GRX20ZBKN are also still easy to find in stock from many retailers, and each one is easily on par with one another.
First up, the Ibanez GRX20W is a 22 fret “super strat” styled guitar available in either sunburst or pure white finishes. The white in particular is an incredibly sharp looking instrument, though it’s all down to your personal preference. One plus about the sunburst model is that the primary gold or amber color is still the star of the show. On most sunburst finishes at this range, you’ll see more black than anything, and the gradient is rarely well done. Either of these variations kills it in the looks department, and that’s always a little more important than most would like to admit.
The GRX20W has a maple neck with rosewood fretboard. Standard dot inlays line the 22 frets in all of the appropriate spots, making sure you never lose your way in the midst of even the most frantic bout of playing. The specialized GRX neck shape is fairly fast, albeit not quite as speedy as Ibanez’s famed Wizard neck shape. Even so, a little bit of extra chunk is just what the doctor ordered to help build up the strength in your fretting hand.
The frets themselves are medium sized on the GRX20W model, meaning you won’t have to worry about uncomfortable stretches that your hands aren’t quite ready for. With guitar, you have to walk before you can run, and you also have to learn to crawl before any of that. Slightly smaller frets are perfect for a new guitarist that’s just learning the rope, as well as anyone with slightly smaller hands. The world of “extra jumbo” frets can often be more burdensome than they’re meant to be. You don’t have to worry about the guitar being too small either, however; the overall range is a full 45.5 inches.
The body of the Ibanez GRX20W is made of poplar. It’s an uncommon type of guitars, but it serves its purpose quite well. Helping drive the sound through your amp are two Infinity-R humbucker pickups in the neck and bridge positions. There’s no middle pickup, so the three-way selector is all you need. A single volume and tone knob round out the electronics. Naturally, if you want to warm up your sound all you’ll need to do is select the neck pickup and roll the tone back a bit. It works wonders with a clean setting, but it can also open the door to some wonderfully smooth sounding leads with distortion.
The GRX20Z is much the same as far as construction, features, and specs go. The primary differences are purely aesthetic. For instance, the pickups and pickguards are black rather than white, and you have more finished options. These include black night, jewel blue, silver, vivid orange, and metallic green. When ordering online, you should have the opportunity to choose any of the above, but a local purchase will likely be a little more limited.
The entirety of the GIO series and its GRX models are fantastic playing guitars. These are manufactured alongside some of the higher end Ibanez models, and they are carefully inspected for quality construction. There are really only a few elements separate them from the more expensive stuff. As you go higher up the “suggested retail price” tree, you’ll see more brand names pop up among the electronics, and the guitars themselves start to sport a few more features, but none of it is essential by any means. You can still have a blast with these lower end models.
Sometimes the generic "starter guitars" that you see lined up in department stores are made with a ton of cut corners that hold them back from being something you'd ever want to play. When it comes to the more affordable wares of major guitar companies like Ibanez however, there's a reputation that must be upheld. This is a company endorsed by gigantic names, and offering quality instruments really matter to its team members. Guitars like the Ibanez GRX20 are a blessing; they allow even those on a budget to pick up and enjoy electric guitars that are actually worth playing. Ultimately, this is absolutely a fantastic model that you can't go wrong with.
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