Ibanez Guitar Range: Explaining the Names and Model Numbers


Ibanez make a huge range of guitars, and they’re one of the best brands on the market. However, one complaint a lot of buyers have, is that the names are super confusing, with all the different letters and numbers. There is actually a system behind these names, so in this article, I’ll show you how to decode them as easily as possible.

Ibanez Range Explained

On most Ibanez guitars, the first 2-3 letters refers to the shape. The 1st number, indicates the quality level, the 2nd number identifies the pickup configuration, and if the 3rd number indicates additional features (if it is not 0). The letter suffix gives extra information, usually about the finish.

It is definitely worth noting that Ibanez have changed their naming system a few times, and there are exceptions to the general rules. I’ll go through the basics, then some different examples to highlight the exceptions, and finally sum up all the rules and caveats at the end.

Series

The first thing to know about the Ibanez range, is that it is split into “series” or sub-ranges, which separate the entire selection, into models catering for specific budgets. The main series are: GIO, Standard, Premium, Prestige and J Custom. There are also a few popular ones such as the Genesis, Axion Label and Iron Label to consider. Here’s a bit more about them:

  • GIO: this is the entry-level series and models are typically under a few hundred dollars in this range. The guitars are made in China and come in a range of shapes.
  • Standard: these guitars are a step-up from the GIO range, and cost usually around $300-$1000.
  • Premium: guitars in this range are considered mid-range and hover around the $1300-$1600 price mark.
  • Prestige: these are some of the most premium guitars available and are made in Japan. Typically they are around $1800-$3000.
  • J Custom: these are the limited edition, rare models which are usually over $3000.

Additional Series

  • Iron Label: these guitars are aimed towards metal players and often have active pickups. They typically cost between $900-$1100.
  • Genesis: these make re-issues of some of the older iconic Ibanez models. Models at the moment typically cost around $1000.
  • Axion Label- these are aimed at the heavy metal market with long scale lengths and sometimes 7 strings. They cost around $1200-$1400.

So any time you see one of the series within the name above, the price should make more sense. With each step up in price, you can expect an increase in the build quality, attention to detail and material quality.

Most of the time you can tell what series an Ibanez guitar is in, because it will be after the code. However, sometimes it is actually depicted as a letter at the very start of the code. Once, we’ve been through the next section, I’ll point out some examples to show this.

Check out my guide to the cost of Ibanez guitars to learn more.

Semi-Hollow and Hollow Series

Ibanez solid body and semi-hollow/ hollow body guitars are arranged in different series. In this case, there are three main series:

  • Artcore: entry-level models made in China, ranging between approximately $300 and $600.
  • Artcore Expressionist: mid-range models ranging between around $650 and $800.
  • Artstar: high-end Japanese guitars ranging between $1000 and $2600.

Shapes

Now let’s take a look at the different shapes that Ibanez offer. Usually, this is depicted in either the first 2-3 letters, or the 2-3 letters after the first letter. I’ll go through some examples shortly to demonstrate.

Ibanez’s guitars come in a range of shapes and sizes, here are some of the most common:

Solid Body

  • JEM: double cutaway, pointed horns, flat body and handle cut-out.
  • RG: double cutaway, pointed horns, flat body
  • RGA: double cutaway, pointed horns, curved body
  • RGD: double cutaway, pointed horns, flat body, longer scale length
  • AZ: double cutaway, pointed horns, curved lower bout
  • AZS: single cutaway, T-type
  • S: double cutaway, curved horns, flat body
  • SGA: double cutaway, curved horns, curved body
  • AX: double cutaway, wide lower bout, with pickguard.
  • AR: double cutaway, wide lower bout, without pickguard
  • ART: single cutaway, LP-type
  • X: X-shape
  • Iceman: offset single cutaway
  • Q: double cutaway with bridge cut-out

Hollow and Semi-Hollow Body

  • AS: semi-hollow models
  • AF: hollow with a rounded single cutaway
  • AG: hollow, slimmer than the AF, with a pointed single cutaway
  • AM: slimmer than the AF/ AG, with a double cutaway
  • AGS: slimmest design with a single cutaway

You can also find a lot of artist signature models, which have unique shapes, usually based on some of the models described above. Here are some examples of the main shapes.

JEM

RGA

RG

Iceman

AX

AF

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Examples So Far…

So far we have discussed two aspects of the Ibanez names: the series, and the shape. There are a couple of ways these can be identified in the full name.

  1. Ibanez RG1121PB Premium: here you can identify the “RG” shape from the first two letters, and that it is in the “premium” series.
  2. Ibanez GRGM21G: in this example, the first “G” identifies that the model is in the GIO range. The “RG” then tells you that it is an RG shape.
  3. Ibanez S Series S621QM: in this example, the S Series, and the “S” in the code, indicate the shape of the guitar. This is in the “standard” series, because it does not have any other distinguishers.

What Do the Numbers and Letters Mean?

Okay, so those are the basics. We’ve been through the start of the names, and how to identify the series and the shape. So what does the rest of the code mean?

The easiest way to demonstrate this, is using an example. So let’s take a look at the Ibanez RG470AHM to start with.

The first part is easy, the RG of course means it is an RG-shape guitar.

The next thing to look at, is the “470”.

The first digit (4), indicates the quality of the model within the range. Typically, the higher the number, the higher the quality and price of the model.

The second two digits (70), refer to the pickups and the pickguard. Ibanez use several codes for this. In this case, the guitar has a HSH pickup configuration, and does NOT have a pickguard. Here’s what it would mean if it was a different number:

  • 10=H
  • 20=HH
  • 30=SSS with pickguard or HH with pickguard
  • 40=HSS with pickguard
  • 50=HSH with pickguard
  • 60=HSS without pickguard
  • 70=HSH without pickguard
  • 80= directly-mounted humbuckers.

Now, all that’s left to decipher is the three letter suffix. These letters are used to provide extra information about the model. What complicates things, is that sometimes the suffix may be telling us more than one feature. In this case, it is telling us two features:

  • AM: refers to the ash body.
  • M: refers to the maple fretboard.

There are loads more of these suffixes to consider, way too many for this article, but you can check out most of them on the Ibanez.Fandom website. Here are some common examples:

  • A = ash top
  • AL = Axion Label series
  • B = black hardware
  • BKP = birdseye maple finish
  • CR = chrome finish
  • D = Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio pickups
  • E = EMG pickups
  • EX = extreme metal styling
  • F = fixed bridge
  • FM = flame maple finish
  • IL =Iron Label series
  • R = reversed headstock
  • S = set neck
  • T = tremolo bridge
  • TL = tree of life inlay
  • XL = extra long 27″ scale length
  • Z = edge-zero tremolo
Example 1

More Complicated Examples

Unfortunately, the example we went through above, was pretty much as easy as it gets, despite having 8 digits to de-code!

Ibanez GRGA120QA

  • The first letter “G” indicates that this model is in the GIO series. A lot of models don’t have a letter at the start to indicate the series, and just start with the shape code, but a lot of models in the GIO series make this exception.
  • “RGA” refers to the shape (curved, double cutaway)
  • “1” refers to the quality level. This low number makes sense since it is an entry-level guitar.
  • “20” refers to the HH pickup configuration.
  • “QA” refers to the quilted ash top.

Ibanez RGD7521PB

This example is similar to the first one we’ve already been through, but the difference is that it has an extra number, so instead of having 3 digits, it has 4 instead. This makes the code a lot harder to work out, but there is still a system to it.

  • “RGD” refers to the RG shape with a longer neck.
  • The first digit (7) refers to the fact it is a 7 string model. This is commonly seen with the 7/8/9 string guitars, where the first number is referring to the strings, so check this first if the code looks a bit different.
  • The second digit (5) refers to the quality, the same as in the first example.
  • The third digit (2) refers to the HH pickup configuration. Normally you would expect this number to be “20”, but on models with 4 digits, this often tends to be just the first digit without the “0”.
  • The fourth digit (1) refers to the fixed bridge.
  • “PB” refers to the poplar burl top.

On some models, the final digit can give extra information about the guitar. This is why the example here ends in “21” and not “20”, as we described in the first example. Models that end in “0” have standard features. “1” isn’t the only number it can end in though, here are the most common ones:

  • 0 = standard model with a tremolo
  • 1 = fixed bridge
  • 2 = 12 strings
  • 5 = missing single coil pickup

Ibanez S Series S621QM

  • “S” refers to the S-shape.
  • “6” refers to the quality level.
  • “2” refers to the HH pickups.
  • “1” refers to the fixed bridge.
  • “QM” refers to the quilted maple top.

AZ Shape Naming System

The AZ shape models have a different naming system. For example, lets first look at the AZ2204 Prestige Series.

  • AZ of course refers to the shape.
  • “22” refers to the fret number.
  • “0” refers to the fact the model is in the Prestige series (other series will not have this digit, for example it would just be called an AZ224).
  • “4” refers to the pickup/ pickguard combination.

The pickup/ pickguard codes are as follows:

  • 2 = HH
  • 4 = HSS with pickguard
  • 6 = HSS without a pickguard

Models in this range may still have any of the 2-3 letter suffixes that we’ve already talked about, however this example doesn’t have one.

Ibanez AZS2200Q Prestige

This is a more complicated example of the AZ model:

  • “22” refers to the fret number.
  • The first “0” indicates that it is in the prestige series.
  • The second “0” identifies that it has a tremolo bridge. As we discussed earlier, the extra digit on the end indicates different features.
  • The “Q” refers to the quilted top.

Colours

Some models will have the full code, and then a space followed by another 2-3 letters. This indicates the colour. Here are some of the most common.

  • BK = black
  • BL = blue
  • GD = gold
  • MM = mahogany
  • RD = red
  • WH = white

Summary

To summarise, here what the codes mean for most shapes in the range (excluding the AZ shape and signature models).

  • Most models have 2-3 letters at the start, 3-4 digits in the middle, and 2-3 letters on the end.
  • The first 2-3 letters indicate the shape. The main exception is when the series is also included e.g. a G at the start will indicate the GIO series, and the next 2-3 letter will indicate the shape.
  • The first digit indicates the quality level. The main exception is if the guitar has more than 6 strings, and in this case the model will usually have 4 digits instead of 3, and the rest of the rules will apply after taking into consideration the first digit.
  • The second digit (or third if the model has more than 6 strings) indicates the pickup configuration and presence or absence of a pickguard.
  • The third digit (or fourth if the model has more than 6 strings) indicates additional information e.g. bridge type.
  • The final 2-3 letter indicate extra information such as the finish, pickups or inlays.

Pickup Configuration Numbers:

  • 10=H
  • 20=HH
  • 30=SSS with pickguard or HH with pickguard
  • 40=HSS with pickguard
  • 50=HSH with pickguard
  • 60=HSS without pickguard
  • 70=HSH without pickguard
  • 80= directly-mounted humbuckers.

Extra Info Number Examples:

  • 0 = standard model with a tremolo
  • 1 = fixed bridge
  • 2 = 12 strings
  • 5 = missing single coil pickup

Extra Info Letter Examples:

  • A = ash top
  • AL = Axion Label series
  • E = EMG pickups
  • F = fixed bridge
  • FM = flame maple finish
  • R = reversed headstock
  • S = set neck
  • T = tremolo bridge
  • XL = extra long 27″ scale length

Guitar Center are always the first place I look at when I’m interested in a new electric guitar because have a huge range of models for sale and always have some excellent deals on. Here’s a link to take you directly to Guitar Center’s electric guitar range so you can see all the offers available at the moment. 

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Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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