Ibanez RG and S are two of the most popular shapes of electric guitar offered by the brand, but what is the difference between them. In this article I’ll highlight all the differences (and similarities) between RG and S series electric guitars.
Ibanez RG series guitars are thicker and heavier than S series models. S series guitars have more rounded horns and have the input jack on top of the body whereas RG series guitars have more pointed horns and have the input jack located on the edge of the body.
|Ibanez RG Series||Ibanez S Series|
|45 mm body thickness||38 mm body thickness|
|Pointier horns||Rounded horns|
|Weigh 7 lbs||Weigh 6.5 lbs|
|Mahogany, basswood or ash body||Mahogany body|
|Input jack on the edge of the body||Input jack on the top of the body|
|No plate over the pickup selector||Has a plate over the pickup selector|
Body Shape and Size
Although both these models have a double cutaway body, there are several differences between the shapes of S series and RG series guitars:
- Ibanez S Series guitars have thinner bodies in comparison to Ibanez RG series guitars. Ibanez S series guitars have a body thickness of 38mm and Ibanez RG series models have a body thickness of 45 mm.
- Ibanez RG series guitars have pointier horns compared to S series models which have more rounded horns
- Ibanez RG models have a flatter top with a carve on the lower bout unlike S series models
It’s also worth noting that S series models never have a pickguard, whereas some RG guitars will have a pickguard (depending on the exact model).
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Since the Ibanez S series models are significantly thinner than the RG series models, they are also a lot lighter:
- Ibanez S series guitars weigh approximately 6.5 lbs
- Ibanez RG series guitars weigh approximately 7 lbs
Since the RG series models are heavier, they do feel more substantial which some players prefer. However, some love the lightweight feel of an S series because it’s super comfortable to stand and sit with for hours at a time.
Don’t get me wrong though. The RG guitars are still very light and comfortable, the S series models are just that bit lighter.
The weight balance of these guitars is also different.
Both models typically have the same neck and tuners, but given that the RG has a heavier body, the weight is shifted closer to the body of the guitar. S series guitars are almost completely evenly balanced between the body and neck.
The weight of the guitar does also have a slight impact on the tone. Since the RG models are heavier, they typically have a bit more sustain and resonance compared to S series guitars. However, the difference is quite minimal especially when you plug the guitars in. You can also get both these guitars with a variety of pickups as well which of course has a much greater effect on the overall tone.
Although it is possible to get different versions of the RG and S series models, they do usually have different body woods:
- Ibanez S Series guitars typically have mahogany bodies
- Ibanez RG series guitars usually have mahogany, basswood or ash bodies
With both models, you’ll be able to get a range of tops as well including flame maple, quilted maple and even poplar burl. The finishes on both these guitars can be really striking and unique.
Another notable difference between S Series and RG Ibanez guitars is where the jack for the instrument cable is located:
- Ibanez RG series guitars have the jack located on the edge of the body
- Ibanez S series guitars have the jack located on top of the body
The reason why S series models have the instrument jack located on top of the body is because the body itself isn’t actually thick enough to house a jack on the edge instead.
Pickup Selector Plate
Since Ibanez S series guitars are so thin, they also require a pickup selector plate which goes over the pickup selector switch to make it the correct height to fit in the guitar.
On an Ibanez RG model you’ll notice that there is not plate over the pickup selector, and the switch is just housed in a cut-out in the body of the guitar.
Aside from the different body shapes, these guitars are the same. You can get the same pickups and configurations (HH, HSS, HSH, etc.) with both, as well as different bridges (floating, hard-tail, etc.), neck shapes and fret size/ number.
Previously, S series models had 22 frets but now they have 24, the same as the RG models.
There are many different versions of both S and RG series guitars, all with very confusing names which dictate things like the pickup configuration, body finish etc.
Check out my complete guide to the Ibanez naming system to demystify it.
What About SA and RGA/ RGD Models?
When discussing the S-series and RG-series, it’s important to recognise that there are actually some variants of each.
Here’s a list and explanation of the differences between them:
- SA series: these share most of the features of the S series models except they have an arched top and flat back so are not quite as thin
- RGA series: these share most of the features of the RG models but have an arched top
- RGD series: these are based on the RG models but have a bevelled body cut and deeper cutaway
Which Should You Choose?
Since the main differences between these guitars is due to the body shape and size, I’d highly advise trying them both in-store as this massively affects the feel and playability of the instrument.
If you prefer very lightweight and ultra-thin guitars, you’ll love the feel of the S series. However, if you want something that feels more substantial and looks a bit more aggressive then you’ll certainly lean towards the RG series.
Don’t worry about things like the finish, pickups, neck shape and bridge design, as you’ll very likely be able to find both RG and S series models which fit your specification and budget given that the Ibanez range is so expansive.