Ibanez vs Jackson: Who Makes Better Electric Guitars?


Ibanez and Jackson are two very popular electric guitar brands, well known for making high quality models to cater for both the entry-level and professional market. In this article, I’ll compare the tone, origin, components, and ranges of both Jackson and Ibanez to help you decide which is right for you.

The Quick Answer

Ibanez offer a more versatile range of guitars than Jackson who cater primarily for the metal guitarist. Ibanez guitars often have a thinner and flatter neck, making them popular options for players who are looking to shred. Both brands offer a wide range of models primarily made in Asia.

Comparing the Tone

Jackson guitars are primarily aimed at metal guitarists and tend to have a very dark and warm tone. Ibanez cater primarily to metal players, however, they do produce a versatile range including semi-hollow and hollow guitars.

It’s hard to compare the overall tone of both brands, and easier to look at specific models instead. The Ibanez RG series and Jackson Dinky series are two of the most popular from both brands. In this instance, the Ibanez has slightly more high-end (treble) frequencies, causing it to sound a bit brighter than the Jackson which sound a bit darker.

If you’re in the market for an affordable guitar, check out this video demo comparing the Jackson JS11 Dinky and Ibanez GRG121.

Where are They Made?

Ibanez make their electric guitars in China, Indonesia, Japan and the USA. Jackson make their guitars in China and Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and the USA.

  • Jackson make their entry-level guitars in China and Indonesia, and these range in price up to around $1500. Most Chinese and Indonesia guitars produced by Ibanez are under $1200.
  • Ibanez makes most of their premium lines in Japan, with models starting at $1000. Jackson makes a limited selection of guitars (MJ series) in Japan, ranging from $1000 to $2800.
  • Jackson make a lot of their mid-high end guitars ($1200-$1800) in South Korea.
  • Most of the Jackson Pro Series Dinky range which costs around $900-$1200 is made in Mexico.
  • Jackson make their top-of-the-line guitars, the USA signature series, of course in America. These start at around $3000. The Ibanez JS2410 Joe Satriani model is made in the USA.

Generally, Jackson and Ibanez make similarly priced guitars in similar countries. Jackson and Ibanez both produce their entry-level and more affordable options in China and Indonesia, which cost up to around $1000-$1200, with some models costing up to $1500 in the Jackson range. Jackson’s mid-high range guitars are often made in South Korea, whilst Ibanez’s are made in Japan. Jackson make a lot more models in America than Ibanez.

Does it matter?

The country of origin does not automatically make a guitar sound good, but it can help to provide an indication of its quality. Indonesia and China mostly mass-produce guitars, lending them a reputation for producing lower quality models. Japan and South Korea produce a lot of mid-high end guitars, whilst many believe that the best guitars are made in America.

I’ve written a full article discussing the differences between guitars made in different regions, so check it out if you’re after a more detailed answer.

Components

When comparing the two brands, I think it’s probably most important to consider the components used to make the individual guitars, as these are often a useful indication of the quality.

Neck

Jackson and Ibanez both make guitars with relatively thin and flat necks. However, the Ibanez Wizard II neck which is seen on a lot of models is super flat and thin, this aims to increase the speed of the neck, making it popular for shredding, however it might be too thin for some players who find it more difficult to hold barre chords on very thin neck.

Jackson necks are a bit less dramatic, and although still thin, are a bit more close to something like a Strat. Whilst they may not be quite as “fast” as Ibanez necks, some may find them more comfortable overall. Best thing is to do, is to try them in a Guitar Store and see which feels best for you.

Bridge

Both Ibanez and Jackson offer guitars with tremolo and fixed bridges, however it is more common to see entry-level Jackson guitars with tremolos than Ibanez models. Jackson often use Floyd Rose bridges on most mid-high end models, whereas Ibanez primarily use their own tremolo bridge designs, usually the Ibanez Edge or Lo-Pro designs.

The Floyd Rose has a screw-on tremolo design which means the tremolo loosens quite quickly when you use it, but you can adjust it to the level of “tightness” you desire. The Ibanez instead has a “push-in” system, which will wear over time, but is less likely to loosen when playing.

Pickups

Both brands make guitars with active and passive pickups, however you can find them on cheaper Jackson models starting at around $600, compared to around $800 for Ibanez. On higher-end models, Ibanez often use either active Fishman Fluence, DiMarzio or Seymour Duncan pickups, whilst Jackson primarily use Seymour Duncan and sometimes DiMarzio pickups.

Most models over $500 in the Jackson range will have Seymour Duncan pickups, whilst many Ibanez models up to around $1000 may still feature Ibanez-designed pickups.

Tone Wood

On more affordable models, both Jackson and Ibanez tend to use poplar body wood. Ibanez guitars tend to start using more premium mahogany on cheaper models compared to Jackson which use mahogany primarily on guitars over $500. Other popular wood choices used by both brands include alder and basswood.

Constructions

On entry-level and affordable guitars, Jackson and Ibanez both use bolt-on neck constructions. It is more common to see neck-thru constructions on Jackson guitars at a lower price than Ibanez. Although some models do have neck-thru constructions, most stick with the bolt-on method regardless of the price.

  • Bolt-on constructions are cheap, and make it easy to switch the neck out if it becomes damaged. However, they are less resonant and do not have the best level of sustain. They also make the neck joint fairly bulky in a lot of cases, which can restrict upper fret access.
  • Neck-thru constructions offer the best sustain and resonance, and the most low-profile neck joining to increase upper fret access. However, they are typically more expensive, and you can’t just switch out the neck, if it becomes damaged.

Jackson tend to offer more premium neck constructions compared to Ibanez, which may be important for some guitarists. Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of bolt-on necks due to their look, but many top-of-the-line brands like Fender still use them across all their models, so it’s more just a personal preference thing.

I’ve written a complete buyer’s guide for electric guitars which takes you through all the things you need to consider and a step-by-step method to narrowing down your selection and choosing the best option. Here is a link to the article.

The Ranges

I’ve selected several of the top selling models in each price bracket from Ibanez and Jackson for comparison. The prices are all from Guitar Center at the time of writing and the tables are all ordered from the lowest to highest price so you can see some common features at the different price points.

Under $500

GuitarConstructionPickupsBridgeBody WoodPrice
Ibanez GRGM21MBolt-OnPassive IbanezFixedPoplar$150
Jackson Dinky JS12Bolt-OnPassive JacksonTremoloPoplar$180
Ibanez GRGR120EXBolt-OnPassive Infinity RTremoloPoplar$200
Jackson Dinky JS22Bolt-OnPassive JacksonTremoloPoplar$200
Ibanez RG6003FMBolt-OnPassive Ibanez QuantumFixedMahogany$350
Ibanez RG450EXBBolt-OnPassive Ibanez QuantumDouble-Locking TremoloMeranti$400
Jackson Dinky JS32QBolt-OnPassive JacksonFloyd RosePoplar$400
Ibanez JEMJRSPBolt-OnPassive IbanezDouble-Locking TremoloMahogany$500
Jackson X Series Dinky DK2XRBolt-OnPassive JacksonFloyd RosePoplar$500
Ibanez vs Jackson guitars under $500

$500-$1000

GuitarConstructionPickupsBridgeBody WoodPrice
Jacskon X Series Dinky DK2XBolt-OnActive JacksonFixedPoplar$600
Ibanez RGRT621DPDNeck-thruPassive DiMarzioFixedMahogany$650
Jackson SLX SoloistNeck-thruPassive Duncan DesignedFloyd RoseBasswood$650
Ibanez RGIB21 Iron LabelBolt-OnActive EMGFixedNyato$800
Jackson Pro SoloistNeck-thruPassive Seymour DuncanFloyd RoseMahogany$1000
Ibanez RG550 GenesisBolt-OnIbanez PassiveIbanez Edge TremoloBasswood$1000
Ibanez vs Jackson guitars between $500 and $1000

$1000-$2000

GuitarConstructionPickupsBridgeBody WoodPrice
Jackson Pro Soloist SL2Q MAHNeck-thruPassive Seymour DuncanFloyd RoseMahogany$1050
Ibanez S61ALBolt-OnActive FishmanFixedNyatoh$1100
Jackson Pro Series Soloist SL3Q MAHNeck-thruPassive Seymour DuncanFloyd RoseMahogany$1250
Ibanez RGA61ALBolt-OnPassive AftermathFixedNyatoh$1300
Ibanez RGR652AHBF RG PrestigeBolt-OnPassive DiMarzioFixedAsh$1500
Jackson Pro Series Rhoads RR24Neck-thruPassive Seymour DuncanFloyd RoseBasswood$1500
Ibanez RG5120M PrestigeBolt-OnActive FishmanLocking TremoloMahogany$2000
Jackson MJ Series DinkyBolt-OnPassive DiMarzioLocking TremoloAlder$2000
Ibanez vs Jackson guitars between $1000 and $2000

Over $2000

GuitarConstructionPickupsBridgeBody WoodPrice
Jackson MJ Series Dinky DKR MAHBolt-OnPassive Seymour DuncanGotoh TremoloMahogany$2100
Ibanez RG5170G RG PrestigeBolt-OnActive FishmanIbanez Lo-Pro TremoloBasswood$2200
Jackson MJ Series Soloist SL2Neck-thruPassive Seymour DuncanSeymour Duncan PassiveAlder$2600
Ibanez AZ2402FF AZ PrestigeBolt-OnPassive Seymour DuncanTI802 TremoloAlder$2800
Jackson MJ Series Rhoads RRTNeck-thruPassive Seymour DuncanFixedAlder$2800
Jackson USA Signature Gus G. StarNeck-thruPassive Seymour DuncanFixedAlder$3700
Ibanez vs Jackson guitars over $2000

Which are the Best?

The best way to decide which guitar brand is best for you, is to head down to your local store and give a few models in your price range a try, and see which works best for you. Both brands make really good quality and value for money instruments, so it’s hard to pick a winner.

Personally, I think that Jackson pack the guitars with more premium features e.g. Floyd Rose, Seymour Duncan Pickups, neck-through constructions etc., for a lower price than Ibanez where you have to pay a bit more if you’re looking for those kind of things. However, I have pretty small hands so prefer the Ibanez necks over the Jackson ones.

In terms of appearance, both brands offer unique shapes and colour options. Jackson tend to be a bit wilder with their shapes than Ibanez, and offer a lot of very bright colours. Ibanez guitars often look a bit more understated, but there are of course massive exceptions to this.

I’ve written a complete buyer’s guide for electric guitars which takes you through all the things you need to consider and a step-by-step method to narrowing down your selection and choosing the best option. Here is a link to the article.

Here are some more articles you might find useful:

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.

Recent Posts