Ibanez GRX70QA review – GIO Series Electric Guitar

If you're new to playing guitar, are on a budget, or both, you know just how hard it can be to find a guitar that's affordable and still has excellent sound quality. Ibanez's GIO series was designed for those who want playability and tone at a fair price.

This line of affordable instruments is a lot like Fender's Squier series or Gibson's Epiphone--they still are backed by quality engineering, but they're made with more affordable woods and components. In our Ibanez GRX70QA review, we'll be looking at a highly versatile offering from the GIO series.

Things to Consider When Buying an Affordable Electric Guitar

If you're a newer player, you likely can't justify spending thousands on a high-end electric guitar. However, beginners who start out on a quality instrument are more likely to keep playing, and if you start out on a decent-quality instrument, you won't need to upgrade it as quickly as you would if you started on a poorly-made instrument. Here are some questions to ask yourself before buying an affordable electric guitar:

  • Are the tonewoods decent? - There's a lot you can upgrade on a guitar, but you can't really replace the body without replacing the whole guitar.
  • Is this guitar suitable for the genre I play? - If you play folk rock, you probably don't want a shredder guitar. Make sure the design and pickups used will suit the music you play.
  • Are there components I can upgrade? - Eventually, you can replace the pickups, tuners, and other components--if you do this, you may end up with a guitar worth more than the one you bought.
  • How playable is it? - A guitar with sharp frets and too-high action will be discouraging to play--make sure you read about a given model's playability before you commit.

Our Picks for Review

Guitar

Guitar

Model

Price

Full Review

Main

Ibanez

GRX70QA

Cell

Alternative

Epiphone

SG Special VE

Cell

Alternative

Jackson

Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA

Cell

Alternative

Squier

Affinity Series Telecaster

Cell

Ibanez GRX70QA Guitar

PRO's & CON's of Ibanez GRX70QA

Before we begin, let's look at some pros and cons of this product:

Pros

  • Two humbuckers and a single-coil pickup make it easy to shape your ideal tone
  • Poplar body is similar to the alder used in traditional Stratocasters
  • Tremolo bridge opens up tonal possibilities
  • Very affordable price
  • Comes in several eye-catching finishes

Cons

  • Some buyers have complained that tuners and other pieces of hardware are cheap
  • Pickups won't have quite the tone of a higher-end guitar

Features and Benefits

The Ibanez GRX70QA is a guitar that looks more expensive than it is. But even at its very affordable price point, it has several features that make it a worthy consideration for beginning and intermediate guitarists.

Pickups and Sound Quality

Though you can upgrade pickups down the line, it's a good idea to choose a guitar with quality pickups from the start. The pickups on this guitar are ceramic and made by Ibanez, but they're surprisingly high quality. You get two humbuckers and a single-coil, and five-way switching lets you dial in the right tone for just about any genre.

Despite its affordable price, this guitar produces a variety of different tones, making it a wise choice if you want to experiment with different musical genres. This sound demo showcases some of the different clean tones, and it also demonstrates how the guitar sounds through a few different effects.

This demo shows you how each pickup setting sounds, and it also shows how the guitar sounds through fairly heavy distortion.

Tonewoods

This guitar's body is made of poplar, a softer hardwood whose affordability makes it popular with Asian guitar manufacturers. Poplar is generally described as not having a lot of tonal character, but it does have the advantage of not accentuating any given frequency range. If you're interested in learning more about poplar, this video offers more information from a luthier's perspective.

The top of this guitar is made of a thin piece of quilted maple. Maple is a heavy wood, so it's uncommon to see it used to make an entire body. However, its beautiful grain makes this guitar a head-turner.

Like most electric guitars, this one has a maple neck as well. Maple is a very hard, durable wood, and maple necks aren't generally prone to warping. In order to keep costs low, the fretboard is made of treated New Zealand pine.

Tremolo System

Tremolo arms (also called "whammy bars") aren't for everyone, but they open up your playing possibilities. A tremolo arm allows you to bend the pitch of a note or chord. Even if you don't use a lot of pitch bending in your playing, a whammy bar can be a lot of fun to play around with.

While this guitar has a tremolo system, it doesn't have locking tuners. A set of locking tuners may help the guitar stay in tune longer, especially if you heavily use the tremolo arm. If you're considering upgrading this guitar, this video addresses some of the advantages and disadvantages of upgrading to locking tuners.

Finishes

Color isn't the most important part of a guitar, but most people are more motivated to play when they have a beautiful instrument. This guitar comes in a range of finishes, and each is designed to show off the stunning quilted maple top:

  • Transparent blue burst -- This deep blue finish has a tranquil look.
  • Transparent green burst -- This bright emerald color isn't carried by all dealers, but it's worth seeking out.
  • Transparent black sunburst -- For those who love the look of a black guitar, this black burst is a great choice.
  • Sunburst -- This is the classic brown sunburst seen on many acoustic guitars.
  • Transparent violet sunburst -- For those who love purple, this violet burst is a distinctive look.
  • Transparent red burst -- This bright red burst is ideal for playing high-energy music.

If you want to see each color for yourself, check out Ibanez's product listing for the GRX70QA.

Social Proof of the Guitar

Especially if you can't try out a guitar in person before buying, it's a good idea to check out some reviews to see what other buyers have thought. We've gathered a few reviews from around the web:

Ibanez GRX70QA Review 01

This highly detailed Ibanez GRX70QA review does a great job of covering the positives and negatives of playing one of these guitars. This player modified theirs in order to improve the sound, which is a great option if you want to upgrade your tone.

Ibanez GRX70QA Review 02

This review seems to capture what many buyers are saying about this guitar--it has decent tone and is very playable, although most units have some minor quality issues, which is something you'd expect at this price point.

Ibanez GRX70QA Review 03

This reviewer adds a bit of a personal touch to their assessment of the guitar. But this review also seems to echo the prevailing sentiment about the guitar--it's an excellent value when you weigh what it can do against its fairly low price.

Alternatives to Ibanez GRX70QA

With the wealth of affordable electric guitars that are offered today, it's a great idea to evaluate some of the purchase options available to you. We've found three similar starter electric guitars you might want to consider:

Epiphone SG Special VE

How it Compares to Ibanez GRX70QA

  • Also has a poplar body for harmonic richness
  • Is slightly more affordable
  • Two ceramic humbuckers for quality tone
  • Tune-o-matic bridge keeps intonation perfect

Review

Most Ibanez guitars are made with rock and metal in mind. Epiphone's SG special is a rock machine--it's a more affordable version of the iconic Gibson SG.

This guitar has two humbuckers and a poplar body, making it comparable to the Ibanez GRX70QA in terms of construction. If you want a slightly more affordable guitar with a more traditional rock pickup configuration, be sure to give this guitar a look.

Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA

How it Compares to Ibanez GRX70QA

  • Basswood body may not have quite the tone of poplar
  • Has two high-output humbuckers that may make it louder
  • Also has a tremolo
  • Has the fast-playing neck Jackson is famous for
  • Is about the same price

Review

If you like the look and feel of the Ibanez GRX70QA but want something that's more geared toward metal, this affordable Dinky is worth a look. This guitar has two high-output humbuckers and a tremolo, and it has a fast-playing neck that's ideal for rapidly moving up and down the neck.

Though it's made of a cheaper tonewood, it's a great consideration for players who want to shred. If you want to play metal on a budget, make sure you check out this affordable guitar from Jackson.

Squier Affinity Series Telecaster

How it Compares to Ibanez GRX70QA

  • Vintage-voiced Tele pickups are good for folk, country, blues, and many other genres
  • Alder body helps create the classic Telecaster tone many players seek
  • Does not have a tremolo
  • Is slightly more expensive than the Ibanez GRX70QA

Review

This might seem like an unusual guitar to list as an alternative to an Ibanez. But if you're someone who prefers the sound of country, blues, or pop, a Telecaster may have more of the tone you're looking for.

This affordable version has the classic single-coil Tele tone that players across genres have come to love. If you need an affordable electric guitar but don't want to play hard rock or metal, be sure to check out this attractive, great-sounding guitar.

In Conclusion

Ibanez is known for making affordable guitars that play and sound great, and this one is no exception. With three pickups and five-way switching, it has more tonal versatility than almost any instrument in this price range.

Plus, with a variety of breathtaking finishes, it's a guitar that will inspire you to keep playing. Whether you keep it as it is or gradually upgrade components, this is a guitar you can happily play for years. Click here to check it out!

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