indonesia made

The $599 RG1230FE straddles the line between the most affordable and higher-end guitars with the feel of a professional grade instrument.

With an artist roster stacked to the gills with the shred world’s elite—Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Meshuggah, and Paul Gilbert, among many, many others—Ibanez has established itself as perennial contender for the crown of the de facto metal and hard-rock axe. The company’s long-running and ultra-popular RG series is among its most recognizable and iconic offerings. It debuted in the late ’80s at the height of the shred craze, and it now comprises a broad range of instruments from entry-level models to the flagship J Custom line. The new Iron Label RGIR20FE, which is built in Indonesia and goes for $599 street, straddles the line between the most affordable and higher-end guitars—but it has the feel of a professional grade instrument that you won’t have to break the bank to buy, nor treat with kid gloves when you’re moshing onstage.

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Can an entry-level modeler hang with the big dogs?

Excellent interface. Very portable. Nice modulation tones.

Some subpar low-gain dirt sounds. Could be a little more rugged.


HeadRush MX5


The allure of portability and sonic consistency has become too much to ignore for some guitarists, making smaller digital modelers more appealing than ever.

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Emily Wolfe lets loose, with an Epiphone Sheraton around her shoulders. Her signature Sheraton Stealth was released in 2021. "The guitar is the perfect frequency range for my soul," she says.

Photo by Brittany Durdin

The rising guitar star blends classic and stoner rock, Motown, and more influences with modern pop flourishes in songs replete with fat, fuzzy, fizzy tones from her new Epiphone Sheraton signature.

For so many artists, the return of live shows means the return of the thrill of performing, much-needed income, and, in a way, purpose. The third definitely goes for guitarist Emily Wolfe, who, when asked about her goals, immediately responds, "I just want to play arenas every night for the rest of my life. When I go up there, something could hit me at any point—an emotion that I felt 10 years ago could come out in a bend on the low E."

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