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Ibanez RG550 vs Ibanez RG565 – The Costliest Article!

Hello there and welcome back to yet another great article for you! This time we will be looking at two different guitars within Ibanez‘s Genesis Collection: Ibanez RG550 vs Ibanez RG565. And no, it’s not going to be a simple, generic tech specs comparison!

Instead, I will provide you with so many details and inconsistencies between two guitars that are supposed to be the same!

That’s why I actually call this article the costliest article on cigilovic.com. 🙂 As you may have noticed in my Ibanez RG550 review article, I purchased both Ibanez RG550 in Purple Neon colour and Ibanez RG565 in Laser Blue colour guitars.

I believe around 2018, Ibanez announced these Genesis Collection guitars and from the very first moment, I wanted to get myself an RG565. However, I ended up spending my savings on other guitars and pieces of equipment so I had to postpone it.

Later on, I noticed RG550s can be purchased at Thomann with possibly the best price offering so I wanted to add one to my collection along with an RG565 which I really loved at first sight!

As most of you may already know, the Ibanez RG series is considered a legendary, edgy and now a true classic guitar design in the musical instrument history. After having started an ever-lasting partnership with Steve Vai, Ibanez was able to deliver one of the most progressive guitar designs for him, the JEM model as we know it.

Ibanez then also started manufacturing the RG series in different variations without some of the design features in the original JEM design and they made it more affordable. Throughout the years, there have been so many iterations released with more modernised features that would be able to fulfil the new generation of guitar players.

However, Ibanez has also regularly released anniversary RG models and reissues as well. The Genesis Collection is one of the best moves recently to make this legendary RG series guitars to the masses. The cool thing about the Genesis Collection is that you get the identical guitar that once shocked the world in the late 80s! Made in Japan, authentic, unaltered RG guitars!

If you want to know more about the history of JEM and RG guitars, please also visit the individual article of both guitars.

Check out my Ibanez RG550 review article here

Even though I mentioned at the beginning of this article that it’s not going to be a generic tech specs comparison, I still would like to start with a simple tech specs comparison to provide you with a smooth foundation on this topic.

Ibanez RG565 vs RG550 Tech Specs Comparison

Body TypeDouble cutaway RG - Solid bodyDouble cutaway RG - Solid body
BodyBasswoodBasswood
Neck jointBolt-on (4 bolts)Bolt-on (4 bolts)
BridgeEdge tremoloEdge tremolo
Knob stylePlastic knobs (black)Metal knobs (black)
Hardware colorBlackBlack
Neck typeSuper WizardSuper Wizard
Neck material5pc Maple/Walnut neck5pc Maple/Walnut neck
Scale length648mm (25.5 inches)648mm (25.5 inches)
Fingerboard materialMapleMaple
Fingerboard inlaysBlack dot inlayMatching colour dot inlay
Frets24 / Jumbo frets24 / Jumbo frets
NutLocking nut (43mm)Locking nut (43mm)
Machine headsGotohGotoh
HeadstockReverseRegular
Pickup configurationH/S/HH/S
Bridge pickupIbanez V8 (Passive/Alnico)Ibanez V8 (Passive/Alnico)
Middle pickupIbanez S1 (Passive/Alnico)N/A
Neck pickupIbanez V7 (Passive/Ceramic)Infinity R (Humbucker Passive/Ceramic)
Controls1 volume, 1 tone, 5-way pickup selector1 volume, 1 tone, 5-way pickup selector
Colour optionsDesert Sun Yellow, Road Flare Red, Purple NeonLaser Blue, Vampire Kiss
Made inJapan!Japan!

As you can see from the table above, there are a couple of features that are different in these RG models. Apart from visual aspects and pickups, Ibanez RG550 and RG565 are exactly the same guitars. However, is this really the case? Let’s have a deep dive and understand what kind of differences exist between the two RG models.

Manufacturing and Quality Control

As can be seen in the inspection cards, apart from the finish inspector and assembly, the electronics and neck set was done by the same inspectors. Even though the RG565 Laser Blue was not available sooner than the RG550 Purple Neon, it seems that the RG565 Laser Blue was made on the 25th of July, 2022 whereas the RG550 Purple Neon was made on the 10th of August, 2022.

RG565 vs RG550 Manufacturing and QC

We can conclude that both guitars were manufactured around the same time and assembled and checked by a small group of people at Ibanez.

Headstock

Apparently, the only difference between the RG550 and RG565 headstocks is the matching colour and the orientation of the tuners.

RG565 features a reverse headstock while RG550 features a regular one. This is completely up to one’s preferences and I don’t think this should be a parameter to pick up one against the other.

However, some people don’t like the reverse headstock as they are used to using regular ones for a long time. When you switch to a reverse headstock, it may feel awkward at first as you need to adjust your left hand while tuning your guitar.

RG565 vs RG550 Headstock

I’m sure you are already thinking why on earth is he talking about the headstocks!? For sure, I have more to tell you. Have you been already able to spot anything looking at the image above? Let’s have a closer look.

Locking Nut Alignment

RG565 vs RG550 Locking Nut

When I first got my RG550, I actually didn’t notice anything as there was no other guitar I could compare this against. However, when I received my RG565, this alignment issue immediately became visible in the playing position.

As you can see from the image on the top left that belongs to the RG565, you can easily spot the excess wood underneath. However, this does not cause any problems, strings are still going straight into the locking nut. On the other hand, the bottom part is perfectly aligned.

On the RG550, this is way better aligned. So just in case, you are also crazy about these details, next time you have the opportunity to test your RG series guitars, just try to grab these parts with your nails and see if your nail have a grip there.

The Neck

I believe this is the most surprising out of all inconsistencies that I have been able to spot. According to Ibanez, both RG550 and RG565 feature the exact same neck, the Super Wizard neck. All the measurements and the type of neck are supposed to be identical.

But what really surprised me that the fact that these necks feel completely different. On my RG550, the neck feels thinner and I am not able to feel any pressure in my palms.

On the other hand, the neck on the RG565 feels a bit chunkier. I mean I’m not able to measure all these parameters on a Super Wizard neck profile. But I tested it dozens of time and I can easily claim that the neck on the RG565 is different and feel a bit bigger, especially the profile of the neck.

Another thing I have been able to spot is that the neck on RG565 feels smoother. Almost like, it has had extra layers of fine sanding whereas the neck on the RG550 feels rougher and more like plain wood.

RG565 vs RG550 Fretboard

Last but not least, is the fretboard itself. The fretboard on the RG565 has a darker colour of maple which can be easily spotted in the image above. On the RG550, you almost can not distinguish the fretboard from the neck while looking at the neck in the playing position.

The Frets

According to Ibanez, RG series guitars feature 24 jumbo frets. Even though it is stated on Thomann’s website that RG550s have Ibanez’s Prestige fret end treatment, the frets on my RG550 have sharp edges all around. The amount of fret sprout is very minimal but you can definitely feel the sharp edges on both sides of the fretboard.

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Surprisingly, Thomann doesn’t have the same statement on the product pages for RG565 models. More surprisingly, there is no statement on the Ibanez website that any RG models under Genesis Collection have this fret treatment.

My RG565 has perfect fretwork, it’s completely spotless and has no sharp fret edges. This actually got me thinking for a while regarding whether I should return the RG550. I have seen so many guitars that may build up the fret sprouts in time and sharp edges that can be amplified due to humidity issues.

RG565 vs RG550 Fretboard

On my Ibanez AR300 guitar which I bought as a second-hand instrument in mint condition, the sharp edges and fret sprout were both at the extreme level. You could almost not move your hand without being careful, otherwise, you would cut yourself. Note that, this guitar is 18 years old and it was almost never played. Even in this condition, frets may go wrong after all these years.

However, it was concerning for me to keep the Ibanez RG550, so after having thought about it, I decided to return it to Thomann and just keep the RG565.

I think you should definitely check the sharp fret ends, especially if you are after a Japanese-made guitar. Even though the fret levelling is perfect on both models, I don’t think sharp edges on a brand new, Japanese Ibanez RG is not acceptable.

Dot Inlays

Next, we have the dot inlays. On the RG565, dot inlays feature the matching colour with the guitar’s colour. However, I think these look better on the orange and emerald green versions rather than the laser blue and vampire kiss colours.

RG565 vs RG550 Dot Inlays

In the image above, on the left-hand side, you have the RG565 Laser Blue with matching(?) dot inlays. I believe they don’t look so cool, I would prefer black dot inlays. But for sure, it’s my opinion only.

Body

Both RG550 and RG565 feature the same RG body, with no difference in terms of the materials used. But my first impression was that the RG550 was a bit heavier.

I measured them on a pretty accurate scale and found out that the RG550 weighs 3.8kg whereas RG565 weighs 3.4kg.

RG Body

Finish

The finish on both guitars was perfectly done, with no issues and no flaws at all! Colour option-wise, as these guitars come from an era where these edgy colours were a thing, you have many so many in-your-face colour options.

I think all of the colour options look awesome! However, if you prefer less in-your-face colours, you should definitely check the blue, purple neon and emerald green. The other colour options which are red, orange and yellow almost shout all the time! 🙂

Regarding finishes, just one crazy detail for you here! When I removed the backplate to adjust the tremolo, I noticed that my hands had some blue stains caused by a bit of messy finishing in the tremolo cavity. So RG565 has a messier finish in the tremolo cavity, just for your information!

However, RG550 was perfectly dried and did not cause any colour stains on my fingers and hands while adjusting the tremolo springs.

Electronics

Both RG550 and RG565 feature a similar layout with a 5-way pickup selector switch and single volume and tone controls. On RG565, you have metal knobs whereas on RG550 you have plastic ones.

Personally, I prefer the metal one. I think it looks better in this design and is also easier to grab with my pinky.

However, this is just a minor detail. As you can change these knobs to any style of plastic or metal knobs based on your taste very easily.

RG550 vs RG565 Top View

When it comes to the pickup selector switches, the one on the RG565 is a bit stiffer. I believe this is better because there was no occasion that I hit it lightly and caused changing the position of the switch by accident.

But on the RG550, it’s a bit lose and I hit it many times with my picking hand and ended up in a different pickup position.

Pickup Positions and Combinations

Here below, you can see the pickup positions and how the pickups are combined in each position. RG550 actually features pickup combinations that are now considered a classic Ibanez RG style. It offers tremendous amounts of options and very unique RG-style in between positions that are 2nd and 4th positions.

On the other hand, RG565 offers a very unique pickup combination and switching as can be seen on the right-hand side. Offering only bridge and neck pickups and not having any middle pickup is actually something I prefer personally.

Because I tend to hit the middle pickup so often while picking on any guitars with a middle pickup. I actually feel a lot more comfortable playing my RG565.

RG550 vs RG565 Pickup Combinations

Balance-wise, I think RG550 is more balanced in terms of the volume level that each combination offers. RG565 may yield different volume levels due to the fact that splitting a single coil-sized humbucker in some positions.

However, in terms of uniqueness and originality, I would go for RG565, because there are not many mass-produced guitars that feature a H/S pickup combination with a single coil-size humbucker in the neck. Just do some research and you will notice that this is very rare!

Edge Tremolo

Last but not least, the legendary Ibanez Edge tremolo! Both guitars feature Ibanez’s original Edge tremolo system. Even though it has been praised for many years, you should understand that it’s a pretty old system.

But it definitely works. As with any double-locking tremolo, it’s pretty time-consuming to restring, adjust and tune. But once the strings are settled down, you can simply lock the nut and just use the fine tuners on the bridge.

RG550 vs RG565 Edge Tremolo

There’s one thing I need to mention is that both tremolo arms reacted exactly the same. What I mean by that is that when I received my guitars from Thomann, I immediately installed the tremolo bar and both tremolo holders got loose immediately.

Now, this is a design problem because there’s only one way to tighten it. And I’m not talking about the Teflon washers.

These Teflon washers just make sure that the tremolo bar inside the tremolo holder is tight enough so it stays in position.

However, there is also a hex nut at the back of the tremolo holder. What you basically need to do is to remove the backplate, remove the spring holder, then the springs and the tremolo itself.

Because otherwise, it’s very difficult to reach and tighten this nut. Not to mention that you have to also apply opposing forces on the tremolo hole. Unfortunately, there’s no tool that comes with the guitar that could allow quick tightening. 

That means from time to time, you may have to remove the tremolo and tighten this nut. Actually, the problem isn’t that the tremolo bar is loose and doesn’t stay in position. It actually gets really loose that you lose control over the tremolo bar, because the tremolo holder just keeps rotating, disabling the opposing force and causing this weird feeling.

I’m sure people who have been using Ibanez RG guitars are very used to this. After having researched the topic, I understood that it’s something you need to live with.

The good thing about this consistency is that both Edge tremolos reacted exactly the same, meaning that it’s not a quality control issue or bad materials used in these bridges! 🙂

RG550 vs RG565 Demo Video No Talking

As you can see, there are some inconsistencies between RG550 and RG565 in terms of craftsmanship. I did my best to provide a deep-dive analysis of every part of these instruments. However, at the end of the day, these are pretty much the same guitars.

One of the biggest differences that will make a sonic difference is the pickups and the switching. In order to show you how these guitars sound within the same scenario, I made a comparison video, showing you individual pickup combinations using the same setup and the same set of patterns.

Obviously, you wouldn’t expect any sonic differences between the bridge pickups. But from the 2nd position up to the 5th, there are significant differences in the timbre of these sounds. I hope you enjoy this video and benefit from this in your decision-making!

As I mentioned, I decided to return my Ibanez RG550 back to Thomann, use that money for something else and keep my Ibanez RG565 Laser Blue for the future. I recommend if you have the opportunity, go to a music store and test these models back to back.

If you have already decided on one of these models, I still suggest you attempt to try multiple guitars from the same series as there may be inconsistencies between different batches. Thanks for visiting my blog and supporting me so far! I will hopefully see you in the next review here!

Osman