Ibanez GIO GRG121SP Review (2024) – Dream Budget Guitar?

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Ibanez GIO GRG121SP Review

This is my Ibanez GIO GRG121SP Review.

If you are looking for a good entry-level guitar, the Ibanez Gio guitars are the right choice. The guitars are attractively priced and meet Ibanez’s high quality standards. In this review, we take a look at the beautiful Blue Metal Chamelon GRG121SP.


Ibanez GRG121SP & GRG220PA - Guitar Demo - Kenji Koch & Marco Schauff

Ibanez GIO GRG121SP Review

Ibanez GIO GRG121SP Review
  • Price indication: $ 300
  • Body: poplar
  • Neck: roasted maple, bolt-on, scale: 648 mm (25,5″)
  • Fretboard: jatoba, 24 medium frets
  • Pickups: Classic Elite Humbucker (bridge), Classic Elite Humbucker (neck)
  • Controls:  volume, tone; switch: 5-way; bridge
  • Hardware: F106 bridge; hardware finish: chrome; tuners from Ibanez
  • Other: inlays: white dots; nut width: 43 mm (1,69″) fingerboard radius: 400 mm (15,75″); thickness at 1st fret: 20 mm (0,77″); thickness at 12th fret: 22 mm (0,85″)


  • Stunning looks!
  • Feels and plays like a more expensive version of Ibanez guitars
  • Broadly applicable: from funk to blues and rock to metal.


  • The bridge humbucker is a bit microphonic and might give more high feedback sounds than you prefer. If so, you can easily replace the pickup.

Check price:

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Body and Neck

Ibanez GIO GRG121SP Review

The GIO has a poplar body. Poplar is a bit more affordable than alder. The guitar looks impressive thanks to the Blue Metal Chamelon finish: depending on the light, the color jumps between purple, blue and green like a true chameleon. (In addition to Blue Metal Chamelon, the guitar is available in Black Night black).

The GRG121SP has a beautiful neck made of toasted maple in a matte finish. The headstock of the guitar is finished in the same finish as the body. The fingerboard is Jatoba (a rosewood-like wood) and features 24 medium jumbo frets. Based on the looks, you would think that you are dealing with a guitar from Ibanez’s more expensive series, but it clearly says GIO on the headstock! 😄

Ibanez GIO GRG121SP Review (2024) - Dream Budget Guitar?


Ibanez GIO GRG121SP Review

The GIO has two ceramic ‘Classic Elite’ humbuckers and features two master controls for volume and tone. The humbuckers with element caps are mounted directly in the body and look sleek. In addition, the guitar has a five-position switch with the standard sounds in positions four and two as well as a neck humbucker position and a position with both humbuckers together in coilsplit.

Ibanez Gio front

To prevent unauthorized movement and jack loosening, which can result in contact failure or disconnection, the mono-unit output jack is composed of sturdy, one-piece material. With this invention, playing can be enjoyed for a very long time with very little upkeep.


Thanks to the matte finish on the neck, the neck feels very nice and sits comfortably in the hand. The jumbo frets on the neck are nicely rounded. Due to the rounded heel, the higher frets are easy to reach. The tuning of the guitar remains stable thanks to the fixed F106 bridge. This makes the guitar suitable for rough work with drop tunings via a thicker set of strings.


Ibanez GIO GRG121SP - Demo by Nico Schliemann

The ceramic pickups give reasonable output and give a tight high-gain sound. The neck humbucker sounds nice and full and great for smooth solos. The bridge humbucker can write quite well and is ideal for fast and tight riffs. Only possible drawback is that the guitar sometimes tends to give high feedback sounds (the bridge humbucker is a bit microphonic). The Ibanez GIO GRG121SP has a nice open clean sound, and with a little overdrive you can send quite a few bluesy sounds into the world.

Ibanez GIO GRG121SP – Alternatives

Ibanez GRGR221PA Gio

Ibanez GRGR221PA 

With its magnificent aqua burst finish and the playability of Ibanez’s higher end models, the GRGR221PA Gio lets you shred with the best!

Jatoba fretboard, medium sized frets improve your notes’ precision, poplar body, Classic Elite pickups and a F106 bridge.

Ibanez GRG131DX-BKF

Ibanez GRG131DX

The legendary Ibanez RG series body, made of poplar, serves as the foundation of the GRG131DX. Then, a Maple GRG neck with Medium frets, a Treated New Zealand Pine fretboard, and red Sharktooth inlays is added. Two Infinity R pickups and a 3-way selector switch for a range of tonal possibilities are included in the electronics.

Ibanez GRG120QASP Gio

Ibanez GRG120QASP

A reasonably priced shredder that doesn’t compromise on effectiveness and quality? The Ibanez GRG120QASP Gio provides a stable and vibrant tonal character. The Purpleheart fretboard highlights the aesthetic appeal and distinctive sonic characteristics. Jumbo frets make it easier to play notes smoothly, especially when playing a single note.
The Quilted Maple Art Grain top enhances the response musically. And the Poplar body has an incredibly thick tone that is well-balanced.

Customer Reviews – Ibanez GIO GRG121SP


Awesome feeling neck, good bridge and decent pickups. The finish is amazing. I’ve never played a guitar in this price range that plays this well. The only weak point would be the pickups , the bridge sounds decent , the neck pickup leaves a lot to be desired. If you looking for a mod platform or just started out , you could easily swap the pickups and this would be a great guitar for years.


The pickups are so microphonic that it’s impossible to play this guitar on an amp or combo. Feedback is immediate and persistent. To be reserved for those who only play the guitar on pc with headphones or on 20watt amps.

I bought this guitar a few months ago, didn’t want to spend a lot. The finish is beautiful, and I can’t find a problem with any part of this instrument. Needed a light neck for my aging fingers and this cuts it without costing an arm and a leg. Ibanez has made it good at this level and I can only imagine that it gets better as the money goes up. If you are hesitating, don’t! You will be happy you did this! 

Verdict – Ibanez GIO GRG121SP

The Ibanez GIO GRG121SP is an excellent entry-level model for beginning guitarists. It looks great and feels and plays like a more expensive version of Ibanez guitars (RG-series). The sound is also great. Should you find that your version also tends to give a little too much high feedback sounds, you can easily replace an element for not too much money.

Ibanez GIO GRG121SP

Ibanez GIO GRG121SP guitar

Check price:

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Friso is as excited about playing guitar as the moment when he picked up the instrument for the first time, about 35 years ago. He is the founder of GuitarNeeds.com where he likes to share his knowledge about guitars, guitar gear and guitar playing.

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