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Ibanez makes an HSH guitar for under $200

Ibanez GRX70QA

Ibanez yet again puts together a low-priced guitar that features something that used to be a premium-only option: HSH pickup configuration. And it's good.

Times are changing where guitars are concerned. Above is the Ibanez GRX70QA model. And at the time I write this, it's under $200 new.

HSH, which means humbucker-single-humbucker, used to be something you would only find on high-end soloist guitars. But now you can have it for just under 200 bucks new.

What makes HSH special?

HSH is special - or at least was - for the reason that it is a nonstandard build.

The vast majority of electric guitars that use a Strat-like double cutaway shape by default will either be SSS, HSS or HH. You simply do not see HSH that often.

Squier did in fact make an HSH Stratocaster guitar, but it's no longer in production. However, even if it were still made, it was a Deluxe model and was always priced significantly higher than $200.

The Fender Player Stratocaster HSH does exist, but that obviously costs far more than $200 to get one of those.

Charvel offers an HSH as well, but that costs even more than the Fender does.

And, of course, Ibanez themselves offers the JEM as well as several other models featuring HSH. But where the best value is concerned, nothing beats the GRX70QA seen above.

Is HSH actually useful?

It is for those that want that middle single-coil pickup.

Imagine a guitar in HH configuration. Now imagine a middle pickup giving you "quack" positions like a Strat, plus another middle pickup position with a nice midrange tone to it. That's the HSH. You go from a 3-position guitar to 5-position, and yes you gain tone functionality that's actually useful...

...BUT WAIT, this Ibanez has a trick up its sleeve that makes it even more useful.

The 2 and 4 "quack" positions I just mentioned? It's not H+S for the 2 position and S+H for the 4 position.

This is how the pickup selector works:


When in the 2 position, the rear humbucker is split to single-coil, and when in the 4 position the front humbucker is split to single-coil.

This means you truly do get Strat-like "quack" sounds from the 2 and 4 positions and not a humbucker overpowering the middle single-coil pickup.

Very, very cool.

And to get it in a $200 guitar is even better.

It's safe to say that the GRX70QA is without question the best value HSH guitar that exists right now. It's definitely an HSH guitar done right.

Published 2019 Feb 27

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