Guitar of the week #109: Ibanez S521
Old school cool for a nice price.
The Ibanez S521 is an old design. And by old I mean that this particular design is either at or over 30 years old at this point.
I remember seeing Ibanez guitars almost exactly like this back when I was a teenager. The only 3 differences between the design back then and the design now is a) the inlay dots are offset instead of centered on fretboard, b) it's a hardtail instead of having a Strat-style tremolo system, and c) this one does not have a bolt plate for the neck connection.
All 3 of these things are actually improvements. The inlay dots are easier to see when offset to the top of the fretboard, the hardtail keeps the guitar in tune better, and the redone neck connection allows for easier access to the higher frets.
I personally like this particular Strat-style Ibanez over others because the price is good, the raised pickup selector is easier to use than a typical Squier/Fender Strat selector, and the best part - the output jack.
I wish more guitar companies would put use this style of output jack. It's angled perfectly so you can snake the guitar cable above the strap very easily. The angle also significantly decreases the chance of the jack becoming loose. Out of all output jack designs that exist, this is arguably the best one. Or at least the best one for a Strat-style guitar.
The other specs of this guitar is standard Ibanez fare, which in this case is a good thing. "Wizard III" neck, "Quantum" pickups, jumbo fret wire, black hardware, good tuners, premium metal knobs, good stuff all around.
In other words, the S521 is a good, solid, workhorse rocker guitar that doesn't need any upgrades. It's an old design that's only been slightly tweaked with small improvements, but that's a good thing because not much needed to be improved. This is a good buy and priced fair for what it is.