Ibanez Iron Label 2021: The Xiphos and Iceman Return In Their Most Brutal Forms!

The Ibanez Iron Label guitars have been a mid-range, stripped down metal-focused lineup. This year, Ibanez keeps with that tradition, while giving us two fan favorites that have been requested for years.


Iron Label 2021: Reviving Two Popular Models

The Ibanez Iron Label series started out as “the perfect Metal guitar” for a lot of guitarists. They were stripped down, spartan versions of the most popular Ibanez models. The Iron label versions were simple: one knob, EMG Pickups, and a killswitch. These were all done in a simple matte black finish, as well.

Over the years, the Iron Label has become something else entirely. It is still meant to appeal to Metal guitarists by and large, but they models have expanded to become the “mid-priced” versions of the more expensive Ibanez models. This includes tons of RG models, RGD, and other popular series. The Iron Label is made in Indonesia, which saves on the manufacturing cost, while maintaining some name brand features.

This year we see the Iron Label get back to it’s roots with two highly requested guitars! Let’s take a look at these two Metal monsters, and look at a run down of the features.


Iceman 7 String Model

iron label
Ibanez Iceman

Over the past 10 years or so, I have seen so many people on Ibanez forums talk about bringing back the Iceman 7 string. This models was made for a very short period of time, and at the time was not very popular. The 7 string Iceman went on to be highly sought after in the used market. Like most popular things, it was a bit of a failure the first time around.

I personally tried to find one of the original 7 string Iceman models on the used market, but the people that had them were often price gouging for a guitar that originally sold for under $700. At the time, I played Ibanez exclusively, and even reached out to the company for one, to no avail.

In the past years, the 7 string Iceman has been something of a legend. Ibanez fans have been asking for this model to make a comeback for quite some time. I believe there was even a petition started at one point to bring back the 7 string Iceman. Well Ibanez Fan Boys, you finally get your wish!

The 2021 Ibanez lineup has been released already, but it seems like the Japanese company still has a few tricks up their sleeve for this year. We finally get a look at the new 7 string Iceman, and all of it’s new features:

  • Matte Black Finish
  • Okoume Body
  • 5 piece Maple/Walnut Neck
  • Neck thru Construction
  • Dimarzio D-Activator Pickups
  • Ebony Fretboard
  • No Inlays
  • Gotoh Locking Tuners
  • 24 Frets
  • 25.5 Scale

The new Ibanez Iron Label Iceman is definitely a step up, features-wise, from the original. The original had a bolt on neck, generic pickups, and the same neck that the famous RG 7 strings came with. It was almost as if the original was made of leftover parts, with a different body.

The new Ibanez Iceman has neck-thru construction, providing more sustain. The neck is the traditional Iron Label Maple/Walnut combo in five pieces that provides tons of stability. The Ebony fretboard keeps with tradition as well, with no inlay markers and a smooth finish with jumbo frets.

I really like seeing lower-tier Ibanez models being shipped with Dimarzio pickups again, as it’s also a tradition of Ibanez. The D-Activator pickups are perfectly suited to Metal. These are passive pickups that attempt to replicate the sound of actives, while still retaining the characteristics of a passive pickup. This means that pinch harmonics and squeals are easy to achieve, without the choke and compression of an active.

I do not have much experience with the newer Mono Rail bridge system, but it seems that having individual saddles would make it easier to intonate the guitar, and keep it in tune. You see these types of bridges pretty often on headless guitars, and being able to have each string be independent seems like a good idea. Again though, I do not have much experience with these, other than just seeing them. These are just a square version of the usual tube ones? Or maybe this is just what Ibanez is calling their fixed bridges now.

Locking tuners round out the features of this beast, and I think it is a huge step up from the original!

Ibanez Iron Label 2021: The Xiphos and Iceman Return In Their Most Brutal Forms!

Iron Label Xiphos 6 and 7 String

Ibanez Iron Label 2021: The Xiphos and Iceman Return In Their Most Brutal Forms!
Ibanez Xiphos XTB720

This is yet another Ibanez model that got pushed to the wayside years ago, and has been asked for by fans for years. The original series Xiphos 6 and 7 string guitars were also highly sought after, long since production ended (Like the Iceman). The originals were a part of the standard lineup (Like the Iceman) and people would usually replace the stock features with mods.

It’s almost like Ibanez decided that this is the year to brethe new life into old models.

Look, I get it. The Xiphos is a “love it or hate it” kind of guitar. Its… extreme to say the least. I had the chance to play one of the original 7 string models (and in retrospect, I should have bought it) and it’s a very comfortable shape to play despite it’s “pointy” look. The original also had the standard Wizard II 7 string neck that I was familiar with. The Iron label model has made some big changes though, in features:

  • Okoume Body
  • Wizard II Maple/Walnut 5 Piece Neck
  • Ebony Fretboard
  • Matte Black Finish
  • Edge Trem
  • Locking Nut
  • Dimarzio D-Activator Pickups
  • Jumbo Frets
  • 24 Frets
  • No Inlays

The new Iron Label Xiphos, or “X” as they are calling it, has the same basic features as the Iceman. The difference is the trem, and the choice between 6 and 7 string options. These new Xiphos models blow the older Standard models out of the water when it comes to features.

The rub, or where you may find issue, is the trem system. Some people simply do not get along with a floating bridge, and I know all too well how involved it can be to change the strings. Of course you can always block the trem, but the process of changing strings can still be complicated, and I totally understand that. However, if you DO get along with floating trem systems, then the Xiphos is a pretty killer looking Metal guitar!

Ibanez Iron Label 2021: The Xiphos and Iceman Return In Their Most Brutal Forms!

Iron Label 2021: Wrapping Up

Both of these models have been highly requested by the guitar community, and it looks like Ibanez has heard you! Both guitars a beloved Ibanez originals that have had many forms over the years, and we finally get to see them updated. No more looking on Ebay for a used model of these classics!

Both new models are pretty extreme when it comes to shapes, but Metal has always been about being extreme, right? Now whether you get along with extreme shapes or not, is up to you. Personally, I think they a really cool, as well as functional.

The only feature I feel like is missing from both of these models is stainless frets. Stainless steel has almost become commonplace for mid to higher-end guitars, and it’s a little strange that both models offer so many upgrades while lacking stainless frets. I didnt think that stainless frets really made a difference until I owned a couple guitars with them. It makes routine maintenance a breeze, since you never have to crow or file the frets, let alone even polish them.

Beyond the lack of stainless frets though, these are fully ready to make some serious noise. It’s also really nice to see such a big company like Ibanez giving a little fan service. Hopefully, these models do well and we see more options in the future.

Do the new Ibanez Iron Label guitars come with a case?

No. Ibanez usually only ships cases with their Japanese made guitars, and high end custom models.

Does The iron Label Iceman only come in 7 string?

Currently, the new Iceman only comes in a fixed bridge 7 string.

What are the color options for the Iron Label X and Iceman?

Currently, the Iron Label Matte Black is the only option. Hopefully we see more in the future!

Christoper Horton

Christopher started playing guitar in 1994 at 14 years old. He has been a part of the Metal community for the last 25 years and has 11 solo albums under his belt. Christopher started his career in Atlanta, Georgia in the late 90's, later securing a major label record deal in the early 2000s under the name IAMSOUND. He worked briefly as a hired gun in Los Angeles before he opened his own studio in 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. Chris has worked with some big names over the years like Tripping Daisy, Kylesa, Baroness, and the legendary Reflux.

Recent Posts

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!