Ibanez has been showing a lot of their rarer shapes more love lately, and the Ibanez Destroyer is no different!

The Ibanez Destroyer was originally Ibanez’s Gibson Explorer copy in their pre-lawsuit era, and has since undergone many design revisions to its current state.

Famously used by Eddie Van Halen (about half of their debut album is recorded using an Explorer, any of the parts that didn’t require a trem) and later beautifully butchered into becoming his Shark Guitar, the Destroyer has become legendary in its own right.

Keep reading to see how the modern version holds up!


Destroyer DT520 Specifications:

Bound Mahogany Body
Bound Rosewood Fretboard w/ Pearl & Abalone Block Inlays
Destroyer  Profile 1-Piece Mahogany Neck
Set Neck Construction
12″ Radius
24.75” Inch Scale
22 Frets
Tight-Tune Bridge w/ Stoptail
Chrome Black Hardware
Dimarzio Tone Zone Bridge & Air Norton Neck Pickups
2xVolume, 1xTone Controls
3-Way Toggle Switch
Gloss Black Finish
All around, this is a pretty vintage guitar, with a couple modern specs to bring it up to date. It’s definitely for someone that likes classic looks or unique shapes.

Mahogany? Check. Set Neck? Check. Block inlays? Check. 24.75” scale? Check. It’s definitely built on the Les Paul archetype.

However, the neck is a comfy medium C-Shape that is general interest for most players. The radius is 12”, which is flatter than most vintage instruments, but still rather round. I find it to be well balanced for all playing styles.

The Tight-Tune bridge is very stable and easy to set up. TOM-style bridges aren’t for everyone (a large reason being groupthink, if we’re being honest), but this one definitely doesn’t get in my way at all. It’s definitely better designed than many other similar pieces.

The shape is obviously a love or hate thing. When you combine that with the short scale and TOM-style bridge, the ergonomics are definitely targeting a certain kind of player.

I’d recommend trying one out for yourself, because while the guitar is comfortable enough, if you’ve been playing Strat shapes with generous arm carves, or even headless guitars, this may be a bit of a culture shock.


As I touched on earlier, the tone is largely borrowed from Les Pauls due to the construction and wood choice: thick and meaty.

However, the Dimarzios are on the hotter side, and well suited to metal genres as well. The Tone Zone is a very hot and bass-y pickup, so while it doesn’t have the tightest bass response, it has a lot of low end punch. The Air Norton is one of my favorite neck pickups. The Air technology increases sustain and leaves the highs very sweet.

Being that these are humbuckers, you’re not going to get glassy strat tones, but it will excel at fat blues and jazz cleans. It’s nice having two volume knobs as well, because it can really help you clean up the tone of the Air Norton a bit, or you can leave it off and use the 3-way as a killswitch! (Like Eddie Van Halen himself!)

Build Quality:

This guitar exists in a bit of a middle ground for Ibanez. It’s not part of their Iron Label line, but it has higher quality components and design appointments than their cheaper imports.

I tend to be really critical of cheaper guitars, but the more of them I play from Ibanez, the more I realize…. There’s really nothing wrong with them at all.

There aren’t any alignment or routing issues (something many “boutique” luthiers charging upwards of $2,000 struggle with), and the tuning is very stable.

The frets aren’t sharp and they don’t lift, but they’re obviously not MIJ or MIA quality. The electronics also aren’t scratchy at all, which is something I usually hate/expect on sub-$1000 guitars.

Final Verdict:

The way I see it, this guitar is largely catering to two camps: and it does a reasonably good job of servicing both.

Vintage fans will definitely love the feel, with slightly hotter tone that’s well suited to many genres.

Modern metal players looking for an intense shapes will be happy with a neck profile that is suitable for shred; as well as thick heavy tone that is definitely suited for hard rock and old school death metal, if not the best at extremely tight modern-metal downtuning.

The build quality is definitely up to par for the price range, and I easily found myself living out my Van Halen fantasies on this guitar, while having a surprisingly pleasant drone metal and jazz experience as well.

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This article was written by Kyle Karich, our editor located in Florida.


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