What We Like
What We Don't Like
The Ibanez NDM4 is the fourth signature model from The Offspring’s bespectacled guitarist, Noodles. On the face of it there’s nothing extraordinary, so what do you actually get for your $500?
I’m sad to say I find the design of this guitar is actually its weakest asset, especially when you compare it to the first three. The NDM1 was very unique, with a hand-applied gaffer tape finish. The NDM2 and 3 also had different features that made them stand out.
This new model – with a traditional sunburst finish and black pickguard – is very vintage in design, but unless you knew it was a signature guitar it wouldn’t strike you as anything out of the ordinary.
However, for big Offspring fans (myself included), it’s instantly recognizable and retains the classic, curvaceous Talman shape. There’s a well-contoured single cutaway basswood body, with a sturdy bolt-on three-piece maple neck, and a 25.5” scale length. The neck features a rosewood fretboard, 22 medium frets, and white dot inlays.
The headstock is the main giveaway that this is a signature model, with Noodles’ signature on the truss rod cover plate. It’s a distinctive asymmetrical 3+3 headstock, with chrome tuners. And as you may expect from a $500 Ibanez, it shows good craftsmanship.
The NDM1 and 2 featured two beefy humbuckers and a middle single-coil but – since the NDM3 – the Noodles signature models have been voiced by two passive Super 9 soapbar-style single-coils at the neck and bridge, which is slightly odd considering the punk rock style this guitar is used for. However, with The Offspring adding a little extra vintage twang to their current sound, it becomes more understandable.
The NDM4 also comes equipped with a three-way pickup selector switch, as well as two black skirted plastic control knobs – one for master volume, one for master tone – with the tone knob sitting nicely on a chrome control plate.
Finally, completing the line-up of features on this relatively simple guitar, is an Ibanez-made fixed bridge, which is comfortable and great for your tuning stability.
For energetic punk rock, full of chugging powerchords and blistering leads, this workhorse of a guitar is great. It’s simple in its design and features but is easy to play on, with a smooth, comfortable neck and fat fretboard, and a lightweight body that won’t slow you down on stage.
While it’s still a shame not to see any humbuckers, the single-coils do well in cutting through the background noise and giving you a good base for lead playing, and enough aggression when playing with distortion.
Along with great sustain and tuning stability, there are many good things about this guitar. However for the considerable price I would still expect a little more.
While it’s not as unique or eye-catching as its previous incarnations, the NDM4 is a no-nonsense workhorse of a guitar that lends itself well to playing the kind of high-energy punk rock that Noodles is known for.