Ibanez AZ Series new for 2018

The Ibanez AZ guitar – solid body electric – series was formally announced at Winter NAMM Jan 2018. The AZ brings back a modernized Blazer (introduced 1981) & Roadstar (introduced 1983) including the vintage style non-pointy 6-inline headstock. The AZ is poised to last longer Ibanez’ prior “vintage super strat” attempt, the 1992 RT Series (think RG, with vintage trem & vintage neck & pointy headstock).

In the last 30 years the AZ Series is one of  the few new 6-string Prestige (not the cheap stuff) “series” Ibanez has actually introduced which wasn’t mostly derivative of an existing model (see list at bottom of this page).

Even though Ibanez is thought of as a modern guitar brand, we have decades of accumulated knowledge and a history of pushing the boundaries. The AZ series carries with it all of the hallmarks of these tried and tested Ibanez qualities: the smooth oval neck grip, the well balanced asymmetrical body shape, and the neck heel allowing unrivaled playability. – Ibanez.com

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Ibanez AS200VYS Prestige Semi Hollow-body Guitar

The Ibanez AS200 Semi Hollow-body is a guitar that requires no introduction. It’s availability spans 40 years and yet could be the holy grail of Ibanez electric guitars. This sounds strange, but it might be the best kept secret from the guitar world & Ibanez enthusiasts.

The AS200 has been referenced extensively in the Ibanez AR2619 and Ibanez ASF180 Hollow-body guitar hands-on reports, as such this article is complete as a continuation of those.

The parallel histories of Jazz music and hollow-body electric guitars have been manifested in the Artstar. The influences of these legendary instruments are immediately apparent with bone nut, ebony fretboard, and Ibanez’s signature Super 58 custom pickups. The critical eye will appreciate the details like the smoothness of the fretboard and a skilled crimping technique generally found on instruments costing twice as much. The Artstar is a pure jazz-box that embodies the continual innovation that is Jazz. – Ibanez.com

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The Ibanez Signature Upcharge

Artist endorsed signature guitars are commonplace nowadays with all brands and at all price points. Simply put the hope is that you will be attracted to the “model” that is played & endorsed by a musician you like. Regardless of the quality, price or changes from a similar non-signature model you will pay more – often much, much more – for the signature model guitar. The Ibanez signature upcharges are shown below. Continue reading “The Ibanez Signature Upcharge”

Ibanez Prestige, A Historical Explanation

Prestige represents the Ibanez instruments many have grown up to know & love even before they were labeled Prestige. This article references how Prestige was used for over two decades, how it evolved & how Prestige relates to those interested in Ibanez guitars today.

Simply put Prestige is a marketing moniker. One that is generally used to distinguish its better guitars & basses, separating them from the Ibanez guitars not made in Japan. Make no mistake these are dramatically better made with tighter tolerances & better parts…  the Ibanez guitars you really want to play & own. Best of all, the non-signature Prestige models are competitively priced.

Prestige indicates a certain level of quality the Ibanez player will see and feel then they pick up the guitar.

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Ibanez ASF180AV 2013 Hollow-body Guitar

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The Ibanez ASF180 is a fully hollow body version of the AS200 semi-hollow body guitar we’ve admired and loved since 1977. The AS200, as mentioned in the AR2619 hands-on-report here began as the #2630 semi-hollow body which in 1979 was renamed the AS200. Of course, these were and still are very much Gibson ES-335 derivatives with subtle improvements by Ibanez. The tri-sound (parallel & coil-split options) neck pickup wiring, ’60s Slim Taper profile neck and ebony fretboard are the notable differences between the Gibson and Ibanez.

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The body construction is the primary difference between the Ibanez AS200 and ASF180 electric guitars. Specifically semi-hollow vs hollow. The hollow-body ASF180 has just a small block of wood directly beneath the bridge for it to attach (the thicker AF200 does not). One large continuous body cavity. The semi-hollows such as AS200 have two distinct cavities seperated by the wood block runnong down the center of the body from the neck under the bridge, tailpiece and beyond. This block adds mass and obviously is used to anchor both the bridge & tailpiece making it semi-hollow. It should also be noted that back in the day before quality potted pickups the semi-hollow body maybe helped eliminate feedback at high volumes.

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Premium JEM & Universe Pros & Cons

This post will discuss the pros & cons of the Indonesian-made Prestige JEMs from an objective standpoint. Full disclosure, the author has owned 50+ Ibanez JEM & Universe guitars since 1988 but is not currently interested in buying or owning Ibanez JEM or UVs of any origin.

Some terminology clarifiers:

  • Prestige – Ibanez guitars made in Japan typically by Fujigen
  • Premium – Ibanez guitars made in Jawa Timur Indonesia (part of the Cort factory) in what was termed in 2011 as a joint venture between Hoshino & Fujigen

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Ibanez AR2619-VV 2014 Prestige Guitar Hands-On Report

Ibanez AR2619-VV Guitar Hands on Report by Glen Cianciulli 9/2016

Ibanez literature says: “The AR is a classic among Ibanez guitars. It was one of the first original designs produced by Ibanez and continues to be a sought after guitar. The AR series continues that legacy with pride.”

That is all true.

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In 1974 Ibanez began to stop being a copy-guitar manufacturer by releasing its first electric guitar with a body shape that didn’t clone another brand’s guitar. The non-clones were the Ibanez Artist #2611, #2612, #2613 and #2614 . Each guitar featured symmetrical double cutaway bodies with carved, contoured tops. The first attempt by Ibanez was legit. These models were work-in-progress with their rounder cutaways, peculiar shaped pickguard and bolt on neck. The Ibanez “Artist Series” were their up-scale electric & acoustic guitars, unnamed and designated by a model number.

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Headstock Protection During String Changes

Many guitarists don’t give string changes much thought except to procrastinate as long as possible. Lets face it they’re annoying at best right. Who wants to restring & tune a guitar instead of playing it.

During the inevitable string changes, if you are so inclined you can take a few seconds to protect the headstock paint & silkscrening from possible string scratches as explained below. The edge of the string can be sharp yet blunt causing micro scratches as well as actually scrape off the logo such as the Ibanez screening.

This post is the result of recent debate at the jemsite forum regarding the purpose of the string retainer bar and some people who remove the retainer bar each time they change strings on a double-locking tremolo guitar such as the Ibanez JEM, Ibanez RG, etc.

The  retainer bar has just one purpose, to allow the string to follow the angle of the locking nut so that when you lock the nut (snugly, not overly tight) the strings will stay 100% in tune. If the retainer bar is set too high the strings will pull sharp when you lock the nut. This should be obvious. Too low and no problem except there might not be enough clearance for the string, especially with guitars such as the Ibanez RG, JEM & Universe models that feature plastic trussrod covers.

Note that the trussrod cover protects the headstock as well but does not 100% cover, plus why risk scratching that?

To make a long story short simply use this printable PDF download to create your own printable cutout. , simply print the PDF at 100% scaling then cutout/trace over an index card or laminated cardstock. Tweak as necessary for an easy fit.

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This  index card cutout is so easy to create and offers full protection from scratches, laziness, etc. during string changes.

Ibanez JS1000BP Hands on Report

Ibanez JS1000BP Guitar Hands on Report by Glen Cianciulli 7/2016

The playing time I have on Ibanez double-locking axes in the last few years can be counted on the minute hand of a clock. Mostly because the ones I still have just aren’t a good fit for me. So I was intrigued when presented with an opportunity to address this… “an Ibanez JS1000BP in great condition with case”. Really intrigued when I saw the price. Along with a few low-res thumbnail photos the only other detail to help clarify was the serial number F07xxxxx. Most notably the year determines the tremolo routing on the body and possible manufacturing defects or oddities that might be present. Ibanez tweaks things sometimes for good and sometimes for other reasons. For example, the neck width at fret-22 and famously the shift from Edge, LoPro, EdgePro then Edge again. Generally speaking it was not a great idea for Ibanez to design a new tremolo to avoid licensing fees without first vetting patent expiration! Since this JS1000 is a 2007 model I knew to expect an EdgePro tremolo without locking studs and 56mm neck width at fret-22.

It’s no secret that after having owned several dozen JEM, UVs & RGs over the years, I moved on from playing these superstrats. Not just because I prefer hardtails for tone, tuning stability, vibrato, intonating bends, simplicity, etc. You can make a JEM/RG/etc. into a hardtail in just a few seconds…  block its tremolo with an insert and pull a rear spring. This allows string pressure to fix the block against the insert against the body wall thus removing all tremolo movement. For a while I did just that… it provides the nicety of having the fine tuners right there at the bridge too.

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As stated above they’re not a good fit for me. The reasons I moved on from the superstrats are the same ones I’ve encountered (if not labor with) for 3 decades. The same issues many of you might knowingly or unknowingly struggle with today… the fretboard is both too flat (430mm radius) & too wide (43mm nut, 56-58mm at heel) even for size LG hands. I’d call this simply fighting against the instrument or use the analogy of the mechanic using the wrong screwdriver. Combined with the meh ergonomics & relatively “basswood” (blah & muddled) tone at some point you stop and ask yourself the most basic question when you pick up that guitar to play… “why”? Continue reading “Ibanez JS1000BP Hands on Report”