Comprehensive new model launch from Japan’s finest
If there’s one thing that’s true about Ibanez, it’s that they never disappoint when it comes to announcing their new line-up. 2018 is no exception, with no fewer than 77 new guitars and basses vying for your attention.
There’s something for everyone here, from arch-top jazz boxes to razor-sharp riff machines. There’s also the introduction of an entirely new range of guitars, designed for the more advanced players, that look equally at home busting out blues and classic rock as they do the normal styles you’d associate with Ibanez.
Here are a few models from the Ibanez 2018 line-up which caught our eye.
Ibanez RG550 MIJ
Let’s start with the return of the king. For players of a certain generation, the Ibanez RG550 was the pinnacle of rock and metal guitar design. Expensive enough to be lust-worthy, yet not so expensive it was prohibitive, the original Ibanez RG550 was the shred machine that spawned a thousand copycats.
Now, in 2018, Ibanez has brought it back. Better still, it plays as well as you remember it doing way back when. The neck is still cigarette-paper thin, the licenced Floyd Rose still implores you to wrestle with it, and the tones on offer are surgically tight through a bit of gain.
They say you should never meet your idols. Especially when they’ve been brought back from the dead. Ok, I added that last bit, but when you a reissue is as good as this one, it’s worthy of your attention.
From the king to the Kingslayer. The Ibanez AS93FM quite clearly has a very specific guitar – and guitar fan – in mind with its renewed mid-priced semi-acoustic offering.
You have to admit, it bears more than a passing resemblance to an Epiphone ES-335. A pair of Super 58 humbuckers provides a welcome touch of dirt, while the gold hardware furnishes the AS93 with a dash of elegance. This is extended further thanks to the stunning flame maple top, which also helps add a dash of brightness to the tone.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Whoever names the products at Ibanez needs to be a bit more creative. The Ibanez AZ224F, however, has no apologies to make. In fact, it’d be more appropriate to offer some introductions.
Here we have a model from Ibanez’ new Premium range, as mentioned earlier. Coming from the same stable as our very own Tom Quayle’s awesome signature model, the AZ224F is geared towards those players who are a bit more seasoned, and have certain requirements from a guitar. What you get here is a precise, well-engineered and intelligently appointed guitar which will satisfy the needs of the more experienced player.
This particular model, finished in the incredible Blue Iceberg gradation, features a flame maple top, along with roasted maple neck and fingerboard. Seymour Duncan Hyperion pickups provide the tonal backbone, with their mid-range output of particular note.
This marks new ground for Ibanez. The AZ range sits firmly in the middle; they’re not metal guitars or jazz guitars. They haven’t got super-high output pickups or fancy fingerboard inlays. Dare we say it; they’re grown-up guitars, built with players in mind from the ground up. You should check them out.
Aaaaand, back to the metal guitars. You have to admit though, this Ibanez RGIX6DLB is an eye-catcher. The Iron Label range was introduced a few years ago and has carved itself a solid niche. It knows the kinds of players who play modern need certain characteristics from their guitars and sets about delivering those requirements in style.
Its ash body delivers a huge tone, while the RG body-shape will be familiar to most. A super-thin Wizard 3 neck, topped with an ebony ‘board with luminescent side dots give the RGIX6DLB huge potential for those superfast licks and riffs, and the DiMarzio Fusion Edge pickups will ensure you have amazing clarity even at high levels of saturation. The amazing Supernova Burst finish is worth a mention too. Ibanez continuing its modern tradition of head-turners in the Iron Label stable.
We’ll round off the list with something cool from the 2018 bass lineup. The Ibanez SR870 four-string bass, with its mahogany body and maple top, is a sight to behold.
The two Bartolini pickups deliver a range of tones, everything from detuned metal to more classic rock and blues, while the onboard 3-band EQ ensures your tone cuts through no matter what the style is.
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