Ibanez 2019 Range Overview: Choice Cuts
The latest and greatest has landed from the Ibanez 2019 range and they haven’t let us down. Offerings range from Talman acoustics to Japanese-built RGs – with additions to their outstanding SR basses too. From those picking up their first instrument to seasoned professionals, there’s something for everyone. We have cherry picked some standout models that give you a flavour of what’s on offer.
Axion Label RGA60AL
We are well aware of the outstanding “Iron Label” series of guitars with their “made for metal” attitude. However, Ibanez have ramped things up a bit with their Axion Label RGA60AL, pushing the boundaries of sonic performance and sublime playability to greater heights. The low gloss finish of the gorgeous ash body doesn’t just look good, it affords a smooth feel unlike any other.
Connected to the body is an elegant yet endurance-ready five-piece panga panga/walnut neck with lightning fast Nitro Wizard profile. Tearing through licks and riffs on this thing is a breeze. As if that wasn’t enough, a bound Macassar ebony fingerboard with cheeky white step off-set dot inlays guides your way in unusual fashion. Not only that but luminescent side dot inlays make it easier to navigate the fretboard on dark stages.
Bareknuckle Aftermath pups!
But it has to be said, that where the RGA60AL comes into its own is with the pairing of two Bare Knuckle Aftermath humbuckers. There’s a good reason why so many modern metal guitarists use these pups, they sound absolutely phenomenal. With a tight low-end response for producing hefty chugs to searing highs with plenty of bite, the Aftermaths are capable of delivering a mighty blow. There’s a coil tap switch for tempering the output for a less ‘in your face’ tone but go full-throttle and they will do some damage!
Ever faithful in its stability, the Edge-Zero II tremolo bridge does its job with peerless dedication. Gotoh locking tuners improve tuning accuracy, whilst Schaller S-Lock strap lock pins secure your strap as you thrash out.
Exotic Wood “RGEW” Series
Presenting an elegant yet understated instrument as part of the Exotic Wood “RGEW” Series, Ibanez release this beautiful zebrawood-topped masterpiece. Built using nyatoh to the classic double-cutaway RG body shape, the contrast between the body back and top offers a striking visual aesthetic. As always, the figure-hugging feel affords an enviable playability, which suits everyone from bedroom enthusiast to stadium superstar.
Joined to the body via sturdy bolt-on construction is an ever so elegant roasted maple neck, which is inherits the Wizard III profile to enhance playing comfort. The bound roasted maple fingerboard is home to ‘barely there’ black dot position inlays for a discreet navigation aid.
At the heart of the RGEW521MZW (bit of a mouthful we know) are the illustrious combo of DiMarzio Air Norton and The Tone Zone pickups in the neck and bridge positions respectively. If it’s depth and warmth by the bucketload that you’re after, then the Air Norton has you covered. The Tone Zone takes a feistier approach, delivering a wide dynamic range with an intensity that makes it great for soaring through leads like a champ. Not only that, but this pair boasts sustain for days to ensure true rock god status!
Elegant touches on the RGEW521MZW include a matching natural flat headstock finish and even solid walnut control knobs.
Ibanez hollow-body Artcore series models have been exciting and delighting us for years with their smooth tones and heavenly playing feel. They are affordable enough for every guitarist to grab one and sophisticated enough to hit the stage with. The Ibanez 2019 line-up adds the Vibrante to the Artcore stable, a sweetly style slice of semi-hollowbody dreaminess. Top notch appointments feature throughout but it’s the finishes we’re loving here: Twilight Orange, Mint Blue, Sea Foam Green and Coral Pink – insert “heart eyes” emoji here. Adding a white pearloid pickguard is the icing on the cake.
Sapele features throughout the construction of the body, which adheres to the classic semi-hollow shape with pronounced lower bout tapering to subtle double-cutaways, not forgetting those perfectly carved F-holes in the top. Married to the body is a set-in nyatoh neck with substantial yet manageable AS Artcore profile. If you like to play with gusto and prefer something to wrap your fingers around, then you’re going to love this neck. Bound laurel makes up the fingerboard, lending itself nicely to the laid-back sensibilities of the Vibrante.
Getting the most out of this semi-hollowbody is a pair of Infinity humbuckers, which do a fine job of producing everything from rich jazz-inspired warmth to blistering rock ‘n’ roll edginess. If it’s an eye-catching gig-ready and wallet-friendly guitar that you’re after, then the Artcore Vibrante is what you’ve been waiting for.
SRMD200 “Mezzo” 32-inch Scale Bass
Presenting to you, the delightfully diminuitive SRMD200 “Mezzo” 32-inch Scale Bass. Sitting at 2-inches shorter than your standard SR series bass, the SRMD200 isn’t lacking when it comes to low-end energy. Therefore, you get all the fun with the fuss. For those who are craving a shorter scale bass but don’t want to compromise on tonal power, then you’re in luck.
The poplar body is lightweight in the hands and has curves in all the right places to ensure a snug fit as you lay down your groove. The Candy Apple Matte and Sea Foam Pearl Green give you the options of standing out on stage or remaining confidently cool. Every fret is within easy reach thanks to the reduced scale length – let loose and play freely!
Ibanez Custom Electronics 2-band EQ works alongside balancer and volume controls to expand your tonal palette. From rumbling mid to low-end to plucky articulate highs, your performance shines with brilliant clarity.
Paul Gilbert’s miKro PGMM21 in Metallic Light Green
When it comes to collaborations, Ibanez and Paul Gilbert have a rich history. The miKro PGMM21 takes the classic features of Paul Gilbert’s Ibanez PGM model and scales them down to this awesome little beauty. For this unique model, Gilbert himself chose the brand-new metallic finish in Metallic Light Green.
Don’t be fooled by its size and short scale though, the miKro PGMM21 feels and plays like a dream. The enigmatic deep double-cutaway body shape complete with F-holes is present and correct. The bevelled lower bout establishes a comfortable resting position for the picking arm, giving you total freedom to shred unimpeded. As always, the maple neck profile adheres to Gilbert’s exacting specs, whilst the treated New Zealand pine fretboard is harder and more durable than one might expect. You know what that means, hours upon hours of relentless playing to your heart’s content!
A pair of open polepiece Infinity R pickups provide balanced tones, responding intently to the subtleties of your performance. Whether you’re chugging through palm-muted riffs, deftly picking solo notes or putting your legato skills to the test, the pickups react with steadfast dedication.
AS73FM Artcore Semi-hollowbody with Flamed Maple top
As noted earlier, the Artcore models from Ibanez have been turning heads for years, over time becoming the weapon of choice for amateurs and working professionals alike. Their latest AS73FM model features linden back and sides paired with glorious flamed maple tops in a pair of rather interesting finishes: Azure Blue Gradation and Green Valley Gradation. Intricate touches such as bound F-holes/tops/and fingerboard elevate the already impressive visual aesthetic.
Borrowing from those that have gone before, Classic Elite humbuckers pulls the kind of tones that dreams a made of from the AS73FM. Laying down blues jams, segueing into jazz standards then tearing it up with some rockabilly, every is down with the indomitable style we’ve come to expect from this partnership.
You can rest assured that from the practise room to an intimate jam session to the grandest of stages, the AS73FM can hold its own wherever and whenever the music takes you.
Artcore Expressionist AS93 Zebrawood
Ibanez’ Artcore Expressionist line represents a gloriously unabashed selection of instruments that deliver hollowbody goodness with modern appeal. The Artcore Expressionist AS93 with all zebrawood body is the kind of thing Ron Burgundy would boast about. I mean, just look at it. Adding a touch of flair with a tortoiseshell-coloured pickguard brings out the lush texture of the zebrawood grain in all its glory. But it isn’t all style over substance, the AS93 is raring to go. A set-in three-piece nyatoh/maple neck provides a steady support as you lay down sultry licks, whilst the bound ebony fingerboard provides a lavish tactile touch.
Jazz purists will instantly recognise the Ibanez Super 58 pickups, as favoured by George Benson, Pat Metheny, and John Scofield in their signature models. When it comes to balancing creamy warmth with sparkling clarity, the Super 58s allow you to dance around genres with gleeful abandon. They can just as easily handle intricately picked chords as they can blistering lead work. Sure Grip III knobs allow you to dictate your tonal flavour with deft precision.
We’ve already waxed lyrical about the Ibanez Artcore range (that’s because we like them – can you tell?), but here’s one more for you – the Artcore Vintage ASV73. Here we have the best of both worlds, classic style with modern performance in mind – oh, and all at a delightfully affordable price. Built to endure anything thrown its way as so often happens in the life of a touring instrument, the ASV73 is a rare gem that would make a fitting addition to any guitarist’s arsenal.
By combining a robust yet comfortable linden semi-hollowbody with a set-in nyatoh neck, Ibanez endow the ASV73 with an accommodating yet undeniably – and reassuringly – solid feel. You could perform for hours without skipping a beat or feeling weighed down, safe in the knowledge that your guitar will keep pace every step of the way.
Classic Elite humbuckers sing passionately throughout performances, barking when you want them to and purring when you wish. The full-bodied output is matched by a delicately balanced character that sums up this model perfectly. For those who like to be in control at all times, Sure Grip III knobs provide non-slip performance.
Antique chrome hardware in the form of the ART-1 and Quik Change III tailpiece partnership, uphold tuning integrity and sustain that’ll put more expensive models to shame. You can grab this stunning model in either Violin Sunburst (as in the picture above) or Vintage Amber Burst.
Genesis Collection RG550DX Made in Japan
Arguably, when one thinks of Ibanez it is hard not to call to mind the legendary RG, which is still blazing a trail today – see the first model on our list. As part of the Genesis Collection, the RG550DX tips its hat to the one that started it all, with precision Japanese craftsmanship leading the way. Clean lines and cutaways are met by unfussy finishes for a laidback yet ready for action style.
Joined in harmony with the basswood body is a feature taken straight from the original RG – the razor-thin, five-piece Super Wizard maple/walnut neck. Ibanez know a thing or two when it comes to crafting necks that are rock solid yet easy to play, and the RG550DX reaps the rewards of that knowledge. From the first to the last fret, Sharktooth inlays guide your way along the bound granadillo fingerboard. Following in the footsteps – or should that be fretwork? – of your heroes is as joyful an experience as you can get.
Another classic feature is the HSH pickup configuration with V7 and V8 humbuckers in the neck and bridge positions, which sandwich an S1 single-coil in the middle position. If it’s classic rock and metal tones that you’re after, then you’ve come to the right place. The five-way pickup selector switch allows you to home in on the sound that you’re after with ease. From beefy rhythm chops to smoking hot leads, these pups offer a sparkling output.
Keeping the classic appointments coming, we have the Edge tremolo bridge to support enthusiastic vibrato gymnastics. Deep divebombs and wailing highs aplenty are yours for the taking. Thanks to another Ibanez trait, you can rest easy knowing that no matter what you throw at the Edge tremolo, it will keep on coming back for more.
Finally, over to Tom to show us how it’s done.
More, More, More…
If that’s whet your appetite then check out the full Ibanez 2019 lineup now for even more acoustic and electric guitars and basses! It already looks like 2019 is going to be a pretty epic year !m!
Here’s a quick recap of the models covered in this article:
- Axion Label RGA60AL
- RGEW521MZW Exotic Series
- AS63 Artcore Vibrante
- SRMD200 Mezzo Bass
- Paul Gilbert Signature miKro PGMM21 in Metallic Light Green
- AS73FM Artcore
- AS93 Artcore Expressionist Zebrawood
- AS73V Artcore Vintage
- Genesis Collection RG550DX Made in Japan
Jon is a multi-instrumentalist with a passion for inspiring others to get involved in making music. After spending many years playing venues here, there and – pretty much – everywhere, he joined the Dawsons’ Music Web Team before progressing into his current role managing the Dawsons Blog.