Ibanez has been exceedingly busy of late; the Japanese maker has revealed a total of 55 guitars for the Winter NAMM 2017 Show. The new models include the usual RG- and Sabre-style Super Strats, as well as some new acoustics and a series of hybrid bass guitars. We sift through the 55 (!) models announced for the show and present you with a few highlights.
Winter NAMM is a huge deal for the Japanese guitar company and they are leading with 55 new models across their ranges (yes, 55 new models!), most of which are revisions of previous models. It is noticeable that as yet there are no signature model instruments in this list, which makes me think that this is only the beginning of the launch.
One of the company’s strengths for many years has been maintaining a solid build quality across their ranges, from premium models through to their budget ranges. You generally feel with Ibanez that they try and use the best hardware possible at all price points. However, once you reach the top tier then they really start using premium hardware and electronics.
I’m not going to regurgitate a huge list of instruments, as you can see them all listed on many Ibanez guitar dealers web pages already and as exciting as specifications are, I’m not going to re-hash a list of already published data.
My major gripe with Ibanez guitars has always been their ridiculous naming system, which is essentially a lot of abbreviations in a code-like format. I love Ibanez guitars, but I have always hated this ridiculously cryptic naming system! Unfortunately, they still choose to stick to this archaic system and so we we will have to put up with it for the foreseeable future…
Below I have picked out a few instruments I feel are more interesting, where they seem to be pushing forwards, listening to the players and genuinely innovating.
One very noticeable feature this year is the inclusion of UK hand-made BareKnuckle pickups being used on their premium ‘metal’ guitars. This includes Alnico magnet versions of the Nailbomb humbucker pickups on the new Ibanez Prestige Uppercut ARZ6UCS-BKF and the Uppercut FR6UCS-BKF.
The BK part of the name probably refers to the use of Bare Knuckle pickups. This is quite a departure as Ibanez have a long history with DiMarzio pickups. Using BareKnuckle pickups on their premium models is a pretty big deal. The fact that BareKnuckle are now such a huge part of modern metal sounds has, apparently, not gone unnoticed by this Japanese giant.
Frets and fretless?
Part of the new range also includes the new Ibanez 2nd-generation ‘Ashula’ SRAS7-DEB fretted/fretless hybrid bass. This ridiculous mouthful of a name (let’s call it the Ashula) is a combination of both a fretted and fretless 7-string bass, with the lower 3 strings on the fretless portion of the fingerboard. The Ashula comes in at around £1099 and is now their ‘budget’ or ‘standard’ version of the limited edition Ashula, which was launched in 2010.
This is where you have to love Ibanez! In my opinion, they design some great instruments – but then find a way to make them more mainstream and get them into players’ hands. Okay, this one is not really for me, yet I can see a lot of Ibanez-inclined bass players really wanting to get their groove on with one of these bad boys!
The new Ibanez AEWC32FM-GBL acoustic guitar is a budget guitar at £369. First off, I have to be honest here: I think it is as ugly as sin!
However, it has one redeeming feature. It is a super slim design, aimed at electric players that want to ‘shred’ on acoustic guitar. I would actually like to see one of these in the flesh, as the idea has been attempted by many manufacturers and in my view none of them has really succeeded in the past.
Ibanez are known for making really fast-playing guitars and also have a solid reputation with acoustic instruments. I think they could actually pull this one off. The guitar sports the Fishman Sonicore pickup and the Ibanez AEQ210TF preamp, so can be used live easily enough, as well.
Did I mention that I think it is as ugly as hell?
Ibanez Guitars main site here
No ‘official’ demo videos as yet, unfortunately. However the talented Mr Paul Glover has uploaded these to his YouTube channel and they feature the new 2017 Ibanez RG1070PBZ model, which looks pretty swanky, the RGDIX6PB, S6570SK and the RG379AHM.
Paul is an awesome ’80s shred inspired player and he has done a shed load of demos for the new Ibanez 2017 range, so head over to his page from the link above and check them out.