Other Guitars

While I’m at it, a walk through the Forest of Ibanez Hollows.

1

While at the Iby site looking over their new Teletypes, I got distracted by their hollerbodies.

I'm not interested at the moment in full deep 16" 175-ish singlecuts, but I dug fairly deep into other hollowbody variants, and unless I missed something (and the specs are to be believed), they've got a boatload of true hollowbodies and no centerblocks. Can that be true? Surely not.

Anyway, it took a spreadsheet to lay out specs and begin to understand the selection.

The AS design across all lines (Artstar, Artcore Expressionist, Artcore) seems to be a morless 16 x 2.5ish doublecut, a la ES-335;
• the AM design is a mini doublecut at 14.5 x 2.5ish,
• while the AG is a 14.5 x 3.5ish singlecut.

Across all those models, there's no difference in scale and neck profiles, and all are 2-humbucker variations. Most have stop tailpieces (there are a few trapezes), and only the AGs have floating rather than stud-mounted bridges.

Yet there are 20 distinct model numbers across that range, with a wide range of colors. Where does Ibanez get enough variety to differentiate the guitars?

Half of the variety is in the dimensions - 16" (actually 15.75) vs 14" (or so).

Much of the rest is wood selection. Ibanez seem to have gone all in on variety in that one detail, with several species which have only recently been (more widely) used in guitars, and at least two (Nyatoh and Anigre) I'd never heard of.

In most lines, there are bodies completely constructed of Sapele and Linden, a couple have Anigre, Ash, and Maple - and there's one 100% Ebony (!) and one in 100% Zebrawood. All but one of the models are homogenous builds (where top back & sides are all the same wood); the exception is a single maple-over-linden.

(I ask you: is there any reason a guy shouldn't be very curious about the tone of a completely ebony hollowbody?)

Neither mahogany nor rosewood appear anywhere in bodies or necks. Necks are either Nyatoh or Nyatoh and Maple; fingerboards are either ebony or walnut.

Nowhere (that I can find) does the associated copy describe the tonal or response characteristics of any of the body woods, or how one build might differ from another in sound. (The copy does characterize the neck woods.)

What is UP with this? Do these choices reflect new realities in commercially available wood species, a commitment to sustainable harvest, a go-cheap expedient, or experiments in tone?

Anyone have experience with any of these woods, and how they compare to the old familiars like mahogany, rosewood, maple, ash, etc?

2

A dense forest indeed and you are the guide to get us thru and out again, alive.

What is this centerblock trip I keep hearing about w/ Gretsch and everywhere else?

And this new Modern World wood Po Ferro or whatever it is-- is that just because of limited availability or restrictions on exports, etc.? And Gruhn is all braggin' on some Martin Sinker wood = wtf

But in general, Ibanez hollows were well thought of back in in the day and they are just keeping up w/ the times that are a changing

3

A dense forest indeed and you are the guide to get us thru and out again, alive.

Well, I managed to ferret out why so many Ibanez models in just three basic builds, but I know little about the woods themselves.

What is this centerblock trip I keep hearing about w/ Gretsch and everywhere else?

Well, you know. Just a lot of people making 335-like guitars now. Or, rather, in context of the GDP, just Gretsch making a lot of them.

4

I remember George Benson leading the way in the mid-70's, saw him twice with his Ibanez.

As I remember those were very nice, part of the Japanese guitar invasion of more sophisticated workmanship and materials. New price point level and Lawsuits.

These lower cost ones seem something well less even if more sustainable. The GB and the PM Models are the flagships still...not sure of the ArtStar line but those standout.

5

"Nyatoh" is an alternate spelling of "nato," which has been used as a mahogany substitute in acoustic guitars for some time now. i guess it's better than Warsaw Pact wood.

i get to break out that pun about once every seven or eight years. still cracks me up.

6

Ono, ino nato.

And it's a good pun.

7

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8

Where's this 100% ebony thing? I couldn't find it on the site. Got a link? I don't think I need one, but I'm intrigued enough to gawk.

9

Yeah, I'd like to see it too. Painted ?

10

Some of the Ibanez hollowbodies sound great (even the cheaper ones). But I just can't do an Ibanez (I know it's elitist) but I can't stand the headstock or get the image of a metal shredder out of my head when I see those letters I B A N E Z.

12

Had to delete Bob's post to fix the thread. Sorry!

13

That is a wild specimen Tim! I bet it would complement your new Rosewood Tenny nicely.

14

What is UP with this? Do these choices reflect new realities in commercially available wood species, a commitment to sustainable harvest, a go-cheap expedient, or experiments in tone?

Anyone have experience with any of these woods, and how they compare to the old familiars like mahogany, rosewood, maple, ash, etc?

It might be Ibanez is maybe more honest - maybe more correct in naming the wood they use for what it is. Very little of what you see in guitars these days really is mahogany the way mahogany used to be - only when a guitar maker specifies "Honduras mahogany", and that means "expensive guitars" these days.

"African Mahogany" is what's mostly used these days, and my luthier/wood-fetishist friends tell me it's not really mahogany, it's just kind of similar. But it's not the mahogany we grew up with. That has gotten pretty scarce, needs a lot of paperwork to export and import, and has become boutique guitar wood.

Also...no centerblocks? Aren't the Scofield models centerblock guitars?

15

I think most of them are centerblocks, except the obvious bigger-box jazzers. They're just not explicitly labelled as such on the site, but much of the marketing copy refers to "hybrid" and "semi-hollow". The Scofield and other thin double cuts are definitely centerblocks.

I think you're right about the woods Walter. Unless you're looking at high $ guitars, things labeled as "mahogany" aren't real mahogany. Even the Honduran stuff isn't the true Cuban mahogany of old, but at least it's in the same genus.

I think most import guitars labelled as "mahogany" these days are going to be various African and Asian species that look the part. It appears to me that Ibanez isn't using whatever "trade names" loopholes that allow other manufacturers to call these mahogany.

16

I've long known Nato/Nyatoh is a faux mahogany - but what of the others Ibanez is using? Linden, Sapele, Anigre? I'll do some independent research.


Ibanez is so vague about the internal construction of these guitars. I've asked a Reverb seller about the construction of the ebony model, and he says (vaguely, and without inspiring much confidence) that it has a centerblock. Which kills interest for me.

I am still kinda on the prowl for 14" thinline-ish hollowbodies, and Ibanez appeared to have a few. If they turn out to be plankers...

well, I'm now officially centerblocked up to here. (Not that I don't like that construction, just that it's not my favorite, I have plenty already - and no longer expect to find much in that domain to surprise me.)

17

OK, linden and sapele are apparently also both mahogalikes - though there must be some difference either in tone or appearance, or Ibanez wouldn't build different models incorporating only those woods. Anigre is considered to sound like Honduran Mahogany, but it looks maplish.

I should have just asked the internet at large in the first place, I guess.

18

Had to delete Bob's post to fix the thread. Sorry!

– Baxter

Thanks, Bax. Sorry about that.

19

A friend of mine had a great big Linden tree in front of her house in Portland OR. It was magnificent.

20

But how did it sound?

21

I've had two of the Artcore guitars (one full hollow, and one semi hollow). Ibanez hollow bodies to me are like lasagna is to Garfield - I haven't met one that I didn't like.

22

Tim,

Aren't all of those Ibanez "hollowbody" guitars made in China or Indonesia these days to a price point that requires relatively inexpensive wood cuts?

23

The very top of the line - Artstar - are touted as Japanese. I couldn't find info on the site about the source of the "Artcore Expressionist" and Artcore series. But yes, I assume they're either Chinese or Indonesian - and maybe both.

The price point surely relies on workaday rather than premium woods, but there's nothing about manufacture in either China or Indonesia that requires those "lesser" woods.

If indeed they are functionally lesser: strikes me that as our ongoing guitar lust helps mow down the traditional choices - rosewood, mahogany, ebony - the industry has to transition to other woods, for economy as demand drives up prices of diminishing supply as much as for responsible sustainability.

Basswood was seen as a low-end cheap wood in the 80s/90s; now it's actively lauded as a superior tone wood. Nother words, I spect the slate of tonewoods we've come to consider "desirable" is predicated more on what we're used to than on the inherent properties of the woods - or other woods that might substitute for them. I don't know how a linden or sapele guitar differs in tone from one made of the old reliables; I suspect it's less than we might assume, and that differences don't make it worse, just ... a little different.

As the other guys said, most brands have been weasel-wording their substitute mahoganies for years, hoping not to confront our ingrained (and mostly uninformed) prejudices. Could be Ibanez is just facing the issue head-on, calling spades spades, and relying on the inherent qualities of the guitars - at their prices - to help condition the guitar market to new realities.


I've never played an Ibanez guitar whose quality or playability I could fault. I wasn't (and am not) a fan of the shredders, but my first exposure to Ibanez was the Benson and other Gibsonesque clones from the late 70s, which impressed me. So I've never tarred Ibanez exclusively with the shredder brush, and I've never for a moment thought of offloading the turquoise thinline hollow Artcore AFS75TD-TQ I bought in 2005 or so. As with recent Epiphones and the Gretsch Streamliner range, I've had nothing but good experiences with Artcores.

I just wish Ibanez more specifically spelled out the hollowness or centerblockness of guitars they list as "Hollow Body." Gretsch does a much better job of clarifying internal construction.

24

Some of the ArtStar line might be Korean manufacture. All high end models still MIJapan.

I wish I had more contact with these instruments. Ibanez was always a bit of an outsider during my formative years, then after they started making all sorts of "pointy things".

25

I didn't realise that nato and nyatoh were the same thing. Nyatoh has been a common timer here in Australia for years. It's long been a cheap alternative to jarrah in particular in Western Australia. It's a featureless pinkish timber which I have never liked using. It's used a lot for things like timber mouldings in houses - door frames, skirting, etc. It's a bit harder than pine and less prone to warping and takes paint ok. It's still a hardwood but a lot easier to work than jarrah.

We use jarrah a lot here because it's what grows in our forests; it's very attractive in its various red hues and often gets a little figure in it like maple does, but with less regularity. It's very hard, very heavy and loves to split and move with time. It would be a terrible tone wood! Although I believe Brady uses it for drums sometimes. I have a lot of furniture made from jarrah and try not to move it very often.

If you go to a timber yard here you will see three timbers predominantly - plantation pine (pinus radiata), nyatoh and jarrah. Over east you won't see much jarrah - it's "mountain ash" which could be a number of different timbers. Real mountain ash is an attractive yellowy-brown straight grained hardwood and the trees are some of the tallest in the world, rivalling redwood and karri.


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