Ibanez Artcore AFS-75TD

Ibanez Artcore AFS-75TD Review

Ibanez Artcore Guitar

I have to start this out with an admission of a long-standing bias against Ibanez guitars. This began ‘way back in the 70‘s when they were making exact copies of the more popular Gibson models, such as the Flying V, Les Paul, and Explorer. Back then, to me, those Gibsons were the ‘Holy Grail’, as far as I was concerned, and it really ticked me off that anyone would profit by copying exactly the designs of those most revered guitars. So upset by that was I that I never once, ever, thought about buying an Ibanez instrument. But they got their due when Gibson sued the snot out of them over that.

Well, time and age mellowed me, I guess, and I pretty much forgot about it when Ibanez stopped making copy guitars and started designing their own styles. The problem then was that I simply didn’t care for their designs. Boy, they just can’t win with me, can they?

Enter the Artcore Series. I still don’t much care for the ‘Artcore’ nomenclature...what’s that mean, anyway? This-core, that-core...what is that? I’m getting old, I guess....but I know a nice guitar when I see one.

A friend of mine likes the setups I do on my guitars, and he wanted me to go thru his entire collection and either set them up like that, or make recommendations on any variations I think best on any particular guitar. So he sent me home with his Ibanez AFS-75TD, in a beautiful silver metallic finish with creme appointments. It’s a thinline hollowbody with two humbuckers and a Bigsby-ish tremolo. I generally hate tremolos, as anyone who knows me is painfully aware of. But this one’s nice. Not a Floyd Rose hell-diving thing, it’s designed for, well, tremolo....not diving two octaves into the depths of Satan’s pit. And it performs its designed function beautifully. Sorry...got a little sidetracked on that, so impressed as I am by it.

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Ibanez Artcore Guitar Review

OK, the standard review categories:

Fit/Finish:

I’m not crazy about the creme appointments on the silver guitar. I think black would have looked much better...but that’s just me. Other than that, it’s one gorgeously-finished instrument. It’s a set-neck, so there are no neck-pocket issues there, and the neck joint is absolutely seamless and clean. I’d have used deeper pickup rings, though, because with the pretty steep neck-tilt angle, they come up a little short once I got the pickups where I wanted them. There’s an awful lot of pickup sticking out of the rings now. Not that it’s really a problem, though; they’re still solidly mounted in there. I don’t know what the finsh material is (nitro lacquer, polyester, polyurethane), but it feels like a polyurethane to me. It’s not overly thick like polyester finishes tend to be, and that’s a good thing on a hollowbody especially. And the finish is just glassy-smooth and lustrous. Very nice, indeed.

Features:

  • Two Ibanez humbucking pickups, standard form-factor.
  • Three-way pickup selector
  • 2 volume, 2 tone controls, passive
  • Bigsby-type tailpiece tremolo
  • Adjustable roller bridge assembly on top of an Ebony wood bridge arch.
  • Diecast, sealed tuners with ‘butterbean’ buttons similar to the Grover Rotomatic style

    Playability:

    Thin neck, but not excessively so, with medium frets, giving a fast, smooth feel. The body is rather large, as jazzbox bodies tend to be, but its thinness removes some of the cumbersone feeling from the overall size of the body. Being arch-topped, it has a pretty sharp neck angle, and that actually adds to the comfort of playing. Sits on the knee very comfortably.

    The trem arm kinda gets in my way sometimes. It hides the pickup selector switch when its in playing position But it can be swung back completely over the tailpiece and out of the way when not desired or needed. This tremolo is actually useful and musical, not just an ‘effect’.

    Tone:

    Oh. My. Gawd! Big, fat jazzy tones on the neck pickup, reasonably bright on the bridge pickup, very bluesy and soulful on both. It sounds fantastic on a clean setting; very fat, but still distinct and clear. And if you add a little crunch, even on the neck pickup, it doesn’t seem to lose any definition as I’d have though a hollowbody would. My experience with hollowbodies is that when you dial in some crunch, they start muddying up and losing their attack. Not this one. Could be that’s a function of its not being really thick and deep in the body. All I know is that it keeps its character when the waves start clipping off. I really wouldn’t want to try anything too extreme on the distortion with it...but that’s what ‘shredder guitars’ are for.

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    Overall Impression:

    Two Words: Very Favorable! The Ibanez Artcore series is a quite reasonably-priced and good quality range of hollowbody guitars, very well suited for Jazz, Blues, and yes, even rock of certain syles.

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