Ahead of NAMM 2015, Ibanez has announced their 2015 range, which will certainly make a splash at the show in Annaheim, California. As usual, Ibanez offers a varied collection of instruments, from the luxurious to the affordable, from the hard-rocking to the jazzy. Here's a look at what's new, and our picks of the best gear you can already pre-order from us!
Ibanez Guitars, From Acoustic To The Extreme
When you mention Ibanez guitars to non-guitarists they might assume you're talking about sweet classical acoustics made in a secluded Spanish village. And they would be right to a certain extent as the famous Japanese guitar manufacturer started out by importing guitars from Spain. However it's the supercharged, hot rodded RG models and collaborations with Steve Vai that really brought Ibanez to the attention of the wider world.
Their Wizard necks are like an industry standard for slim profile and fast action, the pickups are powerful, vintage or sweet as required and Ibanez hardware often resembles high end military gear, simply setup and play every time. When they need something a little extra they turn to brands that gear fanatics love like Bareknuckle Pickups, EMG and Grover. With those kinds of specs it's no surprise that they've become a favourite of metal guitarists and indeed anyone who needs high performance first and foremost. We would argue that if it suits guitarists pushing the limits of performance then really it's suitable for anybody. After all, how many of us have really complained about a guitar being too easy to play or having too many tonal options?
Outside of electrics the same philosophy of "performance first" applies to acoustic, bass and semi-acoustic design. This has lead Ibanez to be among the first to mass manufacture 9 string electrics, basses with fanned frets and 7 string acoustics. Every year brings new surprises and 2015 has been no different.
Ibanez 2015 Guitars
While we've been impressed with the output from the Ibanez Bass Workshop for a while 2015 might be the year they really kicked into high gear offering a more (slightly) more practical 5 string bass with cutaway and 6 string fanned fret bass. Ibanez haven't forgotten about their core audience either and the latest Steve Vai Jem guitar is the most affordable yet, so aspiring shredders can afford a high end guitar to cut their teeth on:
For acoustics there's a further expansion of the exotic wood AEW series, offering a completely different acoustic voicing at a price that a wide range of players can afford.
For under £70, the Ibanez TS Mini is simply a fantastic buy, and it's already one of the best overdrive pedals available today, as it uses the same Tube Screamer Circuit that made the original TS808 so popular, with the JRC4558 chip.
Our Pick Of Some Of The Best New Ibanez:
Paul Stanley Signature Models
It was recently announced that Paul Stanley of Kiss would be returning to collaborate with Ibanez on three new signature models. They make a pretty natural pairing, with both Ibanez and Kiss being all about performance and they're hardly wallflowers either. The PS120-BK is worth highlighting for the Abalone body binding alone, it looks amazing. Then there's Seymour Duncans and hardware specially designed in collaboration with Paul, a lot of custom bang for your buck.
Ibanez FRM150 Paul Gilbert Fireman Guitar
The Paul Gilbert signature models are great, and this new FRM150-TR is no exception. With an extreme body shape - similar to the Paul Stanley model - and lots of tone and power, this guitar is perfect for the guitarists who want to stand out, both visually and sonically!
Joe Satriani Signature JS140
While it might be Steve Vai's JEM Juniour that takes up the most column inches in the guitar press we reckon the new JS140 is well worth a shout as an affordable high performance signature model. Sitting somewhere between the JS100 and JS2400 in features and price, the JS140 features a clever Infinity RD pickup at the neck, a single coil sized Humbucker that allows for a full 24 frets.
Ibanez Exotic Tonewood Acoustics
There's a number of these special little acoustics released for 2015, all for under £400. However it's the AEW120BG-NT that really caught our attention, Bubinga is more commonly used on basses but makes for a superb acoustic material too. The pronounced mid range is really special and it's nice to see acoustic guitarists getting a broader palette of sounds to choose from.
Ibanez SJ300 Artstar
Even though Ibanez is better known for its range of "hard-rock" guitars, they also make some of the best semi-acoustic models available today, which are very popular amongst jazz musicians.
So it's not surprising that Ibanez has not forgotten about the jazz crowd in 2015, and announced a few new models. One of the best is the Ibanez SJ300 Artstar Solid Top, with solid spruce top and flamed maple back & sides, and super 58 humbuckers for that warm, fat sound jazz guitarists love so much.
IBANEZ 2015 LIMITED-EDITION GUITARS
Besides the standard-run models, there are some great Ibanez 2015 Limited-Edition guitars! These will be available only in very limited quantities to the UK, so if anything picks your fancy, we strongly recommend you to pre-order it! There are some stylish bass guitars, 7-string heavy metal guitars and quite a few superb semi-acoustic "jazz"-style guitars from the popular Artcore series. View Ibanez 2015 Limited-Edition models