Ibanez ARX100

One of two great-value new electrics from Ibanez that reinvent the Artist

The ARX Artist has a predominantly mahogany build, twin humbuckers and recessed pair of volumes and single master tone pot.

It might take some players a while to get used to the fact that the bridge pickup's volume control is the middle pot, but if you can't adapt over time, it is simple enough to open the guitar up and swap the order around.

It also shares the Ibanez Gibraltar III bridge design, a more heavy duty take on the tune-o-matic that allows for increased intonation adjustment and also features saddles far less likely to wear and allow strings to pop out of their guides.

Overview

The ARX features double cutaways and horns that are elongated in comparison to those on the original Artist outline and are non-symmetrical.

It features arched tops and a three-a-side headstock outline, with a variation on the original Artist's 'moustache' indent at the top and increased flaring at the bottom. Tuners are chrome kidney-shaped Grover-a-likes that seem dependable enough.

What's immediately striking is that the ARX100 is an interesting shape, as its elongated horns mean that it stands apart from the majority of guitars in this mould that often trace the double cutaway Les Paul Junior outline.

There's clearly some of this identity inherited from the seventies Artist in the ARX100, but Ibanez has managed to reinvent the shape subtly but effectively.

One feature that links back directly to the late seventies Artist, and indeed many Ibanez guitars of the period, is the 'sustain plate' behind the tailpiece.

Back in the late-seventies, Ibanez catalogues described the feature thus: "a heavy metal sustain block inlayed into the body under the bridge for lightning response and increased sustain."

The plate on the ARX100 is actually fused with the Quick Change Classic tailpiece, therefore adding mass and stability to the equation.

Whether or not it increases sustain to any significant degree is debatable, but ultimately a mahogany set-neck hardtail electric such as this should have no problems in that department.

The countersunk knobs keep everything tidy and low profile, while electronically the guitar features the aforementioned pair of volume controls to regulate individual pickup output and just one tone control.

This compromises the versatility of the uncovered ARC humbuckers slightly, as with just the single tone control you can't roll off the tone on just the neck pickup for a mellow jazzy voice and flip to the bridge wide open, for instance.

That said, the twin volumes and three-way toggle selector mean that all manner of Morse code-style kill-switch action is freely available when you back one of the volumes right off.

The guitar's 'candy apple' finish is an overt nod to Fender's fabulous candy apple red, and looks great under stage lighting.

On close inspection, there's a little untidiness at the point where the finish meets the purfling around the body edge, but this is far from being either a major issue or unacceptable considering the ARX100's modest pricing.

The rosewood slab fingerboard is a little dry but again far from the worst example of this. We've even seen worse from guitars well over the £1,000 mark, and the split block pearloid inlays add a little glamour without overstepping the line.

Picking up the ARX100 and subjecting it to an acoustic strum, the neck is not only finished very neatly, but is also an eminently comfortable and fluid player.

There's a bright but solid and balanced feel to the unplugged tonality that is a sound foundation for amplified performance.

Upper fret access is superb thanks to a fairly deep cutaway and sensibly proportioned heel, suggesting that this would be a very player-friendly live instrument.

This is cemented by pleasantly chunky strap buttons that inspire confidence and a slight body heaviness that contributes to good strapped-on balance.

Sounds

The double cutaway ARX100 has a balanced, articulate set of humbucker sounds with a helping of top end zinginess that's perhaps surprising when you consider that

this guitar has no maple top to temper the natural velvety dark edge of its all mahogany construction. It would be legitimate to expect sonic performance akin to a Gibson SG, but there seems to be more inherent brightness in the guitar's tonality.

From crystalline clean to the dirtiest amplifier sounds, the guitar does everything you'd expect from a quality twin-humbucker set neck electric. It's hardly a unique voice, but it more than holds its own in much more expensive company.

MusicRadar Rating

4.5 / 5 stars
Pros

Superb value for money. Good quality humbucker sounds. Player-friendly.

Cons

At this price it's difficult for minor quibbles to hold water.

Verdict

The ARX100 is extremely tempting, with its very low price, versatile tonality, snug feel and excellent upper fret access. It's a lot of guitar for just shy of 250 notes.

Country of Origin

China

Bolt-on Neck

No

Case Included

No

Cutaway

No

Fingerboard Material

Rosewood

Fretless

No

Hardware

Chrome

Includes Bag

No

Inlays

Block Inlays

Left Handed Model Available

No

Pickguard

No

Phantom power

No

Tremolo

No

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.

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