Ibanez will release over 40 new guitar models in 2023 and there are some really bold designs going on here from the Japanese company. The new Japan-made Axe Design Lab electric guitar series is allowing Ibanez to push the boat out on unusual specs, while there's plenty of signature models (some we've already covered), acoustic and AZ series additions to get excited about.
Here are our highlights along with retailer street prices…
1. Axe Design Lab RG8870
Preorder at Sweetwater
Ibanez are not messing around when it comes to the Axe Design Lab series specs and this RG feels like a do-it-all deal with neck DiMarzio 36th Anniversary PAF, True Velvet middle and The Tone Zone bridge.
A AAA flamed maple top on a chambered alder body custom Super Wizard five-piece maple and wenge neck (with 'Velvetouch' finish), Macassar ebony fretboard with Tree Of Life Inlay and Lo-Pro Edge bridge with locking nut makes this a premium machine.
It's got a coil-tap switch for those pickups too.
2. Axe Design Lab RGA622XH
This 27-jumbo fret beast offers access to the higher previously uncharted ranges of its ebony fretboard. Available in Black and White finishes with a mahogany body, five-piece maple and walnut neck and Prestige fret edge treatment, the DiMarzio Air Norton and Tone Zone H/S pickup combo also has a coil-tap switch and three-way selector.
Again, there's a Lo-Pro Edge tremolo bridge and Luminlay side dots so you can keep track of yourself onstage with that juggernaut of a neck.
The first seven-string guitar from the headless Q range is a versatile Blue Chameleon Metallic Matte instrument on spec with Ibanez's Q58-7 (Ibanez really isn't very good at snappy model names is it?) humbucker and the R1-7 single-coil neck and middle pickups here with the dyna-MIX9 switching system w/Alter Switch.
A nyatoh body and Wizard C-7 five-piece Roasted maple and bubinga neck has our tonewood buds tingling. That fretboard is roasted birdseye maple too.
An Ibanez Mono-Tune bridge and Ibanez Custom String Lock completes an impressively appointed guitar.
This is the cheaper, non signature model version of Tim Henson's TOD10N; an instrument that brings electric playability and dimensions to nylon string guitars. Like Fender's Acoustasonic series and the Cordoba Stage, we think Ibanez are really on to something here because while it may shake the tree of tradition, it's doing it to widen appeal and also provide practical stage solutions for 'acoustic' tones.
Available in Sunburst and Natural iterations, the price is attractive here. The FRH10N features a solid Sitka spruce top with laminate sapele back and sides with a C-shape nyatoh set neck, walnut fretboard and 22 frets.
There's a bone nut and saddle with gold classical tuners and Ibanez Custom preamp with a T-bar undersaddle piezo pickup.
Ok, it's just a new finish but it's Pastel Pink! And we absolutely love the value proposition the AZES series offers in the Ibanez catalogue – that's not really just an ideal beginner guitar but just a really good electric guitar buy.
The 25-inch scale here offers a third way between short and traditional 25.5-inch scale; easier bends and stretches. The H/S/S pickups combo is also going to be able to cover plenty of ground – especially with the Alter switch. There's ten different pickup combinations to be enjoyed here, including series options.
Build is a poplar body with jatoba fretboard on a maple neck.
$699 / £669
Preorder at Andertons
A new Ivory finish with gold hardware for a semi-hollow guitar series at the medium end of the price spectrum offers a beautiful vintage vibe here. We wanted to shine a light on this because we think the Artcores are underrated semi-hollow models and the Expressionist line is a fine showcase of their airy but chiming tonal qualities.
Woods here are a linden top, back and sides with a bound Macassar ebony fretboard on a nyatoh and maple three-piece neck with the AM Expressionist carve (described as as a compound A and B-profile as you move up).
The pickups are a pair of Super 58 humbuckers with 'moderate output' and the tailpiece is a VT06 paired with a Gibraltar Performer bridge with low positioned saddles.
Another painfully unmemorable name for a guitar that's ticking plenty of boxes for us. The new Seymour Duncan Fortuna H/S/S pickup configuration has us intrigued to hear more.
On paper Ibanez says they have a 'moderate output and natural clean voicing which accurately reflect subtle playing nuances. From treble to bass, the overall tonal balance is evenly adjusted and works well with various effect pedals.' in addition you get the AZ series cornerstones of dyna-MIX9 switching system with Alter Switch for nine sound variations.
This Japanese-made Prestige model features an 'S-TECH special roasted treatment increases the wood's stability, durability, water resistance and tolerance of temperature changes'. Nice to know.
Stainless steel frets, Gotoh hardware and a lovely Dark Tide Blue finish make this a lot of guitar for those in need of a versatile modern S-type workhorse.
For our signature model choice we're going with an artist you may not be familiar with but can check out below; Italian Luca Mantovanelli. His Prestige signature model also showcases a single-coil trio of the Seymour Duncan's new Fortuna pickups, but also Ibanez's Blender feature to really fine tune in the trio of pickups here to your taste.
It's an alternative feature to the dyna-MIX9 system and according to Ibanez the blend knob allows players to 'incorporate just the right amount of each pickup in a given position to achieve your desired sound'.
The neck here is a feast of specs; a highly durable oval C S-Tech Wood roasted maple sealed with an oil finish with a rosewood fretboard. It features a Super All Access joint for easier access to the high frets and a compound radius 'board of 228mm to 305mm to further enhance that upper register playing experience.
- Check out Ibanez for the full roster of new guitar and bass models for 2023.