Ibanez's AZS series has the retro-modern look down to a T

Ibanez AZS Series
(Image credit: Ibanez)

GEAR 2021Ibanez has unveiled the AZS series, which sees the Japanese titan taking a little inspiration from the Telecaster and running with it for a fresh, contemporary electric guitar design. 

The new AZS DNA can be found on Josh Smith's new signature model, the FLATV1, albeit with a non-contoured slab body, and on the new signature LB1 electric for Lari Basilio.

Ibanez has used variations on a loose T-style format before, perhaps most notably on a signature guitar for Noodles from the Offspring, and on metal-friendly electrics such as the FR800. While the AZS series shape is in some ways more traditional, it is a very different guitar. 

There is no slab top for a start. There is a forearm contour for comfort, with deep belly cuts on the rear and a sculpted low-profile heel where a roasted maple neck joins the body with a four-bolt joint. 

The neck and fingerboard are carved from S-TECH roasted maple and seat 22 jumbo stainless steel frets with Ibanez's Prestige edge treatment. Very nice. And then there's the pickup switching... But we'll get to that. Let's take a closer look at them, starting with Smith's FLATV1, which offers a slightly more traditional proposition.

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Ibanez Josh Smith FLATV1

Ibanez Josh Smith FLATV1

Ibanez Josh Smith FLATV1 (Image credit: Ibanez)

A purveyor of bluesy rock, jazz and all-sorts, Josh Smith has gone for a slab-style ash body, with a bolt-on S-TECH roasted maple V-profile neck and fingerboard, with 22 medium frets with the all-important Prestige edge treatment. 

It features a three-saddle Gotoh F1803 string-through-body bridge. Now, this is not your grandaddy's barrel-saddle Tele bridge. Here, Ibanez and Gotoh have collaborated on an "In-Tune" saddle system which is pre-intonated with slots on titanium saddles.

The pickups are custom-wound to sound "bright and fat" but offer a familiar setup with Alnico single-coils in the neck and bridge positions, and a three-way pickup selector, volume and tone controls. 

Note the curved control plate: this is new to the AZS series and, Ibanez says, offers easier access to the controls. Also, those control knobs are extra-knurled... Good to know, right?


While the AZS2209H shares the same curved control plate as Smith's signature model, has a solid ash body and the same Gotoh/Ibanez bridge system, the contoured body, Oval C profile neck and jumbo stainless steel frets ensures that it will have a very different feel.

Offered in Tri Fade Burst and Prussian Blue Metallic, the AZS2209H comes equipped with a Seymour Duncan Magic Touch-mini humbucker in the neck position and a Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro Custom single-coil in the bridge. Controls come via a three-way pickup selector, volume and tone, plus dyna-MIX5 switching system with Alter Switch that allows you to access five core sounds.

It has a bone nut, black dot inlays on the fingerboard, and like Lari Basilio's LB1 it has Gotoh Magnum Lock machine heads with adjustable posts. 


AZS2200 is largely spec'd as per the AZS2209H but dispenses with the control plate, instead direct-mounting the controls onto the body. 

Here you also have the choice of builds. There is a Black model with a solid alder body. There is a Sunset Burst model that pairs solid alder with a flame maple top. And then you have a Royal Blue Sapphire model that tops an alder body with quilted maple.

All three feature a Gotoh T1802 tremolo bridge. Other nice touches that are found across the series include Luminlay side dot markers, a steel pickup plate to give it some twang, and a hardshell case is included in the deal. All are made in Japan.

The AZS2009H models have a street price of £1,919 / $1,999. The AZS2000F is priced £2,419 / $2,499 while the AZS2000Q should retail for £/$2,599. Hey, those maple tops do not come cheap. 

See Ibanez for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.