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Ibanez AKJ95 review

Traditional archtops arch rival?

  • £444
  • €640
While it shares a similar depth, scale length and cutaway as its Gibson ES-175 inspiration, the body is slightly smaller

MusicRadar Verdict

Be warned - not all low-end hollowbodies are created equal. This is a good one and a great place to start.

Pros

  • +

    Great jazz tones. Lovely finish. Ideal 'starter' archtop.

Cons

  • -

    Pretty hard to fault for the price.

Serious jazzers love their Gibson archtop guitars but Ibanez has almost as much cache with grassroots players, not least because of the endorsement by greats like George Benson, Pat Metheny and John Scofield.

While it shares a similar depth, scale length and pointed Florentine cutaway as its Gibson ES-175 inspiration, the body is slightly smaller; 400mm (15.75 inches) as opposed to 413mm (16.25 inches) across its rounded lower bouts. Manufactured in China, it's made from laminated maple, and the outer veneers have a subtle figuring enhanced by the classic dark 'burst hue and rather thick-looking gloss.

Instead of the typical choice of a mahogany neck, we get a three-piece mahogany/maple/ mahogany laminate topped with a 20-fret rosewood fingerboard here, with what we'd call medium, not narrow, gauge frets.

Sounds

"There are numerous tonal shades achieved with the volume and tones"

Acoustically, it's a little light and bright but plugged in, the Super 58 humbuckers, along with flatwound strings, produce a bright-edged, ultra-modern 'jazz' voice until you back off the tones.

With dual pickups and four controls, of course, in mixed pickup positions there are numerous tonal shades achieved with the volume and tones - the neck pickup certainly works very well with some clarity from the bridge pickup.

Through an acoustic amp a more velveteen smooth jazz texture emerges; when it's shown the front end of a crunchy valve amp (watch the feedback), the thickness is impressive, and ideal for more contemporary grit.

A great start-up jazz box for the serious student - or a cool-toned, evocative-looking electric for the rest of us.

Dave Burrluck is one of the world’s most experienced guitar journalists, who started writing back in the '80s for International Musician and Recording World, co-founded The Guitar Magazine and has been the Gear Reviews Editor of Guitarist magazine for the past two decades. Along the way, Dave has been the sole author of The PRS Guitar Book and The Player's Guide to Guitar Maintenance as well as contributing to numerous other books on the electric guitar. Dave is an active gigging and recording musician and still finds time to make, repair and mod guitars, not least for Guitarist’s The Mod Squad.