Ibanez SAS32FM review

One of three new additions to the super-slim SA range

  • £379
The lavender blue hue is stunning.

MusicRadar Verdict

Instructed to choose one of the three in the S series, we'd probably go for the SAS32 simply due to its neck humbucker and the lovely finish, and we would urge you to try one through an overdriving amp to see if we're right.


  • +

    Lovely finish. Excellent neck pickup options.


  • -

    Still the dodgy tuning.

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After returning to the mainstream well over two decades ago, Ibanez has subsequently attracted some of the coolest and hippest endorsees of any similar company.

Frank Gambale was approached by Hoshino (Ibanez's parent company) in 1986 with regard to producing a signature model, and a year later four FGM models were added to the catalogue.

Frank's now with Yamaha, of course, but during the Ibanez design process he used on occasion the now long-gone RG540 model, a design that mutated into the Sabre - or S - range still available today.

The ultra-thin mahogany body and neck provided a surprisingly big tone with an unrivalled playing comfort, not to mention an eye-popping desert yellow finish option first seen on Vai's original batch of JEM777 models.

In fact, so insubstantial can S Series guitars feel that some players were put off by the whole idea, so Ibanez reworked the design to continue the super-curved body contours and mahogany tonewood but to also include a slab back and, while we're at it, a non-locking pivot vibrato.

This is the second of three guitars that are brand new additions to the SA range now available in Blighty, offering a more than competitive price and a few innovations along the way.

Although we'd agree that this model is simply the HH-configured version of the Ibanez SAS36, it is distinct in it's own right.

Fair enough, its spec is identical in feel, fixtures, fittings and materials to that of the 36, aside from the distinct provision of a neck humbucker in place of the pair of single-coils.

It's a standard Ibanez AH-3 model while a True Duo, complete with push/pull volume pot, resides at the bridge.

Position two on this five-way lever combines the relevant setting of the bridge 'bucker with the inside coil of the AH-3, position three offers both humbuckers, position four the two neck coils and position five the neck in all it's glory.

The only other difference to point out is the stunning trans lavender blue hue of this example: it shows off the flame maple top to an absolute tee.


Although the transparent overtones are still present they're far less intrusive than on the 36, which we can only put down to the slightly increased amount of tonewood thanks to the lack of a central single coil.

Whyever this is, there's no doubt that rock rhythms are better served here and, hand in hand with the same great clean performance, the SAS32 is probably the better of the two tonally.

Of course, the option of ?icking to the neck humbucker to try out those Velvet Revolver licks is always a cool option, and here the basic skinny tone ensures that this setting also cuts through.

Those irritating tuning niggles were also a problem here and, considering the usual high standard of Ibanez QC, this was a nasty surprise.

Maybe increasing the number of tremolo springs to four or including a complimentary bottle of Nut Sauce with each unit sold could be options.

Simon Bradley is a guitar and especially rock guitar expert who worked for Guitarist magazine and has in the past contributed to world-leading music and guitar titles like MusicRadar (obviously), Guitarist, Guitar World and Louder. What he doesn't know about Brian May's playing and, especially, the Red Special, isn't worth knowing.