Before we get into our Ibanez AG75BS Review, let’s look at a little history…
Since their founding in 1957 Ibanez has had an interesting history, to say the least. From just copying the designs of other guitars, to lawsuits to finally establishing their own range and identity. They have come a long way in a short time.
They were one of the first of the Asian guitar manufacturers to break into western sales markets. And they have never tried the ‘we are the best at everything’ tactic, They prefer to be recognized as a company producing good guitars at affordable prices. They do that exceptionally well.
They do produce a high-end range of guitars though that are very highly thought of. And there are some very influential players who have appreciated and used Ibanez – Steve Vai, Pat Metheny, George Benson, and Joe Satriani to name a few.
Now their range of instruments is extensive and includes just about everything. From basses to various electric to acoustic and even banjos and ukuleles. They are successful because they fill a niche in the market for good quality guitars that are sensibly priced.
One area they are well-known for is Jazz. They seem to be able to produce a quality jazz guitar. We are going to have a look at one of their more affordable guitars, the Ibanez AG75BS Artcore.
Some would say there is nothing quite like the sound of a hollow body guitar. In some cases, it is hard to disagree with. They do have their niche style and of course, are not suited to all styles of music. They do though fit into more styles than are really appreciated.
It is fair to say that they are great for the jazzy sounds and styles, but for a rock band? Most would say forget it, but don’t tell Steve Howe of ‘Yes’ that. In the great days of ‘Yes’ he played a hollow body and still does. And Malcolm Young of ACDC was often seen with a Gretsch White Falcon, as was Billy Duffy from The Cult.
The Ibanez ag75bs is a member of the Artcore series of guitars. The aim of the Artcore design was to produce great full hollow and semi-hollow guitars at an affordable price. We can safely say they have achieved that.
Ibanez brought out their Artcore range of guitars in 2002. It is fair to say that they had a major impact. Those large hollow electric guitars the jazz greats used were no longer too expensive to buy.
The AG75 has been part of this range from the beginning. It is what you would expect from Ibanez in terms of its quality, as well as being what you would expect in both performance and sound from a fully hollow body. It is one of the basic models but still offers much.
So, let’s take a closer look at the Ibanez AG75BS Artcore.
The AG75 is a fully hollow body guitar. It features a single-cutaway design with an archtop. It has an authentic look given to it with the violin ‘f’ holes carved into the top. The body is made from Maple on the back, sides and the top. This in itself is a step away from what many consider is a traditional design. The tonewoods often used are a Mahogany body with a Spruce top. Especially for those instruments needing the resonance from the Spruce.
Maple though is crisper in its sound and brighter with more resonance. The tone of Maple guitars is rather unique because the wood is very dense. This provides a very nice tone that is quite sharp.
The body is designed to look like an authentic instrument from the 50s or maybe the 60s. It has been given some extra features to encourage this aesthetic. It has a very traditional cream binding and the ‘f’ holes have an attractive white edging on the inside. There is also a raised pickguard. Front, back, and sides are given a glorious Brown sunburst finish.
There is no doubt that the build quality is excellent and a closer inspection shows no flaws at all. It is designed to impress and it certainly does that. We particularly like the way that the raised scratchplate has been given a white edging. Just a little thing but it adds to the styling.
It weighs nine pounds and is nicely balanced if played seated. And is a design that is very reminiscent of a bygone age but that too many people will be its appeal. It looks at you and just says ‘come play some Jazz with me’. This guitar is made in Indonesia.
A specially-designed Artcore neck is constructed from Mahogany to give the guitar a little sustain. It has an attractive bound Rosewood fingerboard. Again, as with the body, Ibanez has used good materials. The scale length is 24.85 inches.
It is a set-in design neck with 22 large-size frets and with pearl block inlays. The neck is not over-wide but allows good width for playing a picking style. Of course, the whole thing is really set up for a lot of chord work and the neck feels like that. It is not the sort of neck you will get many bends from the strings, but then it isn’t designed for that. The sustain allows some nice vibrato though and with the mahogany-based sustain, the neck works well.
Obviously, each player will be different but the neck does allow a reasonably low action. That assists with chord formations and a bit of speed playing if necessary. It will not go as low as some guitars though. You will get some fret buzz if you drop it down too much.
For the price point of this guitar, the neck is very good and made well. It gives the guitar a nice feel to play and is certainly comfortable. A good neck and a well-made attractively styled body. Ibanez have nailed it so far, what’s up next?
Often the area that suffers when manufacturers are trying to produce budget guitars. We can understand that. You can’t cut corners with the build on the body. It’s got to look good or the battle for sales is lost before it has started. When someone sits down to try it out, it’s got to feel and play ok. If not the sale is over.
Hardware, therefore, is often the place reputable manufacturers look to cut a few corners. And the hardware on this instrument is what we would describe as satisfactory. It isn’t going to win any awards but it will do the job you need it to do.
There are actually some very nice hardware attachments. We like the trapezoid VT60 tailpiece which adds a certain style to it. It is also made to ensure string changes are quick and not a problem.
There is an Artcore -1 Tune-o-Matic bridge with adjustable saddles. It is a drop-in design allowing it to be removed if necessary when the strings are off. Some saddles have adjustment screws to alter the playing action on the outside, i.e. on the opposite side to the pickup. The AG75 has them on the inside next to the pickup.
Designs vary between guitars and also between bridge formats. The bridge and the tail-piece are chrome-plated.
Up at the top end…
There are chrome-plated tuners with the traditional Ibanez motif on the headstock. Nothing fancy with the machine heads. They will do their job. The nut is synthetic bone material. As we said, nothing fancy, just efficient in a cost-effective way.
The Ibanez ag75bs Artcore is fitted with two humbuckers. It has an ACH1 pickup at the neck and an ACH2 placed at the bridge. These are from the Ibanez Classic Elite range of pickups. They are both passive and have ceramic magnets.
While both pickups are what you might call budget range, they have one very positive design. They actually sound quite different from each other. This, of course, is what you want, but the tonal difference between neck and bridge pickups is noticeable.
Unfortunately, this seems to be the area where Ibanez has cut back a little. They would of course, probably use their own range of pickups for their own guitars. Especially at the budget end. These though are a little weak sounding. The sound maybe isn’t quite fat enough. More on this later.
Very basic control features. There are two volume controls and two tone controls. One for each pickup. There is a three-way pickup selector switch. This allows you to choose either neck or bridge or use both together.
The control knobs themselves are made of black plastic with white digits and feel quite substantial. Likewise, the selector switch has positive movements between options and doesn’t feel weak. Nicely spaced they are good quality and functional.
How Does It Play?
We have made some comments already about the quality of the neck and how it feels. It definitely is a comfortable guitar to use. And it isn’t the sort of guitar that might be easy to swing about and throw around but it isn’t designed for that. It offers a relaxed easy style that is more akin to the thoughtful player.
The cutaway allows full access to the fingerboard though the final two or three frets might stretch you a little. It is going to suit some genres more than others and for a starter guitar, it is quite big physically. As it is so easy to play though, it might suit a teenage or adult beginner.
Chords are nice to play as the action is smooth, likewise, the width of the neck allows a comfortable picking style. There can be no complaints about how this guitar plays.
How Does It Sound?
We have already made some comments about the sound from the pickups. We just think they are a little thin and not what you might expect from a pickup labeled humbucker. For us, it is disappointing because they have used good tonewoods that should project the sound. They are let down a little by the pickups.
We have to remember though that this is one of the Ibanez budget ranges of hollow-body guitars. It is not, therefore, going to be a thousand dollar plus instrument, or produce that level of quality of sound.
Unplugged and played acoustically it is not as loud as a full acoustic might be. But it is certainly loud enough to be heard. The sound unplugged is good for a guitar in this price range.
Not sure if the Ibanez AG75BS is the perfect guitar for you? If so, it’s worth taking a look our in-depth reviews of the Best Hallow Semi Hollow Guitars currently available, as well as our reviews of the Ibanez AS73 Artcore Semi Hollow, the Oscar Schmidt OE30CH review, or even the Epiphone EJ 200CE.
Ibanez AG75BS Pros & Cons
- Quality build and finish.
- A smaller sized hollow-body guitar.
- Clear, precise sound.
- Easy to play.
- Hardware is not the best.
- No case.
- Pickups are weak and let the guitar down.
We think that the Ibanez AG75BS Artcore hollow body is a decent guitar. It has a classic shape and styling which gives it a rich warm look. It is fitted with some decent modern hardware and all at a very affordable price. This is what Ibanez do and they are very good at it.
When we were given the Ibanez AG75BS Review to write we knew certain things. Firstly that it would be a guitar that would be better than its price point suggests. Secondly that it would be well-made and play well. Finally that it would be an affordable instrument that would perform well. It hasn’t let us down in any of those areas.
If we are to find fault it would only be with the pickups. They are not anywhere near as bad as some we see. They just could have been a little better for a guitar with this quality of the build.
The Ibanez AG75bs Artcore hollow body. Ibanez quality, Ibanez affordability. A great looking guitar by any standards. They have produced another quality guitar at a great price that is worth buying.