If there is one thing you can rely on with an Ibanez guitar, it is that the quality will be good and the cost affordable. That is what they do. You can argue they don’t make the best guitars and that might be true. But then they don’t come with an over-inflated sales ticket. They are just good quality at a good price.
The subject of this Ibanez AM93AYS Artcore Expressionist Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar Review is a good example.
They’ve been around for quite a while, but not as long as most of their competitors. Since 1957, in fact, is when they first appeared. In those days, people were wary of Japanese made guitars and so they chose a name that might not identify them.
They started off by doing what most of this new breed of Japanese instrument makers were doing. Copying the most expensive and popular guitars and selling them at a fraction of the price. Of course, Fender and Gibson weren’t amused and tried to stop them. There was only one case that ever went to court in this ‘Lawsuit’ period. That was between Ibanez and Gibson, but it was settled out of court.
The two American giants of music may have realized if they were to get involved in a mass production race with the Japanese, they would lose. Fender and Gibson quality had dropped in the early 70s, but the demand for instruments was increasing. They both knew their dominance was over and decided to be friends. Nowadays, both Fender and Gibson and just about every other manufacturer have manufacturing plants in the Far East.
Ibanez was one of the first to make a breakthrough in selling ‘their’ instruments to the west and have continued to grow ever since. They don’t aim for the very high-end market but for producing a good quality that people can afford. That quality made them the guitar of choice for a number of well-known musicians.
So, let’s take a look at one of their guitars in our Ibanez AM93AYS Artcore Expressionist Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar Review.
If there is something that Ibanez is very good at, it is manufacturing the Ibanez semi-hollow electric guitar. And one of the most successful ranges of guitars has been the Artcore series. So successful has it been that it has established a firm platform in the jazz world. Great musicians like George Benson use Ibanez.
Part of the Artcore series is the Expressionist range. They are the latest of the Ibanez design to come on to the market. The Artcore series arrived in 2002 and includes both hollow and semi-hollow designs.
At the time, it was nearly impossible to get a quality hollow or semi-hollow guitar at anything approaching an affordable price. Even second-hand models were beyond the reach of most people. The Artcore range solved that problem and put a quality hollow or semi-hollow in the hands of those who wanted one.
Even a quick look will tell you where the inspiration for the Ibanez AM93AYS came from. It’s got Gibson ES-335 written all over it with maybe just a few minor design changes to avoid the Lawsuits.
Ibanez these days don’t need to copy Gibson or anyone else. They produce enough in-house quality themselves, but there is the feeling of that iconic guitar about this Ibanez. We suppose if you are going to take your inspiration from somewhere, there aren’t too many better places. The Ibanez semi-hollow electric guitar is a force to be reckoned with.
So, let’s have a closer look…
The body style is designed to fit neatly between a hollow and a solid body. It has an archtop design with back, top, and sides constructed from quilted maple. It also has a solid block of wood down the center. Sounds familiar, but we can’t quite work out from where.
This forms two what you might call acoustic chambers. From those designs, you get a typical solid-body sound with plenty of sustain coupled with the hollow body warmth. Over each separate sound chamber violin-style, ‘f’ holes are cut into the body. It has a double-cutaway giving full access to the fingerboard, and this is where the design differs slightly. The horns of the cutaway are short and pointed in shape — not the most pleasing aesthetic about the guitar.
It has the traditional raised pickguard with a really great sunburst finish that stands out as being unique. It is quite lightweight at just 9 pounds.
Trying to combine the two styles of design into a semi-hollow body is no easy task. There are some delicate sound nuances to be observed if one style is not going to crowd out the other. We think Ibanez gets it about right. The warm hollow-body sounds are there. But there is that solid bold edge that makes these guitars so popular.
The construction quality is excellent, and the finish very good. The vintage cream binding to the top and bottom edges adds a touch of class. It is a well-built body that is well-balanced and comfortable to hold. It looks the part and plays an important part in giving you the sound you need.
The neck is an Artcore set-in neck. It is a three-piece design made from Mahogany and Maple with a slim ‘C’ profile. It has a Rosewood fingerboard. There are 22 frets and white pearl block inlays with marker dots on the top of the fingerboard. The edges of the fingerboard have been given the same cream binding as the body. It has a 24 and three-quarter inch scale.
It boasts a nice authentic style to the design and feels very good in the hand — the slim profile allowing you to move around the fingerboard at speed.
Nothing particularly different with the hardware. This is often the area that many manufacturers find ways of cutting costs. Ibanez seems to appreciate that the hardware has to be stable. If only to keep the guitar in tune.
Up at the headstock are the sealed machine heads — decent quality with a comfortable screw turn. The headpiece has an inlaid Pearloid design. The bridge is the ART1 Tune-o-Matic design that is known in Ibanez circles for its accuracy in intonation, Quick Change 111, and the stop bar allows you to perform string changes easily and quickly.
Four control knobs and a selector switch complete the hardware, and the controls are worth a closer look. More on this later.
All the hardware is gold plated, which may not be to everyone’s taste. It can sometimes look a bit cheap and nasty if it isn’t doesn’t well. With this Ibanez semi-hollow electric guitar, it works well. And makes a good color match with the sunburst body and stained mahogany headpiece.
The all-important area for creating the sound. Ibanez has used two humbuckers. They have chosen the Super 58 Custom for the choice of sound they give. They are a decent choice without excelling. The design of this guitar is such that it has varied potential uses.
The Artcore series are popular in Jazz circles, so it has to be able to fit that mold. But why not give it an edge that opens up possibilities for other genre use.
You will get the warm jazzy sounds, especially from the neck humbucker. But switch to the bridge pick up and crank up the volume for a bit of humbucker growl.
Whatever your choice or style, these pickups are a decent choice. They are not the best you will ever hear, but at this price point are more than satisfactory. They also, of course, give you options.
They are about what you might expect from a guitar with two humbuckers. A volume for each pickup and tone control for each. There is also the three-way pick-up selector switch. You can use either pickup or both together.
There is something of note with the controls that is certainly worth pointing out. They do look very upmarket with their black and gold finish, but they have a little extra added. Around the top of each control is a rubber ring fitted. This makes them easy to hold and turn and gives you a sense of accuracy with the movement. It might be considered of little interest by some, but it is a good idea and a worthwhile feature.
How Does It Play?
Well, the answer to that is very simple. Good. In fact, it is more than good, and it plays very well. The body is nicely balanced and not too heavy despite it being physically quite a big guitar. It is comfortable played seated or standing. The cutaways give easy and comfortable access to the length of the fingerboard.
The neck itself, though, is excellent. The slimline shape makes the grip relaxed, and it is comfortable to play. The taper means that it will also be quite quick to get around for chords or single-note solos.
When you buy a budget-priced guitar which we have to say this is, you don’t expect too much. With the Ibanez AM93AYS, you get a nice surprise. The smooth action and comfort make it a nice guitar to play. Being so well-made, it is an instrument that is going to give you a lot of use.
How Does It Sound?
Ibanez has produced with this guitar a very good instrument. And making a big contribution to its quality is the sound. As we said, the pickups are not the best humbuckers you will ever hear. You don’t expect that they would be. But what they are is very versatile.
It’s a very good guitar for Jazz and genres that need a little warmth and good clarity. But it can also get a little more adventurous and kick a little. We wouldn’t say for one moment it is going to suit a metal guitarist. That would be a little extreme. But if you need a rough edge that you can call on, it is there when you need it.
It is actually quite hard to be critical about this guitar; it is so well made. But the sound from the pickups is one area that could have been improved to make it even better.
Ibanez AM93AYS Artcore Expressionist Semi-Hollow Pros & Cons
- Superb classic looks with a stunning sunburst finish.
- Incredibly well constructed.
- A versatile, good sounding instrument.
- Easy and enjoyable to play.
- Not the best sounding pickups available.
For the price point, there is very little that could have been improved. We think that this Ibanez semi-hollow electric guitar is great value for money as it stands and will compete with other guitars in a higher price bracket.
With this Ibanez AM93AYS Artcore Expressionist Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar Review, we have seen it again. Just how some manufacturers can produce quality at an affordable price. If you are looking for a good quality semi-hollow instrument, the Ibanez AM93AYS is definitely well worth considering.