As the proud owner of the Ibanez AZ2204, I’ve been wanting to do a video with it for a while now. With a window of opportunity, I got busy writing and came up with this new song. Check out the full list of gear that I used below along with my take on the AZ series by Ibanez.
Let us know in the comments if you’d like to see a backing track and tabs/notation!
- Fender American Stratocaster (Left Rhythm) – Tuned C#, G#, C#, F#, A#, C#
- Ibanez AZ2204 (Right Rhythm and Lead) – Tuned Standard
- Squier P Bass – Tuned 1/2 Step Down
- Line 6 Helix (Effects and Amp Simulations)
- EZ Drummer 2 (Drum Software)
About the Ibanez AZ Series
In my mind, the AZ series is Ibanez’s response to the rising popularity of the boutique builders such as Suhr and Tom Anderson. Recent trends have led these builders to develop guitars with modern features with some classic styling. In fact, Ibanez even managed to pull in two endorsees that were once with Suhr, Tom Quayle and Martin Miller, both of which now have signature AZ models. Though the price range of the AZ series isn’t low (around $1300 US for the Premium Indonesian models and $2000+ for the Prestige Japanese models), they are generally a more affordable option than a guitar with similar specs from a smaller boutique builder.
Here are a few quick thoughts I’d like to share on this guitar.
- The roasted maple neck is one of the best feeling and playing necks that I’ve ever owned
- The frets are as smooth as Kenny G making bends and vibrato happen with ease
- The pickups are versatile and clear
- The selection switches give you loads of tonal options to choose from
- Lower price tag compared to boutique builders like Suhr
- Inconsistent setups
- Squeaky tremolo bar (details below)
- Buying from a smaller/boutique builders might do more to support local communities directly, rather than buying from larger companies like Ibanez, if that is something that you consider when making purchases
A quick backstory: I purchased the Premium model first, but found that it had a slight warp in the neck. Upon swapping it out with another, I found that the next one had a few high frets – something that I can understand at certain price points but is difficult to get past at $1300. Finally I’d had enough and traded up for the Prestige model, which is what you see in the video. Though the frets felt great, it still needed a small setup. But the most frustrating thing is a scratching sound that I get when I swing the tremolo bar. Some grease will give me relief from the sound for several days, but it always returns. I’ve contacted Ibanez about this issue, but haven’t yet received a response.
So does the AZ series stand up to the boutique competitors? The AZ series is a killer line of guitars with impressive features. When buying from smaller boutique builders, one difference you might encounter is in the little extra touch that comes in during the final stages of building and setting up the instrument. This is what might have been missing for me, at least initially. This is also why I’d recommend bypassing the Premium AZ and going for the Prestige model if you’re considering an AZ and can afford the difference. Of course, if you’ve already purchased a Premium and are happy with it, then great! The problems I had were hopefully isolated issues. I will say that I like the necks on the Prestige models more though. Even with some of the issues I ran into when purchasing this guitar, I’m a fan, and I don’t plan on getting rid of this guitar any time soon. I just hope they fix that damn trem bar on the next models.
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