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  1. #1

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    I dropped by my neighborhood GC to buy some strings today and I was hoping to check out the new Ibanez Artstars. No luck on those but I tried a few of the budget model Ibanez archtops and one of them really impressed me: the AG95DBS.

    I know a few people here own the previous version and I don't know how those differ, but the current model has the Super 58 pickups and a few cosmetic changes.

    It's a small bodied guitar, only 14.5" across the lower bout, which is definitely more comfortable for me that the more traditional archtops and it had a really good sound, in fact shockingly good.

    I played it back to back with an 86 Benson and while they sounded different, I'm not at all convinced that the Benson sounded better. The AG95 was also more feedback resistant than the Benson.

    Most of you know my feelings about archtops and I'm sure I'll never have one again as my primary player, but I could see owning one of these for occasional use.

    Ibanez AG95-ibanez-ag95dbs-jpg


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    I have the super 58's in my AF100 (very similar to the AG95 but slightly larger with venetian cutaway) and I agree they sound really good.

    It makes me wonder though why Ibanez doesn't put these pups in all of their guitars.

  4. #3

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    Looks like small body jazz box.
    I have to try one...:-)
    Thanks Jim,

  5. #4

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    This particular model looks like a Sadowsky knockoff, and even though I haven't personally tried it just yet so I can't comment on it, you're not the only one that ravishes 'bout it.

    I'm not in the market for another archtop, my Gibson L-5 CES copy serves me well, even though I'd wish the neck was thicker.

    Oh well... we don't live in a perfect world.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by LtKojak
    This particular model looks like a Sadowsky knockoff....
    I've always thought of this model as as knock-off or 'Artcore version' of Ibanez' own GB10. Compare the shape and dimensions and you'll see what I mean. This model has been around for many years and I doubt has any inspiration from Sadowsky.

  7. #6

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    The version that Jim is talking about is not available in Europe as far as I know. You can maybe find the older version of the AG95 (with a wooden tailpiece, ACH pickups and the dreaded 'lightning bolt' logo) used and upgrade the pickups/electronics.

    The later AG96 which is very similar is still available. A student of mine has one and it's a perfectly giggable, well made guitar.
    Just make sure you like the neck, I had an AF125 that was a bit too slim for my taste.

    Artcores get a lot of stick but I like them. My AGS83 is still a joy to play after 8 years or so-if Ibanez came up with an upgraded version like the AG95 that Jim played (with Super 58s and better hardware) I would buy another.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by va3ux
    I've always thought of this model as as knock-off or 'Artcore version' of Ibanez' own GB10. Compare the shape and dimensions and you'll see what I mean. This model has been around for many years and I doubt has any inspiration from Sadowsky.
    I played the AG95 and the GB10 back to back and very clearly the AG95 is a direct descendant of the GB10. The real surprise to me was the difference between the AG95 and the AG75. I actually preferred the plainer look of the 75 but tonal difference was quite startling. I guess that's mostly the difference in pickups but I'm not sure I'd I'd like to depend on that. I do wish they came in a one pickup version.

  9. #8

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    This just came out. Brand new model, I believe. With discounts at my local shop, under $500. MAP is $599. It has a 15.5" lower bout if my measure is correct. I loved the sound and it was comfortable. I bought it home. It is the AFJ91.

  10. #9

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    Thanks Matt. I'm actually planning to go out and try a few more this afternoon. Yours is another of the "Expressionist" series. From what I can tell, this seems to bee a new level between the basic Artcores and the Artstars with an upgraded neck and pickups (and perhaps some other things that I'm not aware of?). From what I've seen so far, these seem to be really nice guitars at ridiculous prices. Now the question is whether I can get comfortable with a body this size. I tried some yesterday and struggled a lot more that I had expected.

  11. #10

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    I was surprised to come across these pics of professional Canadian Guitarist Reg Schwager playing an Ibanez Artcore AG95.

    Ibanez AG95-reg-schwager-3-jpgIbanez AG95-reg-schwager-1-jpgIbanez AG95-reg-schwager-2-jpg

    These appear to be from the late 2000's and more recent vids show him using an Eastman. But at some point he thought the Artcore was good enough for live performance.

  12. #11

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    I like the look of those new models like the AFJ81. However I strongly prefer an Artcore Custom model over the regular line. They used to make an AG100. I used to have an AK105 and a AF105. Now I have an AM93 semi hollow as my in between rock and jazz guitar and backup to my Eastman.
    Last edited by hallpass; 03-17-2013 at 09:39 AM.

  13. #12

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    The new AG95 Artcore Expressionist is not available here in Europe.
    The great difference between this Expressionist model and the older Deluxe one is Super 58 Custom pickups instead of ACH pickups. I think it's a great improvement.
    That's why I have changed pickups on mine (SD Seth Lover).
    Tailpiece is not the same and inlays are pearl instead of abalone.
    AG dimensions are the same as GB10.
    All models use plywood for top, back and sides, AG75 is made of maple, AG95 is made of bubinga.
    It's a pity that they are sold with 10-46 strings.

  14. #13

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    I had the AG95 as my first jazz guitar, and it was easy to play and sounded fine.

    Then I bought an ES-175 and an L-4 CES.......

  15. #14

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    Just to be clear: the AG95 that owned is quite a different guitar than the one that I played. The basic design is similar but the pickup, tail piece and neck are all very different.

  16. #15

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    Ibanez says these come with flatwound strings. Could you assume that it has a wound g-string, even if it's a light gauge of strings? I would hope so at least.

    If you have a wooden bridge like the ART-W on some of these Ibanez models, won't you need to have it modified if changing between wound and plain g to enable proper intonation?

  17. #16

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    I don't know what came stock on the Ibanez because mine is several years past new, but I have 12-52s D'addario flatwounds with the wound g of course and with the wooden bridge the intonation is perfect.

  18. #17

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    Nice demo of the new AFJ91

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by krueger
    Nice demo of the new AFJ91

    Quite possibly the best sounding $599 guitar I've ever heard (at least in his hands)

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by StevieB
    Quite possibly the best sounding $599 guitar I've ever heard (at least in his hands)
    I definitely agree, not only with you but with what Lucas says in the demo. I recently got to try one of these locally, and I was very, very impressed. And I certainly don't need another archtop but if the vine inlay on the headstock hadn't been crooked I would have gone home that day with another guitar. (Yeah, it definitely was slightly off but enough that I kept noticing it. Even the salesguy "dude" saw it pretty easily once I pointed it out. I mean, who looks for such things, but there it was!)

    Regarding the "Super 58" pickup, Ibanez actually refers to it on their AFJ91 page as a "Super 58 Custom". AFAIK, this is actually not quite the same as the older Super 58s, but it's easy and natural to simply refer to them with the same name. I have the original "Super 58" pickups on my '83 AM-205, and they sound close but still somewhat different. The older guitar gets a slightly fatter output, IMO, a touch warmer overall, whereas I definitely got a nice woodier tone from the AFJ91. Different tone from Lucas' in the video, of course, but hey, different guitars, different touches, different amps, etc. Anyway, both versions of this pickup are nice, so no worries there. (Google for these pickup differences, and you'll find a lot of commentary out there.) Hope this helps.

    Another thing to be aware of: this is the AFJ91 he's describing, and I've seen the (nearly identical) previous model, the AFK81, on sale on eBay for rather less. Those had the ACH pickups in them which seem to be widely regarded as calling for an upgrade. However, after any discounts on the older model, I suppose you can pretty much put in whatever pickup you'd like and call it even.

    Oh, yeah. The color balance on the video was way off, leaving this redburst guitar looking like it were an orangeburst. In person, the AFJ91 I played was a beautiful crimson color, not too bright either, and, IMHO, rather sophisticated-looking. See msr13's post (#9) for a much more accurate color rendition. Nice!

    Thanks for posting the great demo, Krueger!

  21. #20

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    I'm considering buying this guitar. I live in a small town far from any major centre that would stock this so I have to rely on youtube clips, reviews, recommendations, etc. I've read most of the previous comments and most seem favourable. Any new user updates?

    The street price for the guitar here is about $1,000CDN plus taxes, case extra. Thanks.

  22. #21

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    I've never done any clips with mine. On YT they're mainly pretty ordinary clips. I've got about 20 guitars and the AG95 is one of the keepers. Not sure about your exchange rates but I've seen them much cheaper on ebay in USA.

  23. #22

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    Thanks for this. With the Canadian dollar currently acting like Monopoly money, the exchange rate and shipping pretty much even out the cost.

    I know more or less what to expect from an Ibanez in terms of playability. I'm curious about impressions of tone of the AG95, both acoustic and amped.

  24. #23
    destinytot Guest
    You never really 'own' guitars imho.

    I bought an Ibanez AG95 last summer, and I still haven't got the best out of it. Not only are size, shape and balanced weight comfortable, but the neck feels remarkably comfortable too.

    It was a reluctant purchase (for the sole pupose of overcoming obstacles to what has been labelled 'Benson picking', which it has done in unexpected ways), and I was expecting not a 'tool' but a 'toy' - which it obviously isn't.

    I now feel that my perspective and pursuit of picking are healthier, and I'm beginning to get what I think is a good sound - a voice - from the Ibanez AG95. But this is not my main instrument.

    So, if I were in the OP's situation and I was looking for my main guitar, I'd be inclined to go for a Godin with a floating pick-up, which the AG95 doesn't have - unless I needed to play LOUD and counter feedback.

    In the latter case, I would recommend the Ibanez AG95 as a good guitar for gigging and home use. I use it to study/practise, but I can see that changing soon.

    In my opinion, with a good set up, any guitar will do. It really is just a tool; I imagine my Godin 5th Ave acoustic would sound great with a pick-up - but it all depends on the job for which that tool is to be used.

    If it's mostly for home use or playing at low volumes, I'd go with Godin - for what it is, i.e. a well-made guitar.

    And if it's a substitute Gibson 175, either go with Godin 'until the real thing comes along', 'buy right or buy twice', or embrace the Ibanez - giving it 100% and dealing with the consequences later! Decisions, decisions...

    Either way, you can't go wrong! Wishing you the joy of jazz.

  25. #24

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    I tried an ag 95 and a af 95 recently, I preferred the AF but that was more to do feel of it while sitting.Hardly noticed any difference in tone.

  26. #25
    destinytot Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Milessmiles
    I tried an ag 95 and a af 95 recently, I preferred the AF but that was more to do feel of it while sitting.Hardly noticed any difference in tone.
    Llewellen specifically mentioned 'big box conventional jazz tone', whereas I actually wanted the AG95 for its small body. This looks great to me - and if it sounds like the AG95, I'd jump at it:
    Ibanez AG95-ibanez-afj95-vsb-artcore-expressionist-vintage-sunburst-jpg

  27. #26

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    This may not help but I too recently played an AF95RW. I was very impressed and had never played an archtop made of rosewood before. I had gone into Guitar Center to see if they had the Ibby SJ300 and of course they didn't. They did have in stock the AF95RW which immediately caught my eye. I played it for awhile and even compared it to a single pup Godin 5th Ave. and I preferred the Ibanez over it. But, I had my mind set on the SJ300 which they ordered for me and I'm quite smitten with that one, let me tell you. I have also recently acquired two semi-hollow Ibanezes: The Artstar AS153 and the Artcore AM93. All this is to say that I am very impressed by what Ibanez is putting out and you won't be disappointed no matter what you get.

  28. #27

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    Would you guys consider $387.50 USD to be a good price?

  29. #28

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    If it's in good condition, yes.

  30. #29

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    Played an AFJ95 at GC today. Nice for the price. Not sure what the difference is to the AG and AF?

  31. #30

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    AF: Maple back and sides, spruce top, Venetian cutaway

    AG: Bubinga top, back and sides. "Rounded" Florentine cutaway, as opposed to "sharp" like a ES175

    Bubinga is an African tropical hardwood sometimes called African Rosewood.

  32. #31
    destinytot Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by jazzbow
    Ahh, DT, nice post and great yodelling. I am a fan now.
    Thanks, Jazzbow. And I think you were right that the Sonntag would sound good through an acoustic amp - but it's practising on the little AG95 that's helping me learn.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by TedBPhx
    Played an AFJ95 at GC today. Nice for the price. Not sure what the difference is to the AG and AF?
    For me a considerable difference between AFJ95 and AG95 is the body width: 15.75'' compared to 14.50''. The AG95 is substantially smaller. That's the reason I bought a used one. Played (and still own) two Epiphone Sorrento's before. Major differences I noticed after three months:

    - Obviously the Ibanez has a better build quality. Nothing like the resonance rattle orgies my Sorrento's are able to provide.

    - For me the smaller body is much better to handle, but not on the chair I used to play guitar on. Sitting on my right leg, the AG is too far down. Now I am playing it on the couch, sitting less upright. Position with the AG is perfect than. But the crouched composure is not the best for longer periods of playing...

    - Neck is much more playable for me on the AG. It is thicker than the Sorrento's, which I feared to be a problem in the beginning. It turned out to be much better than the very thin neck of the Epi. Although some chord grips with thumb over the neck are nearly impossible now (short fingers). Though using the same strings on both guitars, for some reason I can grab bar chords on the AG's lower frets with less pressure.

    - Main problem: AG has 22 frets. I guess that I'll never need more than 19 frets. The additional frets are exactly there, where I am naturally working with my pick. Again and again I'll stab the pick through the strings onto the fretboard, which is a killer to anything I am playing at that instant. Can't manage to play with my right hand some inches towards the bridge yet.

    - Can't bond with the sound of the AG, either unplugged or amped. Compared to the Sorrento, the sound is too thin, too cold and brittle for my taste.

    Overall, the AG is a great guitar for the 380 EUR I payed, but it doesn't seem to give me what I hoped to get. The quest is going on...

    Last edited by diminix; 05-17-2016 at 05:26 AM.

  34. #33
    destinytot Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by diminix
    For me a considerable difference between AFJ95 and AG95 is the body width: 15.75'' compared to 14.50''. The AG95 is substantially smaller.
    The only reason I can see for choosing the AG95 over the AFJ95 would be body size. I see no other advantage. Personally, I wouldn't think twice - I'd grab that AFJ95 with both hands.

  35. #34

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    There's another thread here about buying on Reverb. I just received TWO new guitars I bought there. Both are new, both arrived well packed (and shipped quickly), and are keepers in every respect. Given the nature of this forum, let me introduce you to what I was hunting for: a hollow body electric with an ebony fingerboard. This one checked every box: looks, pups, scale, size, weight. I fell in love the moment I took it out of the box.

    Ibanez AG95QA:

    And because I've thought of upgrading my little home practice acoustic, a lovely KL?S travel guitar, I ran across this new entry in the "Little Martin" catalog, a LX1ER. It has electronics, where my KL?S does not. However, the KL?S is carbon fiber and has a removable neck, it will continue to be my travel guitar. The Martin is just for grabbing while I'm sitting on my sofa with an itch to play.

    Martin LX1ER (with the KL?S):

  36. #35

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    I had one of the second gen AG95-DBS when they replaced the Alnicos with Super 58s. Really sweet little guitar. Kind of a budget Benson. Good choice!

  37. #36

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    Happy NGsD!

    That AG95 looks great. Enjoy it and play the heck out of it!


  38. #37

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    That Ibanez is gorgeous!

    My son recorded an album with his Ed Sheeran model Little Martin. Some of it was guitar and voice. Three tracks had bass and drums.

    The guitar sounded absolutely terrific.

    The Little Martin is a verrrryyy nice guitar.


  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Esport
    I had one of the second gen AG95-DBS when they replaced the Alnicos with Super 58s. Really sweet little guitar. Kind of a budget Benson. Good choice!
    A "budget Benson." I like that. Thanks!

  40. #39

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    I have an earlier AG-95, with a different tailpiece. I love it to pieces. You're gonna love yours! That Lil' Martin is gorgeous , too! Congratulations, and play 'em in good health!