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  1. #1

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    Anyone tried one of these bottom of the range Ibanez AF55 models and compared them to the higher end ones ? (AF95 AF155 AFJ95 etc)

    I'm interested because I like the look of the 55 and they're (very) inexpensive.

    If the AF (of various no) all come off the same Chinese CNC machines anyway how could a high-end AF155 be substantially different in tone / playability from the 55 ?

    They select the plywood? Unlikely...

    Surely the differences are just in the appointments , PUs tailpieces, etc.
    I can live with that (and maybe swap out the neck PU).

    They're available for £225 in the UK... Bargain!

    Ibanez AF55-ibanez-af55-jpg


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    Interesting question. Check the comprehensive parts catalog that Ibanez has available online. From what I have seen there is a lot of common parts on most models save perhaps the signatures

  4. #3

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    They all say Ibanez but they could very well come from different factories. But you're right, the build quality all over is much higher than it was even a few years ago. Electronics will differ and if you change them out you can get really great sound.
    Differences also in care spent on things like fret leveling, stable neck and fingerboard wood, etc.

  5. #4

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    The better models have the Super 58 pickups. They definitely don't need to be replaced

  6. #5

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    I am also really curious if anyone has had the opportunity to try this model. I owned two Artcores in the past (AF75 and AF105) and one thing which really put me off is that they appear like dipped in plastic - really thick poly finish. The AF55 is the only one finished in a very light satin, which from my POV might well be an improvement ... On the other hand, I don't find the finish of the AF55 (I think they call in "Antique burst flat") particularly attractive. I don't get why Ibanez didn't just offer this model in plain maple (think Godin Kingpin in natural). The specs are right: one-piece mahogany neck, all maple body, nice and simple construction. With a swap of the neck PUP it might be a winner!


  7. #6

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    I might be able to help a bit; I did play these during a recent purchase run. I agree, they have a nice vintage look, and play extremely well for the price. As you run up the numbers across the art cores and compare, you're generally stepping up through better hardware, electronics, and finishes as you expect.

    The pickups are a big difference; the 55 has pretty low end pickups compared to the Super 58 customs and the Super 58s reserved for the signature models. I was very happy with how the 55s felt to play, but plugged in they did not hold up in comparison to the higher models or comparable Gibsons I played or PRSes. Pickups jump out right away as a differentiator between the cheaper and the more expensive. The good news is that its a no brainer with the price difference to purchase a lower end Gibson (like an Epiphone) and replace the pickups - a lot of music stores in the states would do that in house for you. With the Ibanez models, the price difference may not be worth the cost of additional pickups ($200 US or so for a good pair?) plus labor.

    After playing a lot and really leaning toward Gibson, I was gravitating to Ibanez Benson or Scofield models (Metheny was too single purpose), and purchased an AS103 which is kind of a budget Scofield model. I'm extremely happy with how it plays and about half the price. I also felt another big difference (I was looking at the AF75) was the 5 piece neck of the AS103 felt more substantial even with the same rosewood/geometry as lower end models. But, I wouldn't hold anything against someone choosing the AF55 - it felt as good to hold as the higher end models. Amp can come into play also - I was trying out with headphones where the electronic tone really came through in a direct way. Based on your original message I think you'll be happy - just sitting there playing an AF55 felt good, in my opinion. You can always change out pickups later, too.

  8. #7
    Thanks guys , thought as much .........
    shame they don't do a neck pickup only model even cheaper !

    It would be prettier , then just change that PU ......
    (I don't use a bridge PU anyway)

    Still it's got to be a bargain for £225 !

  9. #8

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    I've owned one since January 4, 2013.

    All I can say is "WOW"!

    It sounds great, even with the quiet, stock, hum/buzz-free pickups.

    The playability along the neck is great, due to the smooth finish.

    I ended up taking out the two stock pickups & replacing them with S/D antiquity jazz humbuckers.
    I also installed Gotoh 501 tuning machines.
    New amber-speed knobs.
    New yellow Emerson yellow-paper-in-oil cap, with the CTS 250k tone pot, and a 500k-NS Design Jackpot-poteniometer (to bypass the tone circuit).
    Now it really, really sounds like Russell Malone

    I mainly bought it because I despise glossy-finish guitars since they don't look appealing on stage with all the fingerprints & scratches. After all, who wants to spend time cleaning/polishing all the time when they could be jamming?

    Maybe if I get a second to crap, I will post a pic or three...

  10. #9

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    I've tried the AF55 (without plugging in) and wasn't knocked out by it. It sounded and played like it looks - meh. It is a little like the 5th Ave, but the Godin has a much richer tone and is meant to be an acoustic. The AF55 isn't. I've heard one plugged in through a PA and it was muddy and undefined as compared to my AFS75.

  11. #10

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    I definitely stand by my statement, no matter what anyone says about the AF55.

    After all, a lot of guitar snobs on the Ibanez forum site mentioned all sorts of ridiculous negative stuff about the AF55.

    I'd put money on it that they likely haven't even tried the guitar.

    Most of the members were judging it based on it's looks & they had preconceived notions, right off the bat.

    I'm certain that nearly all of you have heard the old saying... "The jazz sound you're looking for is in your fingers".
    I stand by that statement as well.

    Nonetheless, I firmly believe that there are a multitude of jazz guitarists out there who have developed "their own" sound, on many different electric guitars with many different pickups, so there you go.

  12. #11

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    Oh, also, I forgot...
    I have a Henriksen Jazzamp 110ER, and used both the original stock pickups, and it sounded similar to Russell Malone's sound...
    Nonetheless, when I installed the Seymour Duncan Antiquity Jazz pickups, it really sounded better.
    If you get the guitar, you'd have to try the unit with a good amp, and test out the guitar with the stock pickups.

    The only thing I didn't care for was the amount of feedback, but with a hollowbody, that's to be expected.

  13. #12

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    I sat down yesterday at GC for a minute with the AF55 and a few other low-end Ibanez electric hollows unplugged. The ASF55 had the best acoustic volume, and had that 50's Kay tone. The best tone overall was the Ibanez AFJ, but didn't project as well. I picked up an Ibanez AG75 and AF75 and neither had any volume or decent acoustic tone in comparison.

  14. #13
    Wish I was a better player, but well...

    Picked up the AF55 on sale at Guitar Center for $250. Reading posts above, I had to chime in. As an low-mid level jazz player, I have been happy with it. Can't afford a gibson. Ha!

    I'm playing through a roland cube 30, and can get a perfect tone for that joe pass sound. The pickups are a bit boomy, and heavy on the low end. Kept amp eq at 12 o'clock, but had to pull bass way back. Bass at apx 6 or 7 oclock, and mid & high at noon, I then use either both pickups or the neck, and keep tone around 5. Most guitars I've checked out I turn the tone almost all the way down, and use only the neck. All this to say, you can get a great sound out of the guitar. Plays well, and finish feels good down the neck. Some will like the body finish, some won't. Pictures are accurate, but doesn't tell about initial rough texture of satin finish.

    Cons: Tuners are loose. A centimeter give in a couple of them. Ridiculous. Pickups could be swapped out, likely will do that. Pots are fickle, I've found. Can give that electric rattle at times when adjusting. Rare, but have noticed it in my heavy use. Have swapped out machine heads for schaller. With a charlie christian humbucker in it, and I could have paid for a different guitar.

    Overall, get the tone I want, legitimately like joe pass, and plays well. Other than not having the high end name appeal, I'm happy at my level. This guitar will keep me sated for the time being. Plenty of tone, vintage look, and like any guitar, relies on my ability to make it sound good

    Hope this helps.

  15. #14

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    Surprised about the problems with the tuners. I owned the next model up (AF75) in the past, and the tuners were as good as any Grovers that I have had on other guitars...

    So, here is my wishlist (Ibanez, are you listening?): release an additional model (perhaps AF45?), essentially same specs (mahogany neck and maple body are a great combination), but lose the bridge PUP (and maybe put a chrome cap on the remaining neck PUP). Just plain maple rather than the weird antique burst, but with the same satin finish (avoiding the gloopy poly finish on the higher models). Keep the price at or near £200. This would be the ultimate "disposable" working instrument, with potential for strategic upgrades (PUP, tuners, pots, etc.) when needed. Just my 0.02£. N.

  16. #15

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    ... in fact, I wonder how hard it would be to strip an AF55 down to just plain maple given the finish is so thin. Then, just wipe on a few coats of of Tru-oil, which has given me great results in the past...

  17. #16

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    I'm seriously considering the AF55. The price point can't be beat and I do like its look and design. Many diss it as a "plain Jane", but I love that about it. I think of it as the archtop equivalent of a Telecaster; not aestheically great but very functional (two pickups, two controls, a selector switch). And I agree the fact that it doesn't have that dipped in plastic look very appealing, which probably accounts for its good acoustic vol/ton. What can I say? In some respects it's an unconventional instrument. I'm an unconventional guy - this is right up my alley, and as stated, you can upgrade the hell out of it.

    Say what you will, but if nothing else with this guitar you have a good platform to work with and alter if you choose.

  18. #17

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    Never played one, but saw one sell in NJ. off Ebay for $157.

  19. #18

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    I picked up an AF55 at GC (30 day return, so I can check it out). Put my strings on it, set it up, played through my modded blues jr. It sounds pretty good to me, I like a jazzy, Benson kind of sound... plays well, and I like the finish on the neck and body. For $329, can't go wrong.

  20. #19

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    Looking at prices in the UK and USA, I think the AF71 might be in your price range.
    The AF71 is a floater.
    I bought one and I can tell you that it is a very impressive guitar for the price.
    Its glossy black in colour, it looks flat black in the Ibby pics.

    I lapped the bridge to the body contour and put a set of Chromes,50 bass I think
    and now that it has been played a bit , it's really sounding good.

    I put a 12 pole handwound Kent Armstrong on it and the tone is big and round.
    All who have played it comment on the sound.
    The neck seems strong too. I found the truss nut to be about a third of a turn loose
    and no appreciable bow.
    Might be worth a look.

  21. #20

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    Sounds ok, even when played left-handed

  22. #21
    OK yeah thats warm enough for me ..... result !

    Note guys ..... this is the 20 fret neck version
    PU is under the 22 fret area

    I've seen 22 fret versions around too with the PU under the 24 fret area
    Last edited by pingu; 04-20-2015 at 11:07 AM.

  23. #22

    interesting cheapo comparison vid from same left hooker
    nice blowing !

    and Misty

    OK I'll stop now .....
    Last edited by pingu; 04-20-2015 at 11:16 AM.

  24. #23

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    Hey Rob...nice playing....that is unbelievable that u can play left handed, with the guitar upside down and not restrung! I've never seen that before....I had to do a double take of your video again lol. That's Guiness Book worthy!!!

  25. #24

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    That's not me playing, wesmont! For a start, I'm right-handed. Sounds good, though, so I might pretend it is me

  26. #25
    just tried out an AF55 tobacco flat finish
    for 10 mins in a shop

    very impressed , played well , solid ,
    neck , straight , good fretwork , played
    in-tune all the way up , nice sound (considering the 10 guage strings on there)
    nice bit of zing to the sound
    quite lively acoustically ....

    plugged in , yes the pickups are too bright for me as i expected
    I would put a decent humbucker in the neck for sure
    tuners, and hardware all seemed ok ...
    other than that ... yeah cool