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  1. #1

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    I put my eyes on a Ibanez Artcore Expressionist 2021 but I'm a bit confused and cannot understand the differences between the two models AF95 and AF95FM. I read they are made of different woods and have different bridge, for the rest they seem identical to me.
    Tone wise what is the difference, which one should I get?
    Thank you

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  3. #2

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    They're the same, just a flamed maple top on the FM.

  4. #3
    don't the different bridge and woods have any impact on the tone? Is it really just an aesthetic difference?

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattVec
    ... I ... cannot understand the differences between the two models AF95 and AF95FM. I read they are made of different woods and have different bridge, for the rest they seem identical to me. Tone wise what is the difference, which one should I get?
    Thank you
    These are US$600 guitars (roughly). How different could they be? Ibanez doesn't say what the other layers of plywood used in the bodies are, but I'd wager that they're the same on the two models. The only difference is likely the outermost layer, which is surely as thin as possible to achieve Ibanez's cosmetic goals. The biggest consequential difference is the metal versus wooden bridge.

    Unfortunately I haven't played the AF95FM. But, mostly because of the metal bridge, I'd expect the AF95FM would be slightly brighter than the AF95.

    "Which one should [you] get"? Whichever one you want. What do you want it to sound like? I think it won't make much difference once you plug it into an amp. Look, this isn't 1965 when some of the popular guitar players were playing actual acoustic guitars with pickups on them. Buying a guitar like this, today, in this price range, is mostly a cosmetic choice.

    I am lucky enough to have a Heritage Sweet 16, which is an actual acoustic archtop with a solid carved spruce top and solid maple sides and back. Does it sound different from a Ibanez AF95? Certainly. But there won't be anything close to that degree of difference between the AF95 and AF95FM.

    If you can't try the guitar in person before you buy it, then buy it from a vendor that has a good return policy. Pick one, buy it, and see if you like it. If not, send it back and try the other.
    Last edited by dconeill; 01-25-2021 at 07:52 PM.

  6. #5
    I totally agree with your comments, cannot compare 500 $ and 5000 $ guitars and my expectations are not that the AF Ibanez should match the high end guitar quality. But c'mon, do we really need a 5000 $ instrument? You just said ... once plugged into the amp they wouldn't sound that much different ... of course the pleasure of playing and the feeling the high end instrument can pass to the player etc...plus 80% of that does not pass the the listener. Who cares you can argue, I play for my own pleasure... on that I cannot disagree

    Anyway I don't have 5000 $ to spend, so this is just a theoretical discussion, more practically I need to decide how best to spend my 500 ish bucks on a guitar ? (my first hollow body) ... and I look more for a "less acoustic" kinda sound, per se George Benson kinda sound, for jazz blues, jazz funk and fusion, rather than pure jazz tone I would descrive as Jim Hall (!?). I own acoustic guitars (Martin, etc.) so if I like to play acoustic I just play acoustic, I don't even plug my Martin, just using a mic to preserve the acoustic sound (hoping the mic, cables, mixer, speakers, room ambience can deliver what I hear from my guitar direct acoustic output, which I doubt).

    Nowadays I think an Ibanez AF expressionist series can do a lot, it is not just a cosmetic choice as you say. I saw one very good pro artist play live and using a Ibanez AS93 and it sounded great. Most of the pleasure listening was coming from the actual playing and music, notes chosen, taste, chords, etc. I did not care much about the fact he was only playing a 500$ guitar. We all know, 80% or more of the tone and sound comes from the players hands, the guitar is just a mean (which is actually the meaning of instrument in latin).

    I think I'll go for the AF95FM, apart from the aesthetics which I prefer, I am hoping the metal brigde can improve the sustain a little bit. I think plugged into a 67 vintage twin amp it'll do its job ?

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattVec
    ... more practically I need to decide how best to spend my 500 ish bucks on a guitar ? (my first hollow body) ... and I look more for a "less acoustic" kinda sound, per se George Benson kinda sound, for jazz blues, jazz funk and fusion, rather than pure jazz tone I would descrive as Jim Hall (!?). ...
    Given the genres of music you suggest you're interested in, you might be better served by a semihollow than a full hollowbody. In the Ibanez universe, that would be the AS and AM lines.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattVec
    I put my eyes on a Ibanez Artcore Expressionist 2021 but I'm a bit confused and cannot understand the differences between the two models AF95 and AF95FM. I read they are made of different woods and have different bridge, for the rest they seem identical to me.
    Tone wise what is the difference, which one should I get?
    Thank you

  9. #8

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    Don't know how much difference the top (laminated spruce vs. laminated maple) will do, but I think wood bridge vs. metal bridge will make a difference. I swapped the metal bridge in my AG75 for a rosewood bridge and it gave the guitar a slightly different flavour – not radical, but noticeable – a bit more air and "acoustic" in the tone (I know, talking about tone is like singing about football) That said it's an easy and rather cheap swap. Can you try the two guitars back to back?

  10. #9
    Are they the same year? There are some years that certain AF models came strung with a metal bridge saddle and had a wood one in case candy. I do also know that if you buy from Guitar Center, they remove all case candy. I worked at Hoshino (Ibanez) and I made sure guitars were packed with these options, then years later I worked for Guitar Center and I was apalled to see that so many things that were packed in a guitar case were routinely tossed into the bin as they were unpacked.
    As to comparison between models, if they are of the same year, the top veneer layer will not make any difference in the sound, but it will look nicer.
    One thing that you may not be aware of though, there is no Ibanez factory. All Ibanez guitars from the lowest to the George Benson and Scofield models are made in different factories, some changing (say, from Samick or Peerless to an unknown Chinese mega facility that might make PRS knockoffs across the room) even within a year. All this is to say, you really can't say how two models in a run with the same specs on paper will compare in real life.
    I will say that their consistency and quality control are really good, so you're going to get good reliable bang for the buck, but as to comparison between two guitars, well, try them if it's possible. And have it set up well when you get it. That's my advice.

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by MattVec

    I think I'll go for the AF95FM, apart from the aesthetics which I prefer, I am hoping the metal brigde can improve the sustain a little bit. I think plugged into a 67 vintage twin amp it'll do its job ?
    It's a worthy instrument to bond with. The sustain is one thing, but the intonation adjustment on a metal saddle is the nicest thing about a TOM. The nice thing about an archtop bridge is you can always switch out bridge saddles later on and it does no harm to the instrument but can change it into what feels like a different beast.
    Good luck with your new guitar.

  12. #11

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    Go for it! I have the AF95FM, 2019. They come from an Indonesian factory.
    The feel of the neck is definitely near the feel of my MIJ AF200 and PM200, they are doing quite a quality job on these 95’s. It is very pretty.
    Ive always removed metal bridges from my Archtops and replaced with wood. I prefer the milder sound, but yes keeping the metal TOM bridge will give you more sound versatility getting you away from the ‘traditional’ jazz tone. As jbn says having the two gives you a great range of tone. Mine was used; there was nothing in the case. But for $450? All good)
    If you search around here you’ll find Ibanez owners often replace pickups. Totally personal taste, but for your intentions you will probably like the stock pup.
    Again agreeing with jbn (and he doth knoweth Ibanez) it’s a guitar you can bond with. I use mine whenever I’m concerned about damaging the MIJs like couch playing or on the deck and it’s a nice comfortable feel.
    Good luck!
    d

  13. #12

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    How does the AF 95/95FM differ from the older AFJ 95? Is it the same shape and size? Is it just rosewood vs ebony?

  14. #13

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    You can head over here, they list every Ibanez by model number and give specs... good resource...
    Category:Guitar models | Ibanez Wiki | Fandom

  15. #14
    Thank you everyone, very helpful. Unfortunately, although there are decent stores nearby very well equipped, no one has them in stock and it looks like the only option (adding difficult traveling due to f#&#in covid) is to buy online, which I kind of like having better return policies. Looking at major online stores in Europe (where I am) ordering now the guitar is going to be delivered mid-end April, that makes me think that if I wait them to arrive to the store they'll be sold already. I hate buying a guitar without first trying it, it feels like buying shoes online. But I don't seem to have many alternatives ... and considering the affordable expense ... I'll go for it.
    Thank you

  16. #15

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    I had an AF95FM-AYS that I wish I’d kept. It was fun to play, looked great, had super comfortable ergonomics and sounded nice, if a bit bright. It was finished like a much more expensive guitar. Very impressive build quality for $600ish. I traded it for an Epiphone Masterbilt which was an immediate regret.