Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's? - Jemsite
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-08-2013, 08:33 AM Thread Starter
 
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Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's?

Hi, I have been looking for a hollowbody 335 style guitar for some time, and I am pretty keen on the Ibanez AS153 semi-hollow body. What are peoples general experiences with the new Chinese made acoustics and hollow/semi-hollow body guitars?

I have had an array of awful Chinese guitars, however I recently purchased an Ibanez Talman electric acoustic and the quality is really top notch, much better than anything else ive seen from China, and i cant really fault it.

Im not sure if mine was a one off or not though, and just wanted to seek others opinions on the new Ibanez stuff coming out of China. This guitar costs over 1k, so its no small change and just want to be as sure as possible im getting a decent product.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-08-2013, 11:50 AM
 
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Re: Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's?

I have an older Chinese Ibanez, an AS73 from 2006, and though I don't put it up there with some Korean made 335 style hollowbodies, it's still pretty good.

I give it a 10 out of 10 if cost is involved. If compared to something like a (then) $1,000 dollar Epiphone 63 Dot or Gibson ES-335 for $2,500 and not taking cost into consideration, then I give it only an 8. The extra attention to pickups and wiring in the 63 Dot making it sound as good as any American 335 would give that one a 9 out of 10, and the Gibson would be a 10 out of 10 due to excellent fretwork on most examples with perhaps only the Heritage H535 being the only thing better in that category. The Heritage would be the closest factory made guitar to a $10,000 dollar luthier made hollowbody.

The Ibanez AS series does get better from lower end 53s and 73s as it progresses to the current Artstars. If you want the best of the best, or at least equal to the Gibson or Heritage, then get the John Scofield model. While the pickups are the same, there's nothing like the attention to the neck that a premium quality signature guitar like the Scofield has.

Here's my take on current AS line:

53: a solid 8 out of 10 when looking at all semi-hollowbody models on market
73: the nice addition of beautiful finish
93: workmanship still quite nice, but the same as others, and strong point are the professional level 58 pickups
153: so far the best Chinese work and approaching the MIJ quality Ibanez started making a name for themselves in the 70s and besides the pickups, the fretwork is amazing for price and the top and inlays are also great for price point

there could be a strong argument for AS153 possibly being the best hollowbody under $1,000 dollars rivaling Hagstrom Vikings or Eastwoods and at this point, it's mostly preference and not lack of quality on any of these models

if a working professional or semi-professional musician can't make an AS-153 work, then (that person) should consider doing something else for money like McDonald's though said person at fast food chain will make more than most professional musicians not already signed to major label

Last edited by 63Blazer; 04-10-2013 at 01:41 PM.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-12-2013, 12:44 PM
 
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Re: Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's?

I have no idea why, but every time I pick up a chinese artcore, they always have awesome action and have surprisingly awesome fret treatments! I've seen a few with ball ended fret ends like j customs, and it blew my mind lol.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-12-2013, 01:27 PM
 
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Re: Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's?

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Originally Posted by linuxpenguin View Post
I have no idea why, but every time I pick up a chinese artcore, they always have awesome action and have surprisingly awesome fret treatments! I've seen a few with ball ended fret ends like j customs, and it blew my mind lol.
I haven't had the same experience seeing that as good as MIJ Ibanez hollowbodies but for price, and compared to similarly priced competition, the Artcores are very hard to beat.

But nothing out there, factory made, compares to MIJ Ibanez and MIJ Yamaha hollowbodies including Gibson. I think in the $1,000-$2,000 dollar, street value, non-MIJ hollowbodies, the Eastwoods seem as popular as the Ibanez AS-103s or AF-105s. If Heritage hollowbodies are considered factory made then I do put them up there with any MIJ hollowbodies.

Few of us can afford a nice Collings or vintage D'Angelico for our jazz box, so the 2013 Artstars should be at least as good as the very popular AS-103s and AF-105s of the last few years if not better. They do seem basically the same but with name change.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-12-2013, 01:36 PM
 
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Re: Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's?

I do have a fairly limited scope, I've only played ones available at guitar centers or stores like that. I've honestly yet to pick up a "bad" one yet. Im pretty discerning when it comes to fit and finish. Im not gonna say you're gonna confuse the chinese ones with a Suhr or high end gibson custom shop hahaha, but definitely considering the price, youre tough to beat them.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-12-2013, 01:58 PM
 
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Re: Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's?

I was able to check out an AF155 a few weeks ago and I was not impressed with the aesthetics of the guitar itself.



While the guitar looks stunning in pictures, it just didn't look like that in real life. The paintjob alone made it look like it was made out of plastic instead of wood. the other thing that turned me off was the bridge (it's not fixed, so you have to change the strings one at a time, otherwise the whole thing falls off). It had good resonance to it and reminded me of an Ovation in terms of how it sounded unplugged. Unfortunately for me, I wasn't able to plug it into a decent amp because I ran out of time.

Jimmy
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-12-2013, 03:48 PM
 
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Re: Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's?

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Originally Posted by jb4674 View Post
I was able to check out an AF155 a few weeks ago and I was not impressed with the aesthetics of the guitar itself.



While the guitar looks stunning in pictures, it just didn't look like that in real life. The paintjob alone made it look like it was made out of plastic instead of wood. the other thing that turned me off was the bridge (it's not fixed, so you have to change the strings one at a time, otherwise the whole thing falls off). It had good resonance to it and reminded me of an Ovation in terms of how it sounded unplugged. Unfortunately for me, I wasn't able to plug it into a decent amp because I ran out of time.

Jimmy
Those plastic looking finishes are an unfortunate occurrence with most thick polyurethane finishes. The very nice BC Rich poly finishes and the Epi Les Paul finishes are otherwise great and nice to look at, too but the shiny and thick coat on it tends to deaden sound.

I wouldn't actually mind so much on any hollowbody with pickups because a truly resonant hollowbody with thin nitro finish and solid top feeds back like hell when plugged in with any volume. BB King used to stuff rags in his Gibson ES in order to control feedback and small venue concerts thus explaining his lack of f-holes in his signature model.

The only good thing about a thick poly finish is that you can abuse it a lot more than a thin nitro finish. The wood grain pops out in a nicely done nitro where it feels like its embedded in plexiglass in a shiny poly finish. On any guitar under two grand, I still expect poly to be standard instead of a carefully executed nitro job. The poly also makes bright colors too bright where as on nitro, the gradual yellowing and opaque sheen of the finish makes the colors a little easier on the eyes while still showing off the nature of the wood underneath. Either finish is an acquired taste so the cheaper poly finishes rule the day.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-03-2013, 09:06 PM
 
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Re: Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's?

I was considering a Luna hollowbody for an inexpensive backup and I got to see a Luna solidbody today. The playability was great and the parts looked fantastic. But the finish work was atrocious! I had not seen anything so bad since seeing an entry level Dean last year. Other than that I saw a poor person who ordered a Fender Highway 1 Telecaster and the finish was so thick that at one point there was a visible drip in the finish on the side. It was like a sloppy house painting job and for $600 there's no excuse for that.

While the $350 dollar Luna solidbody didn't have that, you could see the patchwork done underneath and those parts of the sealer were showing through the main finish. It almost looked as if one finish was water based and the other was oil based and between coats there wasn't enough drying time allowed. Luckily the sloppy finish was on the back and the front and sides looked great. Other made in China guitars like the Ibanez Artcores never seem to have those issues, or any major issues from what I have seen.

Usually under $500 dollars there can be issues with poor fretwork and less than stellar playability. But this Luna guitar had stunningly good playability for the price and maybe the bolt on design was set up right and shimmed to get a perfect low action without buzzing. Had the finish been up to par with Ibanezes I may have considered it.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-24-2014, 01:13 AM
 
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Re: Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's?

I just received today an AF155 in the Antique Amber finish. It's not as garish as the whiskeyburst shown above and the color is consistent throughout. This Antique Amber looks virtually identical to a friend's Pat Metheney model. I looked this guitar over very thoroughly and cannot find any flaws. It's rock solid as well. I had an Epi Joe Pass and a Gibson 135, both of which I got rid of almost immediately because they felt flimsy. Fairly decent acoustic tone, but it comes alive plugged in. So, my experience with the Chinese hollow body series has been very favorable. Planning on getting an AS93 (335 type) soon.
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Last edited by mazeroski; 06-24-2014 at 01:26 AM.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-24-2014, 10:44 AM
 
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Re: Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's?

I missed this thread last year but my two cents are that the Chinese Artcores are very, very good. Especially when you consider the price tag. The pickups are the weak link. The ACH humbiuckers are just kinda blah and muddy.
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-24-2014, 03:44 PM
 
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Thumbs up Re: Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's?

I agree totally about the ACH pickups. With the new product structure, Ibanez has created the Artcore Expressionist series which uses Super 58 customs, much better pickups, just as does the Artstar series. The AF155 is part of the Artstar line. The AS93 which I'm considering is part of the Artcore Expressionist line.
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-24-2014, 06:45 PM
 
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Re: Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's?

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Originally Posted by mazeroski View Post
I agree totally about the ACH pickups. With the new product structure, Ibanez has created the Artcore Expressionist series which uses Super 58 customs, much better pickups, just as does the Artstar series. The AF155 is part of the Artstar line. The AS93 which I'm considering is part of the Artcore Expressionist line.
Ibanez played with the names some.

The "real" Artstar if we are talking top of the line would be the 200s/205 in the Artstar Prestige line, made in Japan. The rest are Chinese made Artcores.

There used to be the 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100 series Artcores with the 100 and above being the Artcore Custom. The 50s, 60s and 70s usually have chrome hardware, the 80s has premium inlays. The 90s, with inlays but gold hardware, were just very nice Artcores but still not in the custom line but recently Ibanez has called all 90 level lines as Artcore Expressionists with the addition of a Super 58 upgrade. So now we have Artcore up til the designation through the 80s, Artcore Expressionist which is all the 90s, and anything with three digits starting with "1" as a Chinese made Ibanez Artstar.

To me it isn't really an Artstar if it's not MIJ but some Korean made Artstars are as good as any hollowbody you can find and maybe some Chinese made Artstars are already there in quality. But it would be a mistake, and unrealistic to call any current Ibanez Artstar 100 series every bit as good as their current Ibanez Artstar 200 series/MIJ/Prestige.

I don't think Ibanez is expecting to directly compete with Gibson or Heritage hollowbodies with anything other than the 200 series Artstar. As something "as nice" in playability and sound, but far better value for dollar, then the 100 series Artstars, like the AS153 hits the sweet spot for many and is good enough. Gibson will introduce the ES-335 Studio which should capture this price range and if they are smart then offer it up at $1,299 street.

Last edited by 63Blazer; 06-24-2014 at 06:51 PM.
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-24-2014, 11:15 PM
 
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Re: Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's?

Thanks for the info regarding the breakdown of the Ibanez lines. I will still maintain, though, that the AF155 I purchased is quite solid and as good sounding as the Gibsons (pricing gone wild since the 90s) and Epis (downhill quality slide since the 90s) I've laid hands on. I'm 62 and for most of the last 30 years have been adding and subtracting fairly regularly to a diverse collection of stringed instruments now totaling over 60. In that time I've laid hands on quite a few jazz boxes from cheapos to Gibsons, and this one feels and sounds the best to me. Of course, your mileage may vary.
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-25-2014, 12:38 AM
 
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Re: Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's?

The Chinese made guitars in 2014 could be where Japan was in the '80s and change the game.
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-25-2014, 09:01 AM
 
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Re: Quality of Chinese made Ibanez hollowbody's?

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Originally Posted by 63Blazer View Post
The Chinese made guitars in 2014 could be where Japan was in the '80s and change the game.
I doubt this. The difference is in the attitude towards branding and towards ownership of created goods. Whereas Japanese businesses put their own brand on the things they produce, the Chinese seem to be content to be short-order cooks, producing whatever other firms specify.

Peace

Mike
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