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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, this was leaked by some online retailers a few days ago - Ibanez is looking to release a budget AZ series. So far there seem to be two models, a hardtail SSS and a HSS with a trem. $300-350 street price. I guess we'll seem them properly at summer NAMM, and whether there will be others, like HH config.

Can't get a pic of the HSS, has been pulled.

Maple (non roasted) neck, jatoba fb, poplar body, AZ switching system. Presumably generic pups. Gio level instrument by the looks of it.

 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Looks like they're officially out. Interesting that the scale length is 25", has split shaft tuners like old Fenders and 10" radius, and Tomo Fujita seems to have been involved.

Pickups are ceramic, as we'd expect from a budget guitar. The SSS model seems to have a couple of redundant switching positions on the toggle, should've had an all three on in parallel option, and neck + bridge in series, for instance.

They'll be in the $300s by the looks of it. Kinda dig them, would try.




 

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Very interesting. That's essentially a budget strat that isn't a squire piece of trash. I dig the look, very old school and classy. The 10" radius is a surprise to me.
Interesting that you're calling Squiers trash. They've actually been very well made guitars for their small outlay, really quite a bang for buck purchase for many years now.

And these AZ Essentials do look very cool. I'd be very keen to get my hands on a tremolo model, now if only they had a maple fretboard too.
 

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I have a squire and it IS trash. My statement may have been a bit broad... but...the tuners are junk, crappy nut, thin body, 6 point junk trem, doesn't stay in tune, hardware came loose along with the pick guard not being secured all the way. They can absolutely be made into a great guitar with some work... And for $100-$300 I don't expect anything more.

It depends on the level of squire you start with. But just like any other low low low dollar guitar, it's going to be crappy. The one I purchased was for my wedding guest book. We had all the guests sign the guitar so we could display it in the house.

The more expensive (ones that are $300+) squires can be pretty nice. Mine however... Is definitely a piece of junk lol. Which btw, I am no guitar snob, I don't own a single guitar that cost me more than $850. I just buy used and make it what I want it to be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It seems that anyone and everyone dropped their review/impression of these yesterday, ha.

A couple of thoughts:

It is a good idea that the SSS model is hardtail; the only other one I can think of offered this way is a Sq Bullet. Practically every other Strat copy from $50 up has a trem, and for a beginner to wrestle with that, mm, nah. Even those of us who know our way around a guitar always bitch about the vintage trems on budget guitars sucking 😄.

These would be competing with Sq Affinity given the price bracket, which, this year, come in three pu configs, more colours, two post trem, laurel or maple fingerboard options, and a flame veneer on the HSS. So, Sq better in terms of options, but the Affinity series has been around for a long time, and it has come of age, as it were.

The main draw of these AZs is the switching system and the neck shape. Most Ibz in the $300 price bracket have Wizardy necks, I guess, so something more traditional is a good option to have.

It's hard to judge the tone via YT demos, but the pickups sound pretty punchy - singles are bitey (tone control is handy!) and the humbucker seems pretty hawt.

Not sure about the medium frets. If they're using cheaper, softer nickel wire, they'll wear quick. But, with the 25" scale, they'll be slinky players. I agree that a maple fingerboard option would've been nice - Ibanez people can never get enough maple!

The red SSS is killer, while the HSS colours are ok but a bit subdued. Mint green, eh, I never cared for it much. I suppose the idea was to have a more restrained look.

Still, they look interesting, gotta play one to get a proper idea. I can see people who might have a Premium or Prestige getting one of these to use as a beater/mod platform.
 

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I'd like to get my hands on an AZ style switch. I am going to take a js100 and fill in the 3 way switch hole... completely refinish it and add a 5 way switch setup instead... an AZ switch would be bitchin to add to that setup. They unfortunately do not sell that separately.
 

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I say that and went on ebay... what do I find???!!! An H-H AZ series switch setup complete with the pots, voicing switch and selector switch all wired together $72 shipped! What are the damn chances. I am glad I read this thread this morning, it wouldn't have occurred to me to even look. I guess once I am done refinishing my 540R... the js100 will be next 😎
 

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I got one of the SSS Hardtail models. I can’t believe that it’s under 300 bucks (by a penny or a buck). The pickups sound pretty good when using high gain, and have a nice presence about them when playing clean.

I am a big fan of the 25 inch scale. I have original, and reissue Fender HM strats with that scale length. It feels just a little more comfortable than 25 and 1/2 inch scale IMHO.

I went with the SSS HT version because the tremolo units in guitars in this price range usually suck, and the SSS had the option had the ability to run the middle and bridge pups together like a giant wide range Humbucker.

I didn’t buy the AZES31 as a modding platform. I will keep it stock and take it to blooze jams. This guitar is probably the biggest bang for low cash outlay there is. The fit and finish is top notch.

I did do a full set up including a level and crown when I got it, and every screw on the guitar needed snugging up. I will probably order one for my son if They are still available in November.
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hmm, I do wonder if they're just pushing them out the door because of supply/demand issues. While it's been noted that for Prestige guitars and Genesis, fret/fingerboard finishing has declined somewhat, maybe it's become a wider issue since last year?

It's ok though annoying when you can fix it yourself, but for a beginner getting something in such condition, it would be a turn-off.
 

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Hmm, I do wonder if they're just pushing them out the door because of supply/demand issues. While it's been noted that for Prestige guitars and Genesis, fret/fingerboard finishing has declined somewhat, maybe it's become a wider issue since last year?

It's ok though annoying when you can fix it yourself, but for a beginner getting something in such condition, it would be a turn-off.
Both of the AZES guitars were playable out of the box. A beginner could buy one of these and take it to a lesson. But they just weren’t where I wanted them to be at. I bought my Grand kids each a Mikro for Christmas.

I worked on my granddaughter’s Mikro, as I know she will actually play it. My grandson hasn’t played before. I had a guitar already for him, but he took it home and let a friend play it and broke he broke a string. I did have to take care of fret sprout on both of them, but I didn’t do a leveling on grandson’s guitar. If he actually plays it, I will dial it in a little more. I just didn’t want to put in a lot of time and work for nothing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Fair enough. The red one does look great, kinda fiesta-ish like Hank Marvin's old Strat.

Lucky kids and their Mikros! I almost got one for kicks once, maybe I should've - in pink and tricked out like an SK, ha!
 

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Looks like they're officially out. Interesting that the scale length is 25", has split shaft tuners like old Fenders and 10" radius, and Tomo Fujita seems to have been involved.

Pickups are ceramic, as we'd expect from a budget guitar. The SSS model seems to have a couple of redundant switching positions on the toggle, should've had an all three on in parallel option, and neck + bridge in series, for instance.

They'll be in the $300s by the looks of it. Kinda dig them, would try.




I just bought mine and returned it
 

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I love Ibanez, but I returned my AZ Essentials. Worse guitar I've ever bought. Mine came with a back bow that couldn't be corrected with the truss rod nor zeroed. So, I doubt there was even a fret job even down on it or leveling. Nut wasn't cut, tooling marks between every fret just about, and paint missing. Ibanez sure hyped this model with artists and influencers. What a letdown!
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That definitely isn't acceptable, but every company can let sub-par ones slip through the cracks. It's not really shame on Ibanez, but on companies in general. You could have requested a replacement, and gotten something like one of 3Bolt79's two perfectly acceptable guitars, and been happy as pie again.
 
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