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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, I finally got around to tuning up my new Ibanez AZ31. I haven’t set it up yet, but it was pretty well set up and intonated from the factory. I love this guitar, and it was low priced.

It has split shaft tuners like my 70’s Fenders, and is SSS with a switching option to run the bridge and middle and Neck and middle in either Series or Paralell. Fit and finish is pretty good. There was a couple of dimples In the finish if you look at a certain angle on the top, but they are below the clear.

Frets are med jumbo, and no pokey fret ends. AFAIK it is the only electric guitar in the Ibanez lineup that is SSS. Radius is around 10 inch, what ever the metric equivalent is.
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Noice!!! I wish the tremolo models came in SSS, but I think I'd still go in a HSS and maybe swap them later to SSS. I hope these models take off, I'm keen, but they're still RRP $569AUD here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well, as I dig in a little deeper on this new guitar, I had several frets that were uneven. Frets 2,3,4, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 20, and 21 were all a little proud. I leveled them with a leveling block and stick on sand paper after marking the high ones with a sharpie. I used 120 grit sand paper on the leveling block, and that took no time at all.

Then I crowned them, and spent about 2 hours polishing them with 600, 800, 1000, 1500, and 2000 grit sand papers. Cleaned and shined them up with Gorgamyte after and they feel as smooth as glass. There are no visible scratches on them afterward.

I put a couple of coats of F-1 oil on the board, and let it soak in. The wood darkened a bit after the oil.

I had used a guitar string as a straight edge and put a little relief in the neck before I started on it. The relief was .007 when the strings were on and I was able to get the same relief in the neck by turning the truss nut counter clockwise before I leveled. Now I just need to wipe off the excess oil and string it up. I will turn the truss adjustment nut clockwise to where it was before I took the strings off, and then adjust it again after it is strung.

Masking the board and covering the pickups took quite awhile. Here’s the before and after pics….
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well it’s 2 hours later now and I got it dialed in. Intonated, perfect action, frets are perfectly level, and there is even a little bit of fall off on the last few frets. I had to lower the nut slots just a bit. One or two passes through each slot with a file was all it took. The nut didn’t have much height above the wood, but none of the strings are resting on the wood.

The bridge saddles don’t rest on the plate when the strings are off. The strings are what is actually holding the saddles to the plate. It seems that the adjustment screw holes are a little high and that is why the saddles pop up when the strings are removed. The saddles are comfortable when you rest your hand on the bridge the grub screws don’t dig into your flesh.
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I adjusted the pickup heights for volume parity. The switching system is awesome. I really like running the bridge and middle pups together in series. They sound pretty good with high gain and clean. At $299.00 this guitar is a lot of guitar for the money. The tuners are smooth as well. I did have to do quite a bit of work to get it dialed in, but I have had to do even more work to guitars that cost 3 times as much, and I expect to have to do work to any guitar in this price range. It was quite playable out of the box, but after doing a little work to it, it is now perfect.

The neck on this guitar feels like my old Roadstar II that I had back in 1983. I am really glad that I got it.
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Thanks for the in-depth overview, I'd been wondering how this one is since you said both came. The colour is very Yngwie! Good to hear that the neck feel and sounds are on point, I reckon this will be the main selling point. Maybe they went to some extra effort with the pickups, we're generally used to ceramic single coils being less inspiring than their alnico counterparts.

Pity about the meh frets (and on the S you got) - I wonder if they're just trying to get them out the door to dealers and skimping on the detailing. Some folk have been saying new Fenders coming with less than finished frets/fingerboard. Since they're aiming these AZs at beginners, who are unlikely to do this level of work, it would be good if the factory setup was a bit better. Granted, it's a small sample. Even those of us who can do this kind of work, I think we'd prefer not to have to go to such a length on a new instrument.

The $300 bracket is very competitive these days, so it'll be interesting to see how they compare to Squiers, Harley Bentons, Pacifica 112s and the like.

Noice!!! I wish the tremolo models came in SSS, but I think I'd still go in a HSS and maybe swap them later to SSS. I hope these models take off, I'm keen, but they're still RRP $569AUD here.
Ha, I was thinking the same thing. I've been contemplating a cheap Strat style guitar that's tweakable, but I'd want a trem for some light/medium vibrato action. I do wish the colours of the HSS model were a bit more exciting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Since they're aiming these AZs at beginners, who are unlikely to do this level of work, it would be good if the factory setup was a bit better.

Ha, I was thinking the same thing. I've been contemplating a cheap Strat style guitar that's tweakable, but I'd want a trem for some light/medium vibrato action. I do wish the colours of the HSS model were a bit more exciting.
Actually this guitar was pretty playable out of the box, albeit with a somewhat high action. Not perfect, but good enough for playing beginner chords on. There were a few screws that weren’t tightened all the way, the tuners were loose, but not extremely though.

The pickups were not all that stratty in positions 2 and 4, regardless of the toggle switch. Not really quacks with high gain, but a little more so when parallel and clean.

I totally agree that the colors on the HSS with trem aren’t very exciting. I am reasonably sure that the trem could be dialed in on one of those to stay in tune. I didn’t want HSS for this guitar though.

The switching set up on this is awesome. The last time that I had the ability to run bridge and middle pickups together in series on a strat style guitar was on a Fender American Deluxe Strat over a decade ago.

I might have to get one for my son for Christmas. We will see. I just bought back my 79 strat from him. So I am getting kind of tapped, and I bought him a Fender American Special HSS strat for him a couple of years ago and I got him a Kramer Vintage Pacer with OFR and SD pups, which I still haven’t been able to get to him.

Believe it or not, after doing the work, the AZ is my best playing strat style guitar.
 
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