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October/November 2013

by Chet O'Connell

Gear Review: Ibanez Artwood AC240

by Chet O'Connell

Gear Review: Ibanez Artwood AC240

For most of us the story of Ibanez begins over 30 years ago in Philadelphia. The brand’’s introduction into the market was making inexpensive copies of just about every other guitar on the market – you name it, they probably made a version.

Not content with just copying, Ibanez began making their own designs: the solid body Artists, the Iceman and the George Benson models.

By 1976, the Ibanez copy era officially came to an end when one of the major American guitar manufacturers sued their highest profile copier. By that time it didn’’t matter – Ibanez had already left the copies behind and had become an innovative guitar company in its own right. Today Ibanez continue producing world class instruments and their acoustic line of guitars looks as strong as it’’s ever been.

The evidence of how they have succeeded to find their place in the acoustic guitar market is in this beautiful acoustic guitar in front of me, begging me to play some more music before I head out for tonight’s gig.

The Ibanez AC240 Acoustic features all-mahogany construction and classic traditional style. This is a descendant of the old orchestral acoustic guitars, instruments that were designed to be audible over large instrumental ensembles in the days before amplification. The good old days my dad talks about when you could turn up to the gig with just your acoustic guitar, and sit at the front of the bandstand to be heard above the piano, upright bass and drums. This guitar certainly packs some punch, and I was further surprised by its clarity and volume.

The Artwood series of guitars was designed with traditional looks in mind while incorporating modern features The AC240 has a solid mahogany top, also mahogany back and sides. The Grand Concert body is made with a wider 44.5mm neck and a shorter 25” (scale length which facilitates easier playability and makes this the perfect guitar for a finger picking fan like myself.

The rosewood bridge and fingerboard perfectly complement the mahogany body and help provide a beautiful warm tone. It has a thin profile mahogany (again) neck which gives easy playability and features 20 frets with pearloid dot inlays. The bone nut and saddle offer enhanced overtones and Grover machine heads finish this guitar off with the tuning stability we all desire. As with any guitar, once you get past the technical stuff that may reflect desirability and durability, the real test is in how it performs.

I found the body shape and size extremely comfortable to play, the neck moulding nicely into my hand. I was really impressed with the overall tone this small guitar produced and was left wondering how Ibanez pack so much into a guitar that’s very reasonably priced at $539. Whether looking for a soft clean sound for finger picking or a solid driving sound to strum through some Kiwi classics, I got everything I needed and it stood up to my testing.

I would describe the tone as soft and warm, and although it’’s not a bright sounding guitar it has a clarity that I really enjoyed. Straight out of the box it played really well with a mid – high action. If you prefer a lower action, as I do, this can easily be fixed with a trip to your local luthier.

This is purely an acoustic guitar, no on-board pickup so it. It may not suit the working musician who is out gigging most nights of the week, but personally I’’d be more than happy to add this to my collection for playing enjoyment and studio use. It also doesn’’t come with a case, but for anyone wanting a great sounding guitar at a good price, you simply can’’t go wrong here, and you can easily pick up a case or gig bag to carry and protect this wonderful instrument.

The Ibanez Artwood AC240 acoustic would be a perfect choice for players looking for a versatile instrument at a very affordable price. It looks great, plays well and sounds fantastic.

Chet O’’Connell is an Auckland gutarist/vocalist currently working with the Midge Marsden Band, Jackie Clarke and the Class of 58. He also works as a solo artist and with various corporate acts.