Ibanez has plenty of experience in making semi-hollow and hollow-bodied guitars over a broad range of price points. The Ibanez AM93AYS Artcore Expressionist Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar is in the middle of this range.
These guitars are principally aimed at Jazz, Country, and Blues players. Though they’re undoubtedly popular, for people playing this kind of music, the Ibanez is a guitar versatile enough to be used by a much broader group of players.
There are plenty of guitars to choose from with these kinds of specs at around the same price. So, let’s take a closer look at this guitar as we get this Ibanez AM93AYS Artcore Expressionist Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar Review underway. And let’s find out just how good, or bad, it really is…
Let’s dive in with its construction first. The Ibanez AM93AYS Artcore Expressionist, like most of the current Artcore range, is manufactured in Indonesia. Like most guitars now coming out of the far east, the quality of the construction is every bit as good as you’d find from guitars being made in more traditional markets.
The Ibanez AM93AYS is a mid-sized, semi hollow-bodied guitar with an arched top. It’s also actually relatively slim too, and we like the overall feel and size. It strikes a nice balance between sounding great and not being too cumbersome to play easily, which is a bit of a bonus.
Another thing we like about this guitar is the looks. The high polyurethane sunburst finish combined with the quilt maple top makes the guitar pop. The rippling effect of the maple looks killer.
What’s more, the contrast of black binding to the two ‘F’ holes and aged-white lined binding to the main body of the guitar, further add to its already great looks.
The back and sides of the guitar, like the top, is quilted maple, and the slimline set-in neck is a three-piece mahogany and maple design. The back of the neck has a high gloss finish. It felt nice and smooth, and we had no issues with stickiness whilst playing.
The use of maple is not only a great choice of wood for creating bright and clear tones, but since maple is a relatively light wood, the guitar isn’t excessively heavy. With the guitar weighing 9lbs, it’s not too much of a strain to play for extended periods.
Overall this is a well screwed together and very nicely finished guitar. Very nice to look at too.
Specifications & Hardware
The Ibanez AM93AYS Artcore Expressionist has all gold-colored hardware. There’s nothing cheap to either the look or feel here. Given that we’re looking at very much a mid-priced guitar here, it’s a job well done. Of course, how all the gold-colored plating will hold up after a few years is hard to tell. We suspect it will age just fine. We hope so.
The guitar is equipped with two Super 58 Custom humbuckers, has gold covers, and sounds great.
The Art1 bridge, also in gold, sits on a wooden base and has a free-floating design. For those not familiar with a floating bridge design, it’s worth paying a little bit of extra attention when you’re changing strings. Just remember that it will fall off if you try to change all the strings at once. If it does come off, you then have a bit of process go through to get it back into the correct position.
The Ibanez has a scale length of 24-3/4” and a nut width of 1.69” The fretboard has 22 frets and is made from rosewood. It has simple block Pearloid inlays, which work perfectly with the overall aesthetic of the guitar.
The good news with the AM93AYS is that unlike some of the other guitars in the Artcore range, this has much better-quality controls knobs, toggle switch, and pickguard. There’s nothing to criticize here. The gold-colored tone and volumes knobs look great. The plain black pickguard is nicely detailed at its edges and looks perfectly at home.
Why Ibanez can’t afford this level of quality and detail on all of its range we really don’t know?
Finishing off the hardware are the in-house tuners, which are, of course, finished in gold. These look very similar to Grover tuners despite being their own design. Regardless, most importantly, they do a great job of keeping the Ibanez AM93AYS Artcore Expressionist in tune.
It doesn’t hurt that, like a lot of things on this guitar, they’re lookers.
The semi-hollow Maple body creates an accurate, bright sound. What’s more, there’s a high level of sustain with excellent projection and resonance. Also, there’s plenty of clarity in the mids when playing chords that will easily cut through the mix with a group of musicians.
The Ibanez AM93AYS Artcore Expressionist is loaded with a pair of Custom 58 humbucker pickups that really lend themselves to playing Jazz and blues.
The Custom 58 humbuckers were the choice of pickup for George Benson. No surprise then that we were able to create some super smooth jazzy tones from the AM93AYS. When played clean, the sound was clear and detailed.
The Ibanez is able to produce both bright and dark tones. Additionally, when overdriven, there’s a good level of grit to the sound. It’s not a guitar normally associated with a harder rock kind of vibe, and although we can’t see Zack Wylde trading in his Les Paul anytime soon for an Ibanez Artcore. It is still versatile enough to make some reasonably heavier sounds if called upon to do so.
The Custom 58 humbuckers produce a range of great tones, but these are not high output humbuckers, so they will require a little more driving than your standard PAF humbuckers.
All in all, this is a guitar that’s highly capable of producing a variety of tones, though smoother and more precise sounds are without doubt its forte.
This medium-sized guitar has a lot of the same tonal advantages of a hollow-bodied guitar but without the disadvantage of being large to the point of feeling awkward. Smaller players will be pleased to know that they shouldn’t have too many problems with getting to grips with the Ibanez AM93AYS Artcore expressionist.
Admittedly, it’s not going to fit in your lap like a Baby Taylor. However, neither are you going to have to fight to get your arms around it like you would with a Gretsch White Falcon.
The slimline neck is nice and easy to get your hands around. And there are nice smooth surfaces on the frets and fret-ends. We found the gloss finish on the back of the neck nice and easy to slide up and down.
Access to the upper-frets is aided by its double-cutaway body. We do feel the neck joint is little angular and lumpy but no worse than you’d find on something like a Stratocaster. It would still be nice to have seen a smother set-in neck, though.
The action straight out of the box was actually fine. Getting an even lower action, if desired, is achievable, and easily done.
For its relatively low price, it has a good level of playability.
Ibanez AM93AYS Artcore Expressionist Semi-Hollow Pros & Cons
- Sound versatility.
- Precise clean sound.
- Well finished.
- It looks beautiful.
- It has no carrying case.
- The set-in neck could be neater.
Other Ibanez Options
If you’re not sure if the Ibanez AM93AYS is the perfect guitar for you? It’s well worth taking a look at our reviews of the Best Hallow Semi Hollow Guitars on the market. Also, check out our reviews of the Ibanez AG75BS, the Ibanez AS73 Artcore Semi Hollow, or even the Oscar Schmidt OE30CH review.
The bottom line is that, within its price bracket, the Ibanez AM93AYS Artcore Expressionist Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar is a nicely made, well finished, and great sounding guitar.
We’ve praised its looks a few times because we genuinely believe this is a real beauty. The quilted maple body combined with a lovely high gloss finish and some gold blingy hardware is awesome. Also, the Artcore series generally, and the Ibanez AM93AYS in particular, offer great value for money.
We think this is a guitar well worth considering.