Before we get to our in-depth Ibanez AS73 Artcore Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar Review, let’s look back a little…
Ibanez has a history of producing quality guitars at cost-effective prices. It might be fair to say they are not the best instruments in the world, but they are always good value for money. They were a bit late to the part in terms of guitar manufacture. They were only founded in 1957 but have made great strides since.
A Japanese company, and still based there, the name was chosen in an attempt to disguise their origins. Some people associated Asian countries with poor quality workmanship. All different now, of course. It has been a long time since the ‘Lawsuit’ period when US manufacturers tried to sue those companies, Ibanez being one, for making copies of their guitars.
Ibanez and Gibson were the only companies to get involved in a court hearing, but it was settled out of court. What next, sue everyone who puts two buns round a piece of meat (we hope it’s meat anyway).
What really may have concerned Gibson, Fender, and Martin is that they weren’t doing so well. And they were well aware of the Japanese potential for mass manufacturing. And we must remember that soon after, Gibson and Fender started making or licensing the manufacture of their instruments in places they had criticized.
All friends now, even though at some levels they are in competition with each other. And Ibanez guitars have continued to enhance their reputation as a quality guitar manufacturer.
Ibanez really like their semi-hollow and hollow-body guitars. They are actually very good at making them. Great players like George Benson decided to make it their guitar of choice. If people like that choose it for turning out their jazz, you are doing something right. They have been making these designs for over 30 years and have built a big reputation at all levels. In many ways, they have set new standards of what a semi or hollow body should be.
The AS73 is an Ibanez semi-hollow electric guitar that is a member of their Artcore range of guitars. They were first sold in 2002. Ibanez wanted to provide a range of semi-hollow and hollow-body guitars at cost-effective prices.
The Artcore range of guitars has developed a reputation for being a good value guitar. Well made with a good sound and easy to play. But perhaps most importantly, at an affordable price.
Quality semi-hollow and hollow-body guitars were once out of the reach of many people. And especially too expensive for starters and improvers. But Ibanez has with their Artcore range changed all of that. The Ibanez semi-hollow electric guitars are a force to be reckoned with.
However, it doesn’t take too long to work out where the design inspiration for this guitar has come from. It seems to be a cross between a Gibson 330 and a 335, both iconic guitars, and this has a remarkable resemblance to them. Are we surprised by that? Not really.
First introduced in 1958, the 335 has been heard in the hands of some of the best. Chuck Berry, Otis Rush, BB King, Dave Grohl, and of course, ‘Big Red,’ the 335 played by perhaps the best of the lot Alvin Lee of Ten Years After.
The shape is virtually identical to the Gibson. Maybe the horns at the cutaways are just a little sharper, but that hardly notices. The color, the style, it’s all there — Ibanez’s version of the 330/335.
So, let’s take a closer look in this Ibanez AS73 Artcore Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar Review…
So, you are going to be making a semi-hollow body guitar that resembles a classic 335. Don’t even think about trying to recreate it; you won’t. Even Gibson themselves can’t. What you can do, though, is produce a similar-looking guitar with a great sound. If you’re going to do that, you’d better be prepared to get it right.
Starting with the body, the essential elements have got to be there. Quality selected Maple has been used for the back, sides, but also the top. Compared to other woods, Maple gives a crisper and brighter sound and is very resonant. It is often used on the top surface of guitars.
But when the back and sides are Maple as well, it adds to this resonance. The sound of Maple is quite unique because it is a dense wood. It is, therefore, good as a tonewood for guitars. There is also a solid Maple wood block running down the center.
The basic design is what is known as an archtop, and it is considered by most people to be a Thinline guitar. It is not as slim as some, but it is thinner than most. And, it is this slimmer effect that makes the guitar so easy to handle and to play.
It has Venetian cutaways that give you easy access to the full length of the neck. The body also features an attractive white binding as per the Gibson models. It also has a white edging to the classic f-holes in the body.
The body is finished in that classic Cherry Red color. It is well made with good materials.
Some will argue the most important part of a guitar. If indeed, one part can be referred to as more important than another. It has a smooth design with a comfortable shape that makes it easy to hold. It is a set-in neck. This means that it is wood-jointed, not bolted.
It is made of Mahogany and has a satin finish. There is a classic bound Rosewood fingerboard. There are 22 frets, all of which are accessible. It has block inserts on the fingerboard and also dots on the top edge. It is a ‘C’ shaped neck with a slightly flatter radius.
The fingerboard is bound with white binding to make sure there is no contact between hands and frets. It has a natural smoothness to the neck, which assists in playing fast. We will discuss how it plays so more on this later.
Having ensured that the body and neck are as good as they make them, there have to be some cutbacks somewhere. This is a budget range instrument, after all. Ibanez hasn’t gone overboard with the hardware fittings.
The headstock is stained black with an inset decor effect. The machine heads are a chrome-plated die-cast with sealed backs. They are basic and not the most expensive of tuners you can get, but the intonation is good and stable, which is all you need.
It is fitted with an ART1 bridge and tailpiece. They are of reasonable quality, and the tailpiece allows quick string changes if necessary.
The early designs of semi and hollow-body guitars came with bad external noise problems. The hum they created, sometimes at 60Hz, made them difficult to manage at times.
The solution was the humbucker that ‘bucked the hum.’ Ibanez developed their own range of humbuckers for their Artcore range called the Classic Elite. They were designed to give you a full tone with plenty of response. With the AS73, they have fitted two humbuckers — the ACH1 at the neck and ACH2 at the bridge.
They provide a decent sound for certain genres but may not be so suitable for others. For jazz and easy listening styles, they are great — a warm, lush sound with just enough bottom and top end. Certainly, where the jazz influence sits, they have got a great resonance, clear and articulate.
The problem comes if you see yourself as an Alvin Lee and jack up the volume. They really don’t like it, and they become a bit muddy and blurred. Some have commented that they love the guitar, but at greater volumes, the pickups let it down. However, they have changed them for something better and got themselves a great guitar. But changing pickups isn’t what you want to do as soon as you’ve bought a guitar!
At starter and even improver level, it probably won’t matter so much. But experienced players might want a bit of that humbucker growl. They might be disappointed. It is also going to depend a little on what amp you are using. They respond in different ways to different amps, so you probably won’t know that until you try. It would not stop us from buying the guitar, but it is something to consider.
Basic of course, they don’t need to be any more than that. There are four Sure Grip 111 control knobs. One volume for each pickup and tone for each. They are actually quite responsive and have the desired operating effect. There is also a switch to alternate between pickups. As we say, all very basic but perfectly adequate.
How Does It Play?
This is certainly one of its strengths as a guitar. The ‘C’ shaped neck makes playing easy and smooth. And the binding on the edge of the fingerboard means there are no nasty abrasions with frets. It is a great playing action. There is a slightly flattened fingerboard shape, which adds to the comfort level.
For a starter or an improver, this is a great guitar. For the experienced player, that action is also good and gives you the impetus for a bit of fast playing. It is not often you find what is essentially a budget guitar with such a good neck. With this Ibanez semi-hollow electric guitar, it is certainly one of its major assets.
How Does It Sound?
The natural sound of a semi-hollow body is a warm, resonant style. It has a character that has always appealed to the Jazz guitarist. We are sure it wasn’t meant for Alvin Lee to shake Woodstock to its foundations with ‘I’m Going Home.’
You are fortunate if you ever stand in front of the great man and hear him let rip. Using just his semi-hollow 335 and a Marshall amp and no pedals, and you’ll find out that this semi-hollow body design can bite.
This Ibanez version is not like that, of course. In fact, there are very few Gibsons that sounded like that. But this guitar also has a brutish streak in the natural harmonics of the design. But as we said before, the pickups let it down at volume. They are very good at quieter levels, the jazzy thing, warm and lush it sounds great. But if you want ‘I’m Going Home,’ you won’t find it in its base form.
We are not going to be too negative. That’s just one style of playing. Jazz, Country, even Blues will all work wonderfully. The sounds are there. It has character, and it has style.
Not sure if this Ibanez is quite what you’re looking for? If that’s the case, it’s well worth checking out our reviews of the Best Hallow Semi Hollow Guitars currently available, as well as our reviews of the Oscar Schmidt OE30CH review, or even the Epiphone EJ 200CE.
Plus, you might be interested in putting the Best Guitar Strings on it.
Ibanez AS73 Artcore Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar Pros & Cons
- Superb ‘classic’ looks.
- Excellent build quality.
- Very Playable.
- Great Jazz and Blues tones.
- Pickups let it down at higher volumes.
- No case or gig bag, but one is available separately.
The build is excellent, and the craftsmanship excellent. It plays great, and despite our concerns over the pickups, it does have a nice sound at quieter levels. The hardware, whilst basic, is more than adequate, and the controls well made and accurate. For the price, this is an excellent guitar.
Writing this Ibanez AS73 Artcore Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar Review has let us appreciate what a fine guitar this is. For a starter and a beginner, it is an excellent choice. For an experienced player with a few adjustments, it will give great service.
It doesn’t come with a case or gig bag, but those are minor issues in our book. There is a fitted case that is sold separately.
This Ibanez semi-hollow electric guitar is worth every penny and is a quality instrument.