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Review of new Ibanez AR250

12/29/2003 7:16 PM
Review of new Ibanez AR250
I just got a new Ibanez Artist series AR250. I've been wanting this type of guitar (Les Paul style w/ dual cutaways) for some time. I've been watching the original Artists on eBay too, but never found one I wanted to buy. Musicians Friend has a great price on these new models, so good I decided to give one a try. It came the other day (day after Christmas!) and I thought I would share my perceptions of it with you all.  
When it arrived and I unpacked it I was struck by how gorgeous it is! It may be a veneer, or even (yuck!) a photofilm, but the flame finish is just gorgeous. It looks much better than the guitar on the Ibanez website. As I tried to tune it up it became obvious that there had been no setup done, and I had to set the neck relief, action and intonation. Once that was done it plays and sounds very good. The tuning keys are very smooth and are easy to get it right into tune. I removed the rear covers, and found the pots and switch are very cheap Korean made components, but they all work well and feel good. The neck feels great, very thin, nice frets, no buzzing, very good action. I've got the action set at the recommended 1.5mm at the 14th fret. I may try lowering it a little to see if it buzzes, but I play a bit of bottleneck slide and so I don't like it set too low. The chrome plating on the bridge and stop bar looks as good as whats on current Gibsons, but the inlay on the headstock looks like cheap plastic.  
Plugged in it sounds great, the pickups have a very surprisingly good tone. Overall I am very impressed with it. For such an inexpensive guitar it really seems to be a great value. The flame top just seems to be too gorgeous to be true. If it is a veneer, that really doesn't bother me, but if it is just a cheap photofilm, well, that sucks. I fear it wouldn't last and I don't know what I would have in ten years or so (I may have to pull a pickup out to see if I can tell what the layers of wood are). And I figure the cheap Korean electrics will start giving trouble at some point, but they can be easily replaced with good parts, as can the pickups if I felt the need. So I think it is a keeper. Ibanez has some other good looking guitars, and with the low prices on these things I'm thinking I may have to try some of the others.
12/31/2003 5:48 PM

Okay, did I lie about this gorgeous finish?  
More pics here:
1/1/2004 3:40 PM
Frank De salvo

Happy New Year, Hass. There is a used Ibanez Artist, I don't know which model, hanging at the local GC and it is gorgeous. They are asking $450 for it, but I haven't played it. Looks very tasty though. Nice axe, BTW!  
1/3/2004 3:46 AM

Thanks Frank, and a Happy New Year to you too! The original Artists were made in Japan, and were regarded as being as good as or possibly better build quality than was available from Gibson at the time. They are very cool guitars. For $450.00 bucks it is hard to beat. Except maybe by this Korean made AR250, which I got for $349.00!  
The guys over on Jemsite, an Ibanez guitar bbs, say that the tops on these AR's are carved maple, not a film or veneer. That makes me feel better about it (I hope they're right). I had the day off work today, so I spent several hours out in the shop fiddling with this guitar and a couple of amps and pedals, and I am just really stoked with this thing, and believing it has to be the best kept secret in the guitar world. Three and a half bills for a guitar that plays, sounds and looks this great, unfreakingbelievable!  
Merry Christmas to me! haha  
Take care Frank, talk to ya later.
1/3/2004 11:53 PM
Frank De Salvo

Just got back playing the guitar at GC. I was having such a good time with it that I didn't pay enough attention to see where it was made. I was playing through a line 6 HD and found it impressive as well. This one had alot of fret buzz, but the pups sounded nice and the guitazr held tune rather well until I started shredding on it and bending those little 9s all over it :)  
If I bought it, I'd end up throwing some 10s on there and setting her up. All in all, it's a really nice little guit-fiddle.  
1/8/2004 4:53 PM
Nathan Noel
More Kudos for Ibanez...
I picked up a new Ibanez SZ320  
And I'm extremely impressed with it. It has a mahogany body and set mahogany neck with a full 1/2" carved maple cap. Killer fret job and neck very well finished and the factory pickups were not bad at all (I did replace them with a set of Duncans that I had laying around though.) Very cool 3way swtich that picks one coil from each pickup in the middle position for a really nice spanky tonal option. The bridge is a little bulky but not bad, I wish the post heads were a bit smaller. And the Dual volume controls mess with me a bit (I'll convert it to single volume two tones next time I open it up. But that's just personal preference.) Oh, and the 25.1" scale is very comfortable. And the intonnation and action were dead on out of the box. did not have to perform a setup on this guitar, and I'm pretty picky.  
This has to be one of the absolute most incredible deal on a guitar under $400 ever... And with the JB and '59 pickups installed it just romps with big fat meaty tone... I LOVE this guitar. It's easily starting to become one of my favorites.
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