At Ibanez, we have always made it a point to study and understand how guitar playing evolves and progresses with music trends over time. Currently, we are seeing an explosion of young contemporary guitarists pushing their playing techniques into exciting new directions. We are viewing this trend as the beginning of a third phase of guitar playing.
All of us at Ibanez challenge ourselves as guitar designers to step up and answer the needs of this third phase. We found that, in order to fully grasp the expanding range of musical expression created, we must consider the guitar not just as an isolated device, but as an extension of the guitarist’s body. If we were to give this phenomenon a name, it would be “Synchronizing Guitars and Players.”
In launching the AZ series, our aim was not to merely create a completely new guitar model, but to sculpt a great guitar that can foster the potential of the modern ‘third phase’ while maintaining traditional elements. Even though Ibanez is thought of as a modern guitar brand, we have decades of accumulated knowledge and a history of pushing boundaries. The AZ series carries with it all of the hallmarks of these tried and tested Ibanez qualities: the smooth oval neck grip, the well-balanced asymmetrical body shape, and a neck heel that allows unrivaled playability. It also features details such as a new tremolo bridge, as well as new pickups developed in collaboration with Seymour Duncan®. All of these elements help the AZ push the existing boundaries of playability and sound even further.
We always strive to make our guitars with the finest materials and parts, yet we know that collecting new parts and materials alone do not make a great guitar. Rather, exquisite guitars are made through the processes of examining, testing, understanding, then finally synchronizing these materials together. The harmonic balance between the bridge and pickups, nut and machine heads, neck and fret material, all work together in order to help guitarists create their desired sound. From A to Z, there is no aspect of guitar making that we ever overlook. This tradition has been passed down masterfully to the AZ series.
At first glance, the AZ series may seem like an enigma to some. The magic of this new series is not something that may be apparent by just visual observation. The magic, however, becomes instantly apparent once an AZ model is played. The AZ series represents the future of guitar playing and we welcome you to play one and see for yourself.
AZ Modern Oval C S-TECH WOOD roasted maple 1pc neck
S-TECH treated Maple was used for the AZ’s neck construction, a first. The neck's nitrogen-heating treatment increases the wood’s stability, durability, water resistance and tolerance of temperature changes. After extensive prototyping and trials, we concluded that 20.5mm thickness at the 1st fret and 22.5mm at the 12th fret was the optimal neck thickness for this process. The neck was then sealed with an oil finish which makes it feel similar to a well-played guitar neck.
In order to achieve supreme neck grip comfort, the fretboard edge was finished with a smooth curve that extends from the border between the fretboard and the neck to the surface of the fretboard. The detailed neck shape was precisely carved using a ball mill for ultimate consistency. The width measurements of the fretboard are 42mm at the nut and 57mm at the last fret. These dimensions allow for an easy grip in the lower register, and a more modern feel in the higher register.
The AZ's shallow back body contour and big forearm contour lets the guitar's body fit the player naturally, thus increasing playing comfort. The AZ's body has a deep waist and different radii on each body edge curve (3 mmR on body top/8 mmR on body back), ma