Summer 2013 News: Ibanez, Epiphone, Eastman …

IbanezI was recently browsing the websites of some guitar makers and discovered some interesting changes I wanted to share. Website updates can reflect new models, discontinuing old models and just changing the look and way they market their products. So here’s some news about small jazz guitars from Ibanez, Epiphone and Eastman.

Ibanez

I’ve written about Ibanez several times in the last year (Archtop Guitar News, Winter 2013, 2012 Small Jazz Guitars – Ibanez). They make all varieties of guitar but I am particularly impressed by the number of and price range of hollow body archtop guitars they make. Their prices start around $300 and go up the artist models such as George Benson’s GB10 for over $3000.

The news I wanted to share regarding Ibanez wasn’t so much new models (although there may be some). Rather, it is the information they now provide on their website. One of my criticisms in my 2012 Small Jazz Guitars – Ibanez was they gave little useful information regarding the specifications of their instruments. I had to rely on an old PDF I found on the web to guess the lower bout dimensions of the small jazz guitars. That’s been rectified. They now provide very nice dimension information for lengths, widths, nut width and so on. Thank you Ibanez. I really appreciate it.

So what have I learned from their new detailed specifications? First, the dimensions I gave for most models is correct. Almost all of their archtop hollow body guitars have a lower bout width less than 16 inches (actually listed as 15 3/4″). Second is that the AG models – previously described as having a smaller body – are indeed smaller than than their other models with a lower bout of 14 1/2 inches. In fact, it is interesting to look at the pictures and dimensions of the AG75 and compare them to the George Benson GB10. There are plenty of differences. You’re getting a much better guitar with the GB10. But there are also plenty of similarities, including size and shape. Not identical, but close. Considering the AG75 sells for less than 20% of the price of the GB10, it might be an excellent guitar to look at if money is your concern and jazz your passion. If you want something a bit nicer but still for a lot less than the George Benson models, the AG95 is an upscale version with the same dimensions as the AG75.

Ibanez Artcore Ag75 Electric Guitar Brown SunburstIbanez Gb10 George Benson Hollowbody Electric Brown Sunburst

Spec AG75 GB10
Nut width 43 mm 43 mm
Width at last fret 57 mm 57 mm
Scale length 24.75” 24.75”
Body Length 18 7/8” 18 7/8”
Body Width 14 1/2” 14 3/4”
Body Depth 3 5/8” 3 3/8”
Pickups ACH1 neck HB, ACH2 bridge HB 2 floating mini HB

Epiphone

Epiphone is a subsidiary of Gibson and Gibson invented the archtop guitar. It is thus disappointing that Epiphone is doing such a terrible job of promoting guitars which are such an important part of their heritage. My previous posts mentioned they had discontinued the Epiphone version of the Gibson ES-175. The only full body archtops they now make are the Emperor II Joe Pass Model and the 17 inch Broadway. They do have a good selection of thinlines including a Sorrento Reissue, the Sheraton and several variations on the Gibson ES-335 and 339.

Epiphone 50Th Ann. Sorrento

Unlike Ibanez, Epiphone is providing even less information on their websites regarding their guitar model specifications. They don’t even tell you what the top, body or necks are made of much less nut width, lower bout and depth dimensions. It’s all very disappointing to me.

Eastman

I reviewed Eastman small jazz guitars last year (2012 Small Jazz Guitars – Eastman). One of the guitars I wrote about was the AR371CE. Except for the fact that it has only a single neck pickup, it is fine reproduction of the Gibson ES-175. The news here is that the Eastman website now lists the AR372CE – the two pickup model which is a great alternative to the ES-175. It is a more expensive instrument than the Epiphone version had been or the Ibanez AG75 but it is still less than a third of the Gibson ES-175 price and the quality is probably close to the Gibson (however that statement is based on reviews I’ve read, not personal experience). One difference I find desirable is that the neck width is wider on the AR371CE and AR372CE than on the ES-175. The Eastman’s have a 1 3/4 inch width at the nut.

There is also news for ukulele lovers from Eastman. They will be making soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles soon. All solid wood for about $500 or there abouts. Looks to be excellent quality to match their guitars and mandolins.

In Print (and maybe online)

JazzTimes reviews the AR371CE in the August 2013 issue. This is the ES-175 look alike mentioned above, although the single pickup version. The review isn’t yet online but you should be able to find it in the future. I’m not sure if this issue of JazzTimes is at the newsstands yet (June 2013) – I just got my copy this week. Older issues of JazzTimes have reviews of other Eastman instruments and these are online.

One of the unique small jazz guitars I am impressed with from Eastman is the El Rey series. You can read a review of the El Rey ER2 at JazzTimes.

The August 3013 issue of JazzTimes is devoted to jazz guitar. Check it out. There’s an article about the history of jazz guitar and the Hammond B3 organ. There’s also a piece on George Benson. George Benson is also featured in the current printed issue of the Musicians Friend, catalog (along with Joe Bonamassa. July 2013 Catalog).

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