Hands on Ibanez, Epiphone and Cordoba guitars

Most guitar players think about trading in gear or just out right buying new guitars. I’ve been thinking about reducing my collection of guitars for some time. I want to get rid of more guitars than I want to acquire. Overall I might reduce my guitars by half but there would still be some new instruments – at least in my dreams. After reviewing some guitars in a recent post (Summer 2013 News: Ibanez, Epiphone, Eastman …) I decided to visit a local brick and mortar store and check out some of these instruments. Here’s my impressions.

Cordoba GK Studio Negra

It has been some time since I’ve written about wanting a classical guitar. The specific guitar I tried has never been on my mental list. I’ve never owned a classical guitar nor any closely related guitar (nylon strings). But they have been on my mind for some time. I frequently look at the classical guitar selection at the music store. Some sound wonderful and others don’t. But after playing any of these instruments for a while I discover I am not being thrilled. I’m not sure what’s missing.

But on this trip to Guitar Center I picked up a Cordoba GK Studio Negra guitar. This is a Flamenco style guitar with rosewood back and sides and a solid spruce top. The Negra implies the rosewood which is not typical on Flamenco guitars. The GK indicates it one of the Gypsy King endorsed models. It is an acoustic-electric . The electronics are “Fishman Presys Blend with 4 Band EQ + phase, undersaddle piezo and internal microphone with blender, built in digital tuner”. The scale length is 650 mm and the nut width is 50 mm. It has the traditional classical design of 12 frets to the body. I had fun playing this guitar at the store. The action was great. I’ve heard better, richer and darker tones from better classical guitars but this seemed perfect for the jazz styles I prefer. The guitar is now on want my list.

Cordoba GK Studio Negra Acoustic-Electric Nylon String Flamenco Guitar Natural

Epiphone Sorrento

The next guitar I tried was the Epiphone Sorrento. This is a thinline, single cutaway, fully hollow body electric somewhat like the old Gibson ES-125 guitars, but with mini-humbucker pickups instead of P90s. This 50th Anniversary “1962” Sorrento E452TDN Reissue is very lightweight and comfortable to hold. I was tempted to add it to my wish list. I would even trade my Epiphone Casino for it. Both are fully hollow thinline guitars and both are thus light weight compared to other designs. The Casino of course has P90 pickups. I love the sound of P90s – sometimes. But like most single coils, they can have hum. Humbuckers were invented to prevent hum and named to remind you of that ability.

Epiphone 50th Ann. Sorrento

Ibanez AF155

Looking for the Ibanez hollow body section of the store I couldn’t miss the gorgeous AF155 model hanging on the wall. It meets my criteria for a “small jazz guitar” because the lower bout width is 15 3/4 inches (16 inches or less is my arbitrary criteria). It’s hard not to be impressed with its looks. But at the moment, after verifying that the AG series really is even smaller (14 1/2 inch lower bout) I skipped trying it out. Still, take a look below – it is a stunning looking guitar.

Ibanez Artstar AF155 Hollowbody Electric Guitar Aged Whisky Burst

Ibanez AG75

Many user reviewers compare the AG75 to a Gibson ES-175. It is certainly an affordable alternative. It is similar to the ES-175 in having a laminated maple top and maple back and sides with two humbucker pickups mounted on the body. It is a much smaller guitar with a lower bout of 14 1/2 inches instead of the 16 inches for the ES-175. I picked up and played it for a while at the store. I didn’t plug in any of these archtops because they all still had a protective strip of foam under the floating bridge to protect the finish. The foam not only protects but deadens both acoustic and electric sound. I could get a sense of how it would feel to hold and play the guitars but I can’t judge how well they will sound. As for the feel – it felt very comfortable. I could see myself playing this for hours.

Ibanez Artcore AG75 Electric Guitar Brown Sunburst

Ibanez AG95

An Ibanez AG95 guitar hung next to the AG75 at the guitar store. It’s difficult to avoid being drawn to this guitar. It is an upscale version of the AG75 and like the AF155, it is a beautiful instrument. The AG75 looks solid – an everyday, working musicians instrument. Nice but not fancy. The AG95 elicits, “Wow!”.

The size of the guitar is identical to the AG75. The pickups are the same model as on the AG75 (Ibanez ACH1 and ACH2) but the hardware is gold plated on this model. Personally, I’d prefer nickel plated parts to gold. The top, back and sides are Figured bubinga instead of maple.

I played this guitar longer than the AG75. It felt right. I could really tell it was a small jazz guitar and for me it was much more comfortable the 17 inch jazz box I currently own.

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