Friday, August 14, 2009

Because I'm All About the Guitar: Guitar Center is awesome

I bought this model guitar a couple of weeks ago from the Memphis Guitar Center. It was broken. Guitar Center replaced it. They rock.

The one I got was a sratch-and-dent special with a couple of cracks in the finish on the top and side of the body. No biggie and barely noticeable. Yet, for a couple of hairline cracks in the finish, the had knocked $150 off the price. I couldn't pass that up.

I played it in the store a bit and just loved the way it played. I picked it up and got a gig bag to go with it.

Getting home I was just loving it. But. But, I notice there's an odd rattle. It's subtle. I didn't notice it in the store. You couldn't hear it and can barely feel it. I think, "Hmm, maybe there's a piece of loose hardware." I began feeling around in the F holes and on the lower one I probed under toward the pickups and felt a piece of wood where there shouldn't have been one. Looking inside, one of the top braces had broken and fallen. The brace had pickup wires attached to it which kept it in place and, in turn, made it barely noticeable.

I called the store about it and they ordered me a replacement. Easy peasy. The first replacement came in last week and it had a cracked neck. No problem though. They just sent it back and got another one - that I picked up last night. Just awesome! This one has no cracks in the finish, the braces are all in place - for all intents and purposes it's a brand new guitar. Hell of deal guys.

As for the product itself, I can't say enough good things about these Ibanez Artcores. I've been wanting a hollow body now for a couple of years. I've been a solid-body guitar player for most of my guitar-playing days. I learned to play on a POS acoustic I found in my grandfather's attic and I've had a grudge against them for a very long time. Only lately have I come around to liking hollow-body electrics and acoustics again. Has a lot to do with my musical tastes growing, but I also think there are many more product lines available today that makes things like a hollow-body archtop accessible to a player like myself who can't afford/doesn't want to shell out the money for a Gretsch or Gibson.

Anyway, the Ibanez fills a nice niche by providing affordable, high-quality semi-hollow and hollow body guitars when the only real options used to be low-end Epiphones. Not that I'm going to diss Epiphone. They make a nice guitar here and there, but they're basic budget line is quite basic and budget. For the price, you get a lot more guitar out of the Ibanez than you do a comparably priced Epiphone. And try to find a full hollowbody for under $500 with a vintage style tremolo/vibrato. Not going to happen outside of these Artcores.

I did play the Gretsch Electromatics that are about $200 - $250 more than this model Ibanez and I got to say, for playability the Gretsch and Ibanez are close. The Gretsch just vibes better though. You can also feel the difference between the Bigsby and Ibanez vibrato units. The Bigsby is just a much more solid and fluid piece of equipment. Plugging them in, the Gretsch again shows its superiority. At least in providing what you expect from a hollow-body archtop. The highs had greater clarity and there was more of that pronounced twang. However, the Ibanez is no slouch. The sound from the Artcore is full and rich and in no way disappointing. And the price point makes it the far better deal. I got my Artcore for $350 (again, $150 off 'cause the scratch-and-dent). The lowest price I can touch a Gretsch Electromatic is for $699. Even at the list price of $499 for the Artcore, it's a bargain. At my price, it was a no brainer. And, if you're really picky about your sound, you can drop a pair of $100 Seymour Duncans in, have everything you'll need, and still come in under the Gretsch's price point.

The guitar comes strung with .10-guage D'Addario strings and if you get crazy on that vibrato, your G string will go flat pretty quickly. I've read that if you string with .11- or .12-guage flatwound jazz strings, you won't have that problem. I'll wait and see. If I keep having the problem, I might have to put some locking tuners on the thing.

I'll let y'all know what I find out. I'll be playing this thing a lot in the future.

UPDATE: Y'all. I can't get over how good this guitar sounds. I finally plugged it in here at home and took it through some clean and dirty paces. All I have here is a little 15W Fender Bullet Reverb amp. It's not much but it has a pretty decent sound. Perfect little home jam amp. But this thing just came alive with this guitar plugged into it. Can't explain how much depth out sound and color I never realized was available until I used this guitar with the amp. Just too awesome.

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