#1
Hi,


I'm considering buying a Ibanez AR420. I've been playing guitar for many years, but have played mostly y Fender Strat and my Ibanez RG, but have never played a Les Paul or anything like it. I really love the looks and - from what I've heard on the net - the sound of the AR420, and thought I'd give it a go.

Should I be concerned by the low price? I mean, I haven't played many guitars over the years, and would not know what to expect from a guitar in this price range. I've heard of cheap guitars where the frets fall off and other bad things, but I guess I shouldn't expect this from a AR420?

What would be the most noticable difference from a guitar in this price range and for a guitar double the price?

Best regards,
kenneho
#2
Totally solid guitars. Don't worry about the price at all, that's how people talk themselves into spending more than they need to.

More expensive guitars might have more name-brand hardware (especially pickups) and might have a bit more attention paid to fret finishing and the finish, and of course then there's the brand premium to be considered. I'd say the biggest difference you'd notice between that guitar and, say, an ESP at twice the price would be the pickups and perhaps the finish. Another thing about more expensive guitars is that in general (and I'd say especially with the ESP example) you'll see more consistency from guitar to guitar. So the weight, wood quality, and overall finish might vary a bit more on a $650 guitar than on a $1300 one from a similar company.

These are all just generalizations though, the main thing is that if you play it and like it, it's a good guitar for you. There are always diminishing returns, and the AR420 is not what I'd call a cheap or particularly cheaply made guitar. It's got quality in all the right places, and if you get a good one and swap the pickups you'd probably have a hard time telling it apart from a much more expensive instrument.
#3
Thanks for the reply. I've been seeing alt these expensive guitars on the net, and were thinking that was the price for quality guitars. But I'm glad to hear the the price range in general - and AR420 in particular - are considered good guitars.

I'm pretty sure I'm gonna go for the AR420.

Thanks again for the reply!
#4
Not sure about that particular guitar but i had a semi hollow AS93 which was a little cheaper than the AR420 and it was a very good guitar for the price so i'd assume the AR420 would be of similar quality given the price range.
#5
I've played several AR420s, 325s and 220s (same series, same general model but the 325 and 220 are somewhat cheaper). They were all consistently excellent players with fantastic tone - plenty of clarity if that's what you are into, plenty of low end if that's what you're into, and they're great for anything from clean to blues to classic rock to metal.

One nifty thing about the AR420 right out of the box is the "tri-sound" switch and its inclusion of a parallel coil mode - instead of both coils in a humbucker operating in series for higher output, you have both coils operating separately for single coil-level output but with a much rounder tone while retaining the anti-hum properties of a humbucker. I like to plug into a single-channel amp (eg Vox AC15) on parallel mode for clean, and switch to regular humbucker mode for a dirty or lead tone.

Anyway, the AR series definitely holds its own against Gibson Les Pauls going for 2-4x the price (and IMO the ARs are more playable thanks to the double cutaway and the smoother neck heel). You really can't do better for a two-humbucker guitar than the AR420, and I've tried.
#6
I have its ancestor, an AR-300 from '82. In almost every respect it's a superior guitar to the Les Paul of its time. It's got a very dense mahogany body, a smooth neck heel, a deep tummy cut, great binding, excellent pickups, Tri-Sound switches that let you select serial/parallel/single coil for each pickup individually, sure-grip knobs, a real ebony fretboard, real MOP and abalone inlays, and great tuners. The bridge on mine is the old original Gibralter (like the Schaller "harmonica" bridge) and it's mounted on a 10.5 ounce solid brass sustain block which is sunk into (and screwed into) that solid mahogany body. It's one of the best sounding and longest sustaining guitars on the planet and very versatile.

The 420 is similar to that guitar, with the same general body shape. It's a bit thinner, but it has the same sculpted neck heel and tummy cut. The neck is multipiece maple (mine's single-piece mahogany), the binding is less expensive, the bridge is much lighter weight (a stock Les Paul style piece) and there's no sustain block and the Tri-Sound switches are cheaper. The "cloud" tailpiece is lighter weight and a slightly different shape. The pickups are the same designation (58's) but the actual construction has changed over the years. The 420 is made in China (which is neither here nor there), mine was made in Japan.

In the case of ibanez, you need to move up the price ladder to begin to see some of the bits and pieces that are on my guitar. The AR-720, for example, returns the sustain block (you can see the bridge mounted to it -- it's peeking out in this shot) and the heavier bridge (but now Sweetwater wants around $1000) and a different cloud tailpiece:



And to get a guitar that actually matches the original's complete feature set will run $1500-2000. I'm not sure what the model designation is just now, but Ibanez does make my guitar at that level.

This is not to throw shade on the 420; it's a fine guitar in its own right, and eminently playable in all respects. But it will tell you what the extra money goes for, at least in the Ibanez line.

It gets a LOT murkier when you get into Gibson and Fender's catalog, however, where sometimes there seems to be no obvious difference other than a coating of fairy dust and an exposure to unicorn farts and a dismissive hand wave of "better stuff."
Last edited by dspellman at Nov 28, 2014,
#7
Quote by kindadumb


One nifty thing about the AR420 right out of the box is the "tri-sound" switch and its inclusion of a parallel coil mode - instead of both coils in a humbucker operating in series for higher output, you have both coils operating separately for single coil-level output but with a much rounder tone while retaining the anti-hum properties of a humbucker. I like to plug into a single-channel amp (eg Vox AC15) on parallel mode for clean, and switch to regular humbucker mode for a dirty or lead tone.


Ibanez had Tri-Sound switches on their guitars back in the 70's. I think the 2619 (not sure of the number designation) in the late 70's had them; the bodies were slightly wider and slightly thinner, and transitioned to the AR series bodies (thicker and slightly narrower) in around '78. That wasn't the first use of parallel mode, of course -- Bill Lawrence built that into the Gibson L6S guitars beginning in '72 (don't know if he was using it before then).
The current ibanez AR2619 (around $2300 at Sweetwater) replicates the pre-1978 Ibanez AR-2619 very well, and will give you an idea what these guitars were back then. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AR2619CS?adpos=1o1&creative=55280256001&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&gclid=CjwKEAiA1-CjBRDOhIr_-vPDvQYSJAB48SmELgptOquGva72-PnwPmLUZM9JT4ILgJQlTCvnrzuKshoCtSXw_wcB


Quote by kindadumb
Anyway, the AR series definitely holds its own against Gibson Les Pauls going for 2-4x the price (and IMO the ARs are more playable thanks to the double cutaway and the smoother neck heel). You really can't do better for a two-humbucker guitar than the AR420, and I've tried.


I love my AR. And I do believe it's a better guitar in the Les Paul vein than the Les Paul itself. But two that I think are "better" include my Yamaha SG2000 (similar to my old AR300), which is a neck-through guitar (with the sustain block, heavier bridge, etc of the AR300). It's a double cutaway as well, with tummy cut and all the rest.

The second is the Agile AL-3200 (and particularly the special order versions) from Rondo. These are single-cut guitars with a more deeply contoured neck heel than the AR or Yamaha and a similar tummy cut. The Ibanez ARs are beautifully contoured, but they've reached full body thickness by the 18th fret or thereabouts, and there is the strap button on the back of the body, so the whole business of the double cut is really unimportant if you're playing high on the frets (your thumb placement will be lower -- more toward the nut -- on the neck than your fingers anyway). The Agile is a neck-through guitar and the strap button is on the upper bout, out of the way. The stubby horn on the cutaway side doesn't require large-handed people to rotate their hands to get to the higher frets. The AR series are actually a bit delicate where the neck meets the body, and I've seen the necks come away from the bodies during shipping.

The semi-custom AL-3200s can be ordered with a longer scale AND they can be ordered in 24-fret versions that put the 24th fret about where the 22nd fret would normally be located. This makes them far better for upper fret access than the AR series. They can also be ordered with Floyds, stainless frets, and a whole raft of other options that are extremely useful.

And while we're considering 24-fret double and single cutaways with smooth neck heels, it's worth while to check out the Carvin double HB guitars as well. There are some extremely smooth neck-through neck heels with amazing access in a variety of body styles.
#8
At most when it comes to quality I say this a lot to guys as I've worked on at least 500-600 guitars.

Ibanez fretting quality has gone down (yes even in japan). This is because they are putting out more and more guitars and don't have as much time to make sure they are as perfect. Of course fretting can be leveled but try a few of the same guitar if you can if you're ever in that situation. No two guitars sound 100% the same even if you match every single part.

here's what I tell guys though..
1- listen to the guitar and see if you like the sound this is the most important. Both acoustically and into an amp similar to yours in the shop.

2- see what parts are used on it , you can always upgrade tuners and so forth. Usually cheap parts you get a cheaper guitar. CTS electronics, grover tuners, higher output pickups that don't have to be Dimarzio as that is what every Ibanez player runs to.

3- look for any fret buzz. If there's a lot and the guitar has been recently setup try another guitar. A fret leveling isn't cheap and don't settle for high action to eliminate buzz.

look into LTD and a bunch of other Les Paul shaped companies as well. I mean as long as you like the sound of the guitar acoustically and through an amp it'll be good. Understand what you're after like say a mahogany body, set neck or neckthrough. As many frets as you want..etc.

Because at the end of the day the waterslide decal for the brand, price and made in don't matter much. I had a Japanese Jackson guitar the DK2 series. Alder body, 24 frets, floyd rose..etc, thing must have been 1000$ or so in canada new. I liked this 200$ Jackson I had in my room way more. I bought both the guitars around the same time and I ended up selling the higher end Jackson super strat.
#9
One comment regarding fret level: it has little to do with the amount of money coming out of your wallet. I carried an over $4K Gibson Axcess Custom and an under-$200 Agile B-Stock into my friendly SF-based tech to have the frets superglued and then PLEK'd. Both were new, both had relatively minor issues, but both needed the work. Both are outstanding players at this point, both are being used for live work.