Emperor's Ihsahn: Why I Ditched My Ibanez & Jackson Guitars for Guitars Made of Composite Materials

Musician explains his fondness of Aristides Instruments.

Ultimate Guitar
Emperor's Ihsahn: Why I Ditched My Ibanez & Jackson Guitars for Guitars Made of Composite Materials

Emperor frontman and established solo artist Ihsahn recently discussed why he left his old Ibanez and Jackson guitars behind in favor of a much less-renowned manufacturer - a Dutch company called Aristides Instruments, which specializes in crafting instruments entirely from composite materials.

The musician told Music Radar about his current setup: "I still use my Blackstar amps in the studio and live. The Artisan 100 with some overdrive pedals can give you a heavy sound that is still punchy and clear. Over the years I've started to use more of those open sounds, rather than the total mess. You want that detail to come through and the Blackstars feel like they can do both - as well as being low-noise.

Focusing on guitars, Ihsahn noted: "But I have to mention my new collaboration with Aristides Instruments. I've been very privileged over the years; Ibanez built me some amazing guitars. I've been lucky to be in a position where I can pick and choose.

"I was skeptical to begin with, because Aristides build instruments purely out of composite material. Most guitar players would probably want to stay away from that - I did, too - but you won't believe how well they are made and sound. These instruments are resonant; there are no dead spots on the fretboard at all. They have a sustain and clarity which is unbelievable."

He continued: "I like their attitude; it’s very black metal. [Grins] 'Let's do something that everybody shuns and prove them wrong!'

"For touring, they are not affected by humidity or temperature at all. They work closely with Tim [Mills] at Bare Knuckle, who has custom-made pickups for the material it's made out of. So I'm using Aristides pretty much exclusively now."

You can check out Ihsahn demonstrating his Aristides 060 Custom and Aristides 080s guitars below.

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12 comments sorted by best / new / date

    They are great instruments but quite expensive too. Same goes for luthiers who work with graphite necks and that kind of stuff: if guitarists grow a liiiiittle less conservative and start experimenting more with this type of instruments, maybe some more affordable models will come along
    The Finnish manufacturer Flaxwood Guitars does make some affordable "hybrid" guitars where the necks are made of composite material but the body is wood. In Europe they're about the price of a MIM Fender but have better specs (Duncan pickups, Gotoh hardware etc). I live near their factory but haven't ever tried them
    Cool! Never tried that brand but I love seeing innovation like this. The world of electric guitar is so traditionnal and conservative in terms of tone and "how tos". This is refreshing
    I hate these "play through" clips. If you want to demonstrate what the instrument sounds like, play it on it's own. Doing it like this is BS.
    Idk. I appreciate hearing how a guitar sounds on its own, but frankly it's more important to me how it's going to sound in a full mix. I can't tell just from hearing a guitar by itself if it's gonna cut through a dense track.
    Because these were free.
    Implying that he had to pay for the Jackson or Ibanez guitars? Simply being free is not enough to sway a musician that depends on his gear to make a living and who has many free options to choose from.
    Nope. Not buying a plastic toy guitar.
    They are made from injection molded Arium, cost usually north of $3000, and these things absolutely blow away basically every major manufacturer in terms of tone and stability. Unless you are using some master built custom with absolute insane cuts of timber (and an equal price tag), there really isn't much of a competition for these "plastic toy guitars".