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Are Vintage Artists Really Better Than New Ones???
NorCalMark
#1 Posted : 6/29/2017 3:52:17 PM

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Ok, firstly, I just started looking at Ibanez Artist guitars, so excuse me if this seems like a vague / noob / dumb question.

I see a lot of people give a lot of love to the vintage Artist guitars that were made in Japan and (to a lesser extent) made in Korea.

But are those older vintage models really better (in terms of playability and durability) than the more recent Made in China models?

I understand the build quality was pretty good back then, but after all these years, wouldn't they have started to develop problems anyway?

Sorry if this is a really noob question. It just seems like there are SO MANY GUITARS out there by so many different manufacturers that any company that was making sub-par guitars today would quickly go out of business due to the competition.

So aside from the "collectors value" of it being vintage, do the older MIJ and MIk guitars really play better, sound better, and hold up better than more recent MIC guitars?
Tracy Dae
#2 Posted : 6/30/2017 4:26:41 AM
Tracy Dae


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I've been playing the Artist since the mid 80's and I own quite a few of them. The short answer is yes, the older ones are better. The build quality of the new ones is excellent but the hardware and electronics are not as good as what Ibanez used back in the day.

For example, I have had a 1982 AR100 Artist for decades. I gigged with it every weekend for years and years and the support components have never worn out. Though I have not gigged with it in almost a decade, I do still take it out at least once every couple of weeks - and the support components still have never worn out. Now, I also have a 2012 AR320 Artist. This has been my main gigging guitar since I bought it new. I gigged with it most weekends and a little over a year ago three of the four pots wore out and the pickup selector switch wore out. Not a big deal for me cause I work in electronics to make a living but still, those components did not last as long as the components on my 1982 Artist lasted. In spite of the component failures on my 2012 Artist, I still love the guitar. It has been re-wired with much better components. I will not likely need to re-wire it again for the rest of my life. I also swapped out some of the hardware for much better quality parts as well. Back in the 80's Ibanez used much better quality hardware than they use now. For the most part, it's pretty easy for the end user to replace bridges and machine heads though. So that's not really a big deal.

With all that said, the newer version are an excellent value for the money spent. Are they as good as the old ones from back in the day? No but they are still pretty darned good.
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NorCalMark on 6/30/2017(UTC)
NorCalMark
#3 Posted : 6/30/2017 6:00:08 AM

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Thank you so much, Tracy, for the very helpful explanation!!!

I guess my main concern would be MAJOR things like the neck or just large pieces of the body falling off or something like that. But judging from your reply, getting a MIC guitar should still be fine STRUCTURALLY then.

Are the various bits of replacement hardware (tuning machines, bridge, nut, pots, pickups) all relatively easy to come by? For instance, your AR320 doesn't use any "oddball" sizes of hardware or anything like that, does it?

Thanks again.

BTW: I would love to hear your band some time. Since it looks like your location (Waponi Woo) is a little far away from where I am in Northern California, I wonder if you have a video of your band up on youtube?
holmis63
#5 Posted : 6/30/2017 8:41:38 AM

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I´m not sure i agree with Tracy´s standpoint, i also have several vintage, and two recent (artcore) Ibanezes. The only thing i experience as better on the vintage ones are the pickups.
I swapped the pickups (to a new MIJ super 58 and an old super70) in my ´08 as93 since the ACH pups didn´t sound as i wanted.
Othervise the big difference is the handbuild quality to the vintage vs the more machine produced to the resent ones, not necesseraly an advantage.
I have not had any problems with the artcores at all, and no wish to swap anything expect the pups on the as93, but some trouble with the vintage ones (obviously since they are old), i.e the tuning pegs on an 1980 ar100 fall of, but work if i put them back Cool
If we are talking playability the artcores are outstanding, at least as good and very similar to the vintage ones, and the build quality are impeccable, no flaws at all on mine anyway, and very exact compared to the more handbuilt vintage ones.
A litle of topic is that if i compare to my Gibsons, both vintage and more resent ones, the Ibanezes seems like perfect builds, and for a price that let me buy a very nice tube amp at the same amount of money Happy

Summary, you get a really good guitar if you buy an Ibanez, vintage or new, if you want vintage tone, you may have to swap the pups in an artcore, on the other hand you may prefer the newer pups.

Edit: I realize i´m talking about the Ibanezes i own, and i can´t compare my vintage Artists with newer ones since i don´t own a new one, so this is more a comparison of my vintage vs my newer Ibanezes.
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NorCalMark on 6/30/2017(UTC)
NorCalMark
#7 Posted : 6/30/2017 3:55:18 PM

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Thank you for sharing your experience, holmis63. I really appreciate it.

And yes, I understand that you are talking about artcores here as opposed to artists, but after cruising various guitar forums and reading LOTS of reviews, it seems that Ibanez makes pretty darn good guitars, no matter whether they are from the vintage MIJ models, the MIK models or the MIC models.

Thanks again.
NorCalMark
#8 Posted : 6/30/2017 4:04:31 PM

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One question for those who own both an Artist and an Artcore (like an as93 or similar semi-hollow body):

Which of the two guitars would you say is more versatile in terms of tone? (And playability?)

For instance, I like 70's Steely Dan, but I also like 80's new wave and alternative rock, and 60's rock. I definitely DON'T like metal. I do like SUSTAIN an awful lot.

Sooo.... just one guitar to sound like Jeff Baxter on Rikki Don't Lose That Number, AND to sound like Clapton on Sunshine of Your Love, AND to sound like Elivs Costello on Allison, AND to sound like Santana on Smooth?
Pray
holmis63
#9 Posted : 6/30/2017 6:23:06 PM

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Originally Posted by: NorCalMark Go to Quoted Post
One question for those who own both an Artist and an Artcore (like an as93 or similar semi-hollow body):

Which of the two guitars would you say is more versatile in terms of tone? (And playability?)

For instance, I like 70's Steely Dan, but I also like 80's new wave and alternative rock, and 60's rock. I definitely DON'T like metal. I do like SUSTAIN an awful lot.

Sooo.... just one guitar to sound like Jeff Baxter on Rikki Don't Lose That Number, AND to sound like Clapton on Sunshine of Your Love, AND to sound like Elivs Costello on Allison, AND to sound like Santana on Smooth?
Pray


It depends on several things i would say, i have an 1982 ar500, it have eq and built in boost powered by a battery, you can squeze out whatever sound you want from that one, but i seldom use it, to complicated to handle, like a moon rocket Shifty

But if we compare an ordinary 2 pickup, 4 knob Artist with a likewise equiped semihollow i would say the semi is the more versatile, it is louder unplugged and has more of a woody tone playing clean through an amp, and handle overdrive nearly (not metal though, but i don´t do that stuff so...) as good as a solid Artist.
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NorCalMark on 6/30/2017(UTC)
NorCalMark
#10 Posted : 6/30/2017 8:51:28 PM

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Good to hear, thanks.

My new-to-me 2016 AS93 Blue Sunburst is set to arrive any minute now. Hurry up, FedEx driver...
Tracy Dae
#6 Posted : 7/3/2017 6:01:41 PM
Tracy Dae


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Originally Posted by: holmis63 Go to Quoted Post
I´m not sure i agree with Tracy´s standpoint,...


I can only speak of my own experiences with my own equipment of course.



Originally Posted by: NorCalMark Go to Quoted Post
Are the various bits of replacement hardware (tuning machines, bridge, nut, pots, pickups) all relatively easy to come by?


On the new Artists, everything except the tailpiece is standard generic dimensions for import guitars.
The mind is like a parachute...
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NorCalMark on 7/3/2017(UTC)
NorCalMark
#11 Posted : 7/3/2017 10:21:43 PM

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Thanks so much for the response and the confirmation about the hardware being standard. I really appreciate your help.
Tracy Dae
#4 Posted : 7/4/2017 5:56:37 PM
Tracy Dae


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Originally Posted by: NorCalMark Go to Quoted Post
BTW: I would love to hear your band some time. Since it looks like your location (Waponi Woo) is a little far away from where I am in Northern California, I wonder if you have a video of your band up on youtube?


I play in a few bands pretty regularly and fill in for other bands when needed but as far as I know only one of them has ever posted a video up on Youtube but that video is from before I was asked to join them.
The mind is like a parachute...
...It only works when its open.
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