In 2021, Ibanez re-tooled its hollowbody line to devise big surprises like the Japanese-made AF95, a full-bodied archtop with a traditional vibe thanks to flatwound strings and vintage looks. Let’s grab a Gmaj7+13 chord and check one out.
The AF95’s back and sides are made from linden, with a spruce top and three-piece neck of maple and nyotah, all with a poly finish. Its ebony fretboard with arcylic block inlays and 20 medium frets has a great feel; strings sit on a walnut bridge and wood-covered VT14 tailpiece. Look for Ibanez speed-grip knobs.
Plugged in, the AF95 impresses quickly. Its neck is fast, yet retains a full C shape, combining an old-school carve with modern comfort and speed – outstanding for a $600 hollowbody. The archtop has a lively tone, with plenty of personality through the amp, though it’s typically quiet unplugged. For pickups, Ibanez went with PAF-like Super 58 humbuckers. The tones are perfectly fat, especially at the neck with the Tone rolled back just a hair. Combined with the .011-gauge flatwounds, the AF95 sounds jazz-perfect.
If you’re interested in the warm, sexy tones of hollowbodies but don’t want to drop big coin, this box could figure prominently – it’s serious competition to other hollowbodies, with a neck and fretboard comparable to archtops that cost significantly more.
This article originally appeared in VG’s February 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.