I actually bought this a few weeks ago, but hey I’ve only just started this blog.
I teach guitar as a part time thing to earn some extra cash. I had been teaching with my old Yamaha classical guitar, my very first guitar.
I also have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and other tendon damage in my arms, which I developed as a result of my full-time job (web developer).
My old Yamaha has the standard classical guitar neck which is big and wide with a 0 radius (read flat) fretboard. It was very difficult for me to play on this guitar as a result of the CTS.
I wanted a classical guitar as I prefer the sound of the nylon strings over a steel string acoustic, but most come with the big, wide necks with a flat fretboard. There wasn’t going to be much choice within my modest budget.
Now I have to say now that I am an Ibanez fanboy. Almost all of my guitars are Ibanez (one is a custom with an Ibanez neck).
When I went looking for a classical I didn’t go searching for an Ibanez that met my needs. The only thing I was looking at was price tags.
As I went through the rack of mid priced classical guitars at my local music store I stumbled upon this guitar with a super slim neck and body, plus extended cutaway that really felt almost like an electric guitar. I played it for a bit and was sold on it. I then looked at the headstock, and low and behold it had Ibanez written on it. It seems that I am just attracted to their guitars, even without looking at labels.
The best part of it all was that I had a budget of about $550 and this only cost me about $300. I gathered the funds (and permission from the boss ;-)) and brought this bad boy home.
Now this guitar is far from perfect. As with any instrument in this sort of price range there are always going to be flaws. There is excess glue around things like the bridge, the binding is rough in places, and one of the tuning key buttons had cracked, which in turn had the rubber washer on it break as well. No worries though, most of those issues are just aesthetic issues, and the tuning key button was replaced under warranty.
The pros more than made up for bad fit and finish issues. The neck is amazing. It’s slightly wider than an average electric guitar neck, and super slim for a classical guitar. It is also a 25 1/2″ scale neck which I quite like. It’s still got the flat fretboard, but it isn’t nearly as much of an issue due to how slim the neck is. The fret work is also pretty good for a cheap guitar.
The action straight out of the box is also great. Classicals typically have fairly high action, but this is nice and low. It’s easy to play fairly quickly across the fretboard. With the non-standard scale length of the guitar the body joins at the 14th fret, so with the cutaway there’s plenty of room to get to those higher frets.
The slim body is also very comfortable. One would think that a slim body would result in not much volume, but this guitar certainly can create a racket! I think as a result of the slim body, and non-standard scale length this guitar produces an interesting tone. Brighter than a standard classical guitar, but still much thicker than a steel string acoustic. I personally love the sound.
The peizo pickup and EQ also provides some great tones if you choose to play through an amp.
All in all, despite the apparent flaws in the fit and finish the Ibanez GA5TCE is a fantastic acoustic guitar for the money. Classical guitar purists would probably scoff at the non-standard classical design, but for everyone else it’s definitely worth a try if you are looking for a cheap acoustic guitar, and like the sound and feel of a classical guitar.
BodyShape: Thinline Classical Body with Cutaway
Neck: Mahogany Neck
Back/Sides: Mahogany Back and Sides
Top: Spruce Top
Rosette: Classical Mosaic Design Rosette
Tuners: Gold Classical Tuners
Pickup: Ibanez Piezo Pickup
Electronics: Ibanez Preamp with 3-Band EQ
Fretboard: Rosewood Bridge and Fretboard
Saddle: Ivorex II ™ Nut and Saddle
Strings: Ibanez Coated Classical Strings
Finishes: Natural High Gloss Finish
For more information on the Ibanez GA5TCE see the Ibanez website.
I have also reviewed this on Jemsite’s comparison shopping. Go check it out for more reviews on this product, and prices at different online stores.