When Ibanez announced the new AZ Essentials line I was very excited to see how these guitars were. The feature set and price point made me very excited, and whilst they didn’t exactly replicate the higher level AZ Premium and Prestige lines features, they still looked extremely cool. I haven’t been in a position to get my hands on one , but my friend Scott, from Jemsite, has gotten his hands on two of the hardtail models, the AZES 31. He has kindly written a review for me.
Well, back in 2021, I was looking for a guitar for my daughter. I wanted a guitar that was rather simple, one that she could change her own strings on, etc. I ended up deciding on the Ibanez AZES 31, and I ordered one in Ivory. When it arrived 2 days later, I opened the box and was pleasantly surprised.
The Ibanez AZES 31 features a poplar body with a hardtail Strat styled bridge, three Ibanez Essentials single coil pickups with ceramic magnets, five way pickup selector switch and a 2 way alter switch, providing more than the five standard pickup selection options. The neck is a 25″ scale maple neck with Jatoba fretboard, 22 frets, and sealed die-cast tuners.
From the get-go the guitar was playable right out of the box, the fit and finish was excellent. The guitar is built well enough that if someone needed a replacement guitar for a gig, as their guitar was stolen/damaged/lost or what not, they could go to the local music store, buy it, and play a gig with it, without a worry at all.
Now I sat there after tuning it up, and plugged it into my Mesa/Boogie Mark V 25. The sound was glorious, both with high gain and clean. It also sounded good with with my Orange Crush 35RT. The three proprietary single coils pickups sound really nice, and there are eight or nine different sounds available between the five way switch and alter switch.
It’s got a great feeling neck, and the frets are smooth. The neck profile is very similar to my 1985 Roadstar II. The 25″ scale neck has a 10 inch radius fretboard, and sports medium jumbo frets on a Jatoba fretboard. Tuners are split shaft, making string changes go a little quicker. Hardware is chrome, and with the hardtail bridge the guitar stays in tune remarkably well.
The bridge is fixed and is easy to intonate. The volume and tone controls sweep over a wide range, allowing subtle changes in volume and tone. The jack is a one piece assembly and will never come loose.
Overall, this guitar plays well, sounds great, and would be a perfect model for beginners, or for gigging musicians that want a versatile guitar as this guitar has many different tones available. I couldn’t find anything to complain about anything as far as materials or workmanship. I would like to see Ibanez send these guitars out with a gig bag, but that would probably not happen at a 300 dollar price point. The AZES 31 a high quality bang for buck guitar, and at $299.00 USD, it’s a steal!