Designed for players that are used to solid body basses but want the acoustic tone of a hollow body; Dan Veall looks to widen the palette of sounds at his disposal as he reviews the Artcore AGB200 & AGB260 from Ibanez.
It's about time we went retro again - Enter the Ibanez Artcore range; Something a little different from the P’s, MM’s and the J’s of this world. Not that there is anything wrong at all with the “big 3” as they call them, but you know me, I applaud manufacturers giving us a choice and trying out new ideas. Or, more accurately on this occasion, can we use the description ‘retro’ ideas?
The Artcore products aren’t a new range per se, but the ABG200 and AGB260 we have here are certainly new to us at GI Towers! We have recently looked at the superb multi-scale fan-fret models in our last Ibanez review; I guess they are the “modern” to the Artcore’s “vintage” vibes!
Making a nod to iconic single-cut guitar design, the AGB’s look great. A well-balanced outline that translates to the bass, but I want to know how the specifications stack up.
If there’s one thing that is immediately obvious about both models we are looking at today - and that is, they are light! The hollow bodies acoustically have a particular tone to them, and in the case of the AGB200, a wood known as Linden is used for the top, back and sides of the body. I’ve had to look this up, and I find that Linden is also known as Lime or Basswood.
The AGB260 has a little upgrade to Sapele instead of Linden for the same body sections.
The same set-in (glued) neck on both basses is made from a 3 piece laminate of Nyatoh, another unusual (to me) hardwood, but again seems to do the job well both in tone and stability. 22 medium-sized frets are seated into a bound walnut fretboard with complimenting dots in the usual spaces. Nut to bridge measures in at a scale length of 30.3” for some short scale fun. Oh, and are they!
The Artcore neck carve I felt was smaller than the website specifications suggest. I was leaning towards a more vintage profile in my mind yet the nut width is 42mm. It must be the shorter scale that makes the bass feel that way. Can only be a good thing?
The Artcore basses are resonant yet quiet to play unplugged, but as with any review, it wasn’t long before I reached for my Bergantino rig to get an accurate reproduction of the tone of these basses. I have to say that they both sound completely different from each other despite their specification similarities.
AGB260 I’m afraid will have needed a set up to pop the action and neck relief. The good news is that the action was on the low side, which means it will safely come up to a perfect set up. I make a note of this in my video; however, this isn’t a negative comment about the model range, just an observation of this particular example.
Hardware on board takes the form of a two-piece bridge that suits the design nicely and the ‘Classic Elite’ pickups echo the chrome look with matching covers. Do I now need a bass with a neck pickup like these? There’s something sweet sounding in both basses’ neck placed pickups that sets them apart from the previously mentioned ‘big three’ and this is a welcome addition for those wanting that warm pillowy bass tone. The bridge pickup compliments the pairing nicely adding a little bite and upper mid-range quality.
Electronics are all passive and simple is sometimes best: Master Volume, Master Tone and a three-way switch to select your tones.
My videos as always home in on the sounds available through my studio rig. Get some decent cans on and delve into the vintage vibes the Artcore models deal up, or better still, see if you can head out to a store to hook these cool basses up with a sweet flip-top style bass rig for a slice of tone heaven.
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