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This article was originally published in issue #11
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Just starting Jazz guitar or looking to add a lower cost Jazz model to your collection? Ibanez has a brand new, and surprisingly affordable, Pat Metheny signature model on offer, the PM35 NT. Giorgio Serci puts it through its paces.
Pat Metheny really needs little introduction. The formidable American Jazz guitarist/composer has been a signature artist for the Ibanez guitar company since 1996 and has been actively involved in the design of the highly regarded, Japanese-made, PM 120. But the PM 120 is an expensive instrument, probably beyond the range of most beginners or those who would like to add a hollow bodied Jazz guitar to their collection, without spending a small fortune. To satisfy that market, Ibanez has just launched the PM35 NT model, which is considerably less expensive and should appeal to a lot of
iGuitar readers who are looking for an affordable Jazz guitar with a great pedigree.
The first thing to note is that this guitar comes with a robust case - and you need to bear that in mind when comparing it with other guitars which might come without a case. It has a beautiful natural look, with contrasting wood colours from the rosewood headstock, fretboard, bridge and volume and tone knobs, to the maple back, top and sides. Its body size is what you would expect from a Jazz guitar, however, it is slimmer for better comfort, projection and feedback rejection.
The rosewood headstock and fingerboard are bound and feature abalone block inlay and Ibanez logo and the truss rod cover features a carved custom logo. This is another feature this guitar has in common with the iconic Gibson L5 Custom.
Its narrow neck (43mm at nut and 57 at last fret) and the hand-rolled fret design to Pat Metheny's exact specification makes this an easy guitar to play, particularly for soloing and playing single-note melodies. This is certainly not a coincidence, but the result of a fruitful collaboration with Metheny, who once claimed: "I have possibly spent more time playing guitar than anybody else on the planet"… Ergonomic characteristics of his guitars are key and a focal point when contributing in the design of his signature models. This resonated to me as I was playing this PM35, which came from the factory with a very good set-up. In addition to that, I managed to tune it up in an instant, straight from its case, thanks to its accurate mother of pearl capped tuning pegs.
The 5-piece set neck on the Ibanez is made of mahogany and walnut and meets its body in a very harmonious manner. The top and back are both beautifully shaped for a better comfort as well as an elegant silhouette.
Again, like the L5, the PM35 features a single Custom 58 humbucker neck pickup, with its warm, responsive and versatile tonal palette and as a result, only one volume and tone controls are required. They do the job required perfectly.
This is a really well judged guitar for the price. Its sustain is quite good and its tone quality is what you would expect from a great Jazz guitar. It's an ideal instrument to play singing-like melodies as well as rhythm guitar parts and when you take into account all its features - the ergonomic qualities, tone, and looks, plus a sound that would be great for both studio and live work, it amounts to a very welcome addition to the Ibanez range.