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This article was originally published in issue #51
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Even if we take the vintage guitar comparison out of the equation, the AVD80, complete with its excellent deluxe hardcase, represents a truly professional acoustic guitar that is well worth checking out for any player that likes a larger body shape and wants a no-compromise acoustic without paying through the nose.
Excellent build quality
High quality tuners
Deluxe hardcase included
None at the price
We previously checked out Ibanez’s very affordable AVD9 and AVD10 Artwood Vintage guitars, featuring ‘Thermo-Aged’ tone woods, where the wood is ‘baked’ in order to artificially age it. The process is intended to enhance to tonal characteristics of the wood and thus the guitar and we were generally very impressed by what the technology offered at the lower price point. The AVD80 is Ibanez’s flagship Artwood Vintage guitar, costing more than double that of the AVD10 and around four times the price of the AVD9. We were very interested in checking out what 'Thermo-Ageing' could offer at this price point, so Tom Quayle gave the AVD80 a blast.
The AVD80 features almost entirely ‘Thermo-Aged’ woods. Everything from the Indian Rosewood back and sides, solid AA Adirondack Spruce top, Mahogany neck and Rosewood fretboard has been given the treatment. Even the Adirondack Spruce X bracing underneath the top has been ‘Thermo-Aged’ to artificially give the tone of a vintage instrument. The general idea is that the woods are baked at a specific temperature so that they are dried in much the same way that natural ageing would over time. This is said to enhance the tonal characteristics of the woods because they are inherently more stable and resonate in a more predictable manner when moisture isn’t a factor. The added benefit being that your guitar is less prone to be affected by changes in the atmosphere too; a great feature for travelling players. While the AV9 and 10 only features ‘Thermo-Ageing’ on their top and top/back and sides respectively it is very interesting to compare the sound of each of these guitars against one another.
The AVD80’s classic Dreadnought body very much lets you know that it is the top of the range guitar in this series. The whole body and neck are adorned with an Abalone and Grained Ivoroid binding and an Abalone rosette, matched with high-end Gotoh SXB510, open-gear tuners finished in gold. The design is just the right side of ‘too-much-bling’ thanks to the classy vintage Ibanez headstock logo, small diamond fretboard inlays and classic, understated wood choices. Thankfully, Ibanez has chosen to finish the back and sides in Gloss, leaving the neck Satin for enhanced playability.
A well-executed volute enhances the headstock/neck joint strength and a lovely V-shape profile gives the neck a very vintage feel that matches with the Bluegrass/Flatpicking vibe of the AVD80 very well indeed. Think Tony Rice and you’ll be very much in the ballpark. Ibanez has also opted for ‘Unbleached Oil-Impregnated Bone’ nut, saddles and bridge pins, said to provide optimal transference of the natural string vibration. The AVD80 is a high spec and very well designed guitar that looks great, with a vintage vibe that will appeal to a lot of players. Build quality is excellent throughout with exceptional fretwork and finishing aiding the high-end feel of the guitar. Compared to the AVD10 and 9, the higher price point of the AVD80 is certainly justified from a visual design and construction point of view.
Thermo-Ageing and Oil-Impregnated Bone count for nought of course if they are nothing but buzz words and the AVD80 just sounds average. Thankfully, this is certainly not the case, and the guitar immediately presents a highly resonant and full sounding tone that could easily be from a vintage guitar costing much more. We were very impressed with the AVD9 and 10, but the AVD80 takes things a step further, giving you a rich and dynamic sounding acoustic with exceptional playability and hardware at a price point that you could never achieve if shopping for a true vintage instrument. Of course, nothing will replace a real vintage, high end acoustic, but with the AVD80 Ibanez have come as close as anyone to giving buyers a genuine alternative at a pretty affordable price point.
Even if we take the vintage guitar comparison out of the equation, the AVD80, complete with its excellent deluxe hardcase, represents a truly professional acoustic guitar that is well worth checking out for any player that likes a larger body shape and wants a no-compromise acoustic without paying through the nose. Great stuff from Ibanez.