Legendary guitarists like Andy Timmons need access to lots of tones, and that's precisely what his signature Ibanez ATZ100 provides. Benefiting from extreme stability and playability, courtesy of an S-Tech Wood roasted maple neck and fingerboard, the ATZ's back shape ensures maximum playing comfort. Nick Jennison takes a closer look at the ATZ100's top-shelf feature set.
There's a running joke here at Gi HQ that you could put Andy Timmons's name on pretty much anything, and we'd buy it. Such is the reverence we have for Mr Timmons that we've already agreed to own a signature bath mat, a signature extractor fan and a signature set of hair tongs. So it's probably good for our wallets, feng shui and collective sanity that Andy only puts his name on the absolute finest of guitar gear.
The ATZ100 is the latest iteration of Andy's long-standing signature guitar line from Japanese juggernauts Ibanez and celebrates the 20th anniversary of their relationship. While there are some clear visual references to the classic AT models of old, this guitar is actually a re-skin of the hugely popular AZ series - with a few tweaks to fit Timmons's preferences.
Perhaps most notably, it features three DiMarzio Cruiser pickups, with the angled bridge pickup takingthe place of the AT-1 humbucker found in Andy's other signature models. You'd be forgiven for looking at these twin-bladed pickups and thinking "Hot Rails", but they're actually very far removed from that kind of sound. They're smooth, fat and even with a dash of 'stratty' character without being excessively "single-coily". Unsurprisingly, single notes sound huge and authoritative, while clean chord work is positively piano-like with a rich and extended low-end fullness that you won't find in vintage single coils.
You may be thinking, "hold on, what about that really 'stratty' Timmons clean tone?". Well, dear reader, that tone is present in spades if you know where to find it. The secret to this tone is in the volume pot and the fairly aggressive treble bleed capacitor wired to it. The tone actually gets quite markedly brighter as you roll the volume control down, and if you run this setup into a full-range overdrive like the Blues Driver that Timmons is know for using, you'll be in single-coil heaven but with none of the drawbacks.
On to playability then, and as you'd expect from an Ibanez AZ, this guitar plays beautifully. The roasted maple neck is satin perfection, with beautifully rolled edges and 22 immaculate stainless steel frets. I personally prefer a taller fret profile, and these are right up my street, with plenty of room to get under the string for maximum expressive control. That said, there's quite a bit of fight in the factory setup, and it's definitely not a "shred machine" right out of the box. The same is true of the trem, which comes set up flush to the body and with five springs providing a ton of tension. Of course, this is Andy's preferred setup, and he's known for being a very "physical" player. If you'd prefer a slinkier play feel, then that would be very easy to achieve.
The ATZ100 represents a modern update to the AT line, while also being the most "vintage" AZ to date. If you're looking for an instrument with cutting edge modern playability and build quality, but with more of a vintage vibe and aesthetic than is typical of "modern" guitars, the ATZ100 is the perfect choice. Oh, and it nails that Andy Timmons tone, and that alone makes it worth the asking price!
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