|Body And Neck:|
Ibanez may well be a name associated with hard rock, heavy metal, and iconic virtuosos such as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, but they also offer a range of classical nylon-stringed guitars that are built to perform. Part of the Japanese brand’s AEG series, this affordable AEG10NII electro-acoustic is a fine example of what’s on offer if you can stretch your budget past the cheapest entry-level models, and will certainly appeal to players after a reliable beginner acoustic with superior playability.
The body design of this nylon-stringed AEG10NII is cut from the same cloth as its steel-stringed twin brother, the AEG10II. There’s a relatively traditional look and slender feel, with a slim 2.75” body depth and generous single-cutaway, that shows this little beauty is geared towards performance.
The guitar offers some good tonewoods – there’s a spruce top, with mahogany back and sides. The body comes in two color choices – a classy jet black, or a shade that Ibanez refer to as ‘tangerine’, which could also be described as natural. Both are attractive in their gloss finishes, although the black model shows a little more of that classic Ibanez attitude. The tonewoods continue into the satin-finished neck, which is made of mahogany, with a traditional flat rosewood fretboard and 21 frets. It feels solid but light, and very comfortable to play, especially with the slightly thinner body and the lovely satin finish on the neck.
It’s an electro-acoustic, meaning we have some electronics to discuss. And these come in the shape of Ibanez’s AEQ-SP1 preamp, with a Fishman Sonicore pickup – a quality line-up for the price, and one which is versatile enough for stage performances (when you progress that far!). The controls are simple, with bass, middle, and treble knobs, as well as a volume control and a phase reverse switch, which helps reduce feedback when plugged in. Another useful tool for beginners is the on-board digital tuner, which sits on the AEQ-SP1 control panel for easy access. Elsewhere, the AEG10NII features a rosewood bridge, an Ivorex II nut and saddle (similar in feel to Tusq), and six traditional-looking gold-plated tuning machines, with attractive pearloid-style tuning buttons.
Playing without the electronics, the AEG10NII is very well-balanced with a crisp sound – not overly deep, and with sparkling trebles. The slimmer body makes it a little quieter than you may expect, but this doesn’t take too much away from the volume, and if you’re performing through an amp it’s not an issue. The EQ and other controls allow you to tweak the sound to achieve whatever tones you need, resulting in a very versatile instrument.
This really is a superb little guitar. The neck is a joy to play, the sound is versatile for everything from classical to flamenco, and overall it offers a great platform on which to learn. While the price is higher than a bog-standard entry-level model, the body, playability, and hardware all justify the cash and the AEG10NII ultimately proves a fine investment for beginners.