AF85 Artcore Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar
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Review by GP
The AF85 VLS first appeared in Ibanez catalogs & NAMM in 2004 (some models were already being manufactured in 2003.) Only made for 2 ½ years. Body is flamed Sycamore (not the same species as maple.) Originally comes with chrome hardware. Color is “violin” (light brown.) Same body shape as the AF75D. Lower bout measures 15 3/4" across. Has abalone inlays surrounded by pearloid. The neck is 3 pieces… mahogany with maple sandwiched in between.
I’ve done numerous upgrades and modifications. The neck pickup has alnico magnets in one of the coils and I replaced the black rings with cream ones. Specially made ebony bridge with compensated bone saddle. Tailpiece and tuners have been replaced with gold parts. Pickguard has been cut down ¾ inch to make it appear slimmer and the bracket is now hidden underneath. The knobs have been replaced with darker, skirted ones. Bone nut installed.
Unplugged it sounds great... much better than many other jazz boxes. Plugged in it sounds very good too. I like to have a clean sound most of the time, but it's also very good for distortion rock. I use medium strings for the middle four strings and light guage on both “E” strings.
Looks even better with gold harware.
Very reliable. I use it without a back-up.
Surprisingly low cost for such a great guitar!
Here's some info on Ibanez AF models:
All models below are “Deluxe” (DX), meaning they have 3-piece neck of mahagony-maple-mahagony and abalone inlays. Differences are in fret size, tailpieces and type of wood.
AF85 VLS in catalogs & NAMM in 2004 (some 2003 models already manufactured.) Only made for 2 years. Body is flamed Sycamore (not the same species as maple.) Chrome hardware. Color is “violin” (light brown.) Same body shape as the mass-produced AF75D.
AF86 VLS in catalogs & NAMM show in 2006. Similar to the AF85, but has a better tailpiece (VT-100DX) and larger frets. Also has flamed maple top. Dark brown. Chrome hardware.
AK85 DVS arrived in between the AF85 and AF86. Same shape but has pointed (sharp) cutaway and the bridge is all wood. Body is spruce with sycamore back & sides. Frets may be small or large (advertised both ways.)
AF95VLS in the 2007 catalog. It replaced the AF85 and AF86, which have been discontinued. Similar to the AF86 but has flamed Sycamore body. Gold hardware. This is different from the darker colored AF95's that you see around.
Review by John Bulach
The Artcore series is way underrated IMHO. My AF85 plays like a dream, is visually stunning, has a fantastic feeling neck and sounds pretty good for a guitar in this price range. Ibanez Humbuckers are more well rounded than most Chinese pups I've heard, Although i am considering dropping GFS hot Nashville retrotrons in mine for a little more vintage sound.
Very good quality guitar for a MIC instrument, not a flaw I could find on mine, fit and finish were excellent.
While I have been playing mine occasionally in the Praise Team group I play in for several years now with the stock pups, there are a lot of better sounding pups available. there.
Top quality . Visually stunning !
Great necks, slimmer taper than many jazz boxes. Not the most comfortable to play standing for a couple hours, but I have a 55 year old back and a really bad right shoulder. Balance could be better. With stock strap button placement at the neck end, it tends to want to flip outward at the top. Playing around with button placement solves this to some degree.
I've had no problems, built well, I'm not usually a very agressive player but I believe that it would stand up to one.
I've been playing for 45 years and it is literally one of my favorites. I have owned over 200 guitars through the years and played hundreds more. One of the best values out there, worlds better IMHO than certain well known MIK, now MIC makes.
If you want to add a full hollowbody to your arsenal that you will love to play, this would be a value you wouldn't regret.