Submitted November 10, 2019 by ALLAN B in Tempe, AZ
"A solid and well built guitar suitable for any genre!"
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OK first let’s talk about the 800 pound gorilla in the room. That neck!!!! If you have done any research on the AZ series you already know it’s not a Wizard neck, but you may be surprised at how big it is. When I first grabbed it I was thinking I was going to return it, but after playing on it for a few days it felt like home. Like a lot of things about this guitar, the neck is a paradox. It shouldn’t feel this comfortable to someone who prefers Charvel and Jacksons, but it does. It doesn’t feel like a shred neck, but you can play that way remarkably well on it. It has its own unique shape like nothing I’ve played before. If I had to compare it to something I’d say somewhat resembles a Fender American Elite neck but more of a U shape with bigger shoulders. I can say that I don’t notice a huge change when going back and forth with my other guitars. It’s easy to transition between them without a lot of readjustment time to ‘get the feel’. I’ve seen a lot of forum posts asking about how the AZ Prestige stacks up to other instruments. Here’s my opinion. I own a Charvel Pro Mod DK24 HSS with the roasted neck and I really like that guitar a lot. The 2402 is a little lighter and sleeker and has a higher quality feel. I think the Hyperions as humbuckers are more versatile than the Full Shred. The 2402 neck is thicker and feels a little wider vs the DK which is more like a very thin Strat neck. I also briefly owned the Premium version of this guitar (AZ242). The 242 is even lighter. The neck carves are identical but the Premium neck is lighter in color than the Prestige. Other than that the biggest difference was quality. I was disappointed in the 242. For the price it shouldn’t have had the issues it did. If it was a $600 guitar I would have let them slide but once things get over a grand I tend to get picky.With that out of the way, here’s the rest of my overall thoughts on the guitar. It has good sustain for a super-strat. It’s fairly light coming in at right around 7 pounds. The strap pegs are big enough to not worry me or require a lock system. It’s a very well balanced guitar equally comfortable playing sitting or standing. The SS frets are very nice, but are very very jumbo. I’m not used to 10’s on a 25.5 so I tried putting .09’s on it and it was a mess even after setting the relief again. This guitar needs 10’s and after about 30 minutes I felt right at home on them. I was also able to get a very nice action (.09mm to 1.3mm) with no buzz and that’s always a huge plus for me! The neck seems like it is going to be very stable. I live in an area with drastic climate changes in the summer where the temp and humidity can rise and fall dramatically in just hours. If the claims about roasted maple are true, I should be able to survive next summer without having to readjust everything on a daily basis. As far as looks go, I chose the Ice Blue Metallic finish. It’s subtle and reminds me of something you would see on a Nissan Sentra, but it pairs nicely with the dark color of the roasted neck and the overall pedestrian look of the instrument. I actually like that it is the antithesis of the RG. No flashy colors or attention drawing elements. Just a simple looking high quality guitar. If I could change anything, I would probably put non top-locking tuners on it and would really like an HSS model without a pickguard that didn’t have a $500 premium attached. Other than that, it’s about as perfect as a guitar could get for me. I saw one of the players who has a signature model say the AZ series made them a better player and it will make you a better player too. I don’t know if that’s true but I can say I’m really enjoying playing it. Maybe that’s how it makes you better. You don’t want to put it down!
The Hyperion pickups do a great job overall and offer up a nice array of different sounds for just about every style of music. When in HH mode it goes from blues to rock and beyond with no problem. When the DynaMix switch is engaged the guitar takes on a completely different characteristic from jangly to warm and has some great tonal options for clean and crunch. I like the versatility of this guitar. It takes a bit of time to get used to all the options and you’ll have to tweak your EQ here and there to avoid them sounding thin or shrill, but I think you'll be able to find quite a few useful tones with this guitar.
The Gotoh tuners are sturdy and stable. The ratio is great and they really smooth with no issues at all holding tune. I had never used them before and I had to YouTube how to unlock them lol, but they work great. I prefer locking tuners with the knob on the back, but that's just personal preference. The Gotoh bridge feels spectacular. The titanium saddles are so smooth, no more rubbing your palm raw over rough saddles or screws. I don't use a trem much these days but it does a good job staying in tune even with some dive bombs and flutters. The roasted maple neck is beautiful and has a great smooth feel on the back. The cutaway and contours are very comfortable and the recessed input jack is a thoughtful highlight. And yes, most wireless transmitters will fit. I could not get my Line 6 G10 transmitter to fit in the AZ Premium I had. The Prestige is not as deeply recessed and the transmitter fits just fine. This is my first go around with stainless steel frets but I do like the feel of them and they look good too.
Ease of Use
It’s a fairly straightforward guitar to use and maintain. Nothing overly complicated here. Changing strings on a 2 point trem is a breeze compared to Floyd Rose or Edge terms and with the locking tuners you can get through the task in just a few minutes. All the back panels open easily for access to trem springs, input jack, and electronics. The exposed truss rod socket makes adjusting the neck a snap. The included multi-tool is really all you will ever need for quick changes.
This is where everyone will say they have high end made in America PRS, or Custom Shop whatevers and this is just as good or better. They will say that for a good reason because it’s the truth. Fit and finish are spectacular. No gaps or wiggles to be found. Fret work and fingerboard are simply top notch. It feels like it’s been your guitar for years. Electronics are smooth and there is an overall premium feel to this instrument. The hype is real…. FujiGen makes great guitars.
Value is a subjective measure. This is an expensive guitar for sure but when compared to similar “modern player” guitars out there the 2402 sits right in the middle price-wise. I feel it’s well within reason for what you get and it’s a good value for your money. I’d rather get a painted body with stainless steel frets than a bookmatched top and standard frets.
Haven't needed it
The Wow Factor
In my humble opinion the wow factor is somewhat unseen. The story behind the AZ series is quite novel in that Ibanez reached out and met with some of the best and brightest guitarists around today. Over a period of 2 or 3 years and through several prototypes they compiled all of those suggestions into this amazing series of instruments. If all the artists involved really feel that this is their ultimate guitar then that’s pretty wow in my book.
Long time guitarist
Rock, Prog, CCM
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