Review: Ibanez TAM100 Tosin Abasi Signature Eight-String and DiMarzio Signature Ionizer8 Pickups
Seeing and hearing Tosin Abasi deftly build complex two-handed chords, weave sweeps into single-note blurs and slap melodic bass lines across his eight-string fretboard feels like being part of the stunned audience at Marty McFly’s heavy metal performance of Johnny B. Goode—you’re witnessing the future of guitar.
Following suit, Abasi’s new, Japanese-built signature TAM100 Ibanez is much more than a refinement of hackneyed designs—it represents an entirely new formula for creating tone, melding exotic woods and specially wired, signature DiMarzio Ionizer8 pickups into an expressive, supremely crafted eight-string that’s worthy of Abasi’s seemingly boundless musical gifts.
Despite its inherently imposing appearance, several of the TAM100’s less obvious design characteristics make it a surprisingly sleek and easy-to-manage instrument. In fact, it’s no heavier than the average Strat. Abasi chose wenge and bubinga for the neck primarily because these striking woods are capable of producing rich tones that offer more attack than mahogany and more depth than maple.
But the innate strength of this five-piece neck also made it possible for Ibanez to thin down its profile to typical six-string dimensions. The basswood body is similarly thinned and contoured for weight and comfort, then topped with a treble-enhancing quilted maple. Both neck and body are left in their beautiful, natural state, while an opaque, milky blue finish sets apart the subdued maple top.
Although Abasi chose to accent the TAM100 with a tortoiseshell pickguard, the signature Ionizer8 DiMarzio pickups are actually hard-mounted to the guitar. DiMarzio’s Steve Blucher created a wiring scheme specifically for this guitar, allowing Tosin to create numerous single-coil/humbucker configurations via a five-way selector and a coil-tap switch. The middle pickup is always in unison with another pickup’s coils.
Glorious waves of tone emanate from the TAM100s wenge/bubinga neck, so much so that I was completely satisfied by its acoustic offerings. When I ultimately plugged it into my Mesa Mark V and Fender Tone-Master heads, the TAM100 seemed to reach deeper into my amps, extracting and sustaining overtones that I’ve never heard from my other guitars. Clean tones through various combinations of the DiMarzio Ionizer8 pickups sounded unexpectedly piano-like, with woody hues serving as the centerpiece for a full-formed spectrum of sound, something not possible on a six-string’s lower-mass neck. The clarity and definition remained intact even when the amps were set for high gain, making it possible to distinctly hear every note in massive chords and extended arpeggios.
List Price $
Manufacturer Ibanez Guitars, ibanez.com
The five-piece wenge/bubinga neck, stabilized with titanium rods, is no thicker than a six-string’s and capably delivers every color in the tonal spectrum.
Musically versatile and expressive DiMarzio Ionizer8 pickups are wired to a five-way switch and a coil tap, allowing players to create almost endless textures of tone.
The Bottom Line
Ibanez’s Tosin Abasi signature TAM100 is lightweight and fast, musically flexible, superbly designed and one of the few eight-string guitars that truly qualifies as a high-end instrument.