When Ibanez introduced the Talman series of electric solidbody guitars in 1994, alternative music was a dominating force.
Guitarists at the time were increasingly favoring vintage instruments, particularly cheap, quirky “pawnshop” guitars, and Ibanez offered the Talman as an “antidote” to the super shred machines that the company had become known for during the late Eighties. The Talman was successful, attracting players like Noodles (the Offspring), Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine), Tom Morello and Billy Corgan, but it was also short-lived, going out of production only four years later in 1998.
Ibanez recently reintroduced the Talman series, but this time the designs are inspired by vintage classics instead of pawnshop prizes.
The new Talman models include the super-affordable Standard series and the more upscale Japanese-made Prestige series. The Talman Prestige line consists of three base models—the TM1702, TM1730 and TM1803—but variables such as rosewood or maple necks and alder or ash bodies result in a total of seven production models. We took a look at the TM1702M featuring two single-coil pickups and a maple neck and the TM1730 featuring three single-coil pickups, a rosewood neck and tremolo.
All of the current Talman models share several common features, including the compact, contoured offset body shape, master volume and master tone controls, and angled input jack. All three also have identical maple necks with a 25 1/2–inch scale, 22 medium frets, 12-inch radius, traditional C-shaped profile, stainless steel neck plate, contoured neck heel, and offset 3-by-3 tuner configuration for the Gotoh MG-T tuners with locking machine heads.
The TM1702M is a maple-fretboard model (the second “M” stands for maple) with a dual single-coil pickup configuration similar to that of a Telecaster, with an angled bridge pickup mounted to a flat metal bridge plate, a neck pickup featuring a chrome-plated cover, and a three-position pickup selector switch. Both pickups are Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro passive single-coils. The IFX-PRO bridge features six individually adjustable flat, solid metal saddles, and the strings anchor through the alder body. Ibanez also offers the similar TM1702AHM with identical features with the exception of its ash body.
The TM1730 has a standard rosewood fretboard and a three single-coil pickup configuration similar to a Stratocaster, and also includes a five-position pickup switch. The bridge is an ITL-PRO tremolo, featuring six bent-steel saddles and a screw-in tremolo arm. The pickups are Seymour Duncan Five-Two passive Alnico single-coils, and the body is also alder. Ibanez also offers the TM1803M, featuring a three-pickup “hybrid” design with Tele-style bridge and neck pickups and a middle Strat-style pickup.
The coolest feature of Ibanez’s Talman models—new and old—is its exceptionally comfortable body shape, which is light and extremely well balanced. While it wasn’t designed to be a supersonic shred machine, Ibanez’s expertise in that area is well reflected by the Talman’s exceptionally comfortable playability, which enables players to navigate the entire neck with ease.
Sonically, both the TM1702M and TM1730 deliver exactly the tones that one would expect them to. The TM1702M has all the percussive spank and twang, brilliant treble, and throaty midrange of a classic Tele, while the TM1730 delivers all of the beloved Strat-style tones, including the aggressive bridge pickup snarl, funky neck pickup punch, and nasal “in-between” tones. Whereas the previous Talman models staked out their own sonic personality, the new Talman models are like beloved old friends who have toned up their bodies and gotten new wardrobes. The original incarnation of the Talman may have been designed to play alternative music, but the new version of the Talman offers guitarists an attractive new alternative to the usual vintage classics.
LIST PRICE $1,599.99 (each)
MANUFACTURER Ibanez Guitars, ibanez.com
• The TM1702M features a Tele-style pickup configuration with two Seymour Duncan Alnico Pro II passive single coils and a three-position pickup selector switch.
• The TM1730 features a Strat-style design with three Seymour Duncan Five-Two passive Alnico single coils and a five-position pickup selector switch.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Ibanez’s new Talman models offer players a new type of alternative guitar—basically one that delivers classic tones but offers a new and improved feel and playability.