“Fully equipped to maximize the acoustic potential of the instrument”: Ibanez joins the secondary soundhole movement with the AE Performer series – which debuts innovative new A.I.R. Port system

Ibanez AE390
(Image credit: Ibanez)

NAMM 2024: Ibanez has debuted the AE Performer series – an all-new collection of acoustic guitars that joins the Japanese brand’s AE collection, launching a major functional appointment.

Lining up alongside the standard AE and AE Platinum ranges, the two flagship AE Performer six-strings are designed to “offer an instrument with high-end looks and features at an extremely player friendly price point”, and does so by recruiting Ibanez’s new A.I.R. Port system.

Simply put, the A.I.R. Port acoustic monitoring innovation materializes in the form of a secondary top-mounted soundport, which is employed to help with better player monitoring.

Ibanez AE340

(Image credit: Ibanez)

It’s a significant alteration to the AE format, and a major new addition to the Ibanez acoustic range as a whole. After all, it’s the first time Ibanez has used the A.I.R. Port system in one of its conventional builds, having previously only utilized the side sound port idea for its more progressive FRH10N.

To that end, Ibanez is not entirely unfamiliar with top-mounted soundholes. It has also already used a side sound port design for its UKC100 ukulele.

The A.I.R. Port is in keeping with modern acoustic development ideas, and is the latest high-profile brand to explore the potential of a secondary soundport after Gibson debuted the Generation Collection in 2021.

There are other instances of brands dabbling in the secondary sound port approach. Taylor has the Soundport Cutaway design, which adds another projection port to the cutaway of its Grand Symphony guitars, and Breedlove has a Side Monitor Soundhole that seeks to give players another “sonic perspective”.

As such, the AE Performer format looks to be a significant new template for Ibanez, which may roll out its A.I.R. Port innovation to other acoustic families in the future.

But for now, two AE Performers have been unveiled to usher in Ibanez’s latest range. The more affordable variant, the AE340, features flamed okoume top, back and sides, as well as a Comfort Grip nyatoh neck with rounded fretboard edge treatment.

Ibanez AE390

(Image credit: Ibanez)

Elsewhere, a rosewood fretboard with abalone and maple inlays, rosewood scalloped bridge and bone nut and saddle can be found, with the guitar also boasting an abalone and wooden rosette with soundhole binding.

Other notable appointments include the Ibanez T-Bar undersaddle pickup with custom Ibanez electronics, Ibanez Advantage bridge pins and X-M bracing. The AE340 is available in one finish: Mahogany Sunburst High Gloss.

Its more expensive sibling, the AE390, is said to be “fully equipped with every feature needed to maximize the acoustic and aesthetic potential of the instrument”, and comes equipped with a solid German spruce top, flamed maple back and sides, and a maple neck – again, with Comfort Grip and rounded fretboard edge treatment.

To up the ante, the more lavish offering opts for block abalone and maple inlays, flamed maple body binding and an avalon and wooden rosette. Other specs are more familiar: bone nut and saddle, Ibanez T-Bar Undersaddle pickup, Ibanez Advantage bridge pins, X-M bracing and a scalloped rosewood bridge.

One striking finish is available here: Natural High Gloss top with Aqua Blue High Gloss back and sides.

Price-wise, the AE340 is available for $799, while the AE390 has a price tag of $829.

To find out more, visit Ibanez.

For more NAMM 2024 news, head over to our dedicated NAMM 2024 hub.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.