Ibanez revamps its AZ range with SSS models and a signature guitar for Luca Mantovanelli, all with innovative pickup blending options

Ibanez AZ models
(Image credit: Ibanez)

Ibanez has had a hectic start to the new year, debuting its all-new Axe Design Lab series of experimental electric guitars, unveiling its slider-equipped Pentatone Preamp pedal and lifting the curtain on the FRH10N, a more affordable take on Tim Henson’s TOD10N signature guitar.

To continue the momentum, the Japanese company has now revamped its AZ line of Stratocaster-style guitars by premiering two new Seymour Duncan-loaded, SSS-configured models.

Arriving in the form of the standard AZ2203N Prestige model and the signature LM1, built for Italian social media star Luca Mantovanelli, the two instruments mark the first time Ibanez has equipped its AZ design with a more faithfully Fender-style trio of single-coils.

Ibanez AZ models

(Image credit: Ibanez)

Though SSS models were previously available in the more affordable collection of entry level AZ Essentials guitars, the higher-end AZ six-strings were originally only available in either HH, HSS or HSH pickup configurations.

As such, the two newly spec’d AZ models – which retain all of the range’s top-end features – are welcome additions to the company’s 2023 catalog.

Starting with standard six-string, the AZ2203N Prestige is available in Antique Turquoise and Black, and comes loaded with a set of Seymour Duncan Fortuna single-coils that are dictated by a five-way switch, master volume and tone knobs, and a versatile blend parameter.

Ibanez AZ models

(Image credit: Ibanez)

In practice, the blend control lets users dial in niche pickup combinations, opening up the possibility for an all-on mode and an outer-pickups-only option. It swaps out the dyna-MIX9 switching system with Alter Switch circuit that can be found on the HSS alternatives.

Aside from that, the AZ2203N is a standard AZ model, featuring an alder body, S-Tech roasted maple neck and rosewood fretboard, as well as 22 jumbo stainless steel frets, a Gotoh T1502S bridge and mother of pearl dot inlays.

Other notable specs include a 228mm to 305mm compound radius, 25.5” scale length and bone nut.

Ibanez AZ models

(Image credit: Ibanez)

Mantovanelli – a session guitarist, popular social media player and JTC Guitar artist – has been bestowed a signature guitar that, on the surface, looks identical to the above AZ2203N, save the sleek Luna White colorway.

Further inspection, though, reveals some minor differences: the LM1 swaps the Gotoh T1502S for a T1702B alternative, and instead utilizes abalone dot inlays and Gotoh MG-T locking machine heads.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual, with the LM1 featuring an alder body, roasted maple neck, compound radius rosewood fretboard and the versatile Blend control knob.

To find out more, head over to Ibanez.

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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.