We have a sneaky suspicion that Ibanez is cooking up some seriously tasty signature guitars at the moment.
Now, Basilio’s fellow Ibanez signature artist and all-round blues guitar aficionado Josh Smith has taken to social media to tease a new instrument of his own: a souped-up iteration of his FLATV1, which debuted last year.
However, whereas Basilio’s model was a like-for-like revamp of her LB1 with a new finish, Smith’s own updated signature looks to have received a fairly significant spec overhaul.
But first, that finish: with just a tiny hint of Yngwie Malmsteen's "Duck" Stratocaster, the blues fusion virtuoso’s updated FLATV1 – captured in action by photographer Steve Rose and shared by Smith on Instagram – flashes a decidedly cream-esque finish, which stands in stark contrast to the original model’s sleek ebony colorway.
And, just like the premiere FLATV1, this cream-finished mystery model also seemingly sports a color-matched headstock.
Perhaps the biggest deviation from the original, though, is the neck pickup, which looks to swap out the first model’s Seymour Duncan FLATV1 custom single coil for a P-90-style unit. The first look at yet another signature Smith pickup? Quite possibly.
But what makes us so sure this isn’t a regular Ibanez AZS? Well, owing to the layout of the guitar’s control knobs, its nearest comparative model is the AZS2209H, and while a case can be made that Smith is merely wielding an updated version of said AZS, there are a few specs that point the finger at this being the FLATV1.
The first is the shape of the pickguard – this elusive electric features a scratchplate identical to the one found strapped to the body of the FLATV1, and wholly dissimilar to the AZS’s more futuristic-looking variant.
Next up are the control knobs. Now, zoom into the photo of Smith’s cream Ibanez and you’ll see the knurled knobs feature flat tops – the same style that can be found on his first model. Why is this such a big deal? When the original FLATV1 came out, Smith said he specifically 3D printed the knobs in order to meet the exact “size/feel/knurl” he wanted.
Though only a subtle difference, these contrast with the more rounded, dome-topped alternatives of the AZS line. Arguably the biggest giveaway, despite being the smallest specs.
Smith also fueled speculation himself by sharing a snap of his new-look model on a guitar stand with his FLATV1, accompanied by a vague caption that simply read, “Hmmmmm.”
If our theory proves to be true, the cream-colored beauty is the second signature guitar Josh Smith has teased since the release of his first Ibanez signature model. Back in September 2021, he shared a glimpse of a Strat-style version of the FLATV1.
With all that in mind, it looks like Ibanez is set to have a busy 2023...