Sep 15, 2013
Edit: THANK YOU SO MUCH to Mr Andy Timmons himself for sharing this review!!! What an amazing guy.
If you’ve been hanging out on our forum, or checking out our Facebook feed, you may have noticed that I recently bought a Strat! I’ve never been much of a fan of single coils – I spent many years chasing fat, high output humbucker tones, at the expense of clean/medium gain tones.
Well, I guess I’m showing my age. I’ve recently become a little bit more obsessed about the low/medium gain side of things. It started with a lovely 65 Amps London Pro for amazing AC and Marshall 18w tones, and now with the Strat.
So.. how did that happen?
Groove or Die
Well, there was one amazing musician who convinced me that I needed to get some single coil tone going on… and it’s a guy who doesn’t even use actual single coils!!
The guy I’m referring to is none other than Andy Timmons.
Combining the fiery blues licks of SRV with the shred blitzkrieg of Malmsteen, Andy Timmons is, in many ways, the ultimate guitarist. He combines consummate groove with blinding speed, never at the expense of feel or taste. And that guitar tone!! Aside from his magic fingers, his tone is shaped by a preference for Dimarzio Cruiser pickups – but specifically, using the bridge version as a neck and middle pickup. By some form of alchemy and magic, the result is a tone that is mostly chimey, chewy single coil, but with a bit of meaty ‘bucker thrown in for good measure.
In my quest to explore the Andy Timmons tone, I got in touch with Musicworks who are the local dealer for Ibanez here in NZ. They were gracious enough to hook me up with a Premium Series AT10P for review! I was beyond excited.
For someone with such a diverse range of influences and ability, Andy Timmons’s signature guitar must necessarily be one of extreme versatility. Playing to his bluesy roots, the AT10P is the most Strat-like contraption I’ve seen come out Ibanez in the modern era. It takes an RG body, finished in a classic three tone sunburst, and discards the usual double locking bridge in favour of a Wilkinson trem. The pickup and control layout is classic “Fat Strat”, and the neck is unglossed and smooth to the touch.
The neck profile is a pleasant surprise. It couldn’t be any more different from your usual Ibby Wizard neck profile – it’s narrower at the nut, and sports small, rounded C profile. The maple even had a subtle flame to it, which was a nice random touch. Not something you see on many RGs!
There are still concessions to the modern player, though. The new and improved All Access Neck Joint makes navigating the upper frets absolutely effortless, and the modern radius fretboard ensures that you can still pull off all your high speed tech licks. And of course, as I mentioned earlier, the very single coil sounding Dimarzio Cruisers are actually rail humbuckers – so you can take single coil hum at high gain off your list of concerns.
In the bridge position is a Dimarzio AT1 humbucker – it should be obvious by now that the AT stands for Andy Timmons! His signature humbucker is a perfect match for the Cruisers – they are just about perfectly level in terms of output, and they are one of the sweetest, most balanced pickups I’ve had the pleasure of playing.
Fit and Finish
I wrote a little rant awhile ago about the Ibanez Premium Series when they first came on the scene, deriding the production of the Indonesian factories. Well, I’m happy to say that in the time since I last played one, they’ve obviously lifted their game significantly! (Or the signature series guitars get made better, depending on how cynical you are… Sean Bodley’s recent review of the Premium JEM was also glowing!)
Literally straight out of a sealed box from a shelf in the Musicworks warehouse, the setup on the AT10P was spot on perfect. Killer action, properly rounded fret edges, and not a trace of dead spots or buzz or anything. Finishing of the body looked awesome, and the issue I spotted with the early Premiums having shoddy looking neck bolt holes was no longer as severe.
So… gold star there! Kudos to the Ibanez Indonesia factory for lifting their game.
I figured that the best way to see if the AT10P nailed those awesome AT tones that I was chasing, would be to actually learn one of his songs! I chose Electric Gypsy – partially because it features my absolute favourite AT tones, but also because it seemed like it might be ever so slightly easier to learn in a short period of time (I gave myself 3 days!!) than his more advanced songs, haha.
I used the AT10P straight into my Focusrite interface, and ran it through my new favourite medium gain VST, the S-Gear 2. Check out the vid – hope you like it!
TAKE MY MONEY PLEASE
In my humble opinion (and my deficient playing aside), the AT10P absolutely NAILS the feel and tone at the heart of the Andy Timmons guitar tonegasm. The Cruisers are perfect for high octane blues (and are also great for straight up clean tones), and if you need a bit more meat, the AT1 humbucker delivers it in spades, without overpowering the other pickups.
I love this so much that I’m going to go ahead and give it the coveted and rarely encountered 5.0 Fuck Yeahs!!! What do you think?