The Ibanez AEL20E is a solid contender in the low to mid end acoustic electric market. If you’re looking for an AE guitar that offers excellent playability, killer looks, and versatile electronics, it’s hard to beat the Ibanez AEL20E.
There are a few names that are nearly synonymous with the acoustic guitar, such as Larrivee, Takamine, Taylor and Martin (though the former has made some inroads into the electric market). One name that generally doesn’t make the list is Ibanez, who is more noted in recent years for instruments that favor the metal and shred market.
Though not generally considered a major player in the acoustic market, Ibanez certainly does know how to build guitars, and their acoustic instruments display the same thoughtful attention to details as do their electric models. They have chosen to focus on the low to mid range of instruments, with the AEL20E Acoustic Electric being representative of the line. Let’s take a look at this popular Ibanez acoustic guitar to see if the noted electric manufacturer has learned any new tricks.
The AEL20E features a flamed maple top along with maple back and sides (for a bright, clear sound) on its 25.5″ scale length body. The neck is mahogany with a rosewood fretboard and bridge. Die-cast gold tuners are included as are a Fishman Sonicore pickup, AEQ-SST Shape Shifter preamp with tuner, and balanced XLR and 1/4 outputs.
The first thing you’ll probably notice is the striking flamed maple top. Sure, it’s a laminate, but it’s gorgeous nevertheless and available in a wide variety of finishes. I opted for the Transparent Blue. The next thing I noticed was the feel of the instrument once I started playing. It’s safe to assume that this instrument is geared for electric players who want to dip their feet into the acoustic pool a bit, and it shows in the playability.
If Ibanez knows anything, it’s how to make a guitar that plays fast, and the AEL20E plays better than many electrics I’ve owned. Surprisingly, the tone matches the playability. It’s a decidedly bright sound, given the maple construction, so it’s well suited for blues, rock, or any genre where you need to cut through a mix.
It’s certainly no slouch in the electronics department either. The Fishman Sonicore pickup sounded good played through both an acoustic amp as well as direct input into a Mackie 1402VLZ mixer. The tuner was spot on as well. About the only complaint I have is that neither a gig bag or case is included, but at only $349.99, it’s hard to complain.
All in all, the Ibanez AEL20E is a solid contender in the low to mid end acoustic electric market. If you’re looking for an AE guitar that offers excellent playability, killer looks, and versatile electronics, it’s hard to beat the Ibanez AEL20E.
Name of Gear: Ibanez AEL20E
List Price: $524.99
Manufacturer Info: Ibanez Guitars; ibanez.com
Pros: Excellent playability; nice maple top; excellent electronics