Outfitted with a solid Sitka spruce top and mahogany-laminate back and sides, the Artwood Vintage AVN6 parlor guitar is the polar opposite of what most expect from Ibanez. But while the 24 3/4"-scale 6-string looks, feels, and often sounds old-timey, it boasts much of the construction savvy and attention to detail that make even budget Ibanez electrics value marvels. Playability isn’t as effortless as the typical Ibanez solidbody, but the soft-v neck profile is very comfy, the thin frets are perfectly smooth, kerfing and bracing are cleanly cut (though not airtight at the joints), and there’s no glue mess.
Most impressive at this price are the AVN6’s volume potential and tonal flexibility—if not complexity. Delicately fingerpicked in the lower registers, it has a lovely, slightly elastic nylon-string-like responsiveness, yet the volume belies what your eyes tell your ears to expect. Attack it with a pick, and the projection becomes even more astonishing—even when you lay off a bit to coax out sparklingly delicate passages.
Test Gear: Fingers, Jim Dunlop heavy steel pick