… the midrange presence on both
pickups is a welcome sound for when
you tread through the wake of a B- 3
pumping a Leslie cab.
Working through some of the greasy
bebop licks I spent hours trying to cop
from Benson in college, the merits of the
wider ebony became more obvious. The 45
mm string spacing at the nut is fingerstyle
friendly (though much less so for those
with smaller hands) and its very comfortable for stretchy chords once you get used
to the feel.
The bridge pickup has some obvious
added presence, but never became too
shrill or percussive. Part of that can be
attributed to the fatter sound of the flat-wound strings, but credit is also due to
the finely tuned pickups. Benson knows
his way around both tube and solid state
amps and even with the Newcastle chirping at a pretty good level the LGB never
gets too trebly. Moving from jazz lines
to big ringing open chords, the guitar’s
acoustic properties gave each strum a clear
ringing tone with each note of the chord
sitting comfortably and prominently in
the mix. Though after moving back and
forth between the pickups a few times,
it occurred to me that unlike Benson the
player, the LGB can be a bit of a one-trick
pony—there’s not a ton of variation in
tone. Keep in mind, though that that one
trick is a really good one.
resonant archtop is something to behold. And as the volume increased, I could feel the guitar becoming more responsive. During Benson’s press conference at the most recent NAMM, he made a point that he wanted the LGB to be less feedback prone at higher volumes. This isn’t an axe you would want to use in your Sonic Youth tribute band, but it does handle vol- ume better than most of its hollowbodies. When you’re playing with instruments that occupy the same sonic real estate, it helps to have some added girth and midrange to cut through the mix. And the midrange presence on both pickups is a welcome sound for when you tread through the wake of a B- 3 pumping a Leslie cab. The Verdict When you make your living as a profes- sional musician, you need reliable gear that sounds good and is fun to play. The LGB covers all those bases from a plat- form that’s simple, elegant, and just plain performs. The Ibanez is worthy update to the ES-175-inspired archtops that have been a mainstay of the harmoni- cally exploratory types for decades and it’s designed with the input of one of the great masters of jazz guitar. And if you are willing to shell out the dough, the LGB has the goods to return on investment for years to come.
Punch and resonance are the two descrip-tors that will come to mind when you plug
in the LGB. Running through a Jackson
New Castle loaded with a pair of EL84s,
the Super 58 alnico neck pickup was warm
and smooth as I dug into the flatwounds.
And it was relatively easy to dial in the
tone from some of Benson’s most famous
organ trio albums. The combination of an
amp with plenty of clean headroom and a
Pros: Solid construction. Comfortable neck.
Ibanez George Benson LGB300, $4999 street with hardshell case, ibanez.com
Cons: Could use a little more tone variety. Expensive.