Ibanez TOD10 Tim Henson Signature Guitar Review: A Blend Of Classic And Modern

By Christoper Horton •  Updated: 01/13/23 •  13 min read

The new Ibanez TOD10 is the second Tim Henson signature electric guitar. But a lot has changed from the original, making this a whole different beast. Today we go over the new features!


Ibanez TOD10 Review: An Interesting Hybrid Design…

I cannot remember a time that a band has caused so many divided opinions among guitar players. Maybe John Mayer, since he was shunned by guitarists for years. But John eventually proved himself, I guess, since he is now an accepted member of “guitar hero” status. Tim Henson however, is still waiting on that approval from the general guitar community.

Not that I mean he is consciously waiting for people to like him, Tim has made it clear that the haters don’t bother him at all. Especially since Polyphia sells out just about every show, and has a brand new album that is tearing up the charts. The new album “Remember That You Will Die” has guest appearances from Steve Vai, Chino From Deftones, and the Polyphia YouTube channel has millions of subscribers.

The Ibanez TOD10 is Tim’s new signature electric, and takes some of the design elements from the AZ Series as well as his original model. While the spartan looks and shape may look familiar, there are a lot of surprises under the hood. Tim definitely appreciates aesthetics in his guitars, but he is also utilitarian when it comes to features. Versatility is absolutely paramount to Tim.

If you have given the new album a listen, you can tell why the Ibanez TOD10 has to be a versatile machine. Personally, I have enjoyed all of the different incarnations of Polyphia, and this new album finally blends all of those previous elements together. The album and songs hops between genres, with the bar set fairly high for these new-school virtuosos.

I am a little disappointed that the original Polyphia Ibanez models are being discontinued. I understand why the change is happening, and it is mainly due to the pickups. The new Fishman pickups are a big change for Tim Henson, as he has usually used single coils with a humbucker in the bridge. So with all that said, let’s dive in and take a look!


Ibanez TOD10: Features And Specs

Ibanez TOD10

The Ibanez TOD10 still borrows a lot from the AZ Series, and that is a good thing! The AZ Series has become a hugely popular part of the Ibanez lineup, and has taken the brand out of the “just shred” category of guitars. These shredder companies have been offering new options and branching out.

Schecter for example has had a tone of success with the Nick Johnston line. The Ibanez AZ series is similar in taking a classic shape and look, yet adding more modern appointments. This whole trend of taking classic looking guitars and making them modern is something that is long overdue. So what is the Ibanez TOD10 offering?

The biggest change from Tim’s older signature model is going to be the Fishman Pickup Set. These are wired up to give you a huge amount of tones. You can do single coil, full humbucker, and a some blending options. Like I said before, this guitar has to be versatile. There are so many tones on the album that Tim will need to recreate in a live setting.

That being said, there is a lot to go over with this guitar. It may look like the other guitars in the AZ Series, but there are quite a few differences. I also wanted to point out how cool it is that Ibanez is pricing these below $2000 for an artist model. You get a lot of features for the price, so let’s try it out!


Ibanez TOD10 Review; Out Of The Box

If you are unfamiliar with our review process, we always check out new guitars right out of the box. With guitars like the Ibanez TOD10, this is a store sample model since these are not for sale yet. But even with sample models, we still give the guitar the “right out of the box” treatment.

In the case of the Ibanez TOD10, we are taking a look at the guitar not just right out of the box, but also out of the gig bag that it comes with! These are the Ibanez “Premium” soft cases, and they will definitely hold up to playing shows. I always like a soft case over a hard shell anyway.

We found no high frets on the Ibanez TOD10, and the fretwork in general was incredibly precise. I looked for any paint errors or neck imperfections and I came up empty handed. The guitar was set up well right out of the case, but I would lower the action just a tad if this were my guitar. But otherwise, it was ready to play after a tune up. It was even intonated properly.

The Body is a beautiful silver with some metallic flake. However, the metallic part is very subtle. The front has the traditional arm carve that all of the AZ Series features. The back is where things get interesting, since you have a super-deep cutaway. This allows you to reach all 24 frets with ease.

Unlike a traditional cutaway, this extends all the way down to the lower horn. If you play in classical position, then you will be totally blown away with how easy it is to reach every fret. There is nothing in your way, and it still feels very natural.

Ibanez TOD10 Tim Henson Signature Electric Guitar
$1499.99

The Tim Henson guitar is highly inspired by the Ibanez AZ model, and it also features some of Henson’s personal touches to make it perfectly designed for his versatile playing style. The TOD10’s most striking aesthetic feature may be the fingerboard inlay design, which Tim has dubbed as the "Tree of Death." The name and the design are both nods to the iconic Ibanez “Tree of Life” inlay design, but with a twist.

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The Neck has the Oval Profile that all of the AZ series shares, but this one feels much more slim. The Ibanez TOD10 has a unique string spacing from the Gotoh bridge, and you can definitely feel a difference. This is not good, or bad. It is just…different. The “Tree Of Death” inlay is a nod to Steve Vai, and I think that is really cool.

The satin Roasted Maple feels great to play, and after this past year of reviewing guitars, I have decided I prefer Roasted Maple over just about anything else. It feels stable, and sturdy. The Oval profile is more like a “Thin C” in feel, which is amazing. No doubt, this is a thin neck. But you have just a little more to hold onto when it comes to the usual Ibanez profiles.

The 10.5mm string spacing is being highlighted as a feature, and this is because of the Gotoh bridge. The strings are a little bit closer together, but not as far as say…a vintage Stratocaster. This takes just a few minutes to really get used to, and Ibanez have used this bridge on other guitars. You will find the two E strings are closer together, and closer to the edge of the fretboard.

Stainless steel frets is another feature that I am starting to realize I cannot live without. The bending is smoother, and the overall maintenance will be much less over time. You will probably never need to re-fret the Ibanez TOD10, even if you played it your entire life. That said, polishing them is not needed either.

The Bridge from Gotoh is another feature that I have come to really appreciate. I have been a Floyd Rose player for most of my 30 years of playing guitar. The Gotoh bridges doe a lot of the same tricks, like flutters and dives. Paired with the TUSQ nut and locking tuners, it operates a LOT like a Floyd Rose and offers the same amount of tuning stability.

I find that the Gotoh trems are much less obstructive. They are fashioned like a regular vintage trem, so they are completely out of the way. There are no fine tuners to mess with, and the Gotoh might actually knock the Floyd Rose out my “Number One” bridge category. It works very much the same, with less to fiddle with.

Overall, it plays like a modern Super-Strat, but feels like a more classic guitar. The Ibanez TOD10 would be a great guitar, and a joy to play without anyone’s name attached to it. Playing up and down the neck is smooth, and something just feels “balanced” when it comes to the feel. The Gotoh hardware kept everything in tune, even when doing some Van Halen tricks.

The Ibanez TOD!) feels just like a lot of the other AZ Series guitars. The neck carve does feel slightly different to me, in a very good way. This thing is fast, and very easy to play. This is a great alternative to some of the other AZ Series guitars, but we have not covered the secret weapon yet. The Pickups.


The Ibanez TOD10: Pickups

Ibanez Tod10 pickups

Fishman Fluence have really taken over the market when it comes to active pickups. They are especially popular with artists, since the design allows the artist to tweak the pickups as they go. This is all done digitally, so if an artist wants more midrange in their pickup, Fishman can just dial that in without winding a whole new set.

Tim Henson is known for using a lot of single coil sounds, and I would say that single coils are his “core” sound. But he also needs full on humbuckers when it comes to solos and chunky rhythm parts. Fishman managed to nail just about every sound you can get from both singles and humbuckers. I will tell you my thoughts, but the diagram and description might be a big help for you to understand how these work.

{snippet}

Time Henson Fishman Fluence: Settings

When the pickup selector is in the neck position and the tone knob is pushed in, the full neck humbucker is activated and in Voice 1. When the pickup selector is between the neck and middle position, only the outer coil of the neck pickup is activated and is in Voice 3.

When the pickup selector is in the middle position, both humbuckers are fully activated and in Voice 1. When the pickup selector is between the middle and bridge position, the outer coil of the front pickup and the inner coil of the bridge pickup are activated and in Voice 3.

When the pickup selector is in the bridge position, the full bridge humbucker is activated and in Voice 1. When the pickup selector is in the neck position with the tone knob pulled up, the neck humbucker is fully activated and in Voice 2. When the pickup selector is between the neck and middle positions, only the outer coil of the neck pickup is activated and in Voice 3.

When the pickup selector is in the middle position, the outer coil of the front pickup and the inner coil of the bridge pickup are each activated and in Voice 3. When the pickup selector is between the middle and bridge position, the outer coil of the front pickup and the inner coil of the bridge pickup are activated and in Voice 3, (same setting as when middle is selected). When the pickup selector is in the bridge position, the full bridge humbucker is activated and in Voice 2.

[/snippet]

This gives the Ibanez TOD10 some of the most versatile pickup position selections I think I have ever seen on any guitar. The humbuckers on their own sound like hot PAF pickups, to me. They have a ton of midrange dialed in, so they will cut through the mix. But they also have a good amount of bass frequencies as well, making them punchy and very “present”.

They do this without being super high-output. You can get some perfectly clean humbucker sounds, without clipping at all. These sound very natural, and do not have the “sterile” quality that the Fluence Modern of EMGs usually have. They sound like passive humbuckers, and remain articulate no matter how much gain you throw at them.

But that is not what makes these pickups so cool. The single coil sounds that you get, both alone and in/out of phase, do NOT sound like “coil taps”. These sound like dedicated single coils, and while they may not be as “throaty” as a Fender in the neck position, they nail the actual sound of a single coil. The neck as a single coil, sounds really close.

But unlike single coils, you do not have to deal with any 60 Cycle hum from your amp. Even with a massive amount of gain, there is no background noise to ruin the sound. This may scare off some purists, but as a studio tool the Ibanez TOD10 can literally do any tone you need. This would be a studio guitarist’s dream.

The whole reason people choose actives, is because they are consistent. They are always noiseless, and while EMG has made some pretty amazing single coils, Fishman is taking things to a new level. You may notice on the diagram that the only sound you cannot get is the bridge as a stand-alone single coil. But the in between position more than make up for that.

Overall, the Ibanez TOD10 was designed for Tim Henson, to suit all of his playing nuances. But in reality, Ibanez have created quite possibly the perfect guitar for studio guitarists. It would also work great in a live setting where you need multiple guitars usually. It can cover pretty much any tone you need.


Ibanez TOD10: Final Impressions

I really enjoy the entire AZ Series. These guitars feel very modern when you are playing them, but they also feel very familiar. Make no mistake, this guitar is totally modern in approach, but it still feels like a Stratocaster in so many ways. You really get the best of both worlds with these guitars, and modern music is driving this kind of innovation.

Modern players are using single coils sounds more often, even in Metal. There are a lot of guitarists breaking the mold of what certain guitars can do. The old way of thinking that there are two camps; Les Paul and Stratocaster…are antiquated at this point. Players want a little bit of both, but they also want it in a classic-looking package. Unlike PRS or Parker guitars, which buck the classic trends.

So is the Ibanez TOD10 a “Super-Strat”? Yes it is, but the approach is entirely different. It looks very simple and unassuming if you remove the “Tree of Death” inlay. All of the tonal secrets are behind the scenes with this guitar. It plays like a modern shred machine, but it looks very plain. I kind of love this trend that guitar companies are going with.

If you want a Les Paul or a Strat, then those will always be available. Those guitars have a legacy for a reason, and they both do a few things really well. The Ibanez TOD10 does a little bit of everything really well! I think if we look back to the 80’s when the whole idea of a Super Strat was born, we can see the TOD10 as the natural evolution. The future of guitar is definitely here, so try to keep up!

Ibanez TOD10 Tim Henson Signature Electric Guitar
$1499.99

The Tim Henson guitar is highly inspired by the Ibanez AZ model, and it also features some of Henson’s personal touches to make it perfectly designed for his versatile playing style. The TOD10’s most striking aesthetic feature may be the fingerboard inlay design, which Tim has dubbed as the "Tree of Death." The name and the design are both nods to the iconic Ibanez “Tree of Life” inlay design, but with a twist.

BUY NOW

Christoper Horton

Christopher has been playing guitar, bass, and piano for 28 years. He has been active in the professional music industry for over two decades. Chris has toured for years with several bands and music projects across the United States. He worked in Los Angeles as a studio musician and engineer working with many genres, but mainly Pop, Rock, and Metal. In between giving private lessons, he is usually recording under his various projects. Christopher plays Schecter Guitars, BOSS Amplifiers, and uses STL Tones in the studio.

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