The 2021 Ibanez ICHI10: Ibanez Takes An Impressive Shot At The Headless Market

Ibanez is a lot of things, but first and foremost they are innovators. The Ibanez ICHI10 is a perfect example of that, and today we take a look at the new artist collaboration from the Japanese giant.

Ibanez ICHI10 And Innovation: A Long Standing Tradition

It’s easy to look at Ibanez at strictly a “Metal Guitar Company”. Believe me, I know that I sometimes unfairly lump them into that category. I mean, we are talking about the company that made the first incarnations of the 7 string guitar. So it is very easy to look back the legacy of Ibanez, and discount them for what they once were.

The past 10 years or so though, have seen a big change in Ibanez research and development. The company even makes Jazz-style semi hollow body guitars these days with the Artcore Series. These have been hugely popular among some of the biggest names in Jazz.

But one of the things that Ibanez likes to do more than anything else, is get virtuosos to endorse the Ibanez brand. If you take a look at the roster, you will be surprised at how many guitar players that are regarded as some of the best of all time. This started in the 80’s for Ibanez, with Steve Vai.

These days, Ibanez has it’s fair share of virtuoso metal players on the roster. But at the same time, they are keeping up with the times, and have signed tons of the “next generation of virtuosos”. This can be seen with the endorsement deals with Covet, and bands like Polyphia. These bands are not “metal” in the traditional sense, yet they are pushing the boundaries of what a guitar can do.

One of those people, is Ichika Nito.

Ichika Nito has blazed his own trail when it comes to guitar. He uses tons of next level techniques to develop his sound. His use of hybrid picking, fingerstyle, harmonics, and alternate tunings is way over my head! It’s absolutely enchanting to watch him play, and he often makes some really beautiful melodies while being very technical.

Nito is a rare endorsee for Ibanez. He has no band, nor does he tour. Nito is a pretty much an “internet guitarist”. He regularly uploads music to YouTube and other internet platforms. To me, this is Ibanez keeping up with the times, as many of these YouTube players are really talented. Is this the new breed of guitar hero? Maybe.

Ichika Nito has been playing Ibanez for a while now, preferring single coil style guitars over the shreddy RG Series. This is because he works mostly with clean tones, or slightly overdriven ones. His tone and technique are honestly in a league of their own:

Today we will take a look at the features of the new Ibanez ICHI10 and break down what separates Ibanez from other companies trying to pull off the headless guitar.

Ibanez ICHI10: Features And Design

Ibanez Ichi10
  • Neck: Wizard C 3-piece Roasted Maple/Bubinga neck
  • Fretboard: Roasted Birdseye Maple fretboard, Jescar EVO Gold
  • Body: Nyatoh body
  • Pickups: R1 S-S-S pickups
  • String Lock: Custom string lock
  • Bridge: Mono tune bridges
  • Electronics: dyna-MIX8 switching system with Alter Switch
  • Dots: Luminescent side dots
  • Gig Bag: Gig bag included
  • Body Design: Ergonomic body design (Q)
  • Body: Compact and light-weight, yet resonant body

The Ibanez ICHI10 actually has taught me a ton about headless guitars, as admittedly, I do not have much experience with them. I have certainly never owned one, so it was pretty cool getting to know this one a little bit. From Ibanez Official:

Ibanez and guitarist Ichika proudly announce his new signature model guitar. Internet sensation and renowned Guitarist Ichika, gained his global following and reputation through a unique combination of complex techniques and an easily identifiable signature sound.

He captivates music fans and musicians alike with his unconventional, experimental style and a wholly original musical approach, through which he has become a favorite player and a major influence to players around the world.

The Ibanez ICHI10 has the typical headless guitar “ergonomic body. It is well balanced and is meant to sit in your lap, or in the classical position. All of the Ibanez Q series is meant to have this similar ergonomic style. It takes any weight from the headstock away, so that the guitar is comfortable no matter what position you prefer.

Ibanez is known for using Basswood bodies, but recent models have had more exotic woods. Nyatoh is not an American wood by any means, but it supposedly a good substitute for other tones woods, such as Mahogany. It is pretty cool, seeing Ibanez trying new things like this!

The neck is nothing like the usual Ibanez Wizard neck, as it has more of a C-Shape. The radius is still pretty flat, but the shape is not toothpick-thin that Ibanez is known for.

The three single coil pickups is very much like a Fender, and is quite traditional for such a modern looking guitar. But I guess that’s exactly what the Ibanez ICHI10 is going for. It aims to blend traditional with modern, and keep it classy! These pickups are especially designed to work well with the sonic differences that a headless instrument provides.

They provide a clearly defined sound, facilitating excellent tonal balance through all frequencies. The lows are powerful without being muddy, and the highs are bright and clear, but never harsh. As a result, every single note within the chord structure is well defined, and clearly audible. The R1 design, with its tonal balance, and extremely low noise performance, works extremely well with both digital and analog effects.

The Jescar EVO Gold frets are something I am definitely not familiar with. Ibanez is known for being trailblazers and innovators. This feature is no exception. Jescar EVO gold frets are known for their bright tone, gorgeous appearance, and excellent features such as long-lasting durability and smooth note bending. I imagine, that Steve Vai had something to do with these.

The string lock and tuning system works a little like a Floyd Rose system. You lock the strings at the headstock, and tune the strings at the base of the guitar. This allows for super stable tuning that you would get with any locking system.

The last feature to talk about is the Ibanez Dynaswitch, found between the volume and tone knobs. This allows you to altar the sound between a humbucker tone, and a single coil. This essentially gives you up to 10 different sounds! There is tons of versatility in the Ibanez ICHI10, where at first look, it looks very simple.

Ibanez ICHI10: Final Thoughts

Look, I don’t know a whole lot about headless guitars, but it is pretty awesome to see Ibanez try and take these instruments and make them mainstream with the Q Series, with the ICHI10 at the forefront. Considering that this guitar is under $1000, and comes with a gig bag…technically makes this an “entry level” headless guitar.

For an entry level instrument, it has a TON of features. There are a lot of tonal options with the Dynaswitch, and I can see this guitar being great for Metal, or any genre really!

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