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Yes, Ibanez can surf

It seems that whenever I get a new guitar (or two in this case), I just have to do a surf song as a rite of passage to properly break it in.

Before continuing, if you like the song above, yes it is available as a download if you want it.

Hurricane is a song I wrote back when I lived in Florida. At that time, I was in 100% Jazzmaster mode since that was my main axe, and it was that guitar which originally compelled me to learn surf rock. But even though I'm now Jazzmaster-less, the surf bug never left me. I still very much enjoy playing it.

I wanted to put together something that showcased both the GAX30 and AX120 guitars I own at the same time, and was happy to learn that yes, the Ibanez can surf.

Which is the better guitar for surf?

In the video, you'll notice I used the AX120 (the blue one) for the lower notes and chords and the GAX30 (the white one) for the higher notes. That was intentional. The GAX30 rings out the higher notes better with its Ibanez Infinity series pickups. The AX120 with its Classic Elite pickups rings out the lower notes better because it has a lower output and greater treble response.

If I absolutely had to choose between the two, the AX120 would be the better guitar for surf rock just because the vast majority of surf is played at the first 5 frets. This is not to say the GAX30 can't surf (it obviously can), but were I forced to pick just one, the AX120 would be it.


This time around I used my Line 6 Spider V 60 for all guitar sounds. I used a custom preset since the Spider does not come with a surf sound out-of-the-box that I'm aware of.

Was the preset difficult to create? No, it was fairly easy. I created it back when I still had Telecasters, but did have to modify it to be voiced properly for my Ibanez guitars.

Whether using multi-effects amp modeling like the Spider V 60 or traditional pedals, it is true that you have to shape your tone to the guitar that is plugged in at the time. I went from a low-output, trebly Telecaster with single-coil pickups to a not-as-trebly higher output Ibanez with humbuckers. I had to change almost every one of my custom presets to suit the AX120 sound as it is distinctively different from the Telecaster.

Is the humbucker pickup output too high on the Ibanez AX?

I can happily report that the pickup output isn't overblown on the Ibanez AX. This was a worry for me originally, because I wasn't sure whether or not Ibanez decided to voice the guitar "for metal". Thankfully, they didn't. Instead, they smartly went for a more civilized approach and voiced it more like a Gibson SG - and that's not a bad thing. Not at all...

...and that above all else is why the Ibanez can surf. Ultimately, getting surf tone all depends on how the pickups are voiced. A low-to-moderate output is needed with decent treble response, and the Ibanez has it - especially on the AX120.

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