TechnologyJosh Smith teases new-look, freshly spec’d version of his...

Josh Smith teases new-look, freshly spec’d version of his Ibanez FLATV1 signature guitar

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Josh Smith

(Image credit: Steve Rose / Josh Smith/Instagram)

We have a sneaky suspicion that Ibanez is cooking up some seriously tasty signature guitars at the moment.

Not even a fortnight ago, Lari Basilio – owner of the brand’s best-selling LB1 single-cut – shared a sneak peek at what looked like a freshly finished version of her flagship Violet electric guitar.

Now, Basilio’s fellow Ibanez signature artist and all-round blues guitar aficionado Josh Smith has taken to social media to tease a new instrument of his own: a souped-up iteration of his FLATV1, which debuted last year.

However, whereas Basilio’s model was a like-for-like revamp of her LB1 with a new finish, Smith’s own updated signature looks to have received a fairly significant spec overhaul.

But first, that finish: with just a tiny hint of Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Duck” Stratocaster, the blues fusion virtuoso’s updated FLATV1 – captured in action by photographer Steve Rose and shared by Smith on Instagram – flashes a decidedly cream-esque finish, which stands in stark contrast to the original model’s sleek ebony colorway.

And, just like the premiere FLATV1, this cream-finished mystery model also seemingly sports a color-matched headstock.

Perhaps the biggest deviation from the original, though, is the neck pickup, which looks to swap out the first model’s Seymour Duncan FLATV1 custom single coil for a P-90-style unit. The first look at yet another signature Smith pickup? Quite possibly.

But what makes us so sure this isn’t a regular Ibanez AZS? Well, owing to the layout of the guitar’s control knobs, its nearest comparative model is the AZS2209H, and while a case can be made that Smith is merely wielding an updated version of said AZS, there are a few specs that point the finger at this being the FLATV1.

The first is the shape of the pickguard – this elusive electric features a scratchplate identical to the one found strapped to the body of the FLATV1, and wholly dissimilar to the AZS’s more futuristic-looking variant.

Next up are the control knobs. Now, zoom into the photo of Smith’s cream Ibanez and you’ll see the knurled knobs feature flat tops – the same style that can be found on his first model. Why is this such a big deal? When the original FLATV1 came out, Smith said he specifically 3D printed the knobs in order to meet the exact “size/feel/knurl” he wanted.

Though only a subtle difference, these contrast with the more rounded, dome-topped alternatives of the AZS line. Arguably the biggest giveaway, despite being the smallest specs.

Smith also fueled speculation himself by sharing a snap of his new-look model on a guitar stand with his FLATV1, accompanied by a vague caption that simply read, “Hmmmmm.”

If our theory proves to be true, the cream-colored beauty is the second signature guitar Josh Smith has teased since the release of his first Ibanez signature model. Back in September 2021, he shared a glimpse of a Strat-style version of the FLATV1.

With all that in mind, it looks like Ibanez is set to have a busy 2023…

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Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.

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