Review: Ibanez Talman Prestige Series Reissues

Often seen in the hands of guitarists such as Paul Gilbert, Noodles (The Offspring), Tom Morello, Kim Gordon, and the late Bob 2 (Devo), Ibanez Talmans were pretty much period pieces of the mid 1990s.
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Often seen in the hands of guitarists such as Paul Gilbert, Noodles (The Offspring), Tom Morello, Kim Gordon, and the late Bob 2 (Devo), Ibanez Talmans were pretty much period pieces of the mid 1990s. Debuting in 1994, and ceasing production just four years later (excepting an acoustic version, which is still available), Talman solidbodies became one of those quirky designs sought after in the used-instrument market by iconoclasts, lovers of grunge, and players simply looking for something different. According to Ibanez, these Talman fanatics were not an insignificant community, and, over the past 20 years, the Talman became one of the most-requested models for the company to revive.

It’s easy to see the attraction. The Talman is a simple, no-frills, ready-for-just-about-any-gig guitar with easy-to-reach controls, a fast neck, and diverse sounds. While reminiscent of classic designs, the offset body contours and stark, paddle-like headstock put you in familiar, yet distinctive visual territory. The updated Talmans are also part of Ibanez’s Prestige line, and the new models exhibit a lot of attention to detail. Construction is flawless—no rattles, wiggles, sharp fret ends, loose hardware, or less-than-stellar finishes. Just twisting the tuners is an exercise in giddy satisfaction, as they turn smoothly and with a solid and confident feel. A great surprise—and a fantastic perk—is that Ibanez doesn’t just toss a couple of loose adjustment tools in a plastic bag and stuff it in the guitar case. Nope. You get an extremely handy, pocket-knife-like casing filled with screwdrivers, hex keys, and a socket wrench. It’s a keeper.

The playability of the two models we tested—the TM1702M and TM1730M—was very similar, as if the two guitars were fraternal twins. The satin-finished maple necks are fast and effortless. These are definitely shred machines if you have the chops, and delightfully comfortable to play if you don’t. All controls are within speedy pinky reach if you dig manipulating volume levels, tone settings, and pickup selections as you play. The master Tone knob doesn’t have a ton of frequency range, but it has enough to simulate wah-pedal effects if you desire. For players who unleash barrages of country-style pull-offs, take care, because it doesn’t take much effort to rake the high-E string right off of the fretboard. Other than that, both Talmans play like dreams.

The current lineup of the resurrected Talman family also includes TM1702 and TM1730 models with rosewood necks, and a TM1803M that features a different pickup configuration than its siblings (Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pros in the neck and bridge, and a Seymour Duncan Vintage Flat in the middle). Finish options are Tri Fade Burst and Vintage White for the 1702s and 1730s, and the 1803 is available only in Tri Fade Burst.

TM1702M PRESTIGE

So, what’s left to talk about? Oh, yeah—the sounds. Both the 1702 and 1730 are workhorses that offer a broad palette of tones that can cover just about any style. Well, trad jazz may be a bit of a stretch for this plank, but you can readily emulate your favorite rock, country, blues, prog, and pop tones.

The 1702 produces an articulate midrange when the bridge pickup is deployed, and it’s nice and bright without being shrill, edgy, or thin. Call it a steely tone with a refined snap and ring. The neck pickup gives you a bounty of round and warm lows, and the strings deliver a wonderful pop when picked. The middle position offers taut low mids with a subtle bite. All of these colors sound fabulous whether you go for super-clean tones, crunchy punches, or saturated madness. You’ll want to move that pickup-selector switch around constantly when you play, as it would be a shame to park the selector on a single pickup throughout a performance. There are simply too many good sounds to explore here.

TM1730M PRESTIGE

The 1730 ups the tonal ante with one more pickup and a whole lot ‘o’ mojo. I always audition the out-of-phase sounds first on three-pickup guitars, because, well, I’ve been “ruined” by the gorgeous sparkle of Mark Knopfler’s classic Strat tone. Here, those vibey 2 and 4 positions are spectacular. The sounds are almost sensual caresses of ping-y shimmers, and they definitely produce a “wow moment” when you click to either position. As with the 1702, the 1730’s bridge pickup has a way of producing attack and bite without being edgy or strident. Even if you punish your strings with vicious strumming or intense picking, treble frequencies stay sweet. Want enough warmth to melt a small glacier? The neck pickup tone is so round and resonant that your head almost feels as if it’s “inside” the strings themselves. There’s a fair amount of bass content, but a delicate sharpness to the attack keeps the sound from getting muddy or indistinct. You can definitely get a faux jazz tone out of the 1730, whereas the 1702 couldn’t really go there. The 1730’s sonic options are pretty vast, and, in fact, if you find yourself in a band that performs the hits of the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and right up to current chart toppers, this machine can be your tonal time traveler.

TALMAN TALES

It’s always difficult to categorize guitars, as players often find ways to twist their instruments to whatever sounds they want or need. Having said that, the TM1702M feels like a solid rock and blues guitar, while the TM1730M is more of a utility player that can hang with just about any crowd. Either of these Talmans could absolutely deserve an Editors’ Pick Award, but the 1730 edged out the 1702, due to the fact that you get a more abundant armory of sounds and a tremolo for the same $1,199 price tag. Welcome back, Talmans!

MODEL

TALMAN TM1702M PRESTIGE

Contact ibanez.com
Price $1,199 street

SPECIFICATIONS

NUT WIDTH 1.6"
NECK 25.5" scale, C shape, bolt-on
FRETBOARD Maple
FRETS 22 medium
TUNERS Gotoh, locking
BODY Alder
BRIDGE Ibanez IFX-PRO
PICKUPS Two Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pros
CONTROLS Master Volume, master Tone, 3-way selector
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario EXL-110, .010-.046
WEIGHT 6.94 lbs
BUILT Japan
KUDOS Well built. Diverse tones. Plays great.
CONCERNS None.

TALMAN TM1730M PRESTIGE

CONTACT ibanez.com
PRICE $1,199 street

SPECIFICATIONS

NUT WIDTH 1.6"
NECK 25.5" scale, C shape, bolt-on
FRETBOARD Maple
FRETS 22 medium
TUNERS Gotoh, locking
BODY Alder
BRIDGE Ibanez ITL-PRO tremolo
PICKUPS Three Seymour Duncan Five-Two
CONTROLS Master Volume, master Tone, 5-way selector
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario EXL-110, .010-.046
WEIGHT 7.64 lbs
BUILT Japan
KUDOS Extremely versatile tones. Plays great. Well built.
CONCERNS None.

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