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NAMM 2024: Ibanez refreshes the FRH10N nylon-string electro with two smart new finishes – a more affordable option for Tim Henson tones

 Ibanez FRH10N.
Ibanez FRH10N.

NAMM 2024: Ibanez has expanded its lineup of nylon-string cutaway acoustic electric guitars with two new finish options for the top-selling FRH10N, the smart hybrid acoustic that was in no small way inspired by Tim Henson of Polyphia’s signature model.

The FRH10N is now offered in Rose Gold Metallic and Indigo Blue, with Brown Sunburst and Natural finish options unveiled in 2023. Like Henson’s TOD10N, and like most models in the Ibanez catalogue, the FRH10N sounds as though it was named by a cat walking across the keyboard but there is no mistaking its provenance when you see pictures of it. It is essentially Henson’s TOD10N a few minor but key differences.

The more affordable FRH10N has minimalist dot fret markers rather than the ornate Vai/JEM-inspired ‘Tree of Death’ inlay of Henson’s model. And it has an Ibanez T-bar under-saddle piezo and Ibanez Custom Electronics AHA-1 preamp system as opposed to the Fishman S-core pickup and Ibanez preamp we have on the Henson model. Henson’s model has an onboard guitar tuner.

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Ibanez FRH10N
Ibanez FRH10N

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Ibanez FRH10N
Ibanez FRH10N

Both present a lot of acoustic guitar for the money. Both cater for the same demographic, but it is hard to imagine the FRH10N existing had it not been for Henson hectoring Ibanez to make a signature nylon-string for him then debuting it alongside Scott LePage playing what was presumably a FRH10N prototype in the video for Polyphia's Playing God. And thus the potential for nylon-string guitars in progressive instrumental music was introduced to a new generation.

It was a big moment. The nylon-string electro had hitherto been a real niche instrument in popular music. The ex-Soulfly guitarist Marc Rizzo threatened to give them a moment; he has some serious flamenco chops and preferred the Washburn C64SCE. Alas, it never took. Now everyone wants one.

At £469/$499 street, the FRH10N presents very decent value. Like the TOD10N it has the thinline T-style inspired profile, with the soundhole relocated to the side of the guitar a la the Gibson Player Port, and a hybrid feel that blurs the line between electric guitar and classical.

It has a solid Sitka spruce top, fan bracing under the hood, with sapele used for the back and sides, with a glued-in nyatoh neck fashioned into a highly playable C profile that’s just 21mm thick at the 1st fret, tapering to 22mm at the seventh.

There is a 22-fret walnut fingerboard and matching bridge. Ibanez has kitted this out with gold classical tuners and a bone nut, and the 1/4” output jack is exactly where you’d expect to find it, discretely integrated with the end-pin.

The Rose Gold Metallic and Indigo Blue FRH10Ns are available now. For more details, head over to Ibanez.