Re: Best models for low tunings / help choosing next purchase
Some additional comments:
I'm fairly happy with the tone and playability of all of my guitars in the tunings stated above. The DiMarzio/IBZ pickups are not optimal for any particular tone/style, but they are versatile and (at least to me) sound decent for pretty much any style E / drop D...I'm not sure whether they'd be tight enough or give the right tone for really low tunings though. The D Activators sound good in E standard, but really excel in D standard...again, I'm not confident they'd be as ideal in a much lower tuning - may well become muddy, especially as they're in a mahogany body. I find the S series most comfortable to play (sitting & standing), but assume an RG would be more optimal for death metal in low tunings (maybe I'm wrong?). I love the superior fret access of my neck-thru XPT700, but neck-thru only seems to be available for Premium / Iron Label models - I ideally want another Prestige.
I would not consider maple fretboards or the old-style neck joints (tilt joint?). Rosewood and neck-thru would be perfect, but ebony and AANJ are also more than OK.
A lot of the available Prestige RGs seem to have Air Norton / Tone Zone or Fusion Edge pickups. The more affordable fixed-bridge models seems to have ash bodies. I'm not sure how suitable any of these are for low tunings, without at least swapping out the pickups. I would happily pay extra (within reason) for something equipped with superior pickups, if required - e.g. BKP, Liquifire/Crunch Lab etc.
My budget is somewhat flexible, but I am looking for bang-for-buck. From a bit of scouting around online, Ibanez Prestige prices have gone up significantly since my last purchase, with the used market increasing by proportionately more than new. A slightly dinged Prestige goes for as much as a new Genesis. A mint / near mint Prestige goes for 90% of the new cost, even if it's 10+ years old (used to be more like 70%). J.Customs seems to have stayed at the same price, making them seem less unreasonable (but still expensive!).
To put it in context, in 2017 I bought my RG2550Z for £550, in mint condition. The seller drove several hundred miles to hand-deliver to me (included in the price). Today, for that price I'd struggle to get a similar model with multiple dings, scratches, considerable fret wear etc.
I have no objections to buying used instruments that are decades old, but I'm definitely not of the mindset that "well-played" guitars look cool or more authentic. I really look after my gear, so will only buy from people who do the same.