2004 Ibanez JEM 555 Vs 2013 Ibanez JEM 70V Premium - Jemsite
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  • 1 Post By vyansal
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-22-2018, 05:39 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 20
Cool 2004 Ibanez JEM 555 Vs 2013 Ibanez JEM 70V Premium

I recently managed to get a 2004 555 with an Ibanez hardcase (did they come with one new?) it is a wooden one not the classic moulded plastic version with a metal plaque on it with an Ibanez marketing slogan on it, looks like an old W200C variant.

A few days later (hello credit card!) I came across a 2013 70VSFG with original case in great condition for 700 from a music shop(!). Interested by the colour I read the specs and saw it was the only Premium JEM with a "proper" trem e.g. the original Edge, thinking this was the modern 555 and in the interests of science I bought it.

First impressions: 555
Heavy like my 7DBK the bizarre inlay takes a lot of getting used to, neck is really well made, great fret work rosewood not as good as my 7DBK or 777VDY but certainly a lot better than a modern RG450 I bought a couple of years ago that was very light and not as tightly grained.

No finish imperfections, setup was great, the EdgePro 2 works, better than the awful EDGE 3 but only equal to the LoPro TRS the only better part is the ability to leave ball ends on the strings.

Switch feels same as the modern RG450 a bit loose and has sideways give, not like the Japanese JEMs which has that "thunk" and definite feel of positivity in use like the USA strat.

Pots feel a little "light" but smooth, unlike the taught feel of the Japanese JEM pots.

Unplugged sound, warm and harmonic, similar to my "proper" JEMs no uneven resonance, feels good in the hand, very familiar.

First impressions 70V:
A lot lighter than the 555, finish is good, fittings are good, neck is good, frets are not as good as the 555 in terms of edges and polish for a 1200 guitar would have expected the rolled fretboard edges...

Same cheap pots and switch as the 555.

Fingerboard is a very light rosewood a noticeable drop in all round quality compared to the 555 more similar in look and feel to that dodgy RG450 I bought (and quickly sold), disappointing on 1200 guitar...(but there again the 555 was pre CITES).

Trem is as always superb.

Unplugged tone is terrible, the sound seems to resonate under the pickguard, the A and G strings are unnaturally loud with A string having a horrible hollow ring to it. Again reminds me of the budget guitars I have owned which have this characteristic, and yes it is apparent on EVERY fret on the A and G strings which to me point to low resonance body wood.

Remember the catalogue says this is AMERICAN basswood, not the cheaper stuff they chuck on the standard RG models....

Sound: 555
Warm, rich, harmonic, great sustain, this could be attributed to the fact it is 9 years older, but it is a very inspirational sound. The Humbucker + middle pickup sounds are spectacular clean, even with great distortion these pickups retain string clarity - first impressions: these pickups are made to be played live at serious volume!

Sound: 70V
Warm, harmonic, a little flat, average sustain, not really that much between them, that nagging feeling that the body wood just isn't the same quality as the 555 and its slightly lower sustain keeps going through the brain while playing this.

If I forget about the 555, great playing guitar with a better trem.

So what is point of this?

Well I started with the precept that the JEM 70V/JEM Premium range is basically Ibanez's updated 555, and having now owned both I can say that certainly seems to be true.

What lets the 70V down is the noticeably lower wood quality than the old 555 considering these two guitars where the same price new I think we can see where CITES and other issues are restricting companies access to quality woods, so we the consumer get stuffed.

Is the 555 worth the 650-800 secondhand asking price? Well the "mark 1" with the LoPro TRS trem not really more 500-650 but the "mark 2" which I have - yes! The later "mark 3" with the Wizard 3 neck and Edge 3 trem? No! Just buy secondhand 350DX its basically the same guitar for half price!

If the 70V worth 1200? No! The lower wood quality and cheap electronics don't compare or demand such a price tag when the cheaper RG655 (or modern RG550 as I call it) is Japan made and in a different quality league AND has the same trem..

The only future I can see for the 70V is as a collectible (very far) down the line, as the only Premium JEM with the Edge trem maybe the WD would also command attention in this regard?

Is it a terrible guitar? No, it is a mid priced guitar over priced.

Would I buy another Premium JEM? Owning two Japanese JEMs I would say no, from now on I would only consider a pre 2005 JEM simply because I know the wood quality would be a lot better and the aged would certainly would sound better AND from a personal perspective I can get the LoPro Edge which is the best trem I have ever used.

I paid 700 for my 70V which I personally think should be the price new, the included case has a great design and is well made.

I paid 420 for the 555 with an Ibanez case, and it is definitely the guitar I choose to play first out of the two simply because the feel and quality feels so familiar to my "actual" JEMs, the lighter 70V just has that "RG Standard" feel to it which is a shame

Am I desperate now to sell the 70V? Well when I bought it I thought it could replace the 555 as my gigging guitar, but the weight, sustain and quality of the 555 ironically makes me want to keep it as the live guitar even though the inlay periodically confuses me!

The 70V shall be kept, and should a local music shop sell a BSB, a 777VBK, or a 7DBK et al. I shall use it in part exchange.

In summary: Ibanez JEM Prestige guitars, not bad at all just vastly over priced compared to the rest of the RG range.

What are your experiences with the JEM Premium range compared to 555s and Japanese JEMs?
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-22-2018, 09:07 AM
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Valencia (Spain)
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Re: 2004 Ibanez JEM 555 Vs 2013 Ibanez JEM 70V Premium

My first Jem was the outrageously blamed 555BK; I have now 8 Jems and 2 UV. The two Jems that get most of the action are the Jem 7V and the... 555! Mine is a 1996 Korean made Jem and the neck on these were spectacular. Having the same carve as the standard Jems, the width at the nut is narrower than the Japanese Jems, 42.7 mm on the 555 vs 43 mm on the Fuji Jems. That makes that neck one of the greatest ones ever made (although it feels a little bit hollow compared to the Fuji Jems). The sound on that Jem was superb and held its merits against its bigger sisters. The three downside points were for me: 1) Half vine inlay and 24th fret SV garish inlay; 2) Lo-TRS II; 3) Jumbo frets.

I tried to replace the trem with a Gotoh FR unit and sadly broke the wood of hhe body. I was so in love with that trem that I used the pieces to construct a BH replica with an alder body. Changed the frets with Jescars’ 6105s, sanded the back of the neck and oilef it, scalloped the last frets and took away the SV inlay. The rosewood when properly oiled looks gorgeous. Check it out!:


Korean luthiers of the Cort factory started to make better guitars when gained experience, and the prices increased accordingly. Thats why Ibanez parted out with the korean Cort/World factories and went to Indonesia and China trying to achieve better profit margins trying to reduce the manufacture cost.

Better a Korean made Jem than an Indo made Jem, even if the korean one has a worse trem. Change it with a Gotoh 1996/OFR or put an Edge/lo-pro on it if you have the skills.
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Last edited by vyansal; 08-22-2018 at 09:15 AM.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-22-2018, 09:13 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 2004 Ibanez JEM 555 Vs 2013 Ibanez JEM 70V Premium

Nice work! The EdgePro trem is a spectacular upgrade

Apparently the EdgePro 2 can't be replaced with anything else, so I am stuck with it, so far it is ok but only a question of time before those zinc knife points start to wear..
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-22-2018, 09:19 AM
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Valencia (Spain)
Posts: 41
Re: 2004 Ibanez JEM 555 Vs 2013 Ibanez JEM 70V Premium

Ah! Forgot to mention I played with a 70V at Andy’s Guitar Shop in Denmark Street. The inlay had lots of filler, the rosewood pale, frets not bad from what I expected, neck was not aligned and it had the new 58 mm neck heel design making it too wide. Passed out on that guitar, but aesthetically the SFG color was very appealing.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-22-2018, 09:23 AM
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Valencia (Spain)
Posts: 41
Re: 2004 Ibanez JEM 555 Vs 2013 Ibanez JEM 70V Premium

Originally Posted by guitarakuma1 View Post
Nice work! The EdgePro trem is a spectacular upgrade

Apparently the EdgePro 2 can't be replaced with anything else, so I am stuck with it, so far it is ok but only a question of time before those zinc knife points start to wear..
It is a 1998 Lo-Pro Edge trem that I took away from my 7V (I dropped a new Edge bought from Rich onbthe 7V). Both, the 7V and 555 have an Ibanez backstop installed.

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