Mythbusting regarding JEMs / JPMs vs. RG550s - Jemsite
Ibanez JEM, UV, JS & Other Signature Models For discussion of Ibanez JEM, Universe and JS (Satriani) guitars only.

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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-13-2018, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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Mythbusting regarding JEMs / JPMs vs. RG550s

Hi there!

This is a post I wanted to do for quite some time now (way too late) because I really feel it needs to be done and I hope other people who ask themselves the same question stumble upon it. The reason for making this post is because I read MANY posts asking questions about JEMs or JPMs vs RG guitars (mainly RG550s/RGX550s), about the difference, tone, etc. and whether the higher price is justified and so on. I asked myself the same question. Some opinions about this topic (even from members in here with quite a reputation) made me really hesitant to buy such a signature guitar because I really believed them and thought those guitars are just overpriced 550s. Only a few people actually held against that statement. Plus, it`s not that you find a JEM or JPM on every corner although they are quite common guitars. So the only way to find out if a JEM and a JPM is an overpriced RG550 is to buy one, try it out yourself and it`s just a really big and often costly effort.

However, the most recent guitars I bought were a JEM7v and a JPM100 and I can 100% assure anyone who is unsure about the difference that THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE in how they feel, how they sound, how they play.

If anyone is familiar with Ibanez guitars then this person will also understand and appreciate the difference between these models and verify that the difference is in fact huge. I personally have played Ibanez exclusively over the last 15 years and I have played well over 50 different models and currently own 14 models and I don`t understand how those guitars should be an overpriced RG550.
If anyone played Gibson and Fender guitars for years and has not much experience with Ibanez, then - well - this person wouldn`t feel and hear a big difference (which is understandable) so it`s probably a matter of perspective to a certain degree, but saying a JEM and a JPM are overpriced RG550s is so wrong that I really had to make this post.

I don`t wanna start a debate, I don`t say they are way better guitars (for example you need to like the lower frets and the tone on a JEM) but I would suggest that if you wanna buy a JEM or a JPM and you are unsure: go for it! It is totally worth it!
I also don`t think that it is super cool to play a signature model and I highly suggest getting your own tone and maybe even your own signature model but I totally stand behind what is written above and I wish I had pulled the trigger way earlier on them.
Again: I don`t want to start a debate but I`m still happy to argue in a positive way!

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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-13-2018, 02:01 PM
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Re: Mythbusting regarding JEMs / JPMs vs. RG550s

What is the HUGE DIFFERENCE (or even small) in parts, material & labor quality (not styling) between a MIJ Prestige RG vs JEM/JPM though?

Are you sure it's always TOTALLY WORTH IT to pay much more (maybe a paycheck or few more?) for the JEM/JPM vs RG?

Please explain more if you're mythbusting.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-13-2018, 02:43 PM
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Re: Mythbusting regarding JEMs / JPMs vs. RG550s

Every time I see a thread like this I'm convinced I'm an idiot for not buying a PGM301 when they were easy to be had in 2007 - and sold IIRC for just $1,300. I'm convinced this would be the perfect guitar for me given my current tastes. I was just not into getting a sig, because in my head a sig used to mean to me that people would be like "oh! You're trying to be THAT guy!" which simply just isn't the case. I also owned a Jem before and I'm of the opinion they are a little better but not THAT much better - especially nowadays where there's more than a 200% premium on them compared to a new RG.
IMO the PGM301 is more distinctly its own animal than the JEM, but all are derivative of the JEM as their parent model.
But now there are also lots more fixed bridge RGs so the gap between them and PGMs might be less now than then.
I would say if one is going to pay $3,500 for a JEM then the QC better be way better than on Prestige MIJ's selling for half the price or more.
The RG IMO is also more fun. You can make it your own more easily. The JEM to me is like an instrument that's distinctly Steve Vai. And there's nothing wrong at all with that. If you want a guitar close to what Steve's playing then the JEM IMO is your route. The RG is a bit of Steve too but also something you can tweak to your own sensibilities. The JEM 505 is also cool in that way; more like a JEM / RG hybrid you can make your own too.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-13-2018, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Mythbusting regarding JEMs / JPMs vs. RG550s

Originally Posted by jemsite View Post
What is the HUGE DIFFERENCE (or even small) in parts, material & labor quality (not styling) between a MIJ Prestige RG vs JEM/JPM though?

Are you sure it's always TOTALLY WORTH IT to pay much more (maybe a paycheck or few more?) for the JEM/JPM vs RG?

Please explain more if you're mythbusting.
haha Well, if we talk about what makes it different in terms of material and parts only, then we could also say that a Fender and a Gibson is made out of wood and they have a bridge made of metal and should basically sound the same if you put the same pickups in it... which is definitely not the case AT ALL. I`m sure you get the point here! It`s the sum of its part, really. With the JEM, there is quite a bit of difference actually with the body being alder and the neck feels completely different than any other RG neck I have ever played. It`s smoother on the back due to how they treated it, it has a very different tone and feels very different due to the smaller frets (6105 IIRC) and the whole guitar has a somewhat slightly chambered-like tone. It`s audible when playing it unplugged (I noticed the same with my Universe btw) and If you knock on the neck, it sounds more like a "hollow knock" (as if there was a chambered part in the neck). It doesn`t feel or sound like a typical RG neck which has more of a "dense" feel and sound. Needless to say that the guitar sounds very different than an RG with Evolution pickups (I have a RG550 with Evos and it sounds COMPLETELY different). That being said: I don`t like the sound or playability of the JEM that much hahaha! That`s mainly because of the frets but that`s just my opinion, so let`s move on to the JPM.

The JPM is "more" on the RG spectrum but still very different. Thicker neck and although it has more of an RG feel when I make the "knock-test" (sounds stupid, eh? haha) it sounds so much different than when I do the same thing with my 550s or 2550s. Fretwork feels dramatically better than on my 550s/2550s and the guitar intonates significantly better. I have a J-Custom and the JPM feels and sounds like the J-Custom: Very balanced and fat yet very tight. All my other RGs have a kind of unbalanced, mid-honky, barky tone. Think about mud in the 300hz and 750hz area. More noise than tone there.... And I have a Steve`s special in one of my 550s, so it`s not the pickup. It would be way easier if you people would be here and could lay your hands on them and judge it yourself since it`s hard to describe it with words. In the end it`s just wood and metal, but the sum of its parts make a big difference.

Is it ALWAYS worth it? All in all, I would say it depends on the shape of the guitar and how much you care about detail and how much you notice them (Eric Johnson syndrome says hello) but given that the guitar is new or at least in great shape, then I think it is worth it IF ONE WANTS TO HAVE THESE GUITARS! Definitely not trying to say that they are WAY better guitars. They are just not overpriced RG550s and only share look and similarities, but feel, play and sound totally different than your average 550s with upgraded pickups.

I have to point out that I am very serious about guitars and guitar playing in general, so to me it is and was worth it. If someone plays the guitar 2 hours in 2 weeks then I would say go with a lower end guitar. I would even say get a Premium model.

And now the reply to mike570 (since I don`t know how to add another quote and try to avoid a double-post):

Pretty sure another one will come across and you will have another chance then! A good friend of mine had or still has one and I played it and loved it. It was the reason I put Paf Pro in one of my 550 and it didn`t even sound close. The PGM had a very smacky sound and sounded super clear under tons of gain and my 550 with the Paf Pro sounded...well... like an RG with a Paf Pro. It didn`t and still doesn`t sound ****, but definitely not like a PGM at all and it sounds kinda dead. I felt like the PGM had a somewhat bigger body and had a wider neck, but not too sure about that. Would need to check the specs to confirm tbh :/

I agree to what you say about signature guitars. It`s the reason I solely use them for studio work and again: I think best is to discover your own tonal preferences. Furthermore, I would like to add that I am not biased since I am not a JP or Vai fan AT ALL and the look of the guitars - well - let`s say there are prettier guitars out there. I had the chance to buy those guitars at an awesome price and I just love Ibanez and felt like trying out these guitars and I was totally expecting them to be overpriced RGs. Glad I discovered the opposite.
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