RCB, I would argue that the Lion's claw, Monkey grip, and vine/pyramid inlays are nothing more than cosmetic variations and have EVERYTHING to do with hero worship and name association, and that is what you pay for as you say yourself. DiMarzio's are a nice upgrade, but I will never buy that the necks on the older Jems are any "better" finished than the RG550's were - they were simply a different profile, and that wasn't even always the case depending on model. Now we have the Prestige finished necks with "extra finishing steps" on the sig models, but that was not the case in the past. I see no difference in quality between the neck on my JS1000 with the Prestige neck and the neck on my JS6 or even any of my Radius guitars (please notice I said QUALITY-there are differences but not in terms of wood selection, sanding, finish, fretwork, inlays, etc. these = quality to me). As you point out, "back then" there was not such a huge price gap for similarly spec'd instruments, and that is where I see the Signature models losing their appeal to people like me who want the best instrument for my $$. I will not pay extra for "flash" (vines, grips, claws,etc..) if it doesn't make for a better playing/sounding instrument. And yes, I have played a few Jems over the last 17 years of being a certfied Ibanez freak.