I should've been clearer: I have no experience with project Jems, but I have with custom builds (Jazz boxes, strats) But I'll reiterate what I said earlier:
Yeah you really
should have been clearer because when you say you have no experience with custom builds, funnily enough, most folks will assume you have no experience with custom builds
- The neck is probably the single most important aspect of owning a real Ibanez.
I seriously question that some guy in a shed can better digitised profiles, has access to double titanium truss rods,
humidity controlled maple blanks or the inclination to perform half a dozen hand finishing steps to get to the final product.
Even relatively simple stuff they often don't do on customs (IE quartersawn, five piece, walnut strips etc.)
Nothing what you guys have said has taken any of my doubt away. The blanket statement to which I replied:
There is no doubt you can build a better Jem than an off the peg Jem if you have the right sources.
is simply wishful thinking.
Luthiers, no matter how good, simply don't have the technical, engineering and manufacturing knowledge to build a proper Jem neck. For example, I've yet to see a luthier so much as mention truss rods, profiles or humidity on their websites. Are we supposed to expect them to get those things right, without any hint to what they're actually doing?
Your point above actually makes me call into question your understanding of what a luthier is and what he does. And this might be a basic issue that needs to be resolved.
When most folks here talk about a luthier weíre talking about a skilled craftsman, someone who understands engineering, who understands woodworking, Thereís a big difference between someone with a shed whoís bought a CNC machine and a template for a superstrat body and a trained, experienced journeyman with a purpose built workshop.
I agree that the neck is a VERY important part of the guitar and no, someone might not have a digitiser to ape profiles, but there are SO many great guitars out there that donít have digitised profiles, furthermore, If I want a custom guitar, I want MY profile for the neck not someone elseís. If I want it with a 42 mm nut and an extra mm of depth at the first fret, but then an extra 2.5 mm by the 12th fret and so on as I mover towards the higher frets, digitizing a JEM neckís not going to help get that.
Working with a skilled luthier IS. If Ibanez have access to titatnium truss rods, Iím sure there are suppliers out there whoíll supply an independent luthier too. KTS are one such supplier that get a quick google hit. I donít know enough about humidity control of wood to comment, you may well be right on that one. But the inclination to perform a half dozen hand finishing steps? A real luthier will have the inclination to really go to town on a neck heís making and figuratively, a half dozen extra steps heíll do before breakfast. Weíre not talking polishing the frets, weíre talking bullet fret ends and rolled fingerboard edges, numerous coats of oil and re-sanding. The whole multi laminate thing, any luthier worth his tools will do that for you, the question should be how many people ask for it? Iíd rather ask for a one piece neck, it might not be as stable but it might be nicer to play, have less movement across the different pieces and as itís a one piece, it might just resonate better.
so everything youíre basing your opinions on is internet hearsay
Not at all, I'm looking at the technical and engineering basics behind building guitars, see what Ibanez have done over the last twenty odd years and how they have improved and then I look at luthiers' capabilities.
The flamewars between builders, bad customer testimonials and unfinished projects for sale are simply proof of the fact that those capabilities simply aren't there, at least not consistently.
So far you have only managed to attack me on not having first hand experience with a project Jem, big deal. Prove me wrong on my actual points. Prove me that some guy in a shed can do humidity control on neck blanks, prove me he can weld his own titanium trussrods, prove me he can do digitised profiles.
Have you bought and deconstructed a selection of Ibanez guitars over the last 20 years and mated that to an in depth understanding of woodworking and stringed instrument construction? Or are you looking at Richís catalogue archive and making a few notes? The flame wars and customer testimonials and so on, I presume youíre getting from posts on the internet, or are you flying round the world examining the instruments their claims are based on?
I canít prove you wrong on your points, because other than the issue over the humidity control, there's nothing concrete to disprove. Thereís no attack.
you'll also need a teflon coated wallet to survive the experience
Price is an integral part of the perceived quality to the customer. You cannot claim something is better when it is more expensive. It simply doesn't fulfil a very basic criterion and looking at the reasons many state for starting a project jem, price is a critical requirement. The right source at the wrong price is the wrong source.
So I'll reverse the statement:
Even with the right sources for a project and cash to burn, there is serious doubt that you will approach current factory standards, let alone surpass them.
The right source at the wrong price means you canít afford what you want. It doesnít mean itís the wrong source, to use your own example, just because I canít afford a Ferrari V12 doesnít mean itís the wrong source, it just means I donít have enough cash.
If youíve got the money and if you can find them, maybe you can hire erm, the right luthier to build your custom JEM that matches or surpasses the factory quality. If youíve got $1000 and an e - bay account, you probably canít.