87 RG550 - - Well Kept Secret - Jemsite
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2005, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up 87 RG550 - - Well Kept Secret

I just completed a deal with a fellow Jemsiter and purchased an '87 RG550.
Over the years I've owned (and own) many Jems and Universes, a Satch and a Gambale. I don't know much about RG's.....
This original 550 is a remarkable solid, well made guitar and very close to the original Jems in feel and playability. I have 2 Jems (88,89)and a 1990 and a 2000 Universe.

I owned a newer RG570 and it is NOT the same quality instrument as this 550.
It appears the models made in the '80's are superior....does anyone else notice this or know the reason why? Were the newer ones still produced in the same factories under the same conditions as the originals?

If this particular guitar is any indication of the quality standards used to build these in the 80's, I would guess the value will appreciate as the years go by.
At this point, they are still very favorably priced.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2005, 01:11 PM
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Re: 87 RG550 - - Well Kept Secret

My guess is that quality control goes down when production numbers go up.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2005, 02:04 PM
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Re: 87 RG550 - - Well Kept Secret

I have two 1991 RG's - a 570 and a 770DX. They decimate my 2004 RG2770FM in playability, comfort, ease of adjustability, and overall general feel. Of course, they've had 14 or so years to settle down versus my '04, which may as well be an '05 because it's so high in production number.

Many of our resident experts say the newer models are superior to the older ones, but I beg to differ. My '04 is a mess, and I can't get the thing right. My '91 guitars take a tiny bit of adjustment every time I change strings and they play like a dream. Even my 770DX, which I often fluctuate between "bad horsie" tuning and standard, is stable and very quick to change around.

I am not buying any Ibanez product newer than about 2000 from here on out. I'll acquire 'em used and upgrade them, now that I'm learning the ways of the luthier. Screw paying for an overpriced, underquality instrument.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2005, 02:38 PM
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Re: 87 RG550 - - Well Kept Secret

Originally Posted by Bluestreak
Screw paying for an overpriced, underquality instrument.

I've got an '87 Maxxas...that guitar really proves what Ibanez was capable of at the time. Modern Ibanez necks often have inferior, low-density maple no matter how much you've paid for it, although I don't know about the J-customs which are on their own, ofcourse.
The last new guitar I bought was a Vigier Excalibur (superior quality French built guitar for way less than any high end Ibbie here)...the last guitar I bought was an '89 Ibanez SR1000E bass...for 200 bucks. To go with the Maxxas. (Same shape, same color, ultra thin neck...even the dots are the same hehe...and the same high build quality)
Texter is offline  
post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2005, 02:44 PM
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Re: 87 RG550 - - Well Kept Secret

For fun I went through my personal collection and 10 of my Ibanez's are from 1987, 4 are from '88, one from '90, and 5 from '85-'86. I only have four from the mid-late '90's. I've been buying/trading for years, as a builder, I probably judge guitars a little differently than just playability/sound. So your statement kind of made me think. How come over the years I've gone "through" many Ibanez guitars but a majority of the ones I've stuck with are from '86-88? Is it my personal bias, or was there something to all those guitars besides that?

I think '86-'90 was a great time for them. They were growing by leaps and bounds but they hadn't gotten too big, and they knew quality was the only way they could avoid being scoffed at, as just the next trend. But their design work with Rich Lasner was fantastic, too. The quality was uniform across their whole line back then. Now there seems to be various degrees of separation. Back then it was more pickups/hardware color/ standard features that separated the "pro" instruments from the standard ones.

If you haven't checked out Nuno's website it's a great place,


Edit: one of the guitars I refer to as an '88 is the Maxxas. (actually with an '87 serial number) They are the pinnacle of guitar design for that era.
frankfalbo is offline  
post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2005, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 87 RG550 - - Well Kept Secret

Frank is correct (as usual) and suprise, suprise!.....he is the jemsiter who sold me this great guitar in the first place.

This ties into the time period when Fender offered "Crafted In Japan" guitars that are widely regarded as good or better than USA strats built during the same period.
This is also when the Tokai Love's were built (same period) and are very sought after now.
I think that overall, Japanese guitars built in that time period were excellent instruments in general and as time goes by certain models will emerge as THE guitars to have.
Remember, the late 50's - early 60's guitars HAVE BEEN popular collector pieces (and will continue to be), but we're approaching the same age with these Japanese guitars and the quality compared to today is considered by most to be superior.

It will be interesting to track the sell price of these RG's in the coming years....I wonder if I should go out and buy a bunch of them as an investment......?
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2005, 11:22 PM
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Re: 87 RG550 - - Well Kept Secret

My '87 550 is an awesome guitar, and one of the reasons I'm Jemless at the moment.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-21-2005, 12:27 AM
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Re: 87 RG550 - - Well Kept Secret

I have just aquired a 550 model with maple neck made in 1998 and I must say it's build quality is excellent.. I can about throw the thing against the wall and it stays in tune.. I'm amazed at the quality of the Ibanez Edge Trem.. I've played good trems, but they were always Dive only real Floyds, or other variations, but none as good as this one and as solid.. The only thing bad about this guitar is that the guy before me took off the original arm assembly in favor of the screw on type of floyd arm.. WHY! Anyway, I bought / just sent out the money to Rich at IbanezRules.com for the orginal arm and assembly and can't wait to get that back and get this thing on it's way.. I'm also not very happy with the stock pickups.. They actually have good EQ, but are pretty lifeless and almost sound like someone has a cover over the speakers or something.. Just something that they (Ibanez) could have went the extra mile in my opinion and added in.. I've noticed that they older US ibanez guitars had Dimarzio / Ibanez pickups, and some of the newer one's have either Dimarzio's or Duncans.. I've also noticed that they seem to really concentrate their best talent on the really expensive Ibanez guitars now, and I think I agree, they were hungry in the 80's to get a piece of the pie so to speak of the market back then, so they watched their p's and q's.. That said, my 98 has some things I think I like better such as the neck's radious where it attaches to the body.. with the better access to the highest frets.. and I like the neck re-inforcement piece in the neck.. Sometype of mahogany looking wood.. Can't think of the name of it.. I think it's called "Bubinga".. Who knows, I might have never needed it, but I've noticed a lot of the older Ibanez RG's had cracked necks, and I remember some warped one's in the old days at a local dealer in Indy when I lived there.. I was a huge kramer fan back then before they went to Japan and Korea.. I still think the US and Japanese for sure make the best guitars.. I recently wrote Tokai and asked where I could get some of there guitars.. They wrote me back and said they were in a law suit with Gibson and can't sell here yet.. I thought that was interesting..
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-22-2005, 06:01 AM
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Re: 87 RG550 - - Well Kept Secret

I sold my 10th because the RB was a better guitar - for me. Most RG/Jem models I've owned have been from that era, and I only sold them because I needed. I too like the older stuff better, not only because of the colors.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-23-2005, 03:35 AM
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Re: 87 RG550 - - Well Kept Secret

Originally Posted by frankfalbo
If you haven't checked out Nuno's website it's a great place, http://www.ibanez87.it/english/e-home.aspx
thanks Frank!
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-24-2005, 02:15 PM
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Re: 87 RG550 - - Well Kept Secret

Hey Nuno, just wanted to say that i dig the site. It was a nice suprise seeing the interview with Larry Mitchell. He has been one of my favorite players for a long time, and i still listen to his first 2 cd's on a regular basis. Hopefully the new record will be mor ein the hard rock vein of those earlier ones.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-25-2005, 02:53 AM
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Re: 87 RG550 - - Well Kept Secret

thanks Freedom's Door! actually a new VERY interesting interview with a VERY important guy from the late '80s Ibanez USA Custom Shop is incoming. just waiting for him answering all of my 40+ questions! ;D
and i've got some contacts from a few endorsees as well, stay tuned!
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