Re: Buying first Ibanez! Any tips?
Oh forget the modern stuff... "True" Ibanez MUST be FujiGen Gakki Japan, everything else is a licensed knockoff. And these days, even some of the Prestiges are from dodgy places like Indonesia.
The good stuff also only gets better with age. And timetested stuff is, well, time tested, tried and true. Original hardware that's immaculate after 20-30-40 years gives you real confidence in your investment... And as to woods, that stuff don't grow on trees no more like it used to. LITERALLY. Some of it is gone forever, some of it is banned, some is down to crap grades.
Ex: Gibby and rosewood, remember that mess? And even now, all they have is the horrid orange stuff... old MIJ? Now that there is the deliiiicious deep even brown of real, no longer available BRAZILIAN rosewood.
So, models to watch:
Early 90s IBANEZ SABER 540s, awesome old Wizard neck, perfect LoPro Edge trem (better than today's S-5400, yes I've compared)... playability-wise it's pretty unbeatable, about on a level with a few cooler ESPs, but nothing else can touch it rly.
note: a few of them sport a "CUSTOM MADE" inlay, that's pretty much the precursor of the "Prestige" moniker, it's Custom about the same way a Gibby LP Custom is Custom - don't let crooks tell you it's a unique, single-piece-made-to-order custom shop instrument, cause it isn't.
a good 70s vintage Ibanez Les Paul or Destroyer (think Explorer)... with SUPER 70 PUPS. emphasis on the Maxon Super 70s here. those things rock.
Both of the above suggestions are FAAAR cooler gear than a modern Gibson SG Standard, speaking from ownership experience. A 90s Saber will also have far superior workmanship to Gibson products. Late 70s / early 80s are also likely to be more thoroughly made... At the end of the 80s, there was a sharp fluctuation in exchange rates that briefly made Japanese yen 3 times more expensive (that's when all midrange models of most brands moved over to Korea and a few Japanese brands went out of business, and that's why), meaning they had to choose between tripling dollar prices, taking a loss on every product sold, or cost-cutting, so be a bit more careful in examining late 80s stuff. A lot of it WAS in fact taking a loss on every unit moved and making stuff to the old standard of perfection, but everyone did experiment with cost-cutting solutions in certain models.
...or start your Ibanez experience with a bass. Early 80s and mid-late 90s MIJ Ibanez basses have some of the best bass necks ever dreamed up on the planet, in any decade, for any price point. AND they're conveniently cheap. Like $150-300 cheap, for a pro-grade studio or stadium-worthy model sometimes.
PS above based on personal experiences. MIJ ibanezes owned past & present:
70's Les Paul Custom maple fb w/ Super 70s
'87 Ibanez Roadstar RD707 bass
'91 Ibanez Saber 540s, HSS, LoProEdge
'99 Ibanez Soundgear SR-885 bass (shamelessly sold for a 600% profit. lol.)
Things they've favourably compared to (as in crushingly surpassed) in the comfort of my own home - as in guitars I have actually had, not stuff I salivated over at GC:
'04 Gibson SG Standard
Gibson Flying V Gothic
Gibson Flying V Standard
Gibson Flying V, EMG 81-85
Gibson SG Standard, EMG 81-81
'11 Gibson LP 60s Trib
'95 Fender AmStd Stratocaster
'06 Jackson RR3
so, in short? unless you're looking for EMG-powered guitars (ESP Standard is your friend there), Ibanez has or had an MIJ model that can go up against any market leader in any other category of electric guitar that you can think of. And even with EMGs, those can just be a simple-ish mod away if you should so choose.