Goodbye JEMs, Hello 550 - Jemsite
All Other Guitars (including Prestige) Discussion about other Ibanez Guitars not covered in the above topics. Includes J-Custom, USA-Custom, Prestige subforum.

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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-20-2003, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Longmont, Colorado
Posts: 1,882
Goodbye JEMs, Hello 550

Well, it hasn't been the most profitable year around here, so I've been cleaning out alot of stuff and getting back to basics. (Anyone read the Guitar Sam cartoon in the last Guitar World with Korn on the cover?)

So I sold my JEMs, the VSBL was the last to go, awesome guitars if you are looking at a JEM, and kept my RT450 (MIJ with Vintage trem instead of Edge) and picked up a pretty close to mint '93 550. I looked at the new 1550s but I couldn't justify the difference in cost, especially when the '93 was so nice, still has the plastic on the truss rod cover and no wear at all on the Edge. I also don't like the volute on the new necks and the Prestige necks seem even thinner(?) This guitar rocks, I've got new pickups to go in it, a Tone Zone and an Air Classic, I'll leave the Ibz S1 for now. This is going to be a cool guitar, whole package for less than $500 including new pups and a case. Looking forward to spending the weekend setting it up. The black on black with the maple neck looks killer, yeah, it's got the old style neck joint but it doesn't bother me.

Next, I still have a few more items to off, then it'll either be a 7620 or maybe a new 1527, they are sweet!

rgr is offline  
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-21-2003, 02:04 AM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 115
I feel sad to know that you sold your JEMs... The recent years were not quite good to me either. BTW, I think used 7620 is the way to go
cocobig is offline  
post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-21-2003, 02:44 AM
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Italia
Posts: 4,725
you brave man, Roger! i like it!
congrats for your choice, take care of the new babe!
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-21-2003, 07:10 AM
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 835
in what way can a volute bother you?
sam669 is offline  
post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-21-2003, 07:28 AM
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Italia
Posts: 4,725
what does "volute" mean?
nuno is offline  
post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-21-2003, 11:29 AM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: A Mile High (USA)
Posts: 2,990
Nice choice Roger!

I've sold all but (1) of my JEMs/UVs simply because I never played them. There are plenty of other guitars out there that play and sound just as great, and the RG550 is certainly one of them (with the right electronics of course!).

Rock on!
vaijem777 is offline  
post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-21-2003, 01:39 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Longmont, Colorado
Posts: 1,882
A volute is a "bump" on behind the nut, it's not really a big deal, I could live with one, but I like the old necks with the scarf joint better. The Prestige necks are one piece so they have more wood where the headstock starts its tilt back for strength.

Thanks Chris, I have a Tone Zone to try in the bridge, I would have preferred a Norton but Jason didn't have any so I'm going to give the TZ a shot, it might not be as bass heavy with the maple board. If it doesn't work I'll use the DiMarzio return policy for a Norton. I got a Air Classic Bridge to go in the neck, it's a little hotter than the AC neck but with almost the same EQ curve so I think it will match better with the hot bridge pup. The AC seems like it will be more PAF sounding and not as mid heavy as a Air Norton, but not as trebly as a HB from Hell. I want nice clarity from the neck pup.

I'm actually more excited about the 550 than I have been about a new guitar in quite a while, including JEMs. This one is sweet! Just needs a good personal setup.

rgr is offline  
post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-21-2003, 09:00 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4
Congrats on the new toy. I was wondering if you like this guitar more than the jems? I am a fender player, and have been one since the begging, however I tried out a jem, and a rgt42 at my local guitar shop and loved it soooo much. I am now saving up for a jem, but if you like the rg550 better I think I might just pick that up. What would you recommend the rg550 or other rg models or just save my money and get a jem. thanks and congrats again.
Guitarshredder is offline  
post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-21-2003, 10:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Colorado
Posts: 1,383
If I may jump in here . . .

I've been the proud owner of an RG 550 for the past 14 years, she's great.

I just popped a set of Evos in there and I'm happier than ever. (I had a PAF Pro and a Super Distortion in there for about 13 years and decided on a change).

I had been longing for a Jem since they came out, but they have always been way out of my price range, and I'm not big on used guitars, I prefer them to be "virgin" so that I can play them in to my hands, but that's just me . . . I digress . . .

Recently I was loaned a Jem 7VWH 2002 model by a family member . . . nice guitar, I had it for three days and put about six months worth of playing on it (damn my wrists are sore). He just wanted me to set it up but was in no hurry to get it back.

After all that time I came to this conclusion . . . I have small hands, I already knew that but here's the point . . . while the Jem neck is VERY thin compared to many, if not most other guitars out there it's actually too THICK for me after playing all these years on a Wizard neck . . . I have an RG 550 and a newer RG 520, both with insanely thin necks and the Jem neck actually made my hand a little sore. (No, not just from all that time playing, almost right from the start from the fact that my thumb is a little farther away from my fingers while fretting)

I'm sure I could get used to it, but when I have the option of the Wizard neck, I think I'll just stick with that.

That's MY reasoning behind it, but to give you some idea of what you're asking about Jem and 550 . . . I'd say while the RG's (500 and up line) are NOT Jems, nor are they really up to par with Jem quality I have to say if the Jem 7VWH had a 17 mm neck instead of a 19 mm neck, I'd be there, but you don't really lose much going with an RG (500+) guitar . . . swap the pickups for sure, but you may actually like the V7 and V8 pups, many people do . . . so if you don't want to spend all that money, go for an RG, you do get a pretty good bang for the buck, while I personally think a Jem IS worth the money, I think you get MORE for your money with an RG . . . just my opinion though . . . YMMV

All that said, I say try everything yourself first . . . don't take anyone else's opinion only . . . ask questions, as you already are, but use your own judgment. If you like the Jem neck and have the bread to drop on it, go for it . . . I would, if not, well, there are other options out there.

I recently cleaned an ancient Strat for the same family member, sweet sounding guitar with a baseball bat for a neck . . . ouch! But some people LOVE that feel, I think I'll pass though. :-)

As usual I've over-stated my point . . . so . . . th-the-th-the-th-the that's all folks! (Looney Tunes Theme here)


After a long night sitting in front of a computer, in a cubicle having people yell at him for calling to collect debts, Mickey's brains have been reduced to something resembling chunky oatmeal . . . nuff said.
MicJustMic is offline  
post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 12:57 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Longmont, Colorado
Posts: 1,882
I'm not really saying that I like the 550 better than a JEM, the JEMs get better quality control, come with nicer pickups and, on the VWH and VSBL, alder bodies instead of basswood. The hardware is comparable on both, in fact, it's the same on the new JEMs and the Prestige 1550 and 1570s. My 550 has the original Edge, works fine for me, I don't get hung up on the regular vs Lo-Pro thing, they both work. Neither does Vai apparently, Evo tends to sport a regular Edge most of the time now.

The biggest difference in the guitars is the feel, the Wizard neck on the RGs is thinner than the JEM neck, except for the DBK (and some older models, i.e. PBK) which is very close to the Wizard neck. I personally like the JEM necks better, but I can get used to about anything. The RGs have jumbo frets while the JEMs have 6105 fretwire, the 6105 is about as tall as jumbos (6100) but thinner, I like the jumbos better. In the past the JEMs supposedly got more attention to detail, but now that the 1550s and 1570s are also Prestige series, that can be argued. If you buy a 550, 570, 1550, or 1570, you will probably end up replacing the pickups, the Ibz pickups are good, but not great.

Are the JEMs better than 550s, probably yes, but not insurmountably, the RGs came from the work with Vai on the JEMs. Are the JEMs worth "that" much more, again, it's a totally subjective question. The JEM is slightly more expensive to build, and the pickups cost more, although I'm sure Ibanez buys enough from DiMarzio to get a substantial discount. Do you like Vai? Alot of the money from the purchase of a JEM goes to his pocket, I'm sure he has a pretty sweet deal and gets quite a bit off the sale of JEMs, more than Joe I would suspect, just from comparing the prices of the JS's vs JEM's. I like Vai, I own all of his music and have played many JEMs so I don't mind him getting some of my money. I tend to stay away from the models that he is most associated with because I would rather "be me". By the same token, I have owned a slightly beat up VWH, it was a killer guitar.

For now, the 550 is the guitar for me. I may pick up a JEM again at some point, maybe a DBK if I can get rid of those gawdawful screw head inlays. The VSBL is a very sweet guitar, and if you haven't seen one up close, the color is very nice and they play incredible. I like basic black, the 550 is rocking my world right now.

I guess the point of this rant is, if it's worth the difference between the 2 for the Vai-ness of the JEM, go for it, it's a great guitar. If it's not, get the 550, you'll love it, it's also a great guitar. Try one first though, the neck is going to be alot thinner than the Fenders you've been playing and you may or may not like it.

BTW, the first new (not used) guitar I ever bought for myself was an '87 or '88 black 550 with a rosewood fretboard, because I couldn't afford a JEM at the time.

rgr is offline  
post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 03:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: mn.
Posts: 808
I sold all my jems too.I'm going through a flame maple,quilt top phase it seems.In the last 3yrs I've had 10 jems.Every one except the dbk I had to reshape the neck to fit my smaller hands.Don't get me wrong,I do like the jems,especially the 7vwh.Besides a few high end ibanez's,most of my time is spent on rg's.Great bang for the buck,especially with good pickups.Plus they make great project guitars.A little mod here and there and you can truly make it your own.Enjoy your 550,they rock with the best!
musicdr is offline  
post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 11:47 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4
Hey everyone, thanks for all the help and replies!! I haven't been able to play a older rg550 yet, but I have played the jem77fp and couldn't stop drooling. I guess I'm used to the larger necks and loved it. I'm going to go do some guitar searching today in town and see if I can find anything. But thanks for all your help. Ill tell you what I find.
Guitarshredder is offline  
post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 10:40 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Delta, B.C., Canada
Posts: 383
It's the 750 for me... love those shark teeth...
pinto79 is offline  
post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-23-2003, 07:45 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 206
Originally Posted by pinto79
It's the 750 for me... love those shark teeth...
Agreed, I love those sharkfins. The 770 was the first Ibanez guitar I really lusted after. Although I must say I prefer the JEM neck. Are the IBZ USA pups that used to come with these guitars in the early '90s good? I only briefly tried one in the music store and never really got to compare them to my guitars.
EnigmaUV7 is offline  
post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-24-2003, 12:23 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Delta, B.C., Canada
Posts: 383
I really like the F2 pups in the 750's. I put an evolution in one of mine, but next time I change strings, the F2 is going back in. They have just the right amount of warmth and grind.

It's hard to explain, but they suit the guitar well.
pinto79 is offline  

air norton , alder bodies , bridge pup , flame maple , guitar shop , jem neck , jumbo frets , killer guitar , local guitar shop , maple neck , music store , neck joint , neck pup , paf pro , prestige necks , rosewood fretboard , scarf joint , sounding guitar , super distortion , tone zone , truss rod , truss rod cover , vintage trem

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