Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix) - Jemsite
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post #1 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 05:33 AM Thread Starter
 
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Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix)

I finally also got the chance to visit Tokyo's famous guitar street, Meidai-dori in Ochanomizu (pronounced something like "Oshanomisu"). Here is a somewhat verbose report of the experience.

The street is very simple to find, as it extends just south of Ochanomizu JR station. A very good link with a map of the area can be found here: Ochanomizu map - best use Babelfish or so to translate.

What can I say, it is pretty overwhelming. The street has several small shops that are indeed packed bottom to roof with guitars. But seriously, after a first shock it's not as crazy as it seems. It's about 10 stores in less than half a mile, yes, but it's overseeable after visiting a few times. Still, I am glad I got my own J Custom (a 2007 RG8470F FE) from Rich before the trip, I might have gone mad otherwise .

It seemed fun for the store staff when my wife took nerd pictures of me, but it felt uncomfortable standing in a store by myself taking pictures of individual guitars and price tags, so the quality is not always great, I'm sorry.

The shops at Ochanomizu are packed with instruments of all price ranges. Yet, since Japan is a very rich country, expensive luxury guitars are as abundant as nowhere else I've ever been. In some of the shops, the main customer was dressed in suit and tie, which was odd to say the least. Case in point - Yngwie Malmsteen replica, with dedication note from the master himself at the Fender flagship store in Ginza, Tokyo - check out the price tag:


More Ibanez-specific, as this was a unique oportunity to see many Ibanez guitars of several years and models at once and in different stores.

- Ibanez is not as prominent or dominant as one might think. I was at first disappointed, as I expected some J Customs in every store. Wrong. But when they had them, man, then they had them good. Compared to the US, prices are not lower in Japan, if anything, then stuff is actually more expensive there than in the US.


- Many of the new MII models are eye-catching, most impressive were the new RG350QM models with the quilted maple veneer tops. And their quality is not as bad as their reputation (see below).

- I passed several used and NOS golden age S-models - an S1520 in some kind of killer honey color, a mint S540LTD in blue, a case queen yellow Frank Gambale model (overpriced with almost 2k...), a player green-ish S7420, a NOS S2120X in VV, a modded S470, and so on. So they are around, but not sure if more abundantly than in the US.

- There are some other killer NOS or used Ibbis around - I played a nice but quite beaten RGT Prestige, a PGM500, as well as a 2007 RGT320F in Black Onyx with EP, by looks one of the most stunning RGs (the p/us were so-so, however). Very tempting but at 280.000 JPY way overpriced.



- The 2008/2009 J Custom models are the most common J Customs hanging around in stores, as expected. I saw all versions (DiMarzio, SD, EMG) in all colors, prices usually started at around 210.000-220.000 JPY.

- At Ishibashi, they had their house-specific 2008 IRG8470, one in blue and one in Hesonite Garnet hanging in the store. The blue is pretty light, not as dark as I expected from online pictures. Hesonite Garnet on the contrary looks boring on photos, but I found it rather classy in real life.



- There are plenty of 2007 and earlier J Custom models with Edge Pros still around, most frequently RG8470ies in Red Spinel or Prominence. Often the prices were around 180.000 JPY, even less for used ones in various conditions (cosmo wear, anyone?). Cheapest I saw was a 2005 RG8270 in Red Spinel that was quite a player, for around 110.000 JPY.

- I saw not a single NOS or used 7-string or neck-through J Custom, and upon inquiry some of the staff had never even seen such a thing...so they must be rare indeed.
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post #2 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 05:40 AM
 
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Re: Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix)

I enjoyed that very much thanks for sharing your experience with us. I love it when people take photos of guitar shops around the world! Those Red j-customs are so beautiful they are breath taking!
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post #3 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 05:41 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix)

- This gave me a first chance to compare the different flame maple RG8470 finishes.
Black Onyx is the most popular according to the sales guys, but seriously, it is not a very spectacular finish in real life. It's very dark and barely exposes the flame tops.
Prominence is pretty, but the new Purple Amnethist is stunning. However, all of these are second to Red Spinel, which looks impressive and sexy in person. I still like Fire Agate best .
(the charcoal J Custom on the right is an MRG-9, see below).


- In my honest opinion (and also stated by some of the techs there), a J Custom with EMGs is just plain wrong, not only by looks but also by sound and concept.

- There is a huge variability between the exposed maple bindings and neck bindings on RG8470ies. Some guitars having very dark (dirty?) bindings or seemingly not well-matching body/neck bindings, while others were absolutely stunning. If you get a guitar online without seeing it, make sure you get lots of pictures of it!

- I was rather disappointed by closer inspection of some of the RG8470 flame maple tops on 2008/2009er guitars. There were quite a few guitars were the "book matching" showed a very ovious and sloppy seam. Also, the clear coat appeared of different thickness on different guitars of the same color - some of the Black Onyx even had a wavy or bumpy surface by touch over the flame maple top. But again, some individual guitars were absolutely stunning.
Conclusion once more - don't just order them online without heaps of pictures and questions answered by the overseas seller.

- Every Edge Zero I've inspected had extremely variable degrees of fine tuner coating, which looks very odd and just further enforces my perception of it being currently a half-backed trem.

- Quality variations
There were indeed a lot of Prestige models with seemingly non-prestige fret ends, such as on a new Paul Gilbert PGM100RE. On the other hand, I was very impressed by many Indonesian RGs that hung around, they had unexpectedly great fret end and neck finishes too. These things truly get obvious when you can compare many guitars at once. Also the differences between rounded J Custom ends was tremendous upon closer inspection.
That means there were MII Ibbys with better detail finishing than MIJ Prestiges, a pity. I am not sure what the techs in the store have to do with that, as some of the stores had very skilled techs that might do fret ends, etc. by default on incoming guitars. But it was revealing to see the differences and variabilities.

- At Kurosawa, I got to play the rare special-issue MRG-8 (pic below) and MRG-9 (see above) J Customs. The craftmanship on these two guitars blows the other J Customs away. The black charcoal color looked very similar to a more structure-revealing Himalayan Black. Both were over 3k, however. Aparently, the MRG-8 has something like a "chambered body', but I could not understand the info sheet well enough.


- Also, The major guitar tech at Kurosawa was a great guy to talk to (and his English was very fluid) - I had lengthy enjoyable discussions about 80/90ies era Ibbis, the EP vs the Edge Zero, customer feedback, J Custom quality variability across different badges/years. Very impressive to get a first-hand view. He also said that the new purple J Customs look stunning, but people are hesitant to buy them - Black Onyx still goes best.

- - ESP has a dominant presence, and some very impressive instruments. The store Big Boss even features an ESP custom shop, where you can see and touch the different woods, necks, etc. The craftmanship is incredible on the high-end instruments, as are the prices (incredibly high, that is...). Yet, somehow they are a bit too much bling-bling for my taste,


- Caparison is even in Japan not as wide-spread as imagined. Kurosawa however had almost every current model in the store to try.
The craftmanship is amazing - but I still cannot get used to their humbucker mounting, which looks way too bulky. The necks are are definitely on the "thicker" side (not unlike a Wizard II), yet quite comfortable - only the TAT neck-through necks are bit weird to me as they are lacquered, I prefer less sticky finishes as on their Dellinger and Horus models.
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post #4 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 05:42 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix)

Man you're fast ibz_SA, I wasn't even done with the second part .
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post #5 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 06:04 AM
 
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Re: Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix)

Just love the pics I agree with the purple and IMO would look superb on the Herman Lee sig!
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post #6 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 06:07 AM
 
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Re: Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix)

That was all pretty cool, checkin the store out is cool!!!! But you have got to be yankin my chain 1,800,000 yen for the yngwie relic!!!! For the aussies out there, that au$23000!!!!! pass........
Did spy a RC-7 in there...nom nom nom
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post #7 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 06:10 AM
 
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Re: Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix)

Agreed! I thought I did that wrong on the Conversion calculator!
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post #8 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 06:39 AM
 
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Re: Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix)

Man being there would break my heart unless I was armed with tons of cash!!
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post #9 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 07:31 AM
 
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Re: Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix)

Nice post, thanx for sharing. Did you get a chance to try out any ESP custom shop?
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post #10 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 08:21 AM
 
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Re: Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix)

Niiiiice
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post #11 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 09:18 AM
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Re: Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix)

I miss Tokyo, I used to go every 6 months in my old job and haven't been since I started at a new company

The guitar stores there are fantastic and like most things Japanese, they're not at all half hearted like UK stores.

Thanks for posting these pictures, a great remnder for me
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post #12 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 11:06 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix)

Quote:
Originally Posted by DsrkHorse View Post
Nice post, thanx for sharing. Did you get a chance to try out any ESP custom shop?
They had some Horizon models in the store that were true showcase instruments - quilt maple, body bindings, in blue, tobacco-ish and green, plus gold hardware (bling-bling, again). The price tag was something around 560.000 JPY, so I backed off from trying them out . But the detail work on the fret ends, pickup mounting, etc. was impressive.

Tokyo, and Japan in general, is a place I'd go back to whenever I can. Not just for guitars.
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post #13 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 11:29 AM
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Re: Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix)

Yes!! I miss Ochanomizu! I bought my Steinberger there in 2004.

I bought my VWH in Ginza in '93! They do have some awesome guitar stores there. The wife and I were just talking about how much we miss 7-11 food. The 7-11 food in Japan is absolutely awesome. It would take us a while to decide what we wanted because everything is soooo good!! Thanks for the pics and memories!
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post #14 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 11:31 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix)

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Originally Posted by UV-7-BK View Post
Did spy a RC-7 in there...nom nom nom
There were so many interesting guitars "in the background" .
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post #15 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 12:25 PM
 
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Re: Ibanez watching in Ochanomizu, Tokyo (attn. big pix)

I'm a big fan of Akira Takasaki of Loudness. Did you play any Killer Guitars? One day I will own one.


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