Whew, I never thought so much politics and restrictions behind all this. *I guess that explains why so few J-customs are available in the States. *But it all make sense because after all, they are small quantity custom made guitars. *These days folks like Ishibashi are selling J-customs on the web, so I suppose with the Internet and guys like us, Ibanez may have to realize there is a small demand for these top of the line guitars elsewhere outside Japan.
No doubt, custome made guitar is a complete opposite direction to a company's mass production philosophy. *Yet they still have to do it to establish their position in the high-end guitar market. *Unfortunately, I feel that the lack of promotion for such a good product line (J-customs) in the US, people just could not realize, let alone appreciate, the quality of these guitars.
I agree with Kevan that, when it comes to quality top-end guitars, the Ibanez shop in Japan is on par with (in some way, exceeds) other major guitar makers. *Although the designs of J-customs are not exactly mainstream, they offer an alternative to those boring traditional models (LPs, str*ts). *Don't get me wrong, I think those guys also make very nice customs but it seems difficult to change the mass perception of what Electric guitars are all about.
Ibanez has a very different approach on J-custom designs. *Everyone I have seen is always a nice suprise. *Everytime I run into a never seen before J-custom model, my reaction would be "you can do that on a guitar?" *Yet, Ibanez preserves the fundamental RG or S design and comes up with fresh ideas on the finish, appointments and hardware. *That makes the entire line of J-customs very interesting.
May be some day Ibanez will realize this, but until then I probably have to search hard all over the world for these rare guitars. *All thanks to you Kev. *LOL