Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Central Coast California
Re: Looking at vintage "S" series, which years are best?
I have both a 97 (HSH) and 91 (HSS) S and although they are both excellent examples of Ibanez qualitty the 97 is just a touch better. Not enough to make much of a difference. They are both near mint with little wear and play great. Around 1990 the bridge changed from the edge to the lo-pro which is of the same quality with just a different feel. you should note that the edge will except a dtuna and the lo-pro will not if you are into that. I am concidering changing the bridge to an original edge on on of them just to add a D-tuna. Other than that both are great and even though one of the guitars was played significantly the knife edges look almost new. The 97 was a closet queen so it is just about perfect all around.
The newest Sabers are very nice. I still feel the quality is not quite the same as the 80/90 Sabers mainly due to wood quality. To me the older ones just have better tone, resonance, and sustain. The new ZR may have a part in this (when compared to the edge) but it is a very, very stable trem. I also have a indo S570 which is nice, but I did change the neck over using a 2008 RG reissue nech that has taken that guitar to a new level of playability. I really do like the ZR becuase of the stability and design. The modern S also has 24 frets which I like but I prefer the neck pickup placement on the 22 fret models.
All this being said I owned a 2012 S5470 for about a month before returning it. Great g guitar with good looks but not as good as my older sabers from an overall quality standpoint. I just couldn't justify the $1500-$1800 compared to a $300-$500 s540. This prompted me to look for the upgraded neck to be S570 which satisfied the 24 fret needs and gave my a high quality neck which I felt was the only thing lacking on the indo S.
Regarding your decision to go Ibanez. I have played just about every guitar made and always came back to by Les Pauls bacuase of the tone. Some of the other felt better, lighter, more comfortable, better necks, but none had the tone. The S gets me close to that base tone. It is not the same the LP's have more sustain and are a bit fatter throuhout the range, but it is in the right ballpark. So by using the right pickups I can maintain my prefered tone while getting the faster more agile playability. I really love the flat thin Ibanez necks. Neck shape has never really been a huge issue for me in recent years, but I do prefer the playability of the wizzrd type neck (1,2,3 super, ultra, etc. i just doesn't matter much to me). Now if I want ever lasting sustain and thick tone I just pickup my LP Custom with its thick mahagony neck.... there is just no substitute......but speed, agility, and flexibility the Ibanez S540 has no substitutes.