Signature Prestige vs Premium - Jemsite
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post #1 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-12-2017, 02:05 AM Thread Starter
 
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Signature Prestige vs Premium

My apologizes if this has been beaten to death but after an extensive search (here and Google) I couldn't find any conclusive answers.

I've been looking at a couple of Signature series guitars (non-Vai) models and after comparing specs, I have to wonder what the major differences are to justify the price difference.

Kiko Prestige vs Premium differences:

neck .......... KIKO100 5pc Maple/Walnut neck | KIKO10P 5pc Maple/Walnut neck w/KTS™ TITANIUM rods
fret ........... Jumbo frets w/Prestige fret edge treatment | Jumbo frets w/Premium fret edge treatment
bridge ....... Edge | Edge-Zero II
case/bag .. Hardshell | Case
Prest Misc.. Scalloped frets, different inlay material, Gotoh tuners
list price ... 3,999.99 | 1,999.99 (Sweetwater)

I've read enough threads that will counter the information of the last thread but most of those were opinion based due to 1 bad experience 6 years ago.

What are the differences between the models besides what is listed above?
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post #2 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-12-2017, 09:10 AM
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Re: Signature Prestige vs Premium

varies by model but generally speaking you get the inferior bridge and production line. I have a long-winded work-in-progress article on Pro/Cons of Jem Premium vs Prestige click here it might give some more clarity.
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post #3 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-12-2017, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Signature Prestige vs Premium

Interesting read. I've found it educational. A correction is needed "RG655 (Made in Japan) list price $1599 vs JEM77SFG (made in Indonesia)..." Should be JEM70SFG, not 77.

Could you go into more detail why the Edge is better than an Edge Zero II? On a side note, I've read that the Edge Zero and Edge Zero II are direct placements for each other. Could you add that to the explanation? Also what is the difference between the Prestige neck and the Premium neck w/KTS™ TITANIUM rods?

So far the places that I've check for the KIKO models are only able to get them about a week after ordering them. This means I am not able to get my hands on them until after they are paid for and returns for "special orders" are not possible. It is also my understanding that there isn't a different model (RG655 / JEM70 or 77) that is a direct comparison due to the specifications are unique to the single model.
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post #4 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-12-2017, 10:34 AM
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Re: Signature Prestige vs Premium

thx typo corrected

Someone will have to comment on retrofitting an Edge Zero and Edge Zero II.

I'm not the person to comment on Edge vs EZ2 cause i'm a trem snob. If i buy an axe with a double-locking trem and go thru all the hassle of that axe i'm getting the best tremolo - Edge/LoPro/EdgePro - made 30+ years running. Otherwise i'd prefer no tremolo. That said perhaps the EZ2 is the best "not a real Edge" double locker ibanez has used. Here are my personal notes on the EZ2...

Ibanez Edge Zero-II was introduced in 2011 to replace the Edge-III. The Edge Zero-II “Zero Point” double locking tremolo is currently found in Premium JEMs (Indonesian made) aside from the original Sea Foam Green JEM70SFG (which featured the Edge trem). Features: locking studs, Knife edges that are pressed in (like the Edge, LoPro & EdgePro), tremolo arm that plugs-in with adjustable arm tension. The EZII can be set to float or for zero point with the stop rod that prevents the float. Unfortunately, the body routing, stud width & stud placement is different than the Edge, LoProEdge, EdgePro so none of those, nor the OFR Original Floyd Rose trems nor Gotoh 1996T will directly retrofit and drop-in without severe body modifications.
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post #5 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-12-2017, 11:51 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Signature Prestige vs Premium

The more I let your article settle in, the more I am probably better off going with the Prestige.

The reason isn't because of the tremolo differences or the country of origin but the future resale value once it is discontinued and I am ready to sell it after many years of trusty use... At least that is what I will be telling my credit card when it asks for mercy.
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post #6 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-12-2017, 12:20 PM
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Re: Signature Prestige vs Premium

A self proclaimed trem snob and Japan snob cannot write an unbiased paper on a snobs choice over "the other ran".
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post #7 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-13-2017, 02:10 PM
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Re: Signature Prestige vs Premium

Well, I retract that after reading it. I'd have written alot of that myself. I'll correct some errors and add commentary though.


Ignoring the price and style, objectively speaking the Premium JEMs electric 6-string & UV 7-string guitars have decent hardware, feature set, build quality, Dimarzio made Ibanez pickups, sound… backed by Ibanez warranty available new from authorized dealers.


Since we're talking JEM's they are not Dimarzio/IBZ pickups, only the first run [and possibly some current models available outside the US] had those, all current Premiums in the US are Dimarzios [just as the Dimarzio/IBZ's were, they were just made specifically for Ibanez by Dimarzio] and the same pickups they use in Fujigen models.


The fact that Made-in-Japan RGs featured real Edge tremolos at a much lower cost than Premium JEM/UVs creates a source of conflict if not disappointment. Ibanez methodically altered the body routing so you can’t directly swap an Edge into the Edge Zero II routing of the Premium JEMs without extensive body routing & modification. Ibanez used the same playbook as it did with the old & scorned Korean 555s with TRS-equipped tremolos that did not accept the Edge trems. This is intentional.


You couldn't put an Edge into a TRS rout because the TRS rout was made to fit the TRS, not an Edge. Yes, it is intentional to make the rout fit the actual trem being used. That is not to say you don't have a valid argument with the wider stud spacing on the current EZ/ZR variations.


(-) Overpriced vs other similar non-signature Indonesian guitars (i.e. Indonesian RGs)
Ibanez imposes a rather high “signature model” tax on the Indonesian JEMs. $750 upcharge (50% price increase) vs similar Indonesian RGs. This is where the Premium JEMs becomes questionable in terms of value relative to similar non-signature models.
• RG950 list price $1,408 vs JEM77PBFP list price $2,133. Both guitars are made in Indonesia with comparable parts/hardware. $750 upcharge for plastic vine inlay, monkey grip & lion’s claw (removes wood, decreases tone/sustain).

For comparison of like-Prestige models the JEM7VWH list price is $4000 vs RG655 list price $1599. This represents a $2,401 upcharge for the tree of life inlays, Monkey Grip, Lion’s Claw, possibly better Rosewood fret board and angled input jack.



This has always been the expected signature upcharge for 30 years now, why would we expect anything to change? In 87' the JEM was $1299, the RG550 was $659. They were double the price from the beginning.


Interjecting subjective commentary to clarify this point, strategically it’s obvious that the arbitrarily high pricing of Indonesian JEMs reflects & drives the desired Ibanez pricing for Prestige (MIJ) JEM/UVs which remain costly in comparison. For Ibanez the result is exactly what is intended… to maintain overall high prices for all Signature JEM/UVs regardless of where they are made relative to similar non-signature model guitars. This is not only a revenue generator for Ibanez but highly profitable.


I seriously doubt the pricing is arbitrary. It's intentionally set where it is as what the market will bear combined with what profit margins they need, and of course Steve's cut, which, I'm starting to believe is fairly significant, and possibly more the reason he's behind the Premium model as opposed to making fewer more expensive models in Japan.


As a result ultimately Ibanez does not maintain full control over their luthiers, what they produce nor the production cost. Ibanez controls only the cost of raw materials.


Ibanez does not control the costs of anything. Fujigen sells all the wood to Ibanez they use for manufacture, not in Ibanez control, Gotoh [and others] are contracted to make the hardware, not in Ibanez control. Any smart company is going to try and negotiate those costs as to their benefit, but they have no control. They would have no more control if they owned the factory and built the guitars themselves. They still have to pay the going rate for everything, including labor, benefits, raw materials, etc which they get to avoid by just paying for the completed guitar.


By trying to blur the lines between Premium and Prestige instruments over time Ibanez feels it is in a win-win position pushing prices higher for Prestige instruments with limited audience and production capability. The strategy Ibanez is using to solve it’s production problem is the complete opposite of Gibson, Fender & PRS. The long-term ramification of Ibanez’s strategy will play out before our eyes.


This strategy has been theirs from the beginning so it is not new, and it has worked for them thus far, not giving them many reasons to change the model. And bottom line, Ibanez' long term survival is not in Japan or Premiums but in the models with high sales, the 450's and Chinese built everything, as well as the cheap acoustics, where volume is the key.
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post #8 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-13-2017, 02:16 PM
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Re: Signature Prestige vs Premium

Quote:
Originally Posted by psychotic memories View Post
So far the places that I've check for the KIKO models are only able to get them about a week after ordering them. This means I am not able to get my hands on them until after they are paid for and returns for "special orders" are not possible. It is also my understanding that there isn't a different model (RG655 / JEM70 or 77) that is a direct comparison due to the specifications are unique to the single model.
The KIKO feels prefect if you like a thinker neck [20-22mm] and the narrower nut [42mm]. The body is typical SA with some signature features.

I have them in stock, no special order issues with returns.
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post #9 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-13-2017, 07:59 PM
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Re: Signature Prestige vs Premium

Thx Rich.

Doesn't the TRS drop right in (fit) the Edge routing? Visually it wouldn't look as nice however the TRS routing prevented the easy upgrade.

Arbitrary/intentional pricing... the Premiums JEMs and MIJ JEMs are priced exactly to price inflate both of them substantially more than non-sig models. I struck out "arbitrary" either way.

Ibanez surely controls prices of raw materials based on their selection. Edge vs Zero. all the parts, knobs, wiring, switches, etc. For the JEM there is basically American basswood or alder.. not many choices. But AM205 no burl top cheaper than AM200 with the burl. Ibanez could say to use a cheaper alder cut if desired and Fuji would have to comply. Same with rosewood boards, etc. I probably didn't explain that ideally figuring it's rather obvious.
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post #10 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-13-2017, 08:04 PM
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Re: Signature Prestige vs Premium

They can control their pricing in only how the specs they choose affect the pricing. And they still have to choose specs that players want to buy to sell the guitars. They've moved to veneers instead of "tops", etc. But in the end, once the spec is chosen, they have no control over the pricing of the raw materials as they are supplied as part of the quote of the finished build.

So bottom line, they still have no control.
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post #11 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-13-2017, 08:08 PM
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Re: Signature Prestige vs Premium

Agree, it's almost semantics but to be factual, they have some control because they choose the parts. They could leverage Gotoh or find another maker. Invest in something like that and sell to other companies (i.e. Sony sells many camera sensors for many brands & phones). But Ibanez doesn't have Tim Cook level of parts and manufacturing efficiency & procurement.
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post #12 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-13-2017, 08:13 PM
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Re: Signature Prestige vs Premium

like when they had "Ibanez" ground out of the 9 string GB2 baseplate so they could sell it to everybody else?

You have to remember the Asian Tong system, violate Tong protocol and you expose yourself to more trouble than the pennies saved. And bottom line they've been married to Gotoh for so long I'm sure they've already negotiated their best deals both ways.
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post #13 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-13-2017, 08:21 PM
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Re: Signature Prestige vs Premium

LOL. We'll never know the cross-ownership of the Japanese sourced materials. Having partnered with at least 3 USA luthiers in the early 90s (AMneck thru/Gresco, usrg/bunker, ucew/hosono) i'd still like to see them get out of their comfort zone (auto pilot).
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post #14 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-13-2017, 08:28 PM
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Re: Signature Prestige vs Premium

They heavily explored those options when the Yen went too strong. If a Yen at 85 - 1 doesn't make them setup in the US again, what will. They're accepted as a Japanese company so they don't need to have a "made in America" tag when everybody expects it to be Japan. And since every US builder is also building everywhere cheap, that's what's really blurring the lines. When Gibson and PRS are selling more guitars without the Made in USA tag it has an effect of the way we think about it.
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post #15 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-13-2017, 08:36 PM
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Re: Signature Prestige vs Premium

Understood but if Gibson and PRS are selling not-made-in-USA in large quantity what are they thinking about other than superior brand recognition.... how to get it? If Gibson/PRS/Fender is expanding (non-USA-made) that means Ibanez will be contracting unless the market is growing. What is the fix for that is my question. Clearly it's rhetorical and we all know Ibanez is not changing the playbook. They've doubled-down if anything.
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