Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK
Korn... your people call it Korn....
Yep, it's the money and the marketing.
First you have what I call the "broad-appeal signature models". Let's say you have a guitarist whose technical ability is no greater than that of his or her peers, and lesser than many of the best, but who has an enormous fanbase who will purchase a guitar that's associated with the player. You can also include deceased musicians whose legacy continues to sell guitars to their devoted fanbase despite their death. Into this category we might throw:
Korn, Paul Stanley, Mark Tremonti, Tom Delonge, Dimebag, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Randy Rhoads, Angus Young
and many more, in fact the majority of signature guitars. These guitars tend to be refinements of existing models (with some exceptions) with small cosmetic or hardware tweaks.
Then you have the "limited-appeal high-takeup signature": as commented above, the artist has a smaller but more fiercely loyal fanbase whose appetite for merchandise far outstrips the "average music fan". This category tends to produce more experimental and focused instruments, as the artist fine-tunes their requirements and produces the occasional surprising innovation, but it will never be the cash cow that "broad-appeal" signature guitars can. This category includes:
Steve Vai, Frank Gambale, John Petrucci, Les Paul, Eddie Van Halen
and so on. These are the guitars that grow into incredibly popular "standard" lines (Ibanez RG, Gibson LP, Ernie Ball Axis) because of the thought and intelligence behind their design.
I'm glad that Ibanez has supported the second kind of signature model, such as the JEM, and I can't begrudge them a big-selling advert guitar like the K-7, even if I wouldn't want to play one.