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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I've done my homework, I understand the "differences" between the two. For those that arent aware, the construction principles and materials are largely identical. The "S-tech" neck is entirely a branding thing. The S-Tech neck uses "STEC" (Thats what its called) treatment process... this is literally torrified wood thats left in the oven a little longer to give it its distinctive dark finish. Why? Because the company (Emachu) strives to emulate old "bog wood"; which has a distinctive dark color. This coloring is purely aesthetic, and provides no tangible benefits over other torrified woods. Next up is the bridge, the premium uses the gotoh t1502 and the prestige uses the t1802... these are IDENTICAL bridges with the exception the 1802 uses machined titanium saddles instead of machined steel. I even checked ibanez's part listings, the part numbers for the rest of the tremolo are interchangeable. What surprised me the most is they use identical pickguards, pickups and electronics. The capacitors are the same, the pickguards are the same, its all the same. What I could imagine happening is they get these as full assemblies and some go to fugijen, and the others go to the premium factory. They use the same part number for the fretwire, they use the same tuners. Oh yeah, the premium uses a graphtec nut and the prestige uses a special bone nut.

To start, I've seen tons of people reviewing these in comparison to each other. It seems very split down the middle. Some say they are "just as good", others say they are "miles apart". When I got my AZ, I spent quite some time in the store with basically all the models available; there were 6 of them, 4 prestiges and 2 premiums. I narrowed it down the AZ2204 and the AZ224. I legit spent over an hour going over everything. I thought I was losing my mind, because I couldnt tell a difference between the two. If anything I preferred the premium because its basswood body was lighter and felt better to me. The ONLY differences I could make note of, the fret polish on the prestige was a bit nicer, and the fretboard edges were rounded over nicely as well. Fit and finish were identical quality. I genuinely could not figure out a reason to hack up THAT much more cash for the prestige. It really bugged me that ibanez would release such a similar guitar for significantly less money. On top of that the store manager let me know they were getting rid of those models and he would give me a decent discount on it if I walked out with the one I was playing. Also came with this really nice ... soft case? Its above a gig bag, but below your average "prestige" level (m300) case. Quite nice regardless.

So, did my store just happen to get a "nice" batch in? I've played plenty of premiums and they've frankly all sucked; I was genuinely surprised here. Especially the UV70P and the JBM27; those two were just awful (for me). Its hard to parse reviews, because the prestige owners could be simply being dismissive of the inherently "lower quality" and premium owners could be simply "justifying" their purchase. My experience was they were incredibly similar, with no obvious "problems" that would let you disseminate the two. Id love to hear others experiences on the matter.
 

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Roasting maple is more about water content, that results in a darker color because it's, roasted. The Premium is still made out of Indo wood. 2 years from now the neck is going to have shrunk enough that most of that ball fret end is going to be shaved off. Japanese AZ's still shrink, but very little compared to non STEC necks built at the same time. Like I'll always say, give me a winter built guitar any day.
 

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I got hung up on the s tech neck, it definitely felt way different to me. Also the stainless steel frets (which is just pot steel I think, but still felt totally different when playing and I loves it) tone sounded different on the prestige as well, it was subtle but something about it was just more "open" to me if that makes sense?
So I went with the prestige and I loved it. That and despite the usual idioms... when it comes to a company who makes quality products, I'd like to belive more expensive actually does mean a better product. Unless its a case of being a limited run or having someone's name attached to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yeah thats kinda what I mean haha. Some people said the prestiges just felt way better (And Im sure they do compared to the ones they tried!), I literally couldnt tell a difference besides the roundover on the fretboard, and for me thats a 5 minute fix lol. That said, for what its worth, the premiums and the prestiges use the EXACT same fretwire, part number 43080-S. Is legitimate stainless steel tho; and yes theres definitely a different "feel" about them. They have this weird "slick" kinda feel, some people cant stand it.
 

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Yeah, I literally played like 6 guitars and nothing felt right, but then I picked that AZ prestige up and couldn't put it down. I tried other things, but kept talking to the guys about how great playing the AZ felt. I didn't care for the red color, but I also didn't care, It felt like it was worth the money I was spending, a rare feeling in my experience. so now I have three red guitars... well kinda, I did some punk rock custom bodywork on one.

As far as the frets being rounded, I'd like to try something where it was rounded like that on the lighter strings. but still flat on the heavy side. I'm definitely getting older and I feel like that'd be more ergonomic or whatever.
I did find that because its new to me I've occasionally slipped the last string off the frets once or twice, but I'm all about adapting. might sound pretentious but it helps me be creative and play different. :nerd:
 
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