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PRS look nice for what they are, but their specs are way off what I want in terms of feel and playability. J. Custom combines fancy PRS-esque finishes with the RG's winning formula for playability.
Oh yes I fully agree in terms of the playability and feel. However in terms of fancy "toan" wood, I do believe PRS is top of the game, which is why they attract so many wall art collectors. Most of RG tops can just barely be categorised as tops(3-4mm) instead of veneers(not that there's any thing wrong). The regular production J.Customs also have great inconsistency in the "Axxx" grade figured tops. Only when you go a tier above to the fujigen/Sugi dealer/custom orders do you get similar consistency, however in terms of quality pure figured tops, I would still argue PRS is ahead purely due to their wealth of access to local US maples. This is where Sugi comes in and provide additional special finish on top of figured tops(multigradient/resin) to distinguish them selves, and part of Sugimoto's own motif/inspiration which is starry night sky(and you can clearly see it in his works). In a similar vein, if someone were to go for a high end Sugi J.C, they are most likely going for that signature finish otherwise what's the point(you can't separate aesthetics/finish from Sugi). Of course you can say something similar to most custom shop models(it's just Sugi is mainly custom shop, that sometimes does production run as oppose to vice versa), which is why I mentioned specifically wood library/private stock compared to modern JCS/JCRG(both are selling for CS/aesthetics/exclusivity), instead of PRS core cu24 vs production J.C RG8xxxs (both are custom only in name, sold for specs), they are made and marketed to different types of audiences.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Oh yes I fully agree in terms of the playability and feel. However in terms of fancy "toan" wood, I do believe PRS is top of the game, which is why they attract so many wall art collectors. Most of RG tops can just barely be categorised as tops(3-4mm) instead of veneers(not that there's any thing wrong). The regular production J.Customs also have great inconsistency in the "Axxx" grade figured tops. Only when you go a tier above to the fujigen/Sugi dealer/custom orders do you get similar consistency, however in terms of quality pure figured tops, I would still argue PRS is ahead purely due to their wealth of access to local US maples. This is where Sugi comes in and provide additional special finish on top of figured tops(multigradient/resin) to distinguish them selves, and part of Sugimoto's own motif/inspiration which is starry night sky(and you can clearly see it in his works). In a similar vein, if someone were to go for a high end Sugi J.C, they are most likely going for that signature finish otherwise what's the point(you can't separate aesthetics/finish from Sugi). Of course you can say something similar to most custom shop models(it's just Sugi is mainly custom shop, that sometimes does production run as oppose to vice versa), which is why I mentioned specifically wood library/private stock compared to modern JCS/JCRG(both are selling for CS/aesthetics/exclusivity), instead of PRS core cu24 vs production J.C RG8xxxs (both are custom only in name, sold for specs), they are made and marketed to different types of audiences.
its only since I’ve went down the Ibanez rabbit-hole I’ve become aware of Sugi. I really wish ai could find ANY Sugi to play somI could figure out what the big deal is; whether finishes, or it’s flat out crazy good playability, I’ve got a pretty good stack of overpriced lumber to compare to, and I’ve had a guy tell me that any JC is closest in playability/usability to a EBMM or Gibson CS…but you always want to experience it yourself.

Luke
 

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its only since I’ve went down the Ibanez rabbit-hole I’ve become aware of Sugi. I really wish ai could find ANY Sugi to play somI could figure out what the big deal is; whether finishes, or it’s flat out crazy good playability, I’ve got a pretty good stack of overpriced lumber to compare to, and I’ve had a guy tell me that any JC is closest in playability/usability to a EBMM or Gibson CS…but you always want to experience it yourself.

Luke

In terms of specs, the regular J.C RG8xxxs will have already topped out. JCRG are almost purely aesthetics upgrades and attention to details. That being said, some of the special aesthetics and finishes requires a more substantial amount of hands on work compared to others which usually mean more QC. Yes you are paying big $$$ for the finish and man hours for what essentially is wooden art. But when you think about it, what else can the additional money go towards beside the finish? These days everything on a guitar can more or less be modified in the custom shops or after market using standard components, eg frets, pickups, tuners, bridge, neck, body templates etc and even the finish itself. When you are spending close to 5 figures or beyond for any guitar, you money already goes well beyond the point of any spec or playability and into the realm of art that only certain individual(Sugimoto, fender masterbuilts) or group(PRS) can make/design. Now artistic direction and taste is always subjective, but clearly there are enough that likes the aesthetics quality of the Sugis(or private stock in a similar fashion) that prompted them to continue making them and listing/selling them at the price of a piece of playable art. Yes there are bound to be people that swear by the quality or their custom shops/ private stocks, and how they play better("laike buttah") than any other cheaper/production model they have(it's hard not to convince your self so when you spend that much), and they can boldly make that claim because the guitars are exclusive enough that no one else will be able to try them out and say otherwise. I have a few Ibanez Sugis my self, and I can tell you they play not much better than regular well setup J.Cs. Sound wise some "Toan" woods are marketed as better, and they definitely make a difference, however when some of the top end ones fill the neck with more inlay than wood and body more resin than burl, it's hard to take those statement seriously. The sounds are just different, but do they look sick? Oh yeah, other worldly. I love mine for what they are, playable pieces of art that looks cool in my eyes, have the top ibanez playability, exclusivity(yes that's a selling point, literally later on),and draws me back for more, and that's all that matters(I admit to being a sucker for looks).
Does it have to be a modern JCRG JCS to full fill these?
PRS look nice for what they are, but their specs are way off what I want in terms of feel and playability. J. Custom combines fancy PRS-esque finishes with the RG's winning formula for playability.
Clearly not for everyone, Neon_Knight_ probably view his J.C RG8520 more or less the same way I view mine JCS.

Modern JCS/JCRG are almost exclusive to Japan, with some limited run models going to European dealers for almost double the price.
Man a lot happens when you are gone on a cruise!!
So if you want to try one, consider a cruise to Japan, you'll learn a thing or two about Ibanez or Sugi's own inhouse models you might've not known before from the local instrument stores.
Alternatively try to track down a modern production J.C locally where you live and get a feel, it won't be that different feel wise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
In terms of specs, the regular J.C RG8xxxs will have already topped out. JCRG are almost purely aesthetics upgrades and attention to details. That being said, some of the special aesthetics and finishes requires a more substantial amount of hands on work compared to others which usually mean more QC. Yes you are paying big $$$ for the finish and man hours for what essentially is wooden art. But when you think about it, what else can the additional money go towards beside the finish? These days everything on a guitar can more or less be modified in the custom shops or after market using standard components, eg frets, pickups, tuners, bridge, neck, body templates etc and even the finish itself. When you are spending close to 5 figures or beyond for any guitar, you money already goes well beyond the point of any spec or playability and into the realm of art that only certain individual(Sugimoto, fender masterbuilts) or group(PRS) can make/design. Now artistic direction and taste is always subjective, but clearly there are enough that likes the aesthetics quality of the Sugis(or private stock in a similar fashion) that prompted them to continue making them and listing/selling them at the price of a piece of playable art. Yes there are bound to be people that swear by the quality or their custom shops/ private stocks, and how they play better("laike buttah") than any other cheaper/production model they have(it's hard not to convince your self so when you spend that much), and they can boldly make that claim because the guitars are exclusive enough that no one else will be able to try them out and say otherwise. I have a few Ibanez Sugis my self, and I can tell you they play not much better than regular well setup J.Cs. Sound wise some "Toan" woods are marketed as better, and they definitely make a difference, however when some of the top end ones fill the neck with more inlay than wood and body more resin than burl, it's hard to take those statement seriously. The sounds are just different, but do they look sick? Oh yeah, other worldly. I love mine for what they are, playable pieces of art that looks cool in my eyes, have the top ibanez playability, exclusivity(yes that's a selling point, literally later on),and draws me back for more, and that's all that matters(I admit to being a sucker for looks).
Does it have to be a modern JCRG JCS to full fill these?

Clearly not for everyone, Neon_Knight_ probably view his J.C RG8520 more or less the same way I view mine JCS.

Modern JCS/JCRG are almost exclusive to Japan, with some limited run models going to European dealers for almost double the price.

So if you want to try one, consider a cruise to Japan, you'll learn a thing or two about Ibanez or Sugi's own inhouse models you might've not known before from the local instrument stores.
Alternatively try to track down a modern production J.C locally where you live and get a feel, it won't be that different feel wise.
I completely forgot to ask, and I think it’s good for posterity’s sake, what are your thoughts on the differences on the JCS I posted Vs what you see on Ibanez Fandom?

Cosmo Vs Gold Hardware

Tree of Life Vs Offset Dot

ZR Trem Vs Edge Zero Trem

Black Vs Creme Pickups

Would that guitar have been a dealer order?

Thanks!
 

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I completely forgot to ask, and I think it’s good for posterity’s sake, what are your thoughts on the differences on the JCS I posted Vs what you see on Ibanez Fandom?

Cosmo Vs Gold Hardware

Tree of Life Vs Offset Dot

ZR Trem Vs Edge Zero Trem

Black Vs Creme Pickups

Would that guitar have been a dealer order?

Thanks!

That jcs12 has a A on the end. It seems to be a regional variant for Singapore/SEA. BGWguitars seem to have a post on it dated to end of 2013, where they describe ibanez shared some j.custom with them. Now JCS12 is a production run limited to 2012. So by the end of 2013 these guitars must be the remaining unsold/leftover bodies that ibanez refitted with the ZR Trem and the black hardware/electronics to distribute overseas. Like I said, when you go for a JCS/JCRG you payin for dem looks. If you think it looks good for the price, hit it. But finishing technique has greatly improved over the years without talking about improvement to specs. Considering you'll be order online anyway, the alternatives that I mentioned like new ESP/Mayones will give you great finishes and specs for that price. Also consider Ibanez AZs on the more affordable end. (But if she's the one then she's the one....)
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 · (Edited)
That jcs12 has a A on the end. It seems to be a regional variant for Singapore/SEA. BGWguitars seem to have a post on it dated to end of 2013, where they describe ibanez shared some j.custom with them. Now JCS12 is a production run limited to 2012. So by the end of 2013 these guitars must be the remaining unsold/leftover bodies that ibanez refitted with the ZR Trem and the black hardware/electronics to distribute overseas. Like I said, when you go for a JCS/JCRG you payin for dem looks. If you think it looks good for the price, hit it. But finishing technique has greatly improved over the years without talking about improvement to specs. Considering you'll be order online anyway, the alternatives that I mentioned like new ESP/Mayones will give you great finishes and specs for that price. Also consider Ibanez AZs on the more affordable end. (But if she's the one then she's the one....)
I have to admit…I’m looking hard at Sugi 496s now… 🤣
 

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In terms of specs, the regular J.C RG8xxxs will have already topped out. JCRG are almost purely aesthetics upgrades and attention to details. That being said, some of the special aesthetics and finishes requires a more substantial amount of hands on work compared to others which usually mean more QC. Yes you are paying big $$$ for the finish and man hours for what essentially is wooden art. But when you think about it, what else can the additional money go towards beside the finish? These days everything on a guitar can more or less be modified in the custom shops or after market using standard components, eg frets, pickups, tuners, bridge, neck, body templates etc and even the finish itself. When you are spending close to 5 figures or beyond for any guitar, you money already goes well beyond the point of any spec or playability and into the realm of art that only certain individual(Sugimoto, fender masterbuilts) or group(PRS) can make/design. Now artistic direction and taste is always subjective, but clearly there are enough that likes the aesthetics quality of the Sugis(or private stock in a similar fashion) that prompted them to continue making them and listing/selling them at the price of a piece of playable art. Yes there are bound to be people that swear by the quality or their custom shops/ private stocks, and how they play better("laike buttah") than any other cheaper/production model they have(it's hard not to convince your self so when you spend that much), and they can boldly make that claim because the guitars are exclusive enough that no one else will be able to try them out and say otherwise. I have a few Ibanez Sugis my self, and I can tell you they play not much better than regular well setup J.Cs. Sound wise some "Toan" woods are marketed as better, and they definitely make a difference, however when some of the top end ones fill the neck with more inlay than wood and body more resin than burl, it's hard to take those statement seriously. The sounds are just different, but do they look sick? Oh yeah, other worldly. I love mine for what they are, playable pieces of art that looks cool in my eyes, have the top ibanez playability, exclusivity(yes that's a selling point, literally later on),and draws me back for more, and that's all that matters(I admit to being a sucker for looks).
Does it have to be a modern JCRG JCS to full fill these?

Clearly not for everyone, Neon_Knight_ probably view his J.C RG8520 more or less the same way I view mine JCS.

Modern JCS/JCRG are almost exclusive to Japan, with some limited run models going to European dealers for almost double the price.

So if you want to try one, consider a cruise to Japan, you'll learn a thing or two about Ibanez or Sugi's own inhouse models you might've not known before from the local instrument stores.
Alternatively try to track down a modern production J.C locally where you live and get a feel, it won't be that different feel wise.
Paragraphs are your friend!
 

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Paragraphs are your friend!
As intended/half rant. You are not meant to read through all that blob(congratulations if you did😅). The argument/discussion about top end custom models and regular, looks and price, worth it or not is prehistoric(and so must the blob of text!). It's just usually not as prevalent in the Ibanez sense until you bring up modern JCS/JCRG, because most people have no experience with them(nor the desire to spend that much on an "Ibanez"). Which is why I draw lengthy analogy to other brands that are better known for their highend CS models.

I have to admit…I’m looking hard at Sugi 496s now… 🤣
Great inhouse models whether private order or dealer, usually at a less price point than Ibanez commissioned ones. Sugi's own inhouse pick ups imo is slightly less defined and darker sounding at times from the ones I tried, so you may need to swap pickups.
 

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While I have no horse in this race, so to speak, I've been reading this thread with interest - lots of good info. Pase, you seem to have much experience with this stuff, what's you background with it (if you don't mind the question)?

Mm, there are those who balk at the idea of an expensive Ibanez; then again, some people think a Genesis is overpriced 🤷‍♀️.

Indeed, since you can max out already in the Prestige level with hardware and pickups, there are other factors at play for higher price brackets. This is certainly encapsulated in the Hoshino 50ths, each guitar being essentially 1 of 1, made in LACS or JC etc. A lot of those do have pretty thick tops 😄.

Ultimately if it's worth it to you, then it's worth it. I mean, people spend five figures on old Strats and Teles which were just regular guitars, designed by a man who was looking to get the best bang for buck from raw materials. Doesn't mean they aren't great, but art/luthierie wasn't a consideration as such.
 

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While I have no horse in this race, so to speak, I've been reading this thread with interest - lots of good info. Pase, you seem to have much experience with this stuff, what's you background with it (if you don't mind the question)?
Ah yes, trying to dig out background of a new poster🕵️‍♂️.
Ok on a serious note, I'm just your average Ibanez fan who prefer the modern offerings. Most of the info I post can be found online, including JP websites. (Satisfied with this response?)
(No? More serious)Knowing Japanese and getting occasional access and talking to Japanese local store and dealers also helps. I've owned some and tried enough horses to know. (proof: "trust me bro"🤡)

Those Hoshino 50th are a pretty good way to display the capabilities and bring attention to Ibanez own CS. Most people that go for a CS model want it to be unique enough to be recognizable, whether that's signature finish or CS logo/Master signature on vintage style guitars. Most older Ibanez don't have that same recognition on their CS beside the "custom" in the name of regular J.Custom, which is why those 50ths design needs to be in your face and scream CS(same with the JCS/JCRG). They are mostly sold, so you'd arrive at the conclusion that they are desirable for the price, except a considerable portion are owned by a few Ibanez collectors(good on them), but if it weren't for those few, would they still sell as well/fast to the rest of the public.

Like you described, 1of1 prices are only as high/worth it as those that want to pay for them because there are no exact comparison. Those old Strats and Teles go for high because many other identical model and production year sold of high(certainly desirable enough to warrant official mimics through CS).
 

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Well, ya know, when one rattles off with the detail of information and experience (which cannot be made up), antennae hone in on the waves ;). But, I guessed that you at least know Japanese and/or are in Japan itself; to have first-hand knowledge of these guitars would be kinda hard otherwise, as the combination of interest in Ibanez + directly handling JC and Sugi instruments (whether in a private or dealer level capacity) is not common. Process of elimination, my dear Watson. Since most of us don't know Japanese or have been to Japan, this is insightful.

In any case, this forum, though less active than in the past, is increasingly becoming a repository for good information, so this is all good stuff. My primary interests are more 80s, pre-overhaul following Vai's recruitment, also because these horses are more within my reach :LOL:.

I don't know what others think, bit seems like a bit of a bit of a bummer that Ibanez doesn't have a CS like ESP et al., where, if you have the cash, you can order up something. There's many cool discontinued models which people like (Radius, Power, Maxxas etc.), and if they had a chance, they might order themselves an updated/souped up version, while a JC is basically an RG or S. But this is coming from someone who prefers the older stuff, so, it's just, like, my opinion, man.

For Ibanez it makes sense though, the RG is the flagship of the company (half of the 50ths are RGs too).

Interesting looking new JCRG - black limba with persimmon top, wenge/purpleheart neck. Space station sized straplocks.

 

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On my RG550, there was one slightly high fret. I dressed it down just enough with a crowning file, then polished. That was the only issue that needed addressed. Even though the neck is thinner, it seems to be more stable that the Jem 7VP I had. I got the Jem and the RG within weeks of each other.

I was sure that I would have to be adjusting the thinner neck on the RG more, and so left the truss rod cover off, and misplaced it. I will have to get with @Rich to see about getting a truss rod cover and screws for the Genesis RG550 as it looks naked without it.

The over all quality of the RG was better on the 550. I had to do so much work on the Premium Jem that it was ridiculous. And the Jem from Indonesia cost almost double the RG550. My next RG will be MIJ.

However, there is a premium model I will try to snag that has a Koa top and EVO Gold frets, that I had once before but had to send back due to missing parts and cosmetic damage. The JEM I had was missing parts when it came new, and it took a couple of weeks to get the parts.
 

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I don't know what others think, bit seems like a bit of a bit of a bummer that Ibanez doesn't have a CS like ESP et al., where, if you have the cash, you can order up something.
Technically, if you private order Sugi and that would be the same quality Ibanez CS, not talking about LACS. But that's on the premise that you like their inhouse models. But I agree with discontinued model thing.
On the flipside, If Ibanez were to open their CS to the public, the price would more or less be the same as a private order ESP, and I have no doubt most people would go for the ESP than Ibanez for the price. Technical skill wise, ESP CS is also higher just looking at the details on the exhibition models compared to the 50ths(comparing the best).

Interesting looking new JCRG - black limba with persimmon top, wenge/purpleheart neck. Space station sized straplocks.
I personally find the JC this year to be on the more plain side. The new JCRG sunset sky is slightly more interesting albeit that's a oversea release for the 2016 JCRG1601. The turquoise poplar burl one seem to be a dealer order based on a dealer survey done by HangszerPláza last year where the most popular component, finish were voted and decided for the final guitar.
 

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^^ Indeed, it would be pricey and, yes, the understanding is you like predefined parameters. The kind of customer who'd be first in line for what I'm thinking would be someone who is a bona fide Ibanez afficionado – rather than someone who more broadly wants a CS guitar (in which case they might go for ESP, PRS or Kiesel instead) – and maybe wants a superlative version of something they wanted in the day but couldn't get, or the best version of what they have. If money were no object, I'd probably be that guy – specing out a classic model with tweaks, different colour, woods and so on. Though JC stuff emphasizes unusual/well figured woods and inlay, I'm less into that, maybe then it would be less $$ :LOL:.

The Roadstar they did as part of the 50th run certainly gives an impression of what could be.

Like those autumnal hues of the 1601.

Others agree it is a bummer. :(
Dowland's "Flow My Tears" playing in the background

I can see you ordering a cool 7 string in such a scenario.
 

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^^ Indeed, it would be pricey and, yes, the understanding is you like predefined parameters. The kind of customer who'd be first in line for what I'm thinking would be someone who is a bona fide Ibanez afficionado – rather than someone who more broadly wants a CS guitar (in which case they might go for ESP, PRS or Kiesel instead) – and maybe wants a superlative version of something they wanted in the day but couldn't get, or the best version of what they have. If money were no object, I'd probably be that guy – specing out a classic model with tweaks, different colour, woods and so on. Though JC stuff emphasizes unusual/well figured woods and inlay, I'm less into that, maybe then it would be less $$ :LOL:.
I agree, I don't think that the ESP and hypothetical Ibanez custom shops would steal business off each other at all. At that price you either know exactly where your money is going before you even send the first email, or you're wealthy enough to just get a guitar from both ;)
 

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^^ Indeed, it would be pricey and, yes, the understanding is you like predefined parameters. The kind of customer who'd be first in line for what I'm thinking would be someone who is a bona fide Ibanez afficionado – rather than someone who more broadly wants a CS guitar (in which case they might go for ESP, PRS or Kiesel instead) – and maybe wants a superlative version of something they wanted in the day but couldn't get, or the best version of what they have. If money were no object, I'd probably be that guy – specing out a classic model with tweaks, different colour, woods and so on. Though JC stuff emphasizes unusual/well figured woods and inlay, I'm less into that, maybe then it would be less $$ :LOL:.
Well I guess if you are looking at this subjectively, every super fan(or not) will want there to be orderable CS for their own favourite brand(😶the end...). And looking at the 50ths, there are a few collectors out there for Ibanez. (...but for the sake of argument😏) I do personally at times judge CS guitars between different brand part objectively based on what they offer above their production models and technical finishing capabilities as well as the price tier. As far of Japanese brand is concerned, I do admit out of those I tired, tier for tier, ESP usually comes out on top, whilst Ibanez/Sugi is more closer to Altero Custom. (I guess I am displaying my own bias for ESP😅). Of course having the option to do private order is always a good thing to get what you couldn't normally get, and I can totally get behind your thoughts. and yes, If I want an Ibanez I want an Ibanez🙂.
 

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Yep, agree. It's an idealized hypothetical 😁, though there are certain things which are specifically Ibanez and you cannot get elsewhere which can determine a purchase, brand loyalty etc. It could be a shape, like an Artist, Radius, Maxxas or Iceman; or hardware (Edge/Lo Pro). Certainly with the trems, it's a big deal, as many consider them to be the best double lockers.

So, like Jono says, ESP and Ibanez are not necessarily competing as they each have their own established lines/models with respective pedigrees, and long-time endorsees who are ambassadors for the brand, whether CS or regular production. Even in superstrat terms, the RG and M/H seem different enough that you could one of each and feel there's no significant overlap.
 
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