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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
After having sold my new S5470Q due to problems with the sustain on certain notes (a dead frequency), I have narrowed down the search for a new guitar to the RG8550MZ (J-custom) and the RG2770QZA (prestige).

Aesthetics apart, the specs of both guitars are very similar, except on this details:

Neck:
RG Custom Super Wizard HP w KTS Titanium rods Vs Wizard HP Prestige

Fretboard:
Maple Vs Rosewood

Hardware finish:
Gold Vs Cosmo Black


$3,000 Vs $1,800

The two guitars I've been playing for the last 35 years have maple fretboard (American Deluxe Strat) and rosewood (RG550LTD), and I don't mind the difference.

I saw no flaws at all at the neck of the S5470Q. Is there room for improvement on the prestige neck? I mean: is the j-custom neck WOW! compared with the prestige?

Regarding the hardware, is the gold finish more susceptible to discoloration and corrosion than the cosmo black?

I cannot play the guitars before I make the decision, so I am wondering what factor (besides the tree of life) can make the j-custom an instrument worth extra $1.000. Can the playability or the tone be improved with the "j-custom" fretboard treatment or with the Hoshino Gakki signature?

And another detail: African Mahogany Vs Mahogany. Are they really using different lumber? Does it make a noticeable difference?

ps: I've read the sticky post, but this two guitars are so similar on the specifications!! and, since it is only sold in Japan, I cannot find reviews of the RG2770QZA

RG2770QZA - Ibanez Site

RG8550MZ - Ibanez Site



 

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I'll try to provide some insight based on my experience and online info, since I have MIJ RGs (Prestige and pre-Prestige) and 2 J Customs (RG8570Z and RG8670).

1. The neck:
J Custom RG8550MZ: Has an "RG J Custom Super Wizard", which according to the specs, is the same as the Super Wizard Prestige profile (thickness: 17mm @ 1st fret, 19mm @ 12th fret)... Just a fancier name. Maybe due to the KTS titanium rods. And maybe they finish the back of the neck differently? I got both my JCs used so I'm not entirely sure about the neck finish differences. They feel identical to my Prestiges. My RG8570Z has the same neck as the RG8550MZ, and in my opinion, it feels the same as a Super Wizard Prestige. My RG8570Z is a 2009 model, and they actually called it a "Super Wizard" before changing the name to "J Custom Super Wizard".

Prestige RG2770QZA: Has the "Wizard HP Prestige" neck profile (18mm @ 1st fret, 20mm @ 12th fret), which is a tad meatier than the Super Wizard HP Prestige, but not by a ton.

Overall: The neck profile itself is a preference thing.. Whether you like the ultra thin super wizard prestige, or slightly thicker wizard prestige. But again, the difference is only 1mm. I don't know if you'll notice a difference between non-KTS and KTS reinforcement.. I don't really notice a difference, and the 5 piece necks are pretty stable as is. I don't think the J Custom will be "WOW" compared to the Prestige neck.

2. Fretboard treatment and frets:
I'm not sure if the actual fretboard is treated differently on J Customs, but the fret ends will definitely be a notch better. JCs have ball end frets, whereas Prestiges do not... Unless you get really lucky and the exact guitar you buy was worked on by someone who was really happy that day lol. Prestige fret ends are still good, but the fret ends on JCs are a really nice touch and attention to detail when it comes to craftsmanship... But some people simply don't care or find the Prestige fret ends to be perfectly fine... That is up to you to decide.
I can't confirm, but I think Ibanez uses a harder, more durable nickel material for JC fretwires. My 2 JCs are from 2003 and 2009, and both have very little fret wear. Like SS frets, the nickel frets on my JCs seem to always shine.

3. Hardware:
Gold hardware finish wears off fast! But unfortunately, so does the edge zero cosmo black finish. I think they will wear pretty evenly.

4. Woods:
This might be the biggest difference. The J Custom has an African mahogany body with 4mm maple cap. My RG8570Z has the same. It's heavier than my other RGs, but sounds nice and thick. Not as nice for lengthy gigs. Like other companies, the JC line (and LACS) is Ibanez's highest line, so naturally they use their highest quality woods for these guitars.. So the overall quality of lumber will probably be better than the Prestige line (not to say Prestige has crappy woods).
Don't take my word on this, you can do more research, but I think I read somewhere that the quilted top on the RG2770QZA is a veneer, not a 4mm maple cap like the JC. So it might naturally sound darker than the JC. I personally think the maple cap adds some brightens and helps balance the tone, but some people think a 4mm cap doesn't really impact the tone.

5. Fretboard material:
Like you, I like rosewood, maple and ebony. This is purely a preference thing - just depends what you want for aesthetics and playability / feel. Some people argue that maple and ebony are a little snappier than rosewood (which is warmer).. I would agree based on my experiences.

6. Electronics:
Both guitars come with the same pickups and pickup configuration.

Overall:
It's ultimately up to you whether you think the JC is worth the extra $1000. If you think so, then it's worth it :) If it's a long term investment, and you have the disposable income, I personally would say it's worth it. If I were to sell my RGs, my JCs and JEM7vwh would probably be the last to go. They are beautiful guitars and monster players. Even if it wasn't long term, keep in mind that JCs retain higher resale values too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thank you for sharing your experience! That’s a very interesting insight.

I guess that the decision, rather than base it on the subtle differences, it rather comes to the philosophical question of “I am conformed having an excellent guitar (Prestige) or do I want to feel like I’ve already walked on the moon and can’t climb any higher?”

I’ll choose next week. This is just an old man’s whim. :p
 

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Haha... My personal experience wants to say do it. I think of JCs a little like PRS's... They have the beauty and thick sound of a PRS with the mahogany body and maple top, but have the great playability of an Ibanez. On top of the beautiful finishes, I like the fine details like ball end frets, vine inlay, matching headstock and flame maple binding around body, neck and headstock. Makes the guitar as a whole feel more complete. I'm not always a fan of plastic binding because it can look cheap on some guitars.. But I will always take the flame maple binding :D

In the end you get one of the best guitars Ibanez has to currently offer. Their best woods, finishes, attention to detail, etc. The only thing that would bug me about the RG2770QZA is if it's a veneer top.. I'd rather have a thicker top for whatever reason lol.. And the non matching headstock.. It's not a big deal, but I prefer matching headstocks aesthetically. In the end, it just comes down to what specs you're looking for, the intended application, and how much you want to spend on a new guitar. Cheers.
 

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Steveche - that is a seriously good overview you provided there. Good on you for taking the time to do that. It's threads like this that make Jemsite such a good site to be a member of. Cheers man.
 

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I never understood the African mahogany thing. African mahogany is generally considered worse than "genuine" mahogany which is lightweight and traditionally found in South America. For example, when you buy a custom Suhr, a genuine mahogany body costs more than an African mahogany one. My J-Custom had an African mahogany body and it was heavy and to be honest, quite dead-sounding. Other companies such as ESP, Kiesel/Carvin and the aforementioned Suhr are still using genuine mahogany but Ibanez seems to have stopped using it completely.
 

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Steveche - that is a seriously good overview you provided there. Good on you for taking the time to do that. It's threads like this that make Jemsite such a good site to be a member of. Cheers man.
Thanks man, appreciate it. Love talking Ibanez!

I never understood the African mahogany thing. African mahogany is generally considered worse than "genuine" mahogany which is lightweight and traditionally found in South America. For example, when you buy a custom Suhr, a genuine mahogany body costs more than an African mahogany one. My J-Custom had an African mahogany body and it was heavy and to be honest, quite dead-sounding. Other companies such as ESP, Kiesel/Carvin and the aforementioned Suhr are still using genuine mahogany but Ibanez seems to have stopped using it completely.
I actually don't know too much between the differences of mahogany, I never bothered to look into it in too much depth. All I know is Honduras seems to be the best / most wanted? My EBMM JP15 body is African mahogany and it's really light and sounds really thick/dark.. Great acoustics / percussiveness unplugged too. The RG8570Z is also African according to Ibanez website, and mine is pretty heavy, and not very acoustic / percussive unplugged.. But sounds great plugged in. I swapped the pickups out for BKPs because I found the tone zone / air Norton too dark sounding for my liking in it. There is mixed info online if the RG8670 is Honduras or African mahogany. It's a little lighter than my RG8570Z and sounds much better with the stock tone zone / air Norton pickups. I think it's a little snappier too with the ebony. I wonder what type of mahogany they used on older models like the RG3120.. Those are great too, very light weight and resonant. They are not really specific on the Prestige models by just saying "mahogany" on their site. I can't see them using better cuts than their JCs though.. So although it just says "mahogany", perhaps it's not the "genuine mahogany" you speak of?... We're kind of left in the dark. That's not really cool tbh... And the fact that they don't indicate veneer on models with veneers is a little misleading to some people as well.

Some models, they say "mahogany body", others "African mahogany body".. And even with basswood they say "basswood" on some models and "American basswood" on others. For example, all the Premiums on the Ibanez site say "American basswood body", while Prestige guitars say "basswood body".. The Prestiges must have better woods though. It seems like they are specific only when they want to be lol.
 

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I think the American basswood/African mahogany thing is simply a marketing trick. It makes it sound like they are being selective with the woods. But there really is nothing special about African mahogany which is a cheaper, more readily available substitute for genuine mahogany. Which is why I'm not really interested in J-Customs anymore.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
I've pulled the trigger! I''m the happy owner of the j-custom RG8550MZ

Happy, happy... Crap! The C at the 3rd String 17th fret starts to decay dead after 1 second., and the sustain sounds weird at the 2nd string 13th fret, like when you pinch a harmonic. I thought that this was an issue of the S series only, and that's why I sold the damned S5470Q. :evil: :evil: :evil:

I'll see what happens after I change the strings from 009 to 010, but increasing the gauge on the S5470Q just moved the dead spot from the 3rd string 14th fret to the 16 fret.

I guess that this is due to the guitar (wood + bridge) absorbing certain frequencies (it's not caused by the frets). They say that it happens even in the most expensive guitars, but it doesn't happen on my RG550LTD or the American Deluxe.
 

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I think the American basswood/African mahogany thing is simply a marketing trick. It makes it sound like they are being selective with the woods. But there really is nothing special about African mahogany which is a cheaper, more readily available substitute for genuine mahogany. Which is why I'm not really interested in J-Customs anymore.
I don't think about that too much. Whatever wood the guitar has, as long as the weight is balanced, not too heavy and sounds good I'm fine.

I've pulled the trigger! I''m the happy owner of the j-custom RG8550MZ

Happy, happy... Crap! The C at the 3rd String 17th fret starts to decay dead after 1 second., and the sustain sounds weird at the 2nd string 13th fret, like when you pinch a harmonic. I thought that this was an issue of the S series only, and that's why I sold the damned S5470Q. :evil: :evil: :evil:

I'll see what happens after I change the strings from 009 to 010, but increasing the gauge on the S5470Q just moved the dead spot from the 3rd string 14th fret to the 16 fret.

I guess that this is due to the guitar (wood + bridge) absorbing certain frequencies (it's not caused by the frets). They say that it happens even in the most expensive guitars, but it doesn't happen on my RG550LTD or the American Deluxe.
That's awesome, congrats! Pics?! The S5470Q had several reported sustain issues. I've never really heard someone say they have sustain issues with their JCs. Did you buy it from a store on display, or second hand? If so, I would say to do a fresh setup, including cleaning the fret wires if they are dirty with 0000 steel wool. Make sure there's no bumpy dirt / grime that could be touching the strings. Other than that, I would just say that it needs a proper set up. It's a totally different guitar than the S5470Q, so hopefully you'll be able to fix it with a cleaning / setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you for the tips. The guitar is new but it was on display. I hope that it will be gone after a proper setup. As a matter of fact, the S5470 improved a little bit after a setup, but I became so obsessed with it that I sold it.

Besides that, I am truly amazed with this guitar. The playability is awesome and I am in love with the look.

Both plugged and unplugged it sounds brighter than the S5470Q or the RG550LTD with Gravity Storm pups, but that is not a problem because it can easily be readjusted on the AxeFX.

I didn't like that the tremolo arm is 6mm higher, but fortunately I can fit the Ibanez Ultralite after removing the plastic bushings. The Ultralite has the advantage that the long side of the arm can be twisted, therefore the height can be adjusted (playing with the orientation of the angle at the long side of the arm). I am used to play with the arm very low.

Pics tomorrow :)
 

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Just an FYI - the thing that caused all of the the S5470's problems with sustain and lack of resonance was the ZR2 trem. Swap it out for an Edge Zero and the guitar starts to play/sound/sustain like it should.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Just an FYI - the thing that caused all of the the S5470's problems with sustain and lack of resonance was the ZR2 trem. Swap it out for an Edge Zero and the guitar starts to play/sound/sustain like it should.
The RG8550M already has an Edge Zero, not a ZR2, and I'm having the sustain problem.

As an engineer I would say that, theoretically, the ZR2 would have a slightly better (perhaps insignificant) transition of vibrational energy from the strings to the body of the guitar, therefore better resonance and sustain, because the surface of the contact point at the ball-bearings is larger than the contact point at the knives. But I can imagine that there may already be long discussions about this in another threads.

There are RG prestiges (not S series) that have the ZR2. Has anyone reported sustain problems with those?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I've reviewed the setup, and everything seems to be correct.

  • Action at 1st string: 1 mm
  • Action at 6th string: 1.4 mm
  • Clearance at 6th string 12th fret when pressing 1st and 19th fret: 0.1 mm
  • Frets are clean and look perfect, but I have polished a bit further.
  • Replaced the strings with fresh D'Addario EXL110

However:

  • Sustain at 3rd string 17th fret: 2 seconds with abrupt decay :evil:
    [*]Sustain at 4th string 17th fret: 8 seconds with natural decay
    [*]Sustain at 3rd string 12th fret: 7-8 seconds with natural decay
    [*]2nd string 13th fret: the note turns into a one octave high C harmonic and decays unnaturally :confused:

    (amplifier with pure clean tone)

Is this only happening to me????
I invite everyone to verify if your guitars have any dead note. Just play flat, without adding any vibrato with the fingers, and observe how the note decays. Perhaps you've never noticed. :mrgreen:

And now some porn, as promised:













 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
A practical example of how extremely annoying this is: I've just been playing Vinnie Moore's "April Sky", and every time that a phrase ends in C (including the end of the solo with high gain, compressor and wild vibrato) the note is dead before the next phrase starts. It's irritating, specially after having paid $2,800


More real life examples:

The famous two and a half tone bending at David Gilmour's Another Brick in the Wall part II (2nd string from C to F) --- No way! The note is dead in the middle of the bending. :sad:
(ps: I use the help of the tremolo arm to achieve this bending. I'm not Superman 8))

Jeff Beck's "Where Were You": the super-cool whammy-bar melodic thing at the 2nd string 15th fret -- The note is dead before completing the melody :sad:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Thank you very much for the information! I considered that when I was playing with the S5470 but I forgot about it.

As soon as I've read your post I've run to put a couple of C-Clamps on the headstock. I've run so much that I've spilled blood everywhere after nailing the end of a string to my finger.:twisted: I am wondering if the blood will improve the tone.

It actually makes a difference. Still not perfect, but I've placed them randomly and in pain. I am definitely going to buy that Fatfinger thing.

Thank you!

 

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I would check the bridge for any issues, one of my guitars have edge zero and it just has so many moving parts which have caused some issues which edge, lo-pro edge do not have. Mine had this weird noise coming from it when I did a bend on high-e around the 12th fret, but vanished when I put some light oil "under the fine tuner" (hard to describe).

One of my JEM's had sustain issue very recently, it happened especially on second string and especially around the frets 21-24 for some reason. The note just decayed very rapidly and suddenly, even on the very last fret. One thing might have caused it was that I had intonation screw in the "first hole" (the one closer to pickups) and the screw was very near the edge (a bit past), it kept the saddle piece in place but I suspect it might have caused the saddle some space to move with the string and thus decaying the not quicker, especially on the high notes where the string movement is very small. I moved it to the other hole (it could have been there in the first place based on the intonation), adjusted the setup a bit etc. and it's much better now.

Anyhow, it might be the dead notes (which would be a shame), but maybe it's on the bridge, maybe some notes / frequencies cause vibration in the mechanical, moving parts on the bridge which kill's the sustain. Maybe some tiny amount of oil on some of the moving parts, make sure everything which needs to be tight are tight etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thank you for the tips. I will dismount and inspect every part of the bridge the next time that I change the strings. I'll also try to readjust the intonation.

I've already introduced pieces of paper between the saddles, to prevent unwanted vibration, but it has made no difference.
 
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