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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All,

Something I've always been curious about is the massive disparity in pricing on MIJ guitars between Ibanez and other brands.
I should preface this by mentioning that I live in Australia, so it could be a quirk of the local market and nothing more.
But I'm wondering if this is holds true in the EU, US and other places too.

For example, here you can get a Genesis RG550 for as low as $1500 AUD (~$1080 USD). This is around the same money as a Mexican Charvel and cheaper than a lot of premium Ibanez models and Jackson pro series (indo made) for example. This is made more bizarre as Indonesia is extremely close to AU and container shipping from there is really cheap compared to Japan.

You can also get into the prestige line with something like a RG652AHM for around $2K AUD (~$1450 USD). Which is still cheaper then the list price on a lot of indo made Jacksons and some Ibanez premium models.
Most of the higher end 6 string prestige line seems to top out around the $3K AUD (~$2250 USD) mark, give or take a few hundred bucks..

Compare this to say ESP's EII line, you cant get your hands of on one of these for under $3K AUD and many of the 6 string models push up towards $4K (~$2900 USD).
The new MIJ Jackson stuff is even more pricey, MIJ Dinky's are going for $3.5K AUD on sale and soloists listing at $4K+ AUD.

Looking at specs I don't see much to on the stuff from EII and Jackson that is superior to what you're getting on a lot of the prestige line.

What do you guys think? Is the market the same where you are?
Do we anticipate some big price hikes on the prestige line on the horizon if this is where the market is at for MIJ guitars now?
MIJ Ibanez seems like extremely good value for money here.

Cheers,

btw I'm a newb around here so don't hesitate to let me know if this is the wrong sub forum for this topic.
 

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Prices go up every year, how much depends on a varity of factors, some internal (e.g. if a country raises wages); some reflective of the broader global economy; character of tariffs on imports depending from where something is coming; prestige associated with the brand name.

The price disparity you note between MIJ, Premium and Prestige can be seen across the board, not only in Oz. For Japanese Fujigen stuff you have Genesis/J-Line, Prestige, and J. Custom, in increasing order of $$. Premium is envisaged as a step down from Prestige with regular stuff, like AZs, RGs, Ss and some signature models like the Jem, which is nor Premium only, now that the Pia has become the MIJ Steve Vai guitar. Pricewise, Premium can now overlap somewhat with Genesis/J-Line and some Prestige instruments. A Premium is supposed to offer some of the higher end stuff (e.g. bullet fret ends) at a lower price because it's Indonesian made.

A Genesis is a great deal - Edge trem, maple fingerboard, classic colours, made in Japan: stuff that Ibanez nuts want, and now the multi-laminate neck is also an upgrade over the original. The street price would've been similar back in 1987, so you're getting a lot of guitar, particularly since Japan isn't the afforable guitar making place anymore.

Though prices have gone up on most used Ibanez models in recent years, even those which weren't as desirable as some others, you can still get a lot of guitar for under 1k USD. I saw an 80s RG560 in good shape sell a couple of weeks ago on Squeebay for under $200. While it's really hard to find these kinds of deals now compared to 10-15 years ago, sometimes they still crop up every so often.

I don't know much about Jackson or ESP, so I can't comment. The relation of the prices there will also depend on how each brand is looking to compete with the other in the similar guitar category. E.g. the 24 fret, floyded superstrat category is pretty crowded at most price points, more than, say, a single cut with active pickups, modern neck and contoured heel, hardtail or Floyd.
 

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I have had a couple of Jacksons over the years. The last I had was a pro soloist, a Hardtail. The neck was just paper thin. I couldn’t get used to it. The Ibanez premium and genesis RG’s are crazy bang for the buck. I think the genesis rg550 is the most bang for the buck that Ibanez has out of their whole product line. the pickups, hardware, and trem are great. One usually has to spend more to get a real edge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Prices go up every year, how much depends on a varity of factors, some internal (e.g. if a country raises wages); some reflective of the broader global economy; character of tariffs on imports depending from where something is coming; prestige associated with the brand name.

The price disparity you note between MIJ, Premium and Prestige can be seen across the board, not only in Oz. For Japanese Fujigen stuff you have Genesis/J-Line, Prestige, and J. Custom, in increasing order of $$. Premium is envisaged as a step down from Prestige with regular stuff, like AZs, RGs, Ss and some signature models like the Jem, which is nor Premium only, now that the Pia has become the MIJ Steve Vai guitar. Pricewise, Premium can now overlap somewhat with Genesis/J-Line and some Prestige instruments. A Premium is supposed to offer some of the higher end stuff (e.g. bullet fret ends) at a lower price because it's Indonesian made.

A Genesis is a great deal - Edge trem, maple fingerboard, classic colours, made in Japan: stuff that Ibanez nuts want, and now the multi-laminate neck is also an upgrade over the original. The street price would've been similar back in 1987, so you're getting a lot of guitar, particularly since Japan isn't the afforable guitar making place anymore.

Though prices have gone up on most used Ibanez models in recent years, even those which weren't as desirable as some others, you can still get a lot of guitar for under 1k USD. I saw an 80s RG560 in good shape sell a couple of weeks ago on Squeebay for under $200. While it's really hard to find these kinds of deals now compared to 10-15 years ago, sometimes they still crop up every so often.

I don't know much about Jackson or ESP, so I can't comment. The relation of the prices there will also depend on how each brand is looking to compete with the other in the similar guitar category. E.g. the 24 fret, floyded superstrat category is pretty crowded at most price points, more than, say, a single cut with active pickups, modern neck and contoured heel, hardtail or Floyd.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Interesting to see that the price overlap between some MIJ and Indonesian Ibanez is across the board. I think Ibanez might be a little unique in this regard.
I can't think of any brand that doesn't have pretty clear pricing differences in between their different product ranges (Epi vs Gibson, Squire vs MX Fender vs US Fender, SE vs S2 vs Core PRS etc)

I get that there are a massive variety of inputs that go into making a guitar that the costs associated with these fluctuate constantly, but I think the thing that drives prices more than anything is what people will pay for your product, and what they are willing to pay for your competitors which is what is driving my curiosity on the market for new MIJ guitars.
I don't really see Jackson / Charvel or ESP trying to market their MIJ lines as superior quality in the way that say the J.Custom range is marketed. For those brands they still have their top of the line USA made production stuff which is supposed to be superior to the MIJ lines.

I just wonder what the guys at Ibanez think when they see Jackson and Charvel getting $500-1000 more for their bolt on MIJ superstrats, even though the spec is pretty similar to a prestige RG and in some cases a little more run of the mill. Given that the MIJ lines from these other brands are all pretty new (or at least have recently been reintroduced), I'll be interested to see what Ibanez do anything with pricing in response.

The other big factor is that I think Ibanez (via fujigen etc.) are making way more guitars in Japan then any of these other brands and have been doing so for a longer consistent period, so they may have lower production costs and sell a lot more guitars with their lower pricing. I hope this is the case and things stay that way. The thought of having to pay $4000 AUD for a new prestige RG is not a pleasant one!
 

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Interesting to see that the price overlap between some MIJ and Indonesian Ibanez is across the board. I think Ibanez might be a little unique in this regard.
I can't think of any brand that doesn't have pretty clear pricing differences in between their different product ranges (Epi vs Gibson, Squire vs MX Fender vs US Fender, SE vs S2 vs Core PRS etc)

I get that there are a massive variety of inputs that go into making a guitar that the costs associated with these fluctuate constantly, but I think the thing that drives prices more than anything is what people will pay for your product, and what they are willing to pay for your competitors which is what is driving my curiosity on the market for new MIJ guitars.
I don't really see Jackson / Charvel or ESP trying to market their MIJ lines as superior quality in the way that say the J.Custom range is marketed. For those brands they still have their top of the line USA made production stuff which is supposed to be superior to the MIJ lines.

I just wonder what the guys at Ibanez think when they see Jackson and Charvel getting $500-1000 more for their bolt on MIJ superstrats, even though the spec is pretty similar to a prestige RG and in some cases a little more run of the mill. Given that the MIJ lines from these other brands are all pretty new (or at least have recently been reintroduced), I'll be interested to see what Ibanez do anything with pricing in response.

The other big factor is that I think Ibanez (via fujigen etc.) are making way more guitars in Japan then any of these other brands and have been doing so for a longer consistent period, so they may have lower production costs and sell a lot more guitars with their lower pricing. I hope this is the case and things stay that way. The thought of having to pay $4000 AUD for a new prestige RG is not a pleasant one!
RG550 Genesis. MIJ with good pickups and a real edge!
 

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^^ Arguably the best Ibanez for the money in the past few years if you're buying new.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Interesting to see that the price overlap between some MIJ and Indonesian Ibanez is across the board. I think Ibanez might be a little unique in this regard.
I can't think of any brand that doesn't have pretty clear pricing differences in between their different product ranges (Epi vs Gibson, Squire vs MX Fender vs US Fender, SE vs S2 vs Core PRS etc)

I get that there are a massive variety of inputs that go into making a guitar that the costs associated with these fluctuate constantly, but I think the thing that drives prices more than anything is what people will pay for your product, and what they are willing to pay for your competitors which is what is driving my curiosity on the market for new MIJ guitars.
I don't really see Jackson / Charvel or ESP trying to market their MIJ lines as superior quality in the way that say the J.Custom range is marketed. For those brands they still have their top of the line USA made production stuff which is supposed to be superior to the MIJ lines.

I just wonder what the guys at Ibanez think when they see Jackson and Charvel getting $500-1000 more for their bolt on MIJ superstrats, even though the spec is pretty similar to a prestige RG and in some cases a little more run of the mill. Given that the MIJ lines from these other brands are all pretty new (or at least have recently been reintroduced), I'll be interested to see what Ibanez do anything with pricing in response.

The other big factor is that I think Ibanez (via fujigen etc.) are making way more guitars in Japan then any of these other brands and have been doing so for a longer consistent period, so they may have lower production costs and sell a lot more guitars with their lower pricing. I hope this is the case and things stay that way. The thought of having to pay $4000 AUD for a new prestige RG is not a pleasant one!
Yes. I think (very speculative, you'd have to ask a Hoshino suit!) part of it is down to the idea Ibanez had quite a while ago of shutting down the Fujigen operation, there was talk about that on and off over the years but it hasn't happened, partly because there was some backlash as there is a strong sense of prestige connected with a Japanese made Ibanez. From the way I see it, this is one explanation for Premium getting fancy specs. I mean, check out those neck through models they released in Jan. In the past 20 years, the operations have proliferated.

Japan is not a place that makes cheap guitars anymore; hasn't been for quite some time. They can build just as good/better than US/EU etc. In the mid-80s they had some problems relation to this whereby, because of the exchange Yen/USD rates, the guitars were as or more expensive than American ones, and though the spec and quality was on point, they weren't selling. But then Steve got recruited and the rest is history.

Regarding production in Fujigen, Hoshino/Ibanez doesn't actually own the factory space there, so this would also production costs, though there's obviously some kind of arrangement, which has existed for decades now.

As for players in Japan, I don't know that they gravitate towards Ibanez so much. It's always generally been about the big western brands, like G and F. It's certainly a lot cheaper to buy an old Ibanez in Japan itself! Pre-pandemic it was a good way to go, now you get caned on shipping/customs 😜.

Ibanez does have a pretty serious artist roster too, which plays an important role in inspiring brand loyalty and attracting players. Some of them have been with Ibanez for over 30-40 years; and in more recent years, there's been a whole new swathe of players who are at the forefront of what's happening in guitar like Martin Miller, Tom Quayle, Lari Basilio, Yvette Young, the Polyphia and Chon boys who have been snapped up. So people will see them and want an Ibanez, and will pay for one. A number of these sigs are Indo as well, so they don't break the bank.

So yes, demand is an important factor, and there might be a sufficiently loyal following that they're not overly worried about what the competition is doing. I mean, the 550 has pretty much always come with oem pickups, which are a love hate thing with players, but it hasn't hurt sales. Since 1987, there's always been some kind of basswood, pickguard mounted HSH RG in the lineup.

Yes, with Jackson/Charvel, they're US companies, so people will see the US models as the top ones, and Japan as still good but a bit more affordable, whereas Ibanez is a Japanese company, so the Japan stuff is naturally the top of the line. Stuff like LACS and JPCS doesn't count so much as it's for artists and making prototypes etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have had a couple of Jacksons over the years. The last I had was a pro soloist, a Hardtail. The neck was just paper thin. I couldn’t get used to it. The Ibanez premium and genesis RG’s are crazy bang for the buck. I think the genesis rg550 is the most bang for the buck that Ibanez has out of their whole product line. the pickups, hardware, and trem are great. One usually has to spend more to get a real edge.

I played a pro series soloist earlier this year, it was nice but after playing a genesis rg550 to me there was a pretty noticeable difference in the hardware quality. The tuners and bridge were a lot better than the 1000 series floyd and jackson branded tuners on the soloist. The soloist was $300 AUD more too. I would have probably ended up with a genesis but I stumbled onto a used RG652 at a really good price and ended up getting that instead.

Do you like wizard style necks? I kind of felt that the soloist neck was a marginally thicker than the wizard on the 550 and definitely then the super wizard hp on my 652.
I didn't play any of them back to back so I could be way off.
 

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I get that there are a massive variety of inputs that go into making a guitar that the costs associated with these fluctuate constantly, but I think the thing that drives prices more than anything is what people will pay for your product, and what they are willing to pay for your competitors which is what is driving my curiosity on the market for new MIJ guitars.
I don't really see Jackson / Charvel or ESP trying to market their MIJ lines as superior quality in the way that say the J.Custom range is marketed. For those brands they still have their top of the line USA made production stuff which is supposed to be superior to the MIJ lines.
ESP actually has their most expensive models and Custom shop guitars built in Japan. The hierarchy is:

ESP Original Series/ESP Custom Shop - Japan
ESP USA - USA
EII - Japan
LTD - Not sure

You are right about Jackson/Charvel though. The US models are supposed to be the cream of the crop and hopefully are given how much they cost.
 

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because many famous metal and rock bands use ESP, GIBSON, FENDER

just paying for the brand

Ibanez started as copying other models, they were sued by gibson cause of it, thanks to Vai and Satiani they became what they are today

even so, Ibanez remain a not so popular brand among the guitar "MAINSTREAM" crew, every schmuck and their mom wants a fender, gibson, PRS etc

strats overrated and so are the Gibsons

ESP japan are expensive and ESP usa even worse

is it better than Ibanez lines? who knows but i doubt it
 
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