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When have they had a bad reputation? Haha. But yeah, in general; korean ibanez's are usually well regarded I thought; special exceptions to the garbage lo-trs trems they use though... I personally just think the 555's are quite ugly is all; and usually overpriced comparing them to an equivalent rg350 that they basically are. That said, they are fairly inexpensive, come with dimarzios, and are a cool way to get proper JEM aesthetics without dropping a huge chunk of cash.
 

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They had a bad reputation all through their early production run ;) mainly for two reasons.

1) the "bad" trem,
2) the "half-vine" and the "Steve Vai" block inlay name plate.

If you could tolerate the "half vine" then a trem swap made them an amazing guitar for the money, I especially like the aiesthetics of the black/pearloid ones. But, online, they never really got over the stigma...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
They had a bad reputation all through their early production run ;) mainly for two reasons.

1) the "bad" trem,
2) the "half-vine" and the "Steve Vai" block inlay name plate.

If you could tolerate the "half vine" then a trem swap made them an amazing guitar for the money, I especially like the aiesthetics of the black/pearloid ones. But, online, they never really got over the stigma...
I agree. I also feel that the half-vine might be better tolerated if not for the Steve Vai inlay. But again, after a trem swap I find this to be a rock-solid guitar.
 

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That korean necks were great; 42.7 mm instead of 43 mm on nut, maybe due to production inconsistencies. Change the frets to 6105, the trem (gotoh1996) and rock that babe.
 

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I sold my black 555. Now I wish I hadn't. It was a really great-looking guitar. I just couldn't stand touching that trem after getting my hands on a UV.
 

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I just had a Jem 555 come through and I was super impressed. The Korean guitars are great value for the money IMO. Like the other posters it’s truly just the trem but that isn’t a crazy mod to help bring one of these into a really great guitar for small money. The half vine and Vai label is a downer but I think I’d get over it pretty quickly. I assume for example general wisdom would be to buy an Indonesian PBFP or a Woodie for not much more but having owned all three, I’d definitely opt for a first year 555 (in black) with the trem mod myself. It plays more vintage and has a more woody feeling, I liked the PBFP and it deserves more credit than it gets but that trem isn’t great either and they feel a bit more plastic to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I just had a Jem 555 come through and I was super impressed. The Korean guitars are great value for the money IMO. Like the other posters it’s truly just the trem but that isn’t a crazy mod to help bring one of these into a really great guitar for small money. The half vine and Vai label is a downer but I think I’d get over it pretty quickly. I assume for example general wisdom would be to buy an Indonesian PBFP or a Woodie for not much more but having owned all three, I’d definitely opt for a first year 555 (in black) with the trem mod myself. It plays more vintage and has a more woody feeling, I liked the PBFP and it deserves more credit than it gets but that trem isn’t great either and they feel a bit more plastic to me.
That is 100% accurate assessment of the BFP. “Plastic” is how it and the Woody felt to me.

The 555 pictured is a ‘94. I lucked into that thing as it’s in basically new condition, and the case. Oh my, the case. 😍. I‘ve always been a sucker for the pink Jem100C and UV1000C cases.
 

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That's a beauty! It's a '94 that I'd target too (and it was a black '94 that was a real nice one that I just sold less than a month ago). I believe they added a "Jr." next to the word Jem on the headstock from 1995 and on for all the Korean 555's. Even though I sold it, I was a huge fan of this guitar. I did take some pics of it, I have a bench I use but in this case I started taking it apart on the dining room table (much to my wife's displeasure) as it just needed some quick love'in. In particular, check the friction washers on the tuners, two were cracked on this one so I just replaced them all but they were brittle and it wouldn't surprise me if they just crack over time so maybe something to keep an eye on if you have an early model 555.
16917
 

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That's a beauty! It's a '94 that I'd target too (and it was a black '94 that was a real nice one that I just sold less than a month ago). I believe they added a "Jr." next to the word Jem on the headstock from 1995 and on for all the Korean 555's. Even though I sold it, I was a huge fan of this guitar. I did take some pics of it, I have a bench I use but in this case I started taking it apart on the dining room table (much to my wife's displeasure) as it just needed some quick love'in. In particular, check the friction washers on the tuners, two were cracked on this one so I just replaced them all but they were brittle and it wouldn't surprise me if they just crack over time so maybe something to keep an eye on if you have an early model 555.
View attachment 16917
Wow! nice.
 

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Those washers were known to have a bad batch back around that production time. My 1995 RG470 had a few go, and my local store were given spares from Ibanez, in anticipation for breakages.
 
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