This is one of Ibanez' most abundant new offerings in many years. The expected JEM20th and RG20th's were shown, but so were many new body style lower end models that should keep players of all price ranges happily spending their money. If there was a theme for this years show I'd have to call it, EDGE 3!! It wasn't entirely unexpected but everything but the RG Giger [which was probably just the same guitar they had there last year] that previously had the Edge Pro 2 is now sporting the EDGE 3. Obviously this is to avoid the $14 royalty paid to FR [or FMIC] on each trem used, but you can bet your bottom dollar that as soon as the patent on the Lo Pro runs out you'll see the Edge Pro return in force, probably leaving the EDGE 3 to just the lowest $ models. This was a toss up theme though, as on equal terms would be, Indonesia! If the change happened previous and I'm just noticing or if it just happened, many more than I remember models are now Indonesian product. The S's and S derivatives are still Korean, but pretty much everything else is now Indonesian, and what was Indonesian is now China.
China, is the new J Custom. Last year I balked at the Artcore Customs having Chinese produced necks thinking they must have been JC and shipped to China, but, more "Custom" models were introduced this year [ARC and ARX] and upon close inspection it is apparent that the work is not JC, but a very good facsimile of. Not that these guitars were perfect, but, needless to say there is at least one real craftsman working in China, and he's working on these "Custom" necks. The rest of the regular production Chinese was, very, Chinese. The Korean stuff was spotty as ever. Some showing marked improvement while other showing regression, which could also be said for the Prestige MIJ. It's still better than any other manufacturer I checked at the show [between the Jackson and EBMM booths anyway] but I firmly believe that it was just a hair better 2 years ago, while at the same time a couple pieces were above par. It still comes down to those hands that do the job, and from me, at least you know those hands were mine ;o}
The new RG2228 seamed to be the real hit with the player crowd. It had so many fingerprints on it I figure the later high res pics I took will lick the dogs balls, but everybody was having a blast playing, trying to play, or pretending to play it. I can tell you that I could just barely reach the lowest [F#] string anywhere over half scale, and I'm not lacking in the finger length department [and of course everybody knows what else that means.......large gloves!!]. The near 4mm of excess runoff from string edge to fretboard edge was IMO far too much considering the extreme width of the neck already, but, you sure won't be pulling the strings off the edge of the board, if you can reach them to begin with!
In other news, I haven't checked them all individually yet, but at first take, price increases seem to effect the MIJ signature models only. This was fully expected as Fujigen has been increasing Hoshino's cost to produce steadily throughout the year. I was very surprised there wasn't a mid year increase but considering the increases last year it probably would have been received poorly, not that anybody is going to love it this year either! The fact that much offshore production remained unaffected is possibly due to production shifts but until I go through all the models individually I can't say with certainty.
As Barnum would say - "On with the show!" [or was that "The show must go on?, I'm sure somebody will correct me]
[Please excuse the quality of most of the pictures this year. The show lighting did not lead to good photography, much less did the open fence backgrounds lead to good focus lock, and take into account Olympus does neons like Debbie does Dallas, a quick glance at some of the samples and it's confirmed, many of this years pictures leave a lot to be desired. It'll have to do, I'm not going back, till next year ;)]
Copyright 2007 Ibanez Rules All Right Reserved