Ibanez has gone all out to try and satisfy the insatiable, even though they know that's nearly impossible. This years show included a blender of everything, from very cool paint, textures, laser cuts, routed, and even just plain but cool guitars. The diversity of new models and new finishes leads me to believe there are some very tired and overworked Hoshino designers finally getting a little break now that the show is on. Many old requests have finally been fulfilled while some new requests have also been addressed, although some only partially. But, progress means moving forward and they have taken some steps in the right direction.
The S is back, and back the way players have wanted it since it was introduced. Supposedly "coincidental" to the EGEN model, I still believe that Herman's desires in a custom made reality gave the company the data, and will, to produce the 24 fret model. Why they decided to bring it back to Japan is a mystery but not one anybody is going to complain about. And since the S returned they drug her little cousin the SV along for the ride. Maybe it was lonely.
The JS20th, isn't. There was a prototype at the show, and it's quite possible it will be the one they produce and unveil at SNAMM, but as of right now it's just for show. You can only gawk at it and wonder. The display was right out of Hollywood, which is great because that means it didn't have to travel far! And as usual, Ibanez was drawing the crowds of passerby's who just couldn't resist stopping and posing with it. It was down right hard getting good close pics of it as there was always a crowd doing the tourist trap, and being fairly vocal when you'd get in the way. That's how I ended up with so many shots of it cause every small opportunity I had I'd shoot LOL If this is the final product I won't be disappointed, it is pretty damn cool.
If these was a silent song played this year it was the increasing sound of suction created by Indonesia and China as they pulled production out of Korea. The only guitars left MIK are S470 and up [to the MIJ's of course] and the through necks that were made there, either RGT or SAS, along with the few signature models like MTM2, NDM, and JS100. Otherwise everything has gone further out, the good news being that Indonesia is producing some very consistent guitars, and they've expanded models made by the Chinese Custom Shop, which are very very good. In fact when they finally sort out the minutia details they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
New trems, of course. In Ibanez's desire to break away from the Royalty payments to FR, Prestige RG [except for the 1570 for some odd reason] will get the newly designed Edge Zero. Many of you have known about this with the 2008 leakage, but for those that don't there will be a full write up on the coming Trems page. In brief, it's a cross breed between the ZR and the EP, but in essence the baseplate is a redesign and not really EP. Yes, the Edge Zero will have OPTIONAL locking studs. In a genius-of-simplicity move the new EZ studs are through drilled so the locking set screw can be user added from the top. I could not find out if these would be included with the tool [and in fact had to verify this was the really deal after I thought I'd figured it out because nobody knew but the guitar buyer] but I can only guess they will be included as they're only 10 cent screws. Of course I asked why they couldn't include these on the EP models, but at least for now, they will not be. No worries, I'll still be putting them in everything anyway! The new EZ system also includes the new retainer bar-less locking nut where they have gotten rid of the arch typically found in a FR designed nut and have made the string base flat. Hopefully we won't find this leads to string breakage at the nut now that it has a bend point right at it's edge. Also new is the SynchroniZR which is like a vintage trem system on steroids, basically half of a ZR but single locking with locking tuners, that will be mounted on the new SV models. these can be set to block so you have down operation only, or set to full floating, but both without the Zero Point system, although it's name is ZPS_FX, Zero Point System - Fixed. The ZR also gets a slight redesign for the MIJ models by switching to a pop in bar with a redesign to the ZPS using new alloys to make the system smaller and lighter, thereby removing less wood.
On another note, there have been many price increases as are expected nearly every year. At first glance at the show they seemed pretty tame but after I started doing this report I realized some of them were on the extreme side, for the most part on several Japanese builds. For example the RGT320 went up $333 and the MBM1 went up $400. I have no idea why some models got such drastic increases while other were fairly tame, but they are what they are and consider the diminished value of the Dollar in terms of world currency.
Copyright 2008 Ibanez Rules All Right Reserved