I'm getting hammered with so many sales right now I'm having it hard to find the time to write this! You know what that means? Ibanez is making guitars people want to buy!! This is the slowest I've ever been at getting this page, and this section, written. Thank you for patiently waiting and just buying the guitars instead, my wallet thanks you!! But write I must do, so here we go.
The star of the show is no doubt the return of the Multi Color swirl. 10 years is FAR too long between swirl runs and rest assured I'll be pushing for more of these in the future. Unfortunately Ibanez just seems stuck in a mindset where they only do really cool stuff like this when they're going to be a Limited Edition. Long gone are the days where we'll see a regular production run of JEM MC's at VWH+ pricing. Which, is probably a good thing because I'd have to add an addition on the house just to store all the ones I wouldn't be able to part with! Probably the best news of all is this has given Darren the juice to re-energize him back into doing the work that we all love. He was working NAMM hard to drum up business on several fronts, in fact he showed me a Mojo Vibe? pedal he'd swirled in purple and smoke that I just wanted to run away with! Unfortunately I'm not as fleet of foot as I used to be! If Ibanez would give him some JEM's to swirl in that palette there would be feeding frenzy of buyers lining up like sharks following the chum trail. But it is so good to see Darren back and doing well, and knowing that these great works of art will continue to be available through Ibanez, or through the new site Darren will have up soon. Stay tuned for great news on that front, but I'd rather let Darren tell you all the details personally, when the time comes.
When we started talking about this guitar in mid 2008, my biggest fear was that they'd screw the whole thing up and try and get somebody else to do them, as Darren had been out of the scene for several years. The worst that could have happened is for them to do these and use somebody else, not keeping that continuity that has lasted these 20 years. Cheers to Ibanez for persisting in getting Darren out of the shadows and back on the front page. They've also done the guitars right, with some compromises to modern manufacture with improvements to the neck specs, which are now 5 piece with the volute, but also leaving the heels as they were originally with the 2 fret extension to the fretboard. A nice compromise between the modern and the traditional. They even went as far as to make cosmo thru mount locking nuts for these, which a UV has never had. They were always black nuts, mixed in with the rest of the cosmo hardware. Those details aside, from the front, these look exactly like you turned the clock back 20 years, and Darren gained 20 years of experience!
Unfortunately, they're making them too Limited. It's understandably a knee jerk reaction to the putterring sales of the JS Limited issues of 2007, with many of these still left in dealer inventories. I'm not sure Japan understands the difference between an obscure JS edition they made too many of [the 20th] and a SV Limited MC that the multitudes would be beating the door down for. I see no reason they shouldn't have made at minimum twice as many, but time will tell which was the wiser choice. With 6 gone by the end of the first day of NAMM, I'm betting, they should have made far more ;o} Now all I have to do is outsource enough guitars!! Challenging to be sure.
Ibanez has severely limited this issue to 100 pieces worldwide. 60 to the US, plus the several pieces Chesbro will be allocated. I will be putting as many of these together as possible for another pick off like I had with the DNA's. That way even the last picking spot will have at least 4 guitars to choose from. It should be another wild ride. Ibanez and Steve have also just announced a contest for the 77,777th JEM, and you're all invited to participate. For more details, and to laugh yer F'n ass off, check Steve's video explaining it here. God I love these video spots he makes for Ibanez!
After 20 years, Joe finally realizes there is ALOT more demand for his model if there was only a 24 fret version. Of course he's known for a long time, but now he's finally put in the experimentation to make the guitar into a 24 fretter that even he wants to play. This is definitely the second most popular new model [at least to my customer base] and I'm about to make a second order to fill demand. It's got classic good looks with the white on white, and the chrome is the perfect accent. Now all the players that would normally gravitate to an RG shape because of the 2 octave scale can experience what the rest of us have know for more than 20 year, the JS is the most comfortable guitar there is to play, and pure sex to look at. Here is Joe's video explaining how the 2400 came to be.
Didn't make the show. I was told Ibanez was having problems sourcing the fabric to be used and so it was not ready for production. This is very much like the story behind the original FP where Ibanez had to have the fabric specially made to match the curtains hanging in Steve's Mothers house. It was said they had to buy a "lifetime" supply to have it made, although that lifetime only ended up being 20 years in guitar life. That is the reason the original black FP has been finally discontinued, they've finally run out. Hopefully Ibanez gets this problem sorted and the guitar will debut in Frankfurt, or at the latest, Nashville. Of course the new workhorse JEM505's were displayed and will be available in a couple months.
"Livin' On The EDGE"
Those of you that have been following the news are already well aware, the EDGE is back, and in a big way. Every JEM and JS that had the Edge Pro is now going to be EDGE equipped. The UV777 moves to the Lo Pro. Every Prestige that was Edge Pro is moving to Edge Zero. Basically, the Edge Pro is now, dead. It's been no secret Japan is so in love with the EZ that it was going to be expanded into other models, including the new 7 string versions. I asked about why the Edge Pro had to die and was told that since the EZ would be used on everything Prestige, and that Joe and Steve used the Edge almost exclusively on their tour guitars, it only made sense to switch those to the Edge and completely eliminate the EP. I liked the EP a lot, and even though it did feel a little stiffer I liked it's improvements [when adding back the locking stud mod] and it's ergonomics enough that it offset any amount of stiffer feel. As a tech, the EP was my favorite to work on, but, as a player, the EDGE has always been my favorite trem. It is a very sound sales strategy to convert these models to the EDGE, as now models that have never been available with the EDGE will have it. Those that own EP equipped models are now ordering EDGE models increasing the number of sales Ibanez would have never gotten on the same model. For those that didn't live through the "whale tail" era, the higher profile might be an odd feel at first, and some of you just will not be able to adjust to the tail hump. The good news is, these can always be converted to Lo Pro Edge trems just as players did near 20 years ago. I will be offering LP exchanges on new models for a small fee, only because as parts the LP kits cost more than the ED kits. Now you can "Have it your way" [why do I want a Whopper all of a sudden?!] as I believe even the EP will fit into this modern version of the ED trem rout, and as long as the parts are available, they can be swapped around as you wish.
The changeover will be what they call a "running change", which means guitars are now being produced with the ED system, but all the Edge Pro models will no be dumped, discounted, or in any other way differentiated from what they are. A JEM7VWH with an EP is a JEM7VWH with an ED. They will ship whatever is in stock and if it's EP, that's what you'll get, when the ED's come in, that's what you'll get. There will be no way to tell when that is, and a dealer ordering now cannot specify which he wants. I can't order 5 JEM7's with the ED trem, until all that is left in the pipeline is JEM7's with the ED trem. If you only wish to purchase a guitar with the EP or the ED, you will need to order from a dealer that will make sure that is what you will get. I have been told the expected date for these to start rolling in is "Spring", March, April, or somewhere around there. I will continue to order models as I need no matter what they have in stock, but of course you can specify exactly what you want and as soon as those are available I will complete your order.
EDGE 1, Minus 1
Yes, the Edge Zero is set to take over the Ibanez world. The information coming out was mixed and often wrong, leading me to make statements like "the RG1527's will remain Edge Pro while the ....", in fact the current price list lists several models with the Edge Pro for 2010, but the truth is told in the display models hanging in the booth. If it's Prestige, it's got an Edge Zero, unless it's an S, then it has a ZR2. Simple enough, now that the answer is finally known. There were only a few models affected by this change, the 1500 series RG's. Now that they have made a 7 string version of this trem the 1527's and new RGD and RGA 7 string models will also be EZ equipped. My feeling on the EZ aside, it has been mostly well received by the buying public, so who am I to second guess anything Japan does anymore! ;)
The RGD's bring back an extended scale detuned guitar that Ibanez has not offered in several years. With it's non nonsense metal vibe, dual pickup with volume only control, they've also beveled the top leading edge which give the RG shape a completely new aggressive look. Many have said they're stealing this from Ernie Ball, but I dare you to find an EB that looks this metal. They have a 26.5" scale length to keep the lower frets just a little less spread apart, and will come factory downtuned to D. Aside from niche models, Ibanez does FINALLY bring a Japanese built Prestige fixed bridge to the US. Using the Tight End bridge, which I absolutely love in look and technical spec, this finally fills the gap in the RG line that many have requested over the years. If you want models like this to continue to be available you have to buy them so Ibanez knows you want them and weren't just talkin' smack. So get to buyin'!
An interesting new feature with several of the new, and redesigned models [RGD and RGA] is the rounding inward of the lower horn. I've only seen this feature on the LA Custom Shop models that John Petrucci had built, finally making it's way into a production guitar here 10 years after he left Ibanez. You'll also notice the relief routing on the back of the lower cutaway so you can still have effortless fret access even when striking the most Rocker of poses. Let's not get carried away and drag the spandex out of the drawer. I for one do not want to see what the current me looks like in my old tiger striped pants!!
Ibanez has converted ALL of it's S models over to 24 fret. There are no 22 fret versions of this long standing model currently available. The good new is there is finally a redesign of the arm holder system of the ZR1, now the ZR V1.1. The cast, and prone to breaking 2ZR29 arm socket, has been replaces with a machined tuber more like the arm holder for the Edge systems, using a cover and Allen bolt to lock everything together on the underside. Full details on the Hardware page.
It wouldn't be a NAMM report if I didn't rant about something. Unfortunately, if you're expecting DY, you're not going to get it. If you want something close to DY as you can get, just buy the RG350MYE, because that looks like DY to me, and you get a color matched headstock. But if you want a Japanese made Prestige level in DY, you're going to have to find somebody besides Ibanez to paint it. Now, the RG550RE DY's were just horrible, that yellow looked almost green in the undertones. At least the new RG3550 isn't near as bad as that. But, it's just not a rich strong yellow like the original DY we've all come to love. It looks OK, as long as you're not going to hang it next to your JEM777, but it is a weaker version of a yellow that I wish they would have named something else, like "Yellow Snow". Oh well, If that's the worst thing I can come up with, that ain't too bad.
Has pretty much remained the same. I've learned not to judge what will be coming in my door by what I see on the show floor. Finishing details like fret end finishing and edge rounding definitely hit a low last year, more so on the maple board guitars than anything else, and I fully expect them to remain as such. With very little in the way of complaints from the buying public, why should Ibanez make any changes? I would have loved to talk with the new guitar specialist about it at length, but I don't want to scare him off. Mac and I had a decent relationship before I started beating him up over QC details, so when I did he understood where I was coming from. Mac has just gone back to Japan and we should all wish him nothing but the best as his career within Ibanez progresses. Mac will be missed. I really like his replacement on first impression, and I'd rather he like me before I lambaste him with details about these guitars only zealots like me even pay attention to. As one issue continues, it's been very nice that the long running problems with JS contours seems to be all but over. That was a long stretch of poor effort by the one in charge of finish sanding those contours of the cutaways, but I haven't had a lot to complain about what has been coming in the last several months. It may be time to take down my "warning" written on each JS model page.
ENOUGH BABBLE, GO CHECK OUT THE WOOD!
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