NAMM 2011






Hmmmm, where to start!! Usually I know exactly what I'm going to start typing before I get in the car. Maybe it's all the scantily clad rocker babes attending these events that has me off my game. I left 8" of snow and the only legs I've seen in months were my own!! [UUCK!!]. I MUST FOCUS!!!

Ok, all better now!



It's been a long time coming, since 1998 to be exact, but J CUSTOM SHOP guitars come back to the US, and the best news is, they're back to stay! This isn't a market test, or a teaser, it's a commitment to marketing their finest to the US for years to come. There is talk that as time goes by there may be opportunities for "Store Models" like the ones available in Japan, built to the spec ordered, and if this comes to pass you know I'll be doing something quilty, with ebony, and an EDGE of course!! But, those days are not here yet, so let's concentrate on what is.

To start, we will get RG8570Z's in 5 colors [although I suspect these are the same colors offered in Japan, all the color codes are different, but, so is the model designation so anything is possible] using the US model number JCRG2011Z. Make no mistake, these are pure 8570Z's in every way, whether the colors are exactly the same or not. The pricing will seem high to most at first, just realize what LIST and MAP pricing terms actually mean and you may conclude these may be available for less than what they can be bought for on a particularly well known auction site, from a particularly well known flipper of any and everything available in Japan. Who, BTW, you can blame for taking so long to become available to our shores again. Some of you may have noticed his pricing greatly increased over the last year [as well as his listing tactics] as Hoshino Gakki has gone after his suppliers in the attempt to level the playing field. Some may point your finger at me as I started out as a rogue independent, but I never broke Hoshino's pricing policies so, while I was a prickly thorn at times [mostly about quality issues, which I'm still a prick-ly about], it's quite different to break all of the companies policies to the point they couldn't export JC's to any other countries with an expectation of success.

For those of you that have always complained about them not being available here, stand up and make sure they are a success story in 2011. BUY THEM! It's that simple. While they proclaim these great intentions of making these a staple in the US, if nobody buys them, you will see those plans change. This is a business to them and business is still all about the bottom line. These can be ordered by any Ibanez dealer until the end of the month, all ordering will cease 1/31/11. If you love your local Mom and Pop, you'll have to tell them you want one and have it ordered, but be prepared to pay a substantial down payment, there are no order cancellations!! I ordered 15 in total, and may add more depending on interest. Guessing which colors customers may want is easier to throw a dart at a color wheel. I know what I like, I just wish everybody else thought the same way! My pick would be the bursted brown [OK, BGA!!] but the Trans Violet [OK, VAT!!] was what I was asked about most last year. If I could find my dart I'd come up with an answer!

I can say, thank you Ibanez. These are fantastic instruments that needed to be available here, again.

Due, sometime Summer-ish.



Now this ain't a story about a man named Jed.

"Made by Ibanez Premium Factory - Operated by Prestige team of Fujigen and Hoshino. Located in Jawa Timur, Indonesia."

This was taken directly from the promo sheets. On the back of the headstock -

"Proudly manufactured by Ibanez Premier Factory, Jawa Timur, Indonesia."

What exactly does this all mean?

Ibanez has partnered with Fujigen to purchase part of this factory in Jawa Timur!! Fujigen sent supervisors and staff to train the employees, several of whom have stayed to run the operation to the standards Fujigen and Ibanez set. And, they have set a high standard. I've ordered Indo guitars Special Order for customers and I've always thought they were a step above Korean, especially in the finishes used. The neck clear feels like MIJ, the body clear looks like MIJ, the MIK's just never were right to me, on several levels. My only complaint with the MII's has been some attention to detail, small blems that shouldn't be, etc. Well, hang on to yer britches.

American basswood, select rosewoods, maple neck bindings, thick headstock sandwiches, balled fret ends, tight tolerances, the new Edge Zero 2 trem [without the bathtub rout found behind the original EZ, more on this later], and a variety of 5 decent colors [OF ONE MODEL!!!] on nice quilty tops! Of course at this price point, the tops are decorative veneers, anything with a solid figured maple top would be MIJ and have a price point near triple. Otherwise, these have the goods. The guitars, were better than Prestige in many ways. You can also say that about the Chinese Artcore Customs, but, these are better than those too. Make no mistake, they are still Indo, but I could find little to complain about. There was a little brush over of shielding paint on the neck pickup rout on the orange one, rolling over onto the top just off the edge, again, this small attention to detail that I have no doubt should improve over time. The ends of the fret were already slightly exposed and needed to be shaved back, to me this translates into there's a bit too much water content in the wood when built, but I don't know when these were built. They could have been built as samples months ago, and it is Winter which is the time for shrinking necks. I shave alot of MIJ fretwork back this time of year. My last gripe would be the hardware. Of course it's not to the level of Prestige, but is still of good quality. The EZ2 is not a cousin to the EDG3 or Edge Pro 2, but more a brother to the Edge Zero. It is at heart, an EZ without the intonation bolt [or bathtub rout behind it] but, with differences. It does not use a single screwed on knife plate like the others but has individual pressed in knife edges like the entire Edge family. It also shares the same locking studs and anchors as the EZ [which I usually swap out for Lo Pro studs], but is not made in the same facility as the EZ. The EZ is finished to a higher degree, the EZ2 mold [especially noticeable on the saddle molds] is not as finely finished leaving a rougher less refined surface. It uses the ZR-V1.1 arm holder system that replaced the older cast [prone to braking] ZR1 holder which is not quite as nice as the EZ/ZR2 holder, but functions the same, and is available [unlike the EZ/ZR2 holder system Japan refuses to sell, even if you break it, you buy a new trem!]. My last complaint about it is the fine tuners have very little knurl on them making them tougher to grip to turn [one of my gripes about the EZ also], but either can be replaced with ZR fine tuners which are far superior in my opinion, and a relatively cheap upgrade!. All in all, it will function as it should, but the compromises cut cost enough to be profitable on the Premium line. These will be using nearly the same ZPS3 unit as the Prestige, the ZPS3Fe which I'm guessing refers to a less exotic metallurgy than the ZPS3 for in the Prestige.

To my knowledge this is the first manufacturing facility that Ibanez has actually owned [even in part], breaking from their tradition of contracting factories to produce their products, and stepping into the realm of ownership. With this commitment, I fully expect this to become a core segment of their business and this line should expand over time. I will be handling them. I shutter to think I'm actually going to be stocking Indo builds, but I was impressed enough with the goods to put my money where my blow hole is. That should speak volumes on it's own. Like the 1420/21's and 1451's [which also use several Indo parts to keep costs down] Premiums come in Gig Bags instead of cases.

Due February.



No, the proposed ultra JEM with the new trem system is still AWOL, but, I've been trying to get an answer to, will there be more than one pattern FP2? I'm still trying to get the answer, but there was an entirely new pattern at the show and I'm trying to stress to them, variety is a good thing! They need to be built in several versions of this pattern just to keep them fresh, like the originals. I guess we'll all know, when the March container comes in.



There might not have been any new JEM's, but there was a new Euphoria. Very nicely appointed, it's a thinline with solid top, back, and sides, and the electrics personally tweaked by Steve to get that sonic dimension he was after. It's got the vine of course, but it also has a cool gold toned pearlesque binding that gives it a rich look against the black body that the previous EP's have lacked. I actually decided to carry these also!! [I did handle the EP7's too} as well as the JS10 acoustic [just for continuity!!]



But, there was no Fireman in the house. I don't think this one is going to get pulled, I just don't think all the details were worked out far enough to be displayed yet [and like the JS20TH, I think they've learned to wait until it's ready]. The speculation continues, will it be Fujigen [with a big price tag!!] or will it be Indo [with a little smaller price tag!]. With the "affordable" label firmly attached, I'm still betting Indo!



There is finally an Apex everybody could love. No crazy inlays, no wild paint, and, the first alder bodied 7 built by Ibanez. It's very reminiscent of the PGM401 with the same TriFade finish, classic white pickguard, in fact the only thing unusual is the mismatched color pickups [which the single cover can easily be changed to black if so desired]. I actually ordered one of these also, and I've never stocked any of the K's or Apex before!



After all, boys will be boys. The Show Special RG2011SCBK sports 30 frets that are actually playable! To make it playable the lower cutaway has been severely altered which, at first glance [especially in pictures] looks quite ungainly. Not so much when you see it in person, but no doubt this will be another of the "love it" or "hate it" models that crop out every few years. With a "sustainer" [excitable pickup?!], it's definitely one straight off the drawing board. Just crazy enough, I ORDERED 2!! I'm hoping, that wasn't crazy!



Almost everything New that is mid to higher range have color matched headstocks. Ibanez must have been listening as they are responding with what has been one of the biggest complaints about their guitars. And we all know how much better they look this way. Thanks for listening!



Now that the nickel is the new penny, yes, there are allot of price increases coming. Mostly to the low to mid ranges, but also some in the $3k range are seeing a correction. This was expected by most that follow exchange rates, but it doesn't help a recovering economy much either. They're also introducing some Fixed Map pricing on the lower Prestige models to help hold the line even though the List prices have gone up. This will take me a bit to get used to.



Yup, I said it!! It is pretty cool, with some very interestingly textured metal scrolling thorn inlays in the body, and I do like the Darkstone outline overall, but I'm just starting to get my head around Indo, I'm not going here, yet!! I wonder if this is a portend of things to come? It was a show special and as all Darkstone's are MIC it makes sense this would be also. But even I did a triple take at the price point!




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