The Ibanez JEM & Ibanez Universe are wildly popular guitars. Since their introduction in 1987 & 1990, Ibanez has issued a steady dose of new models to a world-wide audience. To date 58 models & counting. Approved by Steve Vai of course, Ibanez Japan has designed these iconic guitars & manufactured them at 5 factories in Japan, Korea, Indonesia & China. Without question the JEM is an aspirational & halo Signature line that brings a healthy dose of brand exposure & revenue. This unique combination represents win-win-win-win-win… for Ibanez, worldwide distributors, the artist, dealers & customers.
New JEM/UVs released since 2008 (lefty models not tallied, no new models in 2008).
The Ibanez AZ guitar – solid body electric – series was formally announced at Winter NAMM Jan 2018. The AZ brings back a modernized Blazer (introduced 1981) & Roadstar (introduced 1983) including the vintage style non-pointy 6-inline headstock. The AZ is poised to last longer Ibanez’ prior “vintage super strat” attempt, the 1992 RT Series (think RG, with vintage trem & vintage neck & pointy headstock).
In the last 30 years the AZ Series is one of the few new 6-string Prestige (not the cheap stuff) “series” Ibanez has actually introduced which wasn’t mostly derivative of an existing model (see list at bottom of this page).
Even though Ibanez is thought of as a modern guitar brand, we have decades of accumulated knowledge and a history of pushing the boundaries. The AZ series carries with it all of the hallmarks of these tried and tested Ibanez qualities: the smooth oval neck grip, the well balanced asymmetrical body shape, and the neck heel allowing unrivaled playability. – Ibanez.com
The Ibanez AS200 Semi Hollow-body is a guitar that requires no introduction. It’s availability spans 40 years and yet could be the holy grail of Ibanez electric guitars. This sounds strange, but it might be the best kept secret from the guitar world & Ibanez enthusiasts.
The parallel histories of Jazz music and hollow-body electric guitars have been manifested in the Artstar. The influences of these legendary instruments are immediately apparent with bone nut, ebony fretboard, and Ibanez’s signature Super 58 custom pickups. The critical eye will appreciate the details like the smoothness of the fretboard and a skilled crimping technique generally found on instruments costing twice as much. The Artstar is a pure jazz-box that embodies the continual innovation that is Jazz. – Ibanez.com
Artist endorsed signature guitars are commonplace nowadays with all brands and at all price points. Simply put the hope is that you will be attracted to the “model” that is played & endorsed by a musician you like. Regardless of the quality, price or changes from a similar non-signature model you will pay more – often much, much more – for the signature model guitar. The Ibanez signature upcharges are shown below.
Prestige represents the Ibanez instruments many have grown up to know & love even before they were labeled Prestige. This article references how Prestige was used for over two decades, how it evolved & how Prestige relates to those interested in Ibanez guitars today.
Simply put Prestige is a marketing moniker. One that is generally used to distinguish its better guitars & basses, separating them from the Ibanez guitars not made in Japan. Make no mistake these are dramatically better made with tighter tolerances & better parts… the Ibanez guitars you really want to play & own. Best of all, the non-signature Prestige models are competitively priced.
Prestige indicates a certain level of quality the Ibanez player will see and feel then they pick up the guitar.
The Ibanez ASF180 is a fully hollow body version of the AS200 semi-hollow body guitar we’ve admired and loved since 1977. The AS200, as mentioned in the AR2619 hands-on-report here began as the #2630 semi-hollow body which in 1979 was renamed the AS200. Of course, these were and still are very much Gibson ES-335 derivatives with subtle improvements by Ibanez. The tri-sound (parallel & coil-split options) neck pickup wiring, ’60s Slim Taper profile neck and ebony fretboard are the notable differences between the Gibson and Ibanez.
The body construction is the primary difference between the Ibanez AS200 and ASF180 electric guitars. Specifically semi-hollow vs hollow. The hollow-body ASF180 has just a small block of wood directly beneath the bridge for it to attach (the thicker AF200 does not). One large continuous body cavity. The semi-hollows such as AS200 have two distinct cavities seperated by the wood block runnong down the center of the body from the neck under the bridge, tailpiece and beyond. This block adds mass and obviously is used to anchor both the bridge & tailpiece making it semi-hollow. It should also be noted that back in the day before quality potted pickups the semi-hollow body maybe helped eliminate feedback at high volumes.
This post will discuss the pros & cons of the Indonesian-made Prestige JEMs from an objective standpoint. Full disclosure, the author has owned 50+ Ibanez JEM & Universe guitars since 1988 but is not currently interested in buying or owning Ibanez JEM or UVs of any origin.
Some terminology clarifiers:
- Prestige – Ibanez guitars made in Japan typically by Fujigen
- Premium – Ibanez guitars made in Jawa Timur Indonesia (part of the Cort factory) in what was termed in 2011 as a joint venture between Hoshino & Fujigen
Pros of Premium JEM/UVs (Made in Indonesia)
(+) Lowered Cost Signature Model
The Premium JEM/UVs offer a significantly lower cost to retailers/customers than Prestige JEM/UVs since they are made in Indonesia not Japan. The Prestige JEM7VWH list price is $4000 whereas the Premium JEM70SPF list price is $2000. Generally speaking these instruments are equivalent in terms of raw materials needed: wood, hardware, inlays & are finished with standard Ibanez paint.
Ibanez AR2619-VV Guitar Hands on Report
by Glen Cianciulli 9/2016
Ibanez literature says: “The AR is a classic among Ibanez guitars. It was one of the first original designs produced by Ibanez and continues to be a sought after guitar. The AR series continues that legacy with pride.”
That is all true.
In 1974 Ibanez began to stop being a copy-guitar manufacturer by releasing its first electric guitar with a body shape that didn’t clone another brand’s guitar. The non-clones were the Ibanez Artist #2611, #2612, #2613 and #2614 . Each guitar featured symmetrical double cutaway bodies with carved, contoured tops. The first attempt by Ibanez was legit. These models were work-in-progress with their rounder cutaways, peculiar shaped pickguard and bolt on neck. The Ibanez “Artist Series” were their up-scale electric & acoustic guitars, unnamed and designated by a model number.
Huge first steps with more to come. Ibanez would release another original body design a year later in 1975 called the… wait for it… Artist #2663. This was briefly called the “Flash” (according to “The Ibanez Untold Story”) but we all know & love it as the “Iceman”.
In 1976 the AR2619 was Introduced
It was impossible to know at the time, but this axe would be the “AR” the guitar world would remember decades later. As Philadelphia Freedom topped the US charts during its Bicentennial, Ibanez created a classic – the AR2619 – perhaps its first historic axe.