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
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.
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.