guitar models

Ibanez AZ Series new for 2018

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. –


The Ibanez Signature Upcharge

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.

editorial guitar models

Premium JEM & Universe Pros & Cons

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.