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).
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.
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.