Well NAMM 2011 is on right now, and of course everyone will be drooling over all the new gear being released. There are plenty of sites covering everything coming out so I’m not going to worry about trying to cover everything too. I’ll just mention some of the new items that really catch my eye.
One of the big things for me out of NAMM is the new Ibanez Premium line of guitars. Ibanez have gone and partnered with Fugijen to purchase part of a guitar factory in Indonesia. They have brought over a bunch of the Japanese staff and supervisors to train up the Indonesian factory workers to build guitars up to the Prestige Japanese standards, and some of the Japanese staff have stayed on too.
This is what Ibanez have to say about the RG Premium line:
For 2011, we offer the new Premium series of guitars designed for hardworking musicians. These guitars are for players who push their guitars to the fullest every night on stage and who demand real professional quality instruments, both functionally and visually.
RG PREMIUM SERIES BASICS
- Made at Ibanez Premium factory, built to Prestige model quality standards
- Specially rounded Premium fret edges for smooth play and comfortable neck grip
- Premium grade, select woods
- Wizard Premium neck has same construction and thickness as Prestige Wizard
- High-end DiMarzio and CAP-VM pickups
- Ultimate tuning stability with Edge-Zero II bridge/tremolo w/ZPS 3
The new tremolo to come on the non-Japanese models looks interesting too. The Edge Zero replaces the Edge III on most models, and the word so far on these is that they are far better than the previous lower-end tremolos. Rich Harris of Ibanez Rules had this to say about the new tremolo:
“The Edege Zero 2(EZ2) is not a cousin to the Edge 3 or Edge Pro 2, but more a brother to the Edge Zero(EZ). 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..”
So it sounds like whilst the finish of the new Edge Zero 2 may not be as nice as the Edge Zero, it will still function pretty much as well. This is great news as it has been common-place in the past to replace tremolos on the non-Japanese Ibanez guitars over the years due to the knife edges and studs, among other things, wearing out, rendering them unserviceable.
I can’t wait to try these new guitars out when they arrive in Australia.