Ibanez Premium vs Prestige: Which is Better? (2023 Edition)

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If you’re curious about Ibanez Premium vs Prestige and which is a better choice for you, you’ve come to the right post!

Ibanez Is Far Bigger Than You Might Think

Ibanez is one of the biggest guitar brands today.

In fact, you might be surprised at how big they are.

Although they’re part of a larger company called Hoshino Gakki, there are a lot of divisions within Ibanez.

And, what’s more, some of these function almost like separate brands or companies.

One example is Ibanez GIO which focuses on budget-friendly alternatives, like what Squier is to Fender.

Then we have something like Ibanez Prestige, Ibanez Premium, or J. Custom.

To make things more complicated, these aren’t all manufactured in one place.

In fact, there’s a lot of outsourcing involved in the process.

So you either have manufacturers working for Hoshino Gakki or by Hoshino Gakki.

In both cases, these are all marketed as Ibanez.

They’re manufactured in various countries, and it’s a bit tricky to follow it all through.

If you ever find one of those “Where Are Ibanez Guitars Made” articles, there’s a chance that the information in it is not fully complete because of how complicated this topic is.

In short, Ibanez is a more complicated brand than you might think.

And it comes with plenty of sub-brands with numerous series and models.

What Is Ibanez Premium?

2023 Ibanez Premium RGT1220PB & RGT1270PB Models! - Neck Through Build & Full Of Features!

Ibanez Premium is a special line of the company’s electric guitars that they introduced in 2011.

It gravitates towards the higher-end price range.

I cannot say that they’re entirely high-end.

They’re essentially a cheaper alternative to the Prestige line.

They’re manufactured in Indonesian factories, and the prices for these models are usually from $1,100 up to $1,600.

As for basses, they go between $1,400 and $2,000.

Compared to Ibanez’s “average” stuff, they have some better features.

Additionally, the build quality is also slightly better, and they’re more visually attractive.

So Premium is something between Prestige and regular standard stuff.

You’ll find traits like 5-piece necks, better fretwork, as well as great pickups and hardware.

Some of them also come with the Edge Zero II tremolo bridge, including the so-called Zero Point System.

You’ll often hear or read that this provides “rock-solid tuning stability,” which is true.

There are also variants with fixed bridges and more conventional tremolo bridges.

You’ll also find Gotoh tuning machines, locking nuts, and some pretty impressive finishes.

Although they were initially all within the RG series, the Premium line expanded into other territories.

These days, you’ll also find them within other series, like the thin S models.

Although relatively expensive, they’re usually a pretty great deal for their price.

What Is Ibanez Prestige?

Ibanez 2021 RG5000 Prestige Series - Top-of-the-Range RG Guitars Made In Japan!

Introduced in 1996, the Prestige line, or the Prestige series, is on a different level.

These are some of the company’s best instruments and they’re manufactured in Japan.

They also had some Korean-made Prestige guitars for a while, but they’re far from common.

So, as expected, these are top-notch models, “flagship” guitars for the lack of a better word.

In terms of overall quality, they’re only second to the J. Custom line.

There’s also a sub-category called Prestige Uppercut which comes with Bare Knuckle pickups.

As far as the prices go, the range is pretty wide, sitting between $1,500 and $2,600.

There’s also a great variety of models, some even with more “conventional” old-school designs and traits.

But you’ll recognize them all for the “Prestige” writing on the headstock.

All of these come from Japan’s FujiGen Gakki factory.

You’ll find them with high-end traits, including 5-piece necks, great finishes, top-notch hardware and electronics, as well as incredible attention to detail.

For instance, body and neck joints feel incredibly ergonomic when accessing higher frets.

Edge tremolos are pretty common for Prestige guitars, although some have more conventional bridges

You’ll also find some other high-end traits like roasted maple necks or unique twists to the design.

For instance, RGDR4427FX is a great example of how versatile and unusual a “Super Strat” can be.

Overall, they’re pretty close to the J Custom guitars.

In fact, I’ll dare to argue that, in most cases, there’s no practical difference.

Sure, J Customs go through the hands of the best luthiers.

And you’ll find them with more “exotic” wood choices.

But the only viable difference at this point is that Prestige models aren’t as limited.

In other words, they’re not as hyped.

Ibanez Premium vs Prestige: Which One Should I Pick?

When it comes to Ibanez, I’d say that they cover all price ranges well.

In most cases, you can’t go wrong with them.

Be it a beginner guitar or a pro-tier one, it’s more than reasonable for their respective prices.

But let’s compare these two.

As I already mentioned, the Premium sits below the Prestige line.

That doesn’t mean that Premium guitars are bad.

However, I did notice that some have complained about certain Premium models over the years.

Although higher-end than the “standard” stuff, some might not feel like pro-tier guitars.

On the other hand, certain models can surprise you, like the S1070PBZ.

Not to mention that the Point Zero System is a great addition.

But if I had to make one definitive answer?

Well, I’d rather go with the cheapest Prestige than the most expensive Premium.

Besides, Prestige offers a lot more options in terms of price, design, and features.

And for a great Prestige model, you don’t have to pay over $2,000.

Be patient, save up a bit more, and get yourself a Prestige that will serve you for life.  

Ibanez Premium vs Prestige: Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you think through the Ibanez Premium vs Prestige and which is right for you!

But I’d like to know what you think!

Let me know in the comments!

And if you want to read more guitar line comparisons on this blog, check out:

3 Responses

  1. J.custom guitars are waaaaayyy better than the prestige series line not such a fancier selection of wood. You could make a better argument in saying that J.custom guitars vs. Prestige guitars are like Fender Custom Shop vs Fender American standard guitars, however one could even argue the overall fit and finish disparity between the two is even greater.

  2. I am going to disagree. I have several top tier Ibanez Guitars and and my Prestiges are 2nd in quality on the neck craftsmanship on almost every level except for My first gen Premium. My Premiums are an S920E (active EMG’s in an S is pretty impressive in itself). The 920 Has an amazing neck and the fret treatment is on par with my Prestige from the same year (2011). The brother Prestige is an S5470FM, It HAD the turd (hot Grinder) Ibanez pickups and I actually have had a lot of trouble with this neck, especially during trips across the country whereas the Premium neck stays true. The both have the same case, ZPS-3, and the Edge ZR (ball bearing) trems, whick I love. On the other end of the spectrum FF to 2015 and I bought the S5570Q in Dark Purple Doom Burst, My first fulcrum style edge trem, and still has the ZPS-3. The finish is beautiful but, once again, electronics fall short with the lousy responding Hot-Grinder. FF-again to 2018, and I bought another Premium. The S1070PBZ and Holy squirrel nuts is it an Amazing piece of equipment. Stainless Frets, 11-Pc neck (that is insanely solid and beautiful to boot), DiMarzio pickups, the edge trem and ZPS, a burl top with a killer finish, and the fret ends are hemispherical cut. NEVER have I seen that on a prestige, let alone, a stainless fretted instrument. It is by far my favorite to play. The Prestige line is alright if you want to pay for the fact it is made in Japan and I think they finally got out of the habit of using their own pups, but the S premium is killer. Sounds great, feels great, looks amazing for a burst finish, (mine first was Cerulean Blue Burst, I also now own the white version and have A Duncan Full Shred in the bridge, cool rail in the middle, and a mini ’59 in the neck)). I don’t know that all premiums get the fret end treatment like that, but both of my S’s have it and I’ll never go back.

    1. Hey Mike!

      Thanks for sharing your experience! I don’t mind a bit of civil disagreement on the blog. Plus, your experience may resonate with someone else too.

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