Ibanez is perhaps one of the most widely known guitar brand names of all time.
They’ve been around since the late 50s, and are as popular with guitarists as the likes of Fender and Gibson.
The problem is, having been around for so long, they’ve got a huge list of models.
It’s fairly easy to differentiate between different models codes (RG, AZ, and S series guitars, for example), but when you’re looking at Premium and Prestige models, it’s not so easy.
So, what the heck is the difference between Ibanez Premium and Ibanez Prestige guitars?
That’s what we’re going to take a look at today.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this Ibanez Premium vs Ibanez Prestige comparison:
- Quality control
- Location of build
- Price & Value For Money
- Pros & Cons
Ready? Let’s get started…
Main Differences: Ibanez Premium vs Ibanez Prestige
The main differences between Ibanez Premium and Ibanez Prestige are:
- Prestige guitars are built in Japan
- Premium guitars are built in Indonesia
- Prestige guitars are typically more expensive than Premium
- Prestige guitars have, on the whole, a better quality build and quality control
- The individual parts used on the guitars can be similar or even identical, though as a general rule Prestige guitars use higher-quality components
So when it comes down to Ibanez Premium vs Ibanez Prestige, which one should you choose? Here’s a quick overview:
- Go for Ibanez Premium if you’re looking for a seriously quality instrument, that has all of the benefits of a high-end Japanese guitar, but with a smaller price tag. You might need to do a little more on the setup front out of the box.
- Go for Ibanez Prestige if you’re looking for a seriously luxurious, built-in Japan to rigorous standards and with a high degree of care and detail. You should also be prepared to splash a little cash.
1. Quality control: Ibanez Premium vs Ibanez Prestige
Quality control: Ibanez Premium
When you buy an Ibanez Premium guitar, you’re buying an instrument that’s somewhere in the middle of their range, as far as quality goes.
You’ve got the standard guitars, which are cheap, mass-produced, and assembled in a factory in Indonesia.
Then you’ve got the Prestige guitars, which are put together in Japan, and, given that they are far less mass-produced, are done so with a higher degree of care.
The Premium range is somewhere in the middle.
The quality of these instruments overall is damn good, but they have been known to lack a little in the quality control department in terms of how they’re put together.
We’d recommend taking your Premium in for a setup soon after it arrives, then you should be good to go!
Quality control: Ibanez Prestige
With an Ibanez Prestige, you’re getting the best of the best.
They’re handcrafted instruments, straight out of Japan, and they have the strictest quality control out there.
As the saying goes by many Ibanez players “I’ve never played a Prestige that wasn’t brilliant.”
Quality control: Bottom Line
If you want to give yourself the best shot at receiving a high-caliber that requires little tweaking or setup, then you’ve gotta go with a Prestige.
Quality control Winner: Ibanez Prestige
2. Location of build: Ibanez Premium vs Ibanez Prestige
Location of build: Ibanez Premium
Most of the Ibanez Premium guitars are built in Indonesia, which is where a significant chunk of the world’s budget-friendly and mid-range guitars are constructed.
In all honesty, build location itself isn’t what matters.
It’s more the fact that when an instrument is built in a factory in Indonesia, it means the company is generally outsourcing the build.
That is, Ibanez doesn’t own that factory in Indonesia, it’s a company that’s putting the guitars together based on Ibanez’s specs (and they’re probably making instruments for a bunch of other brands too.)
Location of build: Ibanez Prestige
The Prestige range, on the other hand, is built in a dedicated Ibanez factory in Japan.
It’s the first time that Ibanez has manufactured their own guitars, and it allows them to strictly monitor and control every step of the process.
It also means that an Ibanez staff member has their hands and eyes on every guitar that goes out those doors, ensuring the highest degree of quality control.
Location of build: Bottom Line
Though location itself isn’t so much of an issue, the fact that the Prestige guitars are built in an Ibanez-owned factory is a plus, so the Prestige line wins this round.
Location of build Winner: Ibanez Prestige
3. Finishes: Ibanez Premium vs Ibanez Prestige
Finishes: Ibanez Premium
One of the luxuries afforded to Ibanez Premium buyers is a huge range of gorgeous finishes that go far beyond what is offered in the regular range.
Colors like Cerulean Blue Burst (pictured below) and Charcoal Black Burst (pictured above) really highlight the natural grain of the wood used, and join more laidback finishes such as Natural and Black flat.,
Finishes: Ibanez Prestige
As you’d expect, with the Prestige range being Ibanez’s flagship line, the finishes available are top-notch.
Interesting, most of them are a little more subdued than the awe-inspiring bursts offered by the Premium range, but they are delicious nonetheless.
Just look at this Deep Forest Green Metallic RG:
Finishes: Bottom Line
There are no winners here. Both guitar ranges offer some truly beautiful finishes, the likes of which you’re unlikely to find elsewhere.
Comparing the two ranges, the Premium finishes seem a bit more ‘flashy’, most of which are owed to a burst-style finish on a Poplar Burl top.
The Prestige finishes on the other hand are a little more ‘classy’: perhaps a little less eye-catching, but definitely a massive step up for standard-range guitars, and something that will stand the test of time and trends.
This one’s a tie!
Finishes Winner: Tie
4. Components: Ibanez Premium vs Ibanez Prestige
Components: Ibanez Premium
Ibanez Premium guitars use top-of-the-line components from some of the biggest brands around.
Obviously, each guitar differs, but common themes across the range include:
- Ibanez Edge-Zero II Tremolo with ZPS3Fe Zero Point or a Gotoh tremolo
- Pickups from DiMarzio, Seymour Duncan
- Gotoh tuners (sometimes locking)
- GraphTech nut
These are the kinds of components players decide to customize their guitars with, so you’re getting high-quality stuff right out of the gate.
Components: Ibanez Prestige
The Ibanez Prestige range offers similarly high-quality components. You’ll find parts such as:
- DiMarzio, Seymour Duncan, and Fishman pickups
- GraphTech or bone nuts
- Ibanez Lo Pro Edge Locking Tremolo
- Gibraltar bridges on hard-tail models
- Tuners from Gotoh
Prestige-range guitars also generally ship with a fitted hard case, which is a high-quality unit from Ibanez.
Components: Bottom Line
When it boils down to it, many of the Premium and Prestige guitars use the very same components.
This makes a lot of sense, considering Ibanez bills the Premium range as the same quality gear as Prestige but built in Indonesia.
If you compare two like models side by side, you might notice a slight difference in components (different pickups in the Prestige model, for example), but in all cases, the parts used are from the best in the business.
So, all things considered, this one’s a draw,
Components Winner: Tie
5. Price & Value For Money: Ibanez Premium vs Ibanez Prestige
Price & Value For Money: Ibanez Premium
So, we’ve got two ranges of high-quality instruments with top-of-the-line equipment. What do they cost?
It depends to a degree on which model you go for, but for the Premium range, you’re looking at around $1300-$1600.
Price & Value For Money: Ibanez Prestige
Ibanez Prestige models range from $1500 to around $2600.
So clearly there is a bit of overlap at the bottom end of the price range, but the more expensive Prestige guitars can cost you nearly twice as much as a Premium.
Price & Value For Money: Bottom Line
Which range offers better value for money?
All things considered, we’d have to say the Premium range.
That’s because you’ll shell out between 25 and 50% of what you would for a Prestige guitar, and you get all of the great components, design, finishes, and luthiership.
The only thing you have to watch out for is that quality control, which basically means thoroughly inspecting the guitar when it arrives for any imperfections, and booking it in fairly soon for a decent setup so it’s playing as slickly as it should be.
Price & Value For Money Winner: Ibanez Premium
6. Pros & Cons: Ibanez Premium vs Ibanez Prestige
Ibanez Premium Pros & Cons
- More affordable
- Wide range of finishes
- High-quality components
- Quality control can be a little sub-par
Ibanez Prestige Pros & Cons
- High-quality components
- Made in Japan
- A high degree of detail and quality control
- Can be a little be expensive
Ibanez Premium: Editor’s Picks
Ibanez Premium AZ224BCG
The Ibanez AZ224BCG is a gorgeous strat-inspired Premium range guitar available in a range of different colors.
The 25.5 “Scale AZ Oval C roasted maple neck has a vintage feel to it, and the included Seymour Duncan Hyperion HSS pickups (designed specifically for this guitar) absolutely sing.
Ibanez Premium RG1127PBFX
A premium 7-string model from the Premium range, the Ibanez RG1127PBFX has an awesome Poplar top with a beautiful Caribbean-inspired finish.
A single-volume control and that fixed bridge make this a delight for heavy metal players, as do the DiMarzio Covered Fusion Edge-7 pups.
Ibanez Premium S1070PBZ
S stands for Shred on the Ibanez S Premium S1070PBZ, with its highly-beveled body and responsive Edge-Zero II floating bridge.
The 5-way pickup selector inspires a range of tones from the DiMarzio pickups, and the 11-piece neck is easy to navigate and smooth as heck for you super-shredders.
Ibanez Prestige: Editor’s Picks
Ibanez Prestige AZ2204
You can think of the Ibanez AZ range as a boutique approach to a classic, the Fender Stratocaster. The Ibanez AZ2204 certainly lives up to that task.
The Pearloid pickguard on the Oyster Pink finish is a classy touch, and between the Gotoh T1802 Tremolo Bridge and Magnum Lock Tuners, tuning stability is guaranteed even with the gnarliest of bends.
Ibanez Prestige RG652AHM
The Ibanez RG652AHM has been a staple of the Prestige range ever since Tim Henson from Polyphia sported a kitted out on in the Euphoria music video.
The birdseye maple fingerboard sits beautifully atop the 5-piece maple and walnut Super Wizard High-Performance neck, and DiMarzio Air Norton pickups tackle a gorgeous sonic reproduction that makes the RG652AHM sing!
Ibanez Prestige RGDR4427FX
Ibanez has always had a foot firmly in the metalhead camp. If you’re looking for a heavy metal ax that works for down-tuned chugs and supercharged sweep picking, then take a look at the Ibanez Prestige RGDR4427FX.
Its highly-beveled body makes picking access ridiculously easy, and those DiMarzio humbuckers not only look the part but sound it too!
Conclusion & Takeaway
To summarize our findings in this Ibanez Premium vs Ibanez Prestige comparison, here are the winners for each category:
- Quality control – Ibanez Prestige
- Location of build – Ibanez Prestige
- Finishes – Tie
- Components – Tie
- Price & Value For Money – Ibanez Premium
Overall: Ibanez Prestige
All things considered, you’re unlikely to be disappointed by an instrument from either Ibanez range.
Both are incredibly well-manufatured instruments, with the highest-quality components and backing from one of the most respected guitar makers on the planet.
Still, there can only be one winner, and that is the Ibanez Prestige range for sure. The Prestige guitars are made in Japan with a higher degree of care and attention, and across the before perform better straight out of the box.