View Full Version : MIJ vs. MIK S series guitars

02-22-2008, 02:42 PM
MIJ vs. MIK S series guitars

The first S guitars (Saber) had something to prove, as did all of Ibanez's guitars. Many vewied them as cheap "Jap" guitars (no offence).

They proved them wrong. Ibanez did quite well and made quality instruments for many years. At some point Ibanez rose to become a

"respectable" guitar company, even above average. They continued for several years after that. Then they started to get into

major mass production. Along with that became a need to minimize production cost etc. (long story short). As time passed they saw a need to

manufacture guitars in different locations (read costs). They tried manufacturing guitars in Korea and other countries and had been fairly

succesfull producing and selling those instruments. Though.. most of them were lower/inexpensive models (series).

After that succes they moved on to include more and then more and more...

In recent history, it has become harder and harder to obtain quality woods (that's another story/post)

I could include alot more detail.....

Anyway, Fast Forward.

Now all S guitars are made in korea. What has changed? Alot. If you read the book, "Ibanez the Untold Story", you will see that Ibanez themselves

had concerns about exporting it's manufacturing to Korea. Well.....they made that work for a while, but when they included ALL of the S

series....they messed up. Maybe it was because sales were down and the newly ZR equipped S MIJ wasn't doing well. There weren't many

mainstream guitarist playing the S either. So...here we are.

Oh just so you know...I'm not just some guy that says this because I own this one or that one.


Those three guitars illustrate almost every iteration of S made. 1990-2006...

ZR trem
Lo PRo

ANNJ Wizard II (Prestige 5pc.)
ANNJ Wizard I (1pc.)
Standard Neck Joint (1pc.)

All bound and all the top of the line S guitars availible at the time. It wasn't long after 97 that you had to buy a "Prestige S" to get what was once

availible as a 540....think about it. Then they moved it all to Korea.


Ok...so what has changed?


The Korean made S series guitar is thicker. Not only the horns, but the entire body. You can clearly see the increase in the horn size from some of

the pictures posted on this forum. The thing that is difficult to see... is the thickness towards the center of the body. It is not proportional to the

increased thickness of the horns. It is even thicker, proportionally. At least that is my experience.

The neck pocket is not routed as deep as it used to be. Even the guitars that appear to have "decent" routes are not as deep. It appears as if they

are, but they are not. Why?..The thickness of the fretboard and binding has increased. This gives the illusion that it's as deep, on some

examples, but in the end it's still not as deep.

Overall, this makes the guitar heavier and takes away from some of what used to make the S a thin/sleek guitar.

And, the shallow neck pocket joint (SNPJ) requires the pups and bridge to be raised higher above the body. Again, this takes away from the

sleekness of the guitar.

Obiviously there are other perceived differences that I won't bother going into at this point.

More pics...

1997 S540FMTP(MIJ) Neck Pocket....


2006 S2170(MIK) "Prestige" Neck Pocket....


This is what it does to the bridge and pup height....



All Korean made S guitars are equipped with Wizard II necks, which are thicker. The difference with the S is that it also has a different

curvature/profile on the back of neck when compared to a Wizard I. This is not as apparent with other series such as the RG. The RG retains a

similar profile with it's Wizard II neck... I don't know why they did this?

Anyway...it's a little odd.

Additionally, the Wizard II has a 400mm fretboard radius as opposed to the 430mm on the Wizard I. The result is a fretboard with more curvature.

This affects the height in which the action can be set. More curvature...higher action. Less curvature lower action. Even if you manage to obtain the

same action height, the Wizard II will fret out with large bends (as in bending notes on the fretboard)

Plus the fretboard/binding is thicker, as I mentioned before.

Couple all of this with the additonal weight and you may find that what was once similar, is no longer.


Korean manufactured S guitars always had some trem issues, until the ZR. The ZR is a pretty nice unit. It is one of the "smoothest" trems out

there. IT elevated korean manufactured S guitar trems. Though, it's had it's far share of problems. The D-tuner thing never really worked out and

before the thumbwheel... there were problems with the allen key spring adjustment. Additionally, the trem arm holder is still an ongoing problem.

Recently there have been reports of rattling... Like rattling saddles.

The ZR is also different in that it provides a different fulcrum and pivot geometry. In simple terms...it requires more bar movement to obtain the

same amount of pitch change compared to the knife edge type trem units.

In retrospect, the edge and lopro units on the MIJ guitars have only really suffered from one issue. That would be the loose trem bar syndrome. The

problem is with the plastic bushings...they wear out too quickly. This is easily fixed with some teflon tape.

I've also had the same problem with the ZR (trem bar too loose).

I used the same teflon tape to fix that as well.


This will be short. The IBZ pups, currently availible on the prestige only, do not compare to the IBZ pups that were offered when the guitars were

made in Japan. They claim they are still MADE by Dimarzio. Honestly, I have my doubts. Pups are subjective, so I won't say much more.


The cosmo finish on the pup rings, particularly my S2170's has been crap. I wore the finish off in a month.

Conversly, the finish on my 1990 (I purchased it brand new) has held up wonderfully for 17+ years.

The volume and tone knobs are now plastic, at least on the inside. The knobs on my 90 S540LTD are SOLID metal.

The tuning keys have plastic knobs on my S2170, the S540LTLD are metal. The plastic keys look cool and match the scheme of the S2170, but... at

the end of the day, I'd rather have metal over plastic (in most cases).

The locknut mounting hardware is missing the locking washer...I believe this is true of all current Ibanez guitars (MIJ included).

Here is a pic of it....


This piece...


Quality Control

Not very good. IMHO. Lack of consistency.....at best.

The two S2170's had the following problems:

Cracked truss rod cover.

Crooked pup ring.

Crooked trem.

Loose parts flopping around in the case during shipping. (allen screw and locking pad for locknut)

No intonation setup.

No truss rod adjustment (completely loose... floppy loose)


Another pic....


You can't make this stuff up! lol

So...you made it this far Congratz!!!

Again, I could have said ALOT more. The new S isn't a horrible guitar by far.