Buffeted by unfavorable yen/dollar exchange rates, the once successful Ibanez brand found itself in a desperate struggle for survival by the mid-'80s. The company had to completely reinvent itself a very different focus, with more innovative, more focused and more upscale products.
At the Chicago NAMM Show in 1987, Ibanez held its collective breath and showed off its colorful new wares: the Steve Vai JEM guitars, the slim S, the Soundgear bass, and the RG550, a made-for-metal machine with a super-thin neck. Perhaps no other guitar personifies shred and metal styles than the RG550, and the guitar was a significant player in the turnaround of the fortunes of Ibanez.
At the 2007 NAMM Show at Anaheim, Ibanez celebrated the success of the 1987 RG550 and its descendents with three limited edition 20th Anniversary RG550XX's. The guitars are adorned with the original 1987 finishes, Road Flare Red, Desert Sun Yellow, and, of course, a basic Black model, which features a rosewood fretboard instead of maple.
More importantly, the guitars are all equipped the original Edge tremolo, the original spec super-thin, flat Wizard necks and the original tilt-plate neck joint. The necks have been made even stronger than the originals with 5pc maple/bubinga construction. One small difference between the 1987 originals and the 2007 Anniversary models is a special 20th Anniversary control cavity plate.