Restoring a 1985 Ibanez Pro-Line PR1550

Ibanez Proline PR1550 1985
Ibanez Proline PR1550 1985

This unusual guitar is a prototypical 1980’s instrument designed for shredding, with a flat-radius fingerboard, an Ibanez Pro Rock’R tremolo featuring individually adjustable saddles, and a wide range of possible pickup combinations between the two single-coils and the humbucker in the bridge position. It’s got killer sustain because of the combination of the solid alder body, the high-mass tremolo block, and the unusual floating “tub” pickup mounts.

Usually I call them guitars. This one…it’s an axe. No two ways about it.

And although there are a number of dings in the finish and it’s far from mint condition, the original Polar White has aged to a really nice cream color. Altogether a beautiful instrument with a lot of character.

It’s also a bit of a “missing link” to later Ibanez models, as it was only made in 1985 (details on the full Pro Line 1985 lineup here). So they’re pretty hard to find, and I was excited to come across one.

Ibanez PR1550 1895
Ibanez PR1550 1895

This one needed a bit of work. A few parts were missing. It rocks just fine without the back plate to cover the tremolo cavity and the truss rod cover…good thing, since replacement parts for them would be almost impossible to find. But it was also missing the Top Lok system, an above-the-nut lock with an unusual shape. Without it, it would be hard to take full advantage of the otherwise-outstanding Pro Rock’R tremolo. And the Top Lok hasn’t been made since 1985, so there’s no chance of finding a replacement.

Ibanez PR1550 1985
Ibanez PR1550 1985

I took the advice of a friend (thanks, Ken!) and replaced it with a Kahler above-the-nut lock. While it didn’t fully replicate the unusual staggered shape of the Top Lok, a 1 5/8″ Kahler piece fit nearly perfectly, requiring two holes to be drilled and no other alterations.

Beyond that, this was mostly a standard clean-and-setup job. I pulled all the metal parts off and degreased them with naphtha, than bathed them with a machine-oil-and-naphtha mix to prevent any further corrosion. I cleaned pots, switches, and contacts to eliminate any extra noise. Neck angle was fine. I cleaned everything inside and out, then put it back together, dropped the action a bit lower than it had been, set pickup height to 1/8 on bass and 3/16 on treble, and set the intonation with a set of 9’s.

Finally, I used some McGuiar’s M7 Show Car Glaze to hand-buff out some micro-scratches, then polished with Gibson guitar polish. Now it shines like a new axe and rocks like Dokken.

It’s up for sale now on Reverb.com, so check out the 1985 Ibanez Pro-line PR1550 here. If it’s sold already, there’s probably something else in the Vintage Soul Guitars Reverb.com store.

2 Replies to “Restoring a 1985 Ibanez Pro-Line PR1550”

  1. Hello, i own an ’85 PR1660, the V out of the line up, i was wondering if you knew the neck dimensions. I’ve had this guitar in my family for ages and its been torn to pieces. all i have is the body and the front plate with the electronics. I just need to know what kind of neck would fit on this particular model. Thank you! I’ve been searching for years and can never get anywhere

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *