I like Ibanez because of the slim fast necks. They call it a "wizard" neck, yeah? I have small hands and I like to do the thrash and also the oddball chords that involve twisting your fingers up like pretzels. I just can't manage the neck on a Les Paul, and Telecasters ain't much better. I only like Strats if they have slim necks like on the AmerDeluxe.
If I sprung for an Ibanez, I'd want one with the following specs: neck-through, string-through bridge, lots of access to uppermost frets, slim fast smooth satin neck, and can handle big fat strings (13s or 11s) with good neck tension for downtuning and whatnot (sometimes I do, sometimes I don't). It's okay if the pickups are crap (I hear Ibanez brand pickups are always crap) because I'd be replacing them anyways.
What's the cut-off between the crap models and the good models that fit that description? When it comes to basses, Soundgears are awful, but anything from the BTB line is a good buy.
And aside from the pickups, what else would be wise to replace or upgrade? Tech types have gone on about how they have crappy wiring or some other weird odds and ends that I don't fully understand.