This year Ibanez revamped its Steve Vai 7-string line, shifting the Universe to a Premium model and creating the first ever 7-string Jem. This is an interesting move: the Premium line is made in Indonesia under the approval and training of Ibanez’s J.Custom department, and their output is generally of an incredibly high standard. So a Premium Universe is something to get excited about, especially since the UV70 is essentially a reissue of the old ‘green dot’ Universe. It had DiMarzio Blaze pickups and a basswood body, just like the original green dot.
And then there’s the Jem.
This is the Jem7V7 (buy one here), a 7-string version of Vai’s main Jem7VWH. It features DiMarzio Blaze pickups – the standard Universe pickup – but everything else is pure Jem: alder body, vine inlay, monkey grip, ‘lion’s claw’ trem route… they’ve really done it right, simply creating a seven-string version of the Jem as we know and love it. And it feels incredible. The neck profile is spot-on perfect, the fretwork is great, and it looks beautiful. One interesting thing to note though: they didn’t widen the vine inlay template to accommodate the extra fretboard space. But hey, that’s not really a problem at all, just some cool trivia.
Which one would you prefer?