NAMM 2012: Ibanez Premium Jem70V

This year Ibanez has introduced a Steve Vai signature Jem in the Preimium line. Premium axes are made in a factory in Indonesia which Ibanez has an ownership stake in. Check out pics of the new axe from the NAMM floor at the end of this post. Nice, huh?

The Jem70V is in Sea Foam Green, and it features Steve’s signature DiMarzio Evolution humbuckers, an Ibanez Edge bridge, basswood body (like the earliest Jems), rosewood fretboard with full vine inlay (colour-matched to the body and headstock), and a 5-piece maple/walnut JEM Premium neck. The neck is very much a Jem neck, not simply a Wizard shape with a floral inlay on it or anything, and the fretwork is spectacular. I know some players are hesitant to check out Indonesian instruments because they might associate them with lower-cost lines, but the Ibanez Premium range is much closer to J Custom quality than Prestige. If you’re an Ibanez geek like me you should find that pretty exciting.

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NAMM 2012: Ibanez Jem Evo!

New from Ibanez this year: the 25th Anniversary Ibanez Jem Evo! It’s a replica of Steve Vai’s legendary Jem, complete with all the details: mismatched control knobs, tape on the neck pickup to stop the string getting caught under there when you pick too hard, new-looking neck compared to the smashed-up body, Edge bridge, and of course Evo’s infamous neck joint crack (cosmetic only, in this instance, I hope). This guitar comes with certificate of authenticity, special hardshell case, and a silver DiMarzio strap custom-made for this release. With an RRP of over $10,000 it’s not cheap, and with only 100 guitars being produced (all of which are already sold to dealers) they won’t be easy to find.

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FEATURE: 5 fictional but awesome guitarists

Just because these guys aren’t real doesn’t mean they can’t rock real hard. Here’s my tribute to the 5 most awesome fictional guitarists ever.

1. Muno (Yo Gabba Gabba)
Muno was always destined to be the coolest inhabitant of Gabbaland (a distinction must be drawn between cool and funky, and of course DJ Lance Rock is off the chart on the funkometer). Muno’s mad guitar skillz came to the fore when new friend Jack Black paid a visit to Yo Gabba Gabba and spent some quality time rocking some sweet arpeggios with the red one-eyed shredder.

CLICK HERE to buy Muno’s guitar on

2. Gumby
Gumby was one of my first guitar heroes – I guess I could relate to him because I too played guitar, was besieged by Blockheads at every turn and would often escape inside books. By the way, anyone else think that Gumby’s guitar in this pic sort of resembles one of those awesome new Washburn HM series WMs

CLICK HERE to buy Gumby – 7 Disc DVD Boxed Set w/Gumby figure.

3. Jem & the Holograms’ Aja Leith
Glamour and glitter, fashion and fame, Jem was truly outrageous. Truly, truly, truly outrageous. And her guitar playing sidekick and adopted foster sister, Aja Leith, slung a mean axe on this classic 80s cartoon series. Rumours that Aja went on to become The Great Kat are unsubstantiated. One thing’s for sure though: when it came to throwing down mad lixx in the face of the shred onslaught that was the Misfits (no, not that Misfits, although that’d be cool), nobody rocked like Aja.


4. Silverhawks’ Col. Bluegrass
It didn’t matter that he was the only Silverhawk who couldn’t fly. It didn’t matter that his cowboy hat was grossly inadequate as any kind of protection from the harshness of space. It didn’t even matter that he kinda looked like George W Bush remade into a cowby cyborg. What mattered was that Bluegrass of the Silverhawks could totally shred, and that he piloted the Maraj by plugging his guitar in to the console and steering via the awesome power of rock (and maybe a little country). If only Detroit would team up with Nashville and implement this new steering system (Gibson, are you and your Robot Guitar listening?), we might pull ourselves out of this financial maelstrom.


5. Dr Teeth & The Electric Mayhem’s Janice
She rocks the axe left-handed like Ziggy Stardust. She looks like Daisy from Rock Of Love. And as Muppet Central will tell you, she’s hooked up with at least two members of The Electric Mayhem (Floyd Pepper and Zoot, for those of you who haven’t been reading the tabloids). Nobody’s quite sure what Janice is up to these days – I’d like to think she’s living in the Village, surfacing occasionally to perform dimly-lit solo acoustic jazz sets in small cafes before heading back to her apartment, which is full of exotic cats and lovingly restored Gibson L5s and D’Angelicos – but I’m holding out for a reunion of Dr Teeth & The Electric Mayhem. Somebody get them on a package tour with The Banana Splits and GWAR. 

CLICK HERE to buy The Muppet Show – Season One (Special Edition) on DVD from

NEWS: Steve Vai auctions Jem, pickups, necks. I sell a kidney.

Anyone wanna buy a kidney? Cos I need to raise funds quickly to participate in some auctions coming up on eBay courtesy of one Mr Steve Vai.

A mailout today included the following tantalising tidbit: Winter Ebay Extravaganza

Steve has been clearing out the garage and it’s time for a winter sale.

Among the goodies up for grabs is a Jem777VDY – used both live and in the studio, this yellow Jem was given to an assistant of Steve’s a few years back. In recent times this guitar came back into Steve’s possession, and we now make it available for you. We are open to serious offers on this guitar ahead of it appearing on Ebay. Email us at talk2us[at] with offers or inquiries.

Also up for grabs are a set of DiMarzio prototype pickups, Jem necks, used pedals, straps, amps and more!

Check back in the coming days for a list of gear and photos.


Image used with permission.

NAMM 2009: New hard tail Ibanez Jem

This one has been floating around the net for a few weeks, but I didn’t really want to post about it because unlike those guitars published on the Thomann website last month, the image of the new Jem was obtained by somewhat shady means (someone snooped around and found an Ibanez website photo directory with photos that were to be put on the 2009 website).

But now it’s official and here it is: the JEM77EAFX. What do you think? Personally I love it – except for that decal. And I’m assuming it’s under the clearcoat so you’re stuck with it. It kinda defeats Vai’s original intention of keeping his name off Jems so they wouldn’t just be associated with him. The decal instantly turns this into a guitar for Steve Vai and people who wish to say loud and clear “I’m totally a Steve Vai fan,” which is cool but I’d much rather have a guitar that doesn’t scream VAI in big letters. I think this one’s a bit of a missed opportunity.

The specs are pretty similar to the JEM77VBK, and I dare say that if you really want a fixed bridge Jem, you might as well just buy one of the other models and install a Tremol-No.

Neck type: 5pc JEM Maple/Walnut neck
Body: Basswood body
Fret: W/6105 frets
Bridge: Tight-End bridge
Neck: pu DiMarzio® Breed (H) neck pu
Middle: pu DiMarzio® Breed (S) mid pu
Bridge: pu DiMarzio® Breed (H) bridge pu

Scale 648mm/25.5″
Radius 430mmR

a: Width at Nut 43mm
b: Width at Last Fret 56mm
c: Thickness at 1st 19mm
d: Thickness at 12th 21mm

CLICK HERE to buy the Tremol-No on eBay.

CLICK HERE to see Ibanez Jem guitars on eBay.

NAMM 2009: First new Ibanez 2009 guitars

Thomann has opened up preordering for new 2009 Ibanez guitars, and while not all the photos are on the site yet, you can tell a lot from the specs. They’re talking about these over at the official Ibanez forum and at Jemsite, which is where I first heard about the Thomann links, so I figure it’s ok to re-post the info here now that it’s out there in the public domain.

For instance, there’s the PGM401-TFB (pictured). Paul Gilbert Signature, ash body, 5-pcs maple/walnut PGM Prestige neck, rosewood fretboard, 24 medium frets, dot inlays, painted “f-holes”, cosmo black hardware, fixed bridge, DiMarzio Air Classic humbuckers, 648 mm scale lenght, color: Trifade Burst, incl. case and leather strap. CLICK HERE to preorder. And by the way, check out his new CD, United States, with Freddie Nelson. It’s awesome.

Or how about the return of Andy Timmons to Ibanez’s endorser list? AT100CL-SB, Andy Timmons signature, alder body, 1-pcs maple neck, (AT “Prestige”), maple fretboard, 22 jumbo frets, Wilkonson by Gotoh VSVG bridge, DiMarzio Cruiser neck, DiMarzio Cruiser middle postion and DiMarzio AT1 Custom bridge pickup, cosmo black hardware, 648 mm scale lenght, color: sunburst, incl. Prestige case and leather strap. CLICK HERE to preorder.

Oh and who likes maple fretboards? RG2550MZ-GW, basswood body, 5-pcs maple/walnut neck, maple fretboard 24 jumbo frets, shark inlays, Edge Zero tremolo, 1x Di Marzio/IBZ-N neck humbucker 1x Di Marzio/IBZ-S single coil middle position and 1x Di Marzio/IBZ-B bridge humbucker, with mirror pickguard, incl. case, color: galaxy white. CLICK HERE to preorder.

RG2570MZ-VBE (pictured), Basswood Body, 24 Jumbo Frets, 5-pc. Maple/Walnut Neck, Maple Fretboard, Prestige Shark Tooth Inlays, Edge Zero Tremolo, 1x Di Marzio/IBZ-N Neck Humbucker 1x Di Marzio/IBZ-S Single Coil Middle and 1x Di MArzio/IBZ-B Bridge Humbucker, 648 mm scale lenght, Color: Vital Blue, incl. Luxus Case and Leather Strap. CLICK HERE to preorder.

And let’s not forget the return of the Destroyer series. DTT700-MGS, destroyer-series, mahogany body, 5-pcs. maple/walnut neck-through neck (Wizard II), rosewood fretboard, 22 jumbo frets, AR block inlays, Gibraltar custom bridge, chrome hardware, 2 x Dimarzio D-Activator humbuckers, 648 mm scale lenght, color: metallic gray sunburst , incl. case and strap. CLICK HERE to preorder.

The Xiphos series also gets a lower cost little brother: XP300FX-BK, X-Series Xiphos, mahogany body, 3-pcs bolt-on maple, rosewood fretboard, 24 jumbo frets, white dot inlays, fixed bridge, cosmo black hardware, INF3 neck- and INF4 bridge humbucker, 648 mm scale lenght, colour: black, incl. gigag and strap. CLICK HERE to preorder.

There’s also a way pimped out version of the Xiphos: XPT700XH-GSF, X-Series Xiphos, mahogany body, 5-piece maple/walnut neck thru-neck, rosewood fretboard, 27 jumbo frets, white sharktooth inlays, Edge III tremolo, black hardware, DiMarzio Air Norton (N) and Activator (B) humbuckers, 648 mm scale lenght, colour: Green Shadow Flat, incl. case & strap. CLICK HERE to preorder.

27 frets? HELL YEAH.

No news yet on the rumoured Paul Gilbert Fireman (reverse Iceman) or new Steve Vai Jem models – let’s wait and see what else is posted on Thomann before NAMM in January.

Regarding the reissued Timmons model, Andy recently posted the following on his website:

Hi Folks,

I’m very proud to announce that Ibanez and I have agreed to re-issue the original AT100 on a global scale. As opposed to the original AT100 which was a limited production (we think @ 300 were made), the AT100CL will be available worldwide and will be made to the exact specs as the original including the hand shaped neck!!

As you may recall, I announced a while back that I had parted ways with Ibanez and that I just wanted to play whatever I felt like playing. I never had any intention of signing with another guitar company as many had speculated. I did get approached by many companies once word got out (which I was very flattered by) but it was more important to me to remain independent and avoid a reputation as an “endorsement hopper”.

What I discovered in this time period is that I do love to play Strats occasionally as well as SG Specials, Teles and Les Pauls but nothing feels like “home” like my original AT100. Tone, feel and expression. It’s truly MY guitar.

As I was coming to this realization, Hoshino invited me to play for their 100th Anniversary concert in Japan w/Steve Vai and Paul Gilbert. I was very honored to be asked to do so and I thought it was cool for them to ask considering I wasn’t currently an endorsee. During my visit they approached me with the idea of re-issuing the AT100. It was just perfect timing…it felt “right”!

I know there has been a lot of interest in this guitar in the past, so I’m so happy to say that it will finally be available in 2009!

The guitar will be unveiled at the January NAMM show (and available for pre-order) in Anaheim and should be in stores by Spring.

The Andy Timmons Band will appear opening for Paul Gilbert and Racer X as part of the NAMM festivities. Good stuff indeed.

I’m off to play…I’m inspired!!!


NAMM 2009: Steve Vai prepares new Ibanez Jem for 2009

In a news posting on his website, Steve Vai has revealed that there will be a new Ibanez Jem in 2009, and it’ll be a little different from previous offerings (and no, this picture isn’t it, but I’ll explain that in a second).

The post mainly focuses on a DVD shot during his String Theories tour of last year. In the posting, Vai says of the DVD,

“I don’t know when it’s going to come out, but I’m hoping April or May. A few other things in the works are a new Legacy II amp. Just did the photo shoot today. I don’t want to blow any of the surprises so I’ll make sure when it’s announced you’ll know about it. And yup, a new Jem. This is different than all the other Jems in that it’s a h— t—. Now you don’t want me to give it up, do you? Both of these exquisite little dynamos will be announced and shown at NAMM. I will be there on the 16th and 17th at the Carvin and Ibanez booths. Not sure which one on which day though.”
What does Vai mean by ‘h— t—“? I guess the most obvious answer is ‘hard tail.’ Could he finally be foresaking his beloved whammy bar? Never. But he’s been known to use hard tail guitars in the past. The photo at the top of this post is not the new Jem, but it’s a prototype from back when Steve was testing various woods and pickups for what eventually became the Jem7VWH. This protype is on eBay at the time of writing, and it surfaced for sale a couple of years ago too. (If you notice anybody using this photo on a messageboard or something, and claiming it’s the new Jem, feel free to correct them and link to my blog, hehe).

Check out the rest of the post here, because Vai also talks about his next album, his recent master classes, and the possibility of doing a master class tour of the US.

CUSTOM CORNER: Swirled Ibanez RG

Here’s my work-in-progress custom Ibanez RG. The body was an eBay find, and a Christmas present from Mrs Iheartguitar: it’s an Ibanez RG570 with a custom swirl paint job by Herc Fede. For a while, Herc was selling painted bodies on eBay, as well as doing custom work, but as of July 1, 2008 he stopped taking orders for custom finishes. He plans to still occasionally offer painted bodies for sale, so check his webside periodically to see if you can snag one. What I particularly like about this body is the abstract duck figure in the top left corner of the image.

The neck was another eBay discovery, and was hand made by Herc himself. The colours are based on the Ibanez Jem 77PMC purple multicolour model from the early 90s. The neck is in great condition and feels very smooth and comfortable.

The electronics will consist of a pair of Dimarzio EJ Custom humbuckers, which are designed to sound like old Gretsch FilterTrons, and a Dimarzio Vintage Solo single coil in the middle, which is voiced to sound like a P90. I already have so many shred-style guitars that I thought it would be cool to have something that sounds a little more traditional, yet looks completely over the top.

The hardware is all authentic Ibanez, in the Cosmo colour, a kind of matte grey. The clear pickguard is from Jeannie Pickguards.

All that remains to be done now is have the body clearcoated and the electronics cavities shielded, which will be done by ET Guitars.
Other parts were ordered from World of Music in Brighton East here in Melbourne (I used to teach there, and they have an especially awesome range of Fender guitars and amps), Rich Harris’s Ibanez Rules, Matt’s Music Center, and eBay seller Kenvai.