Ibanez Jem

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About Ibanez jem

One of the most distinctive signature electric guitars ever, the Ibanez Jem is the brainchild of master shredder Steve Vai. Since 1987, the Jem has been his guitar of choice and has proven so popular with the public that it has never been out of production. Otherwise known as the Steve Vai guitar, the Jem has lots of eccentric design details like a 'tree of life' vine inlay, a 'lion's claw' route for the tremolo and, most famously of all, the 'monkey grip' which is a carrying handle cut into the upper bout of the body!

These sleek speed machines are also known for their outrageous finishes, including though in no way limited to Desert Sun Yellow, Shocking Pink and even a series of Floral designs that feature actual patterned fabric underneath the finish! Ibanez Jem guitars continue to be extremely popular with fans of technical guitar playing.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ibanez Jem

Question: The Jem guitars all look similar so why are some very expensive whilst others are relatively inexpensive?
Some Jem models such as the top end Jem 7V are made in Ibanez's boutique Japanese workshop with top quality hardware and workmanship. They are professional grade instruments with exhaustive attention to detail, USA-made DiMarzio pickups and details such as abalone inlays, gold hardware and a hardshell case all raising the final price of the guitar. At the other end of the spectrum, the Jem Jr is a factory made Indonesian guitar with stock parts and pickups. This is a production line guitar which ships without a case and has been made to a specific value-for-money budget. From a distance they both look very similar but that is perhaps where the similarities end. Both guitars are fantastic in their own way but to compare them to each other would hardly be fair. There are a range of other Jem guitars that are priced in between these two extremes and these offer great value: the Jem70V in Sea Foam Green is a great example of this.
Question: What is the Lion's Claw?
The Lion's Claw is an invention by Steve Vai and refers to the area of absent wood just below and behind the bridge. Vai had issues with locking tremolos of the day not allowing him to bend up on the whammy bar to get specific sounds so he routed away a cavity on one of his guitars with a hammer and screwdriver. Finding that this worked well, he passed on his idea to the designers at Ibanez who incorporated it into his Jem guitars.
Question: Why does the Jem have a carry handle?
"The famous monkey grip was added by Steve Vai to make the guitar not only instantly recognisable but also to put in something that no other company would 'rip off', according to the man himself. It may seem a little strange to begin with but after you carry it around a few times, you start to wonder why all guitars don't have handles!"
Question: Which Jem does Stave Vai actually play?
The Ibanez Jem 7V is modelled directly on Steve's own favourite guitar, nicknamed 'Evo'. This model has the famous Dimarzio Evolution humbuckers and the scalloped frets up at the end of the neck. It is available in Steve's favourite finish combination of White with Gold hardware.
Question: How many different models of Jem are there?
There are currently 6 different Jem models available, not counting colour variations, left handed models and Universe guitars, which we would categorise separately. There are new colours and variations appearing all the time though - keep an eye on our website and be assured we'll have all new models of Jem available as soon as they get announced. Over the years there have been a great many Jem models, some of which now command great sums on the vintage market.