Steve Vai Ibanez Jem/Universe

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-091Steve Vai is one of the few guitarists universally acknowledged as one who has changed the way musicians think about what a guitar can really do.

His signature Ibanez guitars are no different: iconic, sublime, awe-inspiring, and outrageous. The Ibanez JEM Series models are trailblazers in a world of imitators – there’s nothing like them.

After the JEM series was launched at the 1987 NAMM show, Ibanez with Steve Vai began to design and produce the guitar actively. Rich Lasner of Hoshino explained that Vai used a “Chinese menu approach” to design the guitar (i.e. choosing from many different categories). The first design was by Vai, when he sent Hoshino his ideas from many different guitar features he liked and combined it into one guitar. The essential considerations were the weight, wood types and pickups. For the latter specification, Vai decided long before Ibanez contacted him, that he would use DiMarzio pickups for his guitars.

Ibanez Jem Guitar

Later, Lasner asked Vai to explain the guitar specifications further: “‘The first thing he did” Lasner explains, “was disassemble them on the spot. Neck from body, pickguard off, tremolo out… took ’em apart. I was shocked, to say the least. But Steve looked at me nonchalantly and said, ‘Relax, I do this all the time.’ He wanted to check Mace’s detail and craftsmanship.” Mace Bailey, who was also involved in the production, later went to Japan to the Ibanez factory to really begin producing the guitar. He sat there with the craftsmen and made ten guitars for Vai.

There are four Ibanez JEM and Universe models.

The JEM is Vai’s main guitar on stage, and comes with Vai’s patented “Monkey Grip”, and the Universe is a seven-string version with no Grip.

The specifications shown here are for the JEM 7V and the Universe UV777.


  • Neck Material: 5pc Maple/ Walnut
  • Neck Type: JEM Prestige
  • Body: Alder
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Inlay: Pearl/ Abalone Vine inlay
  • Bridge: Edge Pro bridge
  • Neck PU: DiMarzio® Evolution® DP158
  • Middle PU: DiMarzio® Evolution® DPS1
  • Bridge PU: DiMarzio® Evolution® DP159
  • HW Color: Gold
  • Finishes: White

Ibanez Universe GuitarUV777:

  • Neck Material: 5pc Maple/ Wenge
  • Neck Type: UV Prestige
  • Body: Basswood body
  • Fingerboard: Bound Rosewood
  • Inlay: Disappearing Pyramid inlay
  • Bridge: Edge Pro 7 bridge
  • Neck PU: DiMarzio® Blazeâ„¢ II Neck
  • Middle PU: DiMarzio® Blazeâ„¢ II Middle
  • Bridge PU: DiMarzio® Blazeâ„¢ II Bridge
  • HW Color: Chrome
  • Finishes: Black

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