Jul 1, 2013
It is with great pleasure that we welcome our latest contributor to the site, Mr Sean Bodley. Sean is an enthusiast for all things Ibanez, and recently had his awesome collection of RGs and JEMs shared by the official Ibanez Facebook page! Guitar teacher by day and live shred wizard by night, he’s here to share his unique perspective on the guitars he loves. ~thesamurai
Sean Bodley here, solo artist and avid fan of guitars and gear! If you’re not familiar with my material, it’s very much in the style of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, and that’s why this review is about a guitar that just screams “awesome instrumental rock” – the Ibanez JEM70V.
Now Steve Vai’s signature Ibanez JEM has been in production now for over 20 years, but in the last few years it has seen very little in the way of change to hardware or finish, so when I first heard a new model was coming out in 2012 I was amped! Would it be fluoro Green? Shocking Pink? Or perhaps Road Flare Red?!
I was in for a bit of a surprise…
First of all, that this new JEM wasn’t Japanese!!
It is in fact made in the new Indonesian factory where Ibanez has launched its more affordable Premium line of guitars. Steve Vai himself claims the Premium line is designed to offer the specs of Prestige Japanese instruments at an ‘affordable price point’ for guitarists.
Second, the new colour was Seafoam Green, specifically picked by Vai due to his love of classic cars from the 50’s and 60’s. Now this colour won’t appeal to everyone (took me about 6 months to really appreciate it), but fans of Fender guitars may dig it straight away, and it looks way better in person than in catalogue shots, trust me!
Under The Hood:
The new JEM boasts the original Edge Trem, arguably Ibanez’s most acclaimed trem system, due to its stability, smooth operation and has been the trem of choice for both Vai and Satriani throughout their careers. They have revamped and redesigned it a bunch of times (Edge Pro, Edge Zero etc) but everyone still comes back to the Original Edge.
The body is American Basswood, loaded with Vai’s signature DiMarzio Evolution pickups in the classic HSH config. with 5 way selector.
The neck is really where this guitar steps up, in my opinion. It’s got the Ibanez All Access Neck Joint (AANJ) for maximum upper fret access, with the Wizard neck profile. It is constructed from 5 piece maple/walnut and titanium truss rods for maximum stability. Adorning the rosewood fretboard is the distinctive ‘Tree Of Life’ inlay, coloured to match the body finish. The Premium frets are well prepared with rounded off edges – it’s smooth and super fast, perfect for shredders and rockers alike.
‘But wait! How does it compare to the JEMs of old?’ I hear you say.
Well, personally I believe these new Premium JEMs to be of the same high standard as (or at least fairly close to) the classic Japanese JEMs – and I own an original JEM77FP! As with most Ibanezes, there are a few issues with regard to finishing. The bolt holes where the neck joins the body are a bit rough, but this is only a minor issue. I’m not a purist – I don’t believe all Japanese guitars to be superior to the rest of the world, and in fact I’ve played some really expensive and extremely bad guitars from Japan, so don’t let the Made in Indonesia tag put you off. At least play one for yourself and find out.
So how does it sound?
This is a very versatile guitar – the Evo pickups give a wide array of tones, and while they’re quite not my favourite of Dimarzio’s pickup range, they do suit this guitar well. Let’s check out a few examples.
Clip 1 is the beginning of ‘On The Backs Of Angels’ by Dream Theater. I have played it using reverb, chorus and delay for a Vai-reminiscent sound, with the guitar in each pickup position, beginning with the neck:
Clip 2 is some improvised playing over a clean rhythm. Once again it’s all pickup positions beginning with the neck, at low gain:
And finally for Clip 3, I let loose and improvised over a backing track – time for some fun!! Lead guitar is played using various pickup settings:
The Bottom Line:
For the price, I don’t think you can go wrong with this guitar. If you can get past the colour, it’s a well built, versatile guitar that will take you from jazz to metal and back again. It’s not cheap ($2129) but is quite a bit cheaper than the next model up (the Prestige JEM7V at $4195) and you get much the same tone for a reduced price.
I’ve had the guitar in the studio and on stage for just over 6 months now and it’s handled everything from Sweet Home Alabama to Schism and everything in between. Fingers crossed they will do well on the market so that Ibanez will release a new colour in 2014 – I will be first in line!
Thanks for reading – see you guys next time!
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