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Commentary - JEM 7 Series




In a perfect world, I would include the comments in the Guitar Gallery. The entire gallery would load in a few tenths of a second as well. We would have clear video of some of us playing these works of art also. Something to look forward to, but for now I've put the comments for each JEM and Universe guitar on this separate page.

Jemsite has listed commentary for each JEM and Universe guitar. Also featured are second opions from friends of Jemsite. To see how everyone ranks their favorites go to the "Visitor Guitar Ranking" page. If you submit a full suite of collector comments they will be added if suitable.

Last update: 4/24/2000 updated commentary by Jemsite.com

 JEM 7 Series

JEM7BSB - Burnt Stained Blue

Ibanez' self proclaimed attempt at an "Industrial" guitar. I'll be honest... I was unimpressed by these at first, however their appearance and styling grows on you. This is another JEM that pictures fail to portray it's beauty, as the 7BSB looks much better in person. It's unique features such as unfinished, burnt body covered in a light blue stain and Phillips head (x) screw fretboard inlays makes it obvious that the 7BSB is a special JEM. The hardware is a pewter color, which is a first among JEMs and the translucent pickguard is exclusive to this model. The 7BSB has been available from authorized dealers for two years now, so it's collect ability is irrelevant at this point. Widely available guitars still in production cannot be considered collectable at the present time. Now, if the 7BSB is limited to a small 2-3 year production run , they are sure to become one of the more collectable JEMs. I have no idea how many were sold or created, but my guess is that the overall number is pretty low. In today's marketplace, $1,400 guitars don't sell in large numbers. Standard, production guitars with handles in the body sell even less in the USA at that price. One unnecessary snag in the marketing of this guitar IMHO is that Vai rarely plays this guitar live. I can only report the facts... he did not play the 7BSB at the '96 G3 show I saw and he managed to play the 7BSB for only one song at the Fire Garden show in NJ. It should be noted that Vai did not play the JEM10 for either tour, but that rare model sells itself. On a personal note, I'd prefer the guitar to be more grizzly and burned up, however each is unique and invariably each 7BSB will be somewhat different.

Second Opinion

  • Would have been higher if it had scalloped frets. The bait: Vai had a million pictures taken of him with a BSB with a maple neck. The Switch: Mine came with a rosewood neck stained with that blue stuff. WHAT'S UP WITH THAT! MAPLE! MAPLE!! MAPLE!!! . - by Larry Larsen
  • Good move by Hoshino to "Industrialize" the JEM with hopes to attract the people who are too ashamed to play a really good guitar because of the way it looks (i.e. SP, PMC) so they make it look "trashy." Cool guitar but watch the paint job, you may end up with a natural JEM after a while. - by Dave Weiner
  • This is a guitar for life, I prefer a maple board myself but think rosewood matches it better. The cool thing is that they never need refinishing and just get cooler as they get bumped, chiped and those ever so painful introductions... Guitar - Coffee Table, Coffee Table - Guitar. - by Jono Dale
  • The only thing I don't like is the unfinished body. The two I've seen at shops had scuff marks that wouldn't come off. IMO, it wouldn't have taken away from the look if they had clear-coated it. - by Kyle Clark
  • I have to be honest - the cool designs on the neck of the JEMs set them apart for me - screw heads do not do much for me. I think I will wait till some kid's mom buys this and then has to hock it off. The finished/painted back of the neck sucks too. - by Worth Davis
  • This guitar is rather ugly. At the same time it is very interesting, but not as interesting as a multicolor. It was a great idea in theory, but in practice??? A black sheep of the JEMs. - by Larry Menshouse
  • Nice base color. Finish not strong enough. Cool how the finish runs up the neck - by Mike Haug


Included in the Jemsite Top-5. Click here to read the commentary from the Hits & Miss pages.



  • What's mainly the cool thing about this guitar is that the appearance is not really a flashy or a traditional color, it's just totally different than anything else. The 7dbk proves that this could be done more affordably. I'm still waiting for mine but having a new pickup variety is cool and the low price for a quality Jem is very much appreciated - by Mike Haug

JEM7PBK - Black w/ Pyramids

The so called "prototype" JEM that today is one of my favorites. Heralded by one JEM fan as the "holy grail of JEMs". This model, perhaps more than any other JEM has really improved with age. Visually, it's large monkey grip and white pyramid neck really stand out. Still today, no other JEM has this impressive combination. Perhaps it's somewhat subdued character caused it to be overlooked at the time of it's initial release though. The large monkey, out of production since '91 is too good to pass up. To further differentiate this guitar from the pack was a special treat from Ibanez... the 7P has the thinner/narrower Wizard neck with smaller frets. It's Wizard neck, also found on the 777VDY and many RGs (sans the pyramid inlays), makes the 7PBK so easy to play it's not even fair. Unfortunately like most other JEMs of the early 90s, it was totally overshadowed by the Universe guitars, which Vai then preferred & endorsed heavily. Time works in mysterious ways, because today there are few JEM fans who wouldn't want a 7PBK. Luckily they were produced for three years, so many exist.

Second Opinion

  • AHH!! Love this guitar because of the old style handle, but it hurts your hand to hold it. Completely different feel from a standard JEM. The neck on the one I played seemed thinner than usual. Has to potential to shred. - by Larry Larsen
  • Very nice JEM with the old style monkey grip. Nice combo of classy black and white pyramids on rosewood. Where can I get one? - by Dave Weiner
  • When you see Vai for the first time ever he floats/glides on stage. When I first saw him he was holding one of these. I hope they reissue this with its extra cool monkey grip. It was actually the first JEM I ever had the nerve to ask to try in a shop. The JEM10 in a previous life???? - by Jono Dale
  • It's cool. Sort of. Big monkey grip, plain white pyramids. Abalone would have made it much better. - by Kyle Clark
  • Very nice. I can't get over how huge the non-lion's claw grip is. I have a "prototype" with this body style on it and I like it - too bad only 2 JEMs had this body/neck combo. The white pyramids are a little boring, but cool none the less. - by Worth Davis
  • Very classy guitar. Also interesting due to the old style monkey grip. Its the "Pre-JEM10." On the playing side, I prefer the regular JEM neck as this one gives my hands cramps after playing for a few minutes. Sound wise, could be one of the BEST!!! - by Larry Menshouse
  • A subtle appearance for those who were not yet ready for a, then, more traditional Jem, while it still retained its "Jemness" - by Mike Haug

JEM7RB - Root Beer

I must confess that I was never impressed by the Root Beer JEM. I always thought of this model as the "cheapie 7PBK". In fact, at the time of introduction it was the least expensive JEM... not quite the 555 of it's day, but definitely the economy model. It had a plain dot-neck without the pyramids or vine, which did not sit well with JEM fans. It was also pretty ugly with the dark staining over plain wood. Remember that retro styling was not the flavor of the day, and in all actuality the root beer finish was really out of place. Oddly enough, eight years after it's demise, the Root Beer JEM has a bit of mystique to it. The facts are that this model is somewhat uncommon, having been canned after only a two year production. It is also the only natural wood finished JEM, BSB not withstanding. It is my belief that if it were not for the large monkey grip, the 7RB would go down as the worst JEM made after only the 555s. Luckily, Ibanez thought enough to throw it's owners a bone and build these with the large monkey grip... making this a JEM you can be proud to own and play.

Second Opinion

  • Crazy guitar. I don't know what to say.... I feel like crying. - by Larry Larsen
  • I like this one a lot. Some don't like the natural and pink combo. but it is really cool. The only JEM to have dot inlays and a sunburst finish. Only made for two years. - by Dave Weiner
  • This too is a guitar for life but whose idea was it to have the pink pickups? but you grow to love em in time PLUS rarity value and that good old straight monkey grip style. - by Jono Dale
  • Strat finish on a great (playing) guitar. But I'd own one for the original monkey grip. - by Kyle Clark
  • Hmm, it looks like a RG-550 that got stripped for a swirly job ;) But in the quest to have one of each gotta take the good with the bad! - by Worth Davis
  • I am not enamored by this one. Natural finish and JEM DON'T go together. Old style monkey grip only redeaming factor..... dot inlays???? - by Larry Menshouse
  • Probably plays great, but the pink pickups against a basic stained finish does not look like a DELIBERATE contrast of color like its sibling model. It rather looks as if the original owner was in a rush to replace his or her pickups and the store they visted only had pink left in stock - by Mike Haug

JEM7VWH - White Vine

Vai's main guitar used to record and tour with today. Included in the Jemsite Top-5. Click here to read the commentary from the Hits & Miss pages.


Second Opinion

  • Can't beat this bad boy. Top o' the line. - by Larry Larsen
  • The guitar that is Vai's current #1. A classic white finish, add some pearloid, some Abalone and gold and you have this very sought after beauty. If you're looking for one, look around, there are a quite a few out there, maybe someone's selling. - by Dave Weiner
  • They make 'em in white cause when you see one you want to marry it. When you can't get a JEM 10 get one of these. - by Jono Dale
  • My second favorite besides the UVMC. Best sounding of all, including the Jem10, IMHO. I've had several friends and even parent-agers say it's the most beautiful instrument they've ever seen. - by Kyle Clark
  • I wish they would quit producing these so their value would go up some - incredible guitar! Its too bad those of us with sweaty palms just wear the gold finish of that tremolo. - by Worth Davis
  • My personal Favourite. Best looking JEM in my opinion. Sounds like GOD. Plays fabulously. This is the JEM with the sustain to make Les Paul players cry, get out your calendars.... - by Larry Menshouse
  • The other day I went into a local guitar shop and i saw it - the Ibanez Jem7vwh. Upon picing it up I couldn't help but think just what an awesome guitar I had in my greasy little hands. I started to paly around on it, and my god, I couldn't even feel the tremolo. I played the intro to "For the Love of God" and it just felt soooo smooth I almost died. Upon playing this beast I found that my guitar (a JS 100tr) isjust a piece of shit compared to this Jem. I have played Les Pauls, Strats and a lot of otherr guitars but they were all over shadowed by Steve's main weapon. I know someone who owns a Jem555 which has the same tem as my guitar but not having played it, I don't want to touch it as it will make my Jem experience drastically different as the Lo-trs trem is just a piece of shit and has caused me may hours of turmoil and for a Jem to be disgraced with the fitting of a trs is a shame to all the owners of real Jems. I will one day buy a Jem7vwh but for the moment I am dicontented playing my Js. If I had a real Js 1000 I would be content but take this advice, don't play the Jem7vwh unless you plan on buying it as your guitar will be pale in comparison. - vaiable@imneverwrong.com
  • In a sense, while still managing to retain its stand-out "Jemness" it is a bit more subtle and probably appeals to a wider variety of tastes. Using different woods, pickups, and craftier-looking vine adds a significant variey to Jem lovers. I would like to see more variations of this model in addition to white-perhaps with figured maple. Plus, I'm not a fan of gold hardware because of the fade- factor and I'm personally not fond of gold and white together on most things - by Mike Haug