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Hits & Misses: 2K Edition

 

Hits & Misses: 2K Edition


 

 

Welcome to the 2000 Edition of Hits & Misses. You can read the last edition here which was done before Ibanez created a slew of new models. The listings are expanded to include the top and bottom five.

 

 

The Best - Top Five JEM & Universe Guitars

1.

JEM10 - still the creme de la creme... the Crown Jewel. The ultimate JEM needs no introduction. In addition to it's amazing detail, craftsmanship & beauty, the playability tops the 7VWH due to the totally raw neck and incredible fret dressing. Anyone who has played this will attest to it's superiority. In addition, the looks are out of this world, with inlayed bindings on the body, neck and headstock. The etched aluminum pickguard and headstock plate are unprecedented. Almost to beautiful to play but that won't stop me. I'd guess many owners will unfortunately not play these animals... which is a shame.

These are near impossible to find now because the entire lot has been sold from Hoshino. This means that private buyers have them all... only 210 in the USA. So if you're in the market for one, I hate to tell you that the ship has sailed without you. If you can find one at this point, you will pay dearly for a JEM10. If you happen to find one & have the $$$ available you will have the JEM of JEMs.


2. UV777BK - Finally... your prayers have been answered! Let me start right off and tell you... there IS NO SUBSTITUTE for this Universe. This is hands down, the nicest playing, most comfortable, best looking (ok that's subjective), classiest & highly detailed Universe made. It is... dare I say it... the multicolor killer!!! I know, you're thinking - what are you crazy. Well, perhaps I am because the UV777BK will tend to do this to you. The moment you open the case and see the beauty of this guitar you will be stunned. From the body and neck binding, to the highly detailed abalone 777 pyramid near the tremolo to the highly figured mother of pearl pyramid fretboard inlays this guitar has attitude like none other. Honestly, this guitar makes the old UVs look like 2nd class citizens. I should know 'cause I have all the original pyramid models.

Upon playing the guitar, you will be simply mesmerized. The all-access neck, sorely missing on prior UVs allows you to play this baby like none other. This is so silky smooth it almost plays itself. The updated ergonomics are perfect, as is the unfinished neck, customary on early UV guitars... thank you Ibanez! I could go on and on but words cannot describe the excellence of this guitar. Check the Gallery for pictures of this beauty and then local stores to play one. The collectability of this guitar is "To Be Determined". If no one buys this (like prior UVs) then this guitar will have a short production run and become a classic that the Romanoffs of the world will gouge in our faces forever. I am hoping this guitar sticks around, because it is another fine example of the efforts that Ibanez has put into the Universe lineup. Stop overpaying for those old UVs and grab one of these instead. You'll never look back.


3. JEM7VWH - will never be as collectable as the LNG or GMC/PMC swirls, but this mighty instrument surpasses them all hands-down in playability. The ebony fretboard, all-access-neck joint, DiMarzio Evolutions and Alder body push this next generation JEM ahead of the pack. Warning, don't play this guitar if you do not intend to buy one... because your instrument wont compare favorably. The fact that Vai has used it for nearly every song he plays live since it was introduced doesn't hurt either.

If you find a 7VWH at a great price... jump on it. Most owners know what fine instruments these are, therefore you don't often see them often in the used market. They are widely available new, however expect a 3-6 month backorder from Hoshino if your dealer does not have one in stock. Since most dealers don't stock these if you're shopping one be patient.


4.

JEM7DBK - The most affordable JEM "7" ever made. This is the bargain of bargains. Whoa.... love that pricetag. Yes a subdued, JEM90 knockoff this is just an amazing feat. Introducing the "DiMarzio Breed" pickups into the JEMs this model is a far departure from the early 777s and a followup to the discontinued 7BSB (RIP). I'm not sure there is a better deal out there for guitars, even with the $100 price increase for 2000. This is a full production model and hopefully it will stick around for several years. I'd like to see white abalone or MOP pyramid inlays (JEM7PBK anyone) and have this be the DSY of the next decade. Thank you Ibanez. There is no reason to buy overpriced used JEMs now.


5.

UV77MC (formerly ranked #2) - cool to own... cooler to play. Vai's trademark guitar from Passion and Warfare. This guitar launched the Universe into the 7-string stratosphere. I'm not sure I know a JEM/UV fan who wouldn't want one of these... do you?. Even Fender-type nuts were taken back by the multicolor patterns and tonal variations that they only dreamed of doing with their instruments. Over a thousand of these beasts were made, however these are perhaps the toughest multi-year production JEM/UV to find. Unfortunately all good things come to an end. The UV is rarely used by Vai today, however it can be seen on Ya-Yo Gakk from the Alien Love Secrets Video. Maybe Vai will play the new UV777BK when it's released this September.


 
Honorable mention:

JEM777LNG - the first JEM. Set a very high standard right from the start. Would have been a collectors item even if Vai didn't hand sign all 777 of them. The average joe will comment: "what an ugly guitar... what is with that color" but we know better! This was a tribute to his Charvel Green Meanie that he tweaked to perfection (See the Guitar Gallery for some great shots of the Green Meanie). Sadly, these are for sale more than any JEM today. It seems that many who bought them never played them much and have decided that now is a great time to cash in. Teach these fools a lesson and buy a new 7VWH instead... you'll thank me later.

 

 

Not the Best - Bottom Five JEM & Universe Guitars

1. JEM555WH - See below. I separated the WH/BK and nominated the white as the worst. Why? Because it looks like a JEM7VWH ripoff. Many uninformed dealers can't tell the difference and same goes for Ebay sellers. Ibanez, please put this out to pasture.

2. JEM555BK - to purists, these are not really JEMs. The headstock reads "JEM Jr" so this should tell you something right off the bat. The Korean made connotation doesn't help matters either. In all actuality these are fine guitars, so if you're on a tight budget and demand a new JEM, you have no other choice. The problem with this series is twofold: First, Ibanez has mistakenly left off the Lo-Pro Edge tremolo (which is the best in the business) and replaced it with the totally inferior Lo-TRS. Secondly, they stopped the vine inlay at fret 12, using dots the rest of the way. Having owned my first JEM in '88, I do know that these do not compare to the JEM7 series. These are anti collectable. I'd prefer that the model had never been created, but who am I to say. For Lefties, it's your only choice however as lefty 555LWH will ship soon.

 


3. UV7 (Black w/ Green) (formerly ranked #2) - ugly color combo which includes green pickups, and dot inlays to add insult to injury. One word... Why? Did anyone in the world think that this combination on an expensive, obscure 7-stringed guitar would be a world beater? Unfortunately removing the pyramid inlays and introducing a sickly ugly color combination was not the winning lottery ticket. The price was still too high, and they never understood that an important prerequisite before buying an expensive guitar is good looks. Ibanez has remedied the UV7 with the new UV777BK... YES!

 


4.

JEM777VSK - This model was so bad Ibanez kept it hidden for a decade and never released it in America. This guitar came out of nowhere. In actuality, those with the '89 Ibanez catalogs and a sharp eye would have seen the "SK" designation under the JEM777VDY picture. It's a shame Ibanez had such sloppy quality control over the Pink paint used. I mean it took them two years to figure out this stuff faded? Then to knowing decide to sell these possible defects in Europe only and later in clearance houses in the USA isn't exactly something that consumers would be proud of. Best used for a refinish/swirl project guitar.


5. JEM777SK (formerly ranked #4) - also needs no explanation. The only thing shocking about this guitar today is just how horrendous the pink looks now. OK, I know that these bright colors were actually somewhat trendy at the time, but I am only thankful that Ibanez had the sense not to make an Orange JEM to mimic Vai's "Eyeball" Jackson... they spared that for one of the early RGs. In a strange way the original 1987 JEM 777 color schemes were all pretty cool when taken as a whole. The way the colors were matched (green, yellow, pink) with the fretboard, knobs, pickups and tremolo "Lion's Claw" routing. The SP has a green tremolo cavity. Being available for three years allowed all too many of these to be created to be even somewhat collectable. To further insult it's owner, many of these Pink ones severely faded from exposure to light. These things turn putrid with no rhyme or reason. Best left in a dark room.