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Commentary - Universe 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

  Universe Series

UV7PWH - White Pyramid Universe

The Universe to pair with the 7VWH. Don't mistake this subtle looking 7-string for being a pussy cat, because it is ferocious to play. Bursting out on the scene along with the Multicolor and Black Universe in '90, Ibanez perhaps released too many nice Universes simultaneously. At a high price back then, the Universe guitars did not sell many units, later allowing many White, Black and Green ones to be sold at clearance prices. Several of snatched these up early but I had to wait until recently to get mine. Like the JEM7PBK, this is the lone Universe with white mother of pearl Pyramid inlays. Tough to see from the pictures, but the pearl inlays are gorgeous adding the abalone green pyramid top to add contrast. This guitar still looks good gorgeous today, even if the RG7620 is a better buy at under $850. I had earlier said "when I get one I will surely add a pearloid pickguard and sleep easier". Upon owning one I have realized this would not be a good idea. The vintage white paint looks perfect with the plain bright white pickguard. Note that this white is not bright like the 7VWH. Since the Universe guitar line has suffered from lack of attention from Ibanez (until recently) since '92 when the "real" UVs were abandoned, all the original Universe guitars are considered as collectable. No Universe with a pyramid neck has been available from '93 to 9/97,which is a telling tale. (Comment updated 9/10/97)

Second Opinion

  • The UV7PWH, in my eyes, is the conservative guitar of the series. It is pleasing to the eyes from every angle. There are no wild color schemes or bad attributes. Yet, for all it's simplicity, it's as comfortable in the hands of a shredder playing a sold out arena as it is a jazz player walking bass lines in a dingy little club. There is no mistaking this guitar as a Universe to be reckoned with. At 872 pieces made, it is the rarest of the Universes that I know of. I suspect the 777GR is more rare, but no numbers are available. Barring cosmetic differences, it is identical to the UV7BK and UV7 in hardware, wiring, and body and neck woods. List price for this guitar was $1,799 when it was introduced, and has a market value of just under $1,000 mint (source: Orion's blue book of guitar values). - by Ken Burtch
  • This guitar chased me in a bad trip. - by Larry Larsen
  • Great match for the 7VWH if you're lucky enough to find one. 1 of 3 lines to have pyramids on rosewoods. - by Dave Weiner
  • The Jazz Man's Universe for those who needed 7 strings but couldn't find or couldn't stomach a multi colour. - by Jono Dale
  • Still very good looking. I'd love to have one. Second-rarest UV, which might surprise. If it weren't for aesthetic preference, these should fetch higher prices than the MC! - by Kyle Clark
  • Actually this is a fairly cool guitar - I think they should reissue this puppy or something. - by Worth Davis
  • The original classy UV. One of my Favourites. Damn shame Vai gave the P&W one to TAFKAP. - by Larry Menshouse
  • Out of the three I have, this one is in the worst shape...a '90 model, which is still pretty good. It's been used heavily for gigging by myself and the previous two owners, so it has a couple of noticeable dings in the body, and the chrome finish of the tremolo is slightly worn off... The strange thing about this guitar is that I think it looks better in photos than it does it real life. For some reason it seems so much more WHITE in a picture. Anyway, the PWH is my main player, and I love love love the tone of this one... the BK is very bright, and the GR is more midrange-ish... the PWH seems to fall in between the two tone wise, and gives me a happy medium... and seems more responsive to my playing. I've modified this one to use a standard Floyd-Rose style tremolo arm (the screw in kind that will stay in a fixed position, and let you get that weird tremolo warbling by pounding on the body.. like the ending of "BluePowder" on Vai's Passion and Warfare) The look of this guitar is really growing on me, and it stands out under lights almost as well as the UV777GR does. Very elegant looking 7-string, I wish they were still in production as I'd love to have one in mint or near-mint condition. - Scott "Zeke" Taney
  • Very classy but would've looked much better if the non-yellowing bright-white finish was used - by Mike Haug

UV7BK - Black (w/ Green) Universe

Another experiment of Ibanez that went awry... the "let's hope they don't notice it's ugly and missing the pyramid neck" Universe.

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


Second Opinion

  • This is the one that makes everyone cringe. I own one of these and can tell you that despite appearances, pictures don't do it justice. The green dot inlays are the one and only thing that EVERYONE will agree is bad on the guitar, to varying degrees. I don't think they're the greatest, but what else could Ibanez do? A vine inlay would have been nice, but then it's a seven string version of the JEM777VBK. I suppose Green pyramids disappearing to black would have been a little better, or maybe (gasp) something cooler than anything before. At any rate, mine plays just as good as my UV77MC, if not better, and one can get used to the dots. No info on the number of pieces made. Aside from cosmetics, it's identical to the UV7PWH and UV7. List price for this guitar was $1,799 when it was introduced, and has a market value of just under $1,000 mint (source: Orion's blue book of guitar values). - by Ken Burtch
  • I don't dig on Universes. But if I did I wouldn't go green and black. Why hold that wild ride down to two colors?!?! - by Larry Larsen
  • Cool but too plain. The green gives it some points. - by Dave Weiner
  • The Original Budget Universe green pickups and dots, oh joy (sarcasm sarcasm). Not enough weirdness for a Steve Vai guitar. - by Jono Dale
  • My least favorite of all Universes (yes including the all black one). Dots just aren't fitting for a guitar at this caliber. Luckily, we only had to suffer for three years. Probably my last pickup. At least it's got 7 strings! - by Kyle Clark
  • Damn this ugly thing is everywhere & they need a complete cosmetic overhaul. Maybe if it had vines or something - but damn! Ugly and boring. - by Worth Davis
  • In spite of all the negative comments, I still find myself drawn to this guitar. Vai has it in many photo's. Something about its "normalcy" disturbed by the Vai green... Its a state of mind. - by Larry Menshouse
  • From the sound of the web site, I must be the only person that likes the look of the UV7BK with green trim... I think the green pickups and position markers, and the black-green-black sandwich on the pickguard look TOTALLY cool. It's a much more subtle look... not so much of the burn-your-eyeballs-out, really flashy look of the other Universe guitars. I mean, if flash is what you're after, this isn't the guitar you'd want, but I use this guitar at almost every gig we play, and have had it with me in most of the photo shoots we've done - simply because it *is* very understated in it's appearance. When they switched this model to the current all-black configuration, I was REALLY disappointed....way too boring for a Universe. I wish they would have done a UV7BK model with the pink/yellow/green pyramid inlays on rosewood like the UV77MC, with green pickups, and the black/green/black pickguard. - Scott "Zeke" Taney
  • Again a subtle variety, but with Fluoro-green accents to certify its identity. A must for the collection minded with a Jem777vbk - by Mike Haug

UV7 - All-Black '97 Universe

No good news to report on this soon defunct Universe. This widely available guitar is clearly not a collectable. It lacks the pyramids on the neck and is best described as totally boring. The knockout blow to this UV7 comes from Ibanez with the introduction of the RG7620. At significantly better pricing and better playability, the RG7620 has delivered the knock out punch to the current Universe incarnation. For '97 Ibanez updated the black Universe to be all black and less gaudy... blah, blah, blah ...here's a quarter Ibanez... call someone who cares! I truly believe that this '97 UV was released only as a temporary stopgap to fulfill the cry of a new generation of 7-string players. Clearly this guitar is way overpriced for the masses, so Ibanez simply made it mainstream for '97 to allow for swelling 7-string publicity while they underhandedly prepared a Korean made substitute that blows it away at a cheaper price. Please teach Ibanez a lesson by not buying one of these.

Second Opinion

  • This is my least favorite Universe, hands down. At least the UV7BK had SOME interesting color contrast. This is just a black hole with a neck on it. It's not even worth more commentary. List is $1,999.99 and I don't know the market value for a used one. - by Ken Burtch
  • All I gotta say about this is Korn (hole) can toss my salad over this guitar. It's blasphemy. All it takes to stop this shit is to quit buying them. There are plenty of good Universes out there to adopt. Let your money talk. And Korn, I know you're out there, let me tell you this; if it wasn't for Steven Siro Vai, you'd still be fucking the fat groupies. So get down and pay your dues. And cut that hair, the war's over. - by Larry Larsen
  • Demand of the masses with no creativity has sucked the coolness out of this one. I'll pass!!! - by Dave Weiner
  • Black pickups and pearloid dots. Budget Universe 2: The Sequel. Hang on, isn't this an RG550 with an extra string. - by Jono Dale
  • I like this one better than the black/green one. Back In Black, remember?! - by Kyle Clark
  • I think this one sucks harder than the green/black one. - by Worth Davis
  • Don't think this one is in the spirit of the universe line.... glad to see it leave. - by Larry Menshouse
  • After the second year of reintroduction, I was shocked to see the UV take a step backwards by going plain. This is not a UV thing to do. It does, however, present a UV guitar for those who want to experience the flexibility and playability of a UV but can't seem to get past the flash - by Mike Haug

UV77MC - Multi Color Universe

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


Second Opinion

  • The crown jewel and flagship of the series. Each of the 1038 made are a hand finished work of art. Most have colors that resemble the inlays. It seems to me that I find a new "vein" of color that I didn't see before every time I pick mine up. Pictures definitely don't do these guitars, or any of the JEM multicoloreds justice. This one is radically different from the others. A rear-routed control cavity allows more of the finish to be seen. Aside from that and the unique finish, it's the same as the others. This is the one that Vai always played. I can't remember ever seeing more than a handful of pictures of him with the other ones, and not a single picture of him with the UV777GR. Despite the shredder stigma that was slapped onto it when "alternative" and staying out of tune were hip, it has stood the test of time and is still easily the most sought after Universe. List price for this guitar was $2,499 and it has a market value of $1,050 for one in mint condition (source: Orion's blue book of guitar values). Good luck finding one for under $1,500. If you do, E-mail! - by Ken Burtch
  • For Darren Micheals. The most sought after Universe. - by Larry Larsen
  • After each one of these were made, Ibanez said, "Who's you're daddy!?!" Enough said. - by Dave Weiner
  • THE multi colour of all the guitars in the entire Universe (pun intended). This is the one that lets you score with cool rock chicks most easily. It also has the most credibility with thrashers as you can do what they do (detuned mayhem) only you can probably do it better. Boys it's getting too loud! - by Jono Dale
  • This axe is totally the bomb. As I believe they say in CA, even bomb-ass! My favorite of all Vai guitars. Still trying to find one of the damn things (only 1082 to go around). WANT TO SELL -- mail to kclark@trinity.edu :) - by Kyle Clark
  • The variety on these doesn't seem to be as varied as it was on the PMC (Can you spell quallity control?) This really is a killer guitar even though I can't play 7-strings to save my life at this point! I would buy one just cause it looks good with the other swirlies. - by Worth Davis
  • THE UV!!! I love this one so much I bought 2!!! This is Passion and Warefare. Also, if you have one for sale, let me know. - by Larry Menshouse
  • Way cool. That probably says it all. One of the greatest thing every one is unique - by Mike Haug

UV777BK - Black w/ Pyramids

#1 UV listed by Jemsite. Click here to read the commentary from the Hits & Miss pages.



Second Opinion

  • Ah, now here is a beauty. I love the metal look. Looks like a great stage guitar. It's about damn time! - by Kyle Clark
  • I think I already put some cash down on this - excellent look! I hear the pickguard is plastic instead of mirror/aluminum/whatever BOOH! - by Worth Davis
  • Ah, a return to the times of ole. I love the mother of pearl pyramids on rosewood. The pyramid inlay very cool. This one is classy, but a blatent Jem10 wanna be.... - by Larry Menshouse
  • Plays great, looks classy, looks flashy, sounds great - by Mike Haug

UV777GR - Loch Ness Green Universe

The Loch Ness Universe had the shortest production run among Universe guitars. Lasting only two years, it came at time when colors like Green and Desert Sun Yellow were out of style. Undoubtedly this was the poorest selling original Universe, and local clearance sales in stores like Sam Ash in '92-93 where they sold for under $800 prove that point. Unfortunately many of us did not have the $$$ to buy them while others did not have the intuition that Ibanez would foul up the Universe series so badly the following year. While I still prefer the Multicolor and White models, the idea of a LNG 7-string guitar was an decent one. The two color green/yellow pickups did not help it's looks but they certainly add to the uniqueness of the guitar. Only the JEM77GMC has two colored pickups. This is also the only Universe with a maple fretboard and it has the mandatory pyramid inlays... making it one of the three classic Universe guitars worth collecting.

Second Opinion

  • Perhaps the orphan of the series is the best way to describe the UV777GR. All of the other models have had at least one famous person seen with them. Not the lonely 777GR I'm afraid. I suspect that this was the best Ibanez could come up with in an attempt to give 7 string fans a maple fretboard option. It's still too close the original JEM777LNG. With the exception of the maple fretboard, this guitar is identical to the UV7PWH, UV7, and UV7BK as far as specs go. This guitar seems like a bar fly: She's not pretty, but somehow you can't stop looking at her. List price was $1,799 when new, and it has a market value of $950 in mint condition (source: Orion's blue book of guitar values). I would love to own one, and am looking around. If you have one for sale at a reasonable price E-mail Ken! - by Ken Burtch
  • Anyone wanna sell one? - by Larry Larsen
  • Very cool. I especially like the dual-colored pickups and pyramids on that fat maple. - by Dave Weiner
  • Close to the original JEM. If this had had pink DiMarzio's then it would have sold at least 777 guaranteed. Maple board, Hurrah. - by Jono Dale
  • I own a mint one, and it looks great. Just like the JEM LNG. The swirl is better, but I prefer the colored pyramids over the white UV's white inlays. Rarest of production Universes (340-something?) - by Kyle Clark
  • I don't know what to think of this axe. I had one for a couple of months before I traded it off for a PMC - straight - (rolls on the floor laughing again!) I think I would buy one again cause I dig maple fretboards. - by Worth Davis
  • I like the Green, but hate the green/yellow pickups. WHY?? when they could have sold four times as many as they made with pink pickups? - by Larry Menshouse
  • Kinda interesting, I bought my UV777GR brand new in early 1994 - I got a bonus from my job and decided I wanted a 7-string, not knowing that at the time the Universe series wasn't being produced. I just told a local store I wanted one and I didn't care what color it was, and they took my deposit and said they would do their best to find one... They called music stores and distributors around the country for weeks, and finally found a '91 model that had been stashed away since it was new... About a month and a half later, it arrived, and at first I was a little shocked by the loud color... but it's slowly grown on me, and now I wouldn't part with it for any amount of cash. It's simply a beautiful guitar, and it has a personality that most of the other Universe guitars don't seem to have. I think it's that it just instantly GRABS your eye as soon as you see it. I've pretty much retired it from gigging due to it's rarity, although it is coming out next Tuesday for a St. Patrick's day show (how could I not play a UV777GR on St. Patty's Day?) My only wish on this model is that they would have offered it with the rosewood fingerboard. - Scott "Zeke" Taney
  • A maple-boarded UV with the LNG influence. I like it - by Mike Haug