Re: Complain to Steve about the JEM/UV LINEUP here (no long winded rants elsewhere)
Okay guys, settle down.
I hadn't planned on posting in this thread, even though I've been reading it. But I didn't really see the point of trying to change your opinion about things you don't like. And that's fine. Everyone likes different things. It's what makes us unique as human beings.
Like you have a strong opinion of things, so did Jeroen, and because it's not the same as yours, doesn't mean he's not entitled to it. He's not stating any official line. Jeroen is the tech admin at Vai.com, therefore that's why he put that after his name.
But like you're taking your dislike of the Jem20 personally, you're also choosing to take his message too personally as well, and that's just silly.
I've read some posts here though, that go beyond simply stating one’s opinion and are pretty disrespectful toward Steve too. I'm sure Steve can handle it. He has a thick skin, but don't be so outraged when someone counters your opinion, and please don't make out that you're so offended when someone tells you off.
Now that that's out of the way, let me state my opinion, and a few facts.
My opinion is: I'd love to see tons of different Jems available too. Wood grain ones, clear coats and sunburst ones, mahogany ones, swirly ones and flat color ones. But just because I think it would be a great idea to do that, doesn't mean that its good business sense. People get choice fatigue for one thing, but also, it's not necessarily profitable to have too many variants to choose from either. Many people talk about Ibanez and Steve’s choices as if they are completely random and made without any reference to anything. But remember that there are reasons for everything. And if something isn’t the way you want it, there’s probably a good reason why.
Over the life of the Jem there have been many different configurations - more than many other signature guitars I can think of. Steve has always designed the guitars - and sometimes they have been visually groundbreaking, and sometimes they have been more subdued. There really has been something for everyone (unless you’re J. Mascis who said he wouldn’t be seen dead holding a Jem.)
I've heard people say that the swirl guitars look like a transvestite's puke, and then I've heard people say that they're beautiful. I've heard other people say that the original Jem neon colors were horrendous and tasteless. I've heard people say the floral pattern Jem was "***". But yet many of us think they are instruments of beauty. Different strokes for different folks.
I get the impression that many people posting in this thread are somehow personally affronted when Steve and Ibanez come out with a guitar they don't like, or that they didn't ask for... but how would it be possible to cater to so many voices? I've seen people mock up digital “dream Jems” here that I wouldn't buy in a million years... but so what? Somewhere along the line they're sure to put something together that I like. To waste my time complaining about it on a message board and crying about it loudly as if it were some sort of human rights violation is a bit extreme though. Some of you have been wringing your hands about Ibanez's 2007 lineup as if your lives depended about it. While I appreciate the enthusiasm, I think you're taking it all a bit too seriously... After all, these are pieces or wire and wood (and sometimes lucite). There are things in this world far more worthy of your outrage.
I'm seeing people complain that Steve doesn't play the Jem guitars that Ibanez puts out, but this is just false. The BRMR is a staple item in Steve's current touring guitar lineup... Steve has played the blue Jems, the DBK, the 90th, the DNA and even the 10th live. But he also has prototypes that he’s played too, and some of them don’t even make commercial sense to mass produce – even in limited numbers.
I hear what you're saying about the sustainer. I think it would be great to release a Jem with on in it too, however as the sustainer is made by Fernandes, this would prove to be a political issue with Ibanez. Sure, they could create their own sustainer, or use Sustainiac, but that's not the type of Sustainer Steve likes - and then that would be something people would complain about too. I know some people would like to have LEDs in the fretboard like Steve’s BRMR – but remember that there is only one BRMR with LEDS in it, and that was a prototype Steve had built a long time ago – and the LEDs were aftermarket additions not done by Ibanez. Anyone can have it done themselves. The cost for Ibanez to mass produce the BRMR with LEDs probably can’t be done without the price being deemed too high for the consumer.
I also hear what you’re saying about the Edge Pro. Most of Steve’s guitars have Edge loPros in them, although he has played some guitars with Edge Pros in them on stage. I tend to prefer the Edge LoPro myself, but I have Edge Pro guitars too, and they work just fine for me. I ca only assume that Ibanez feel that the Edge Pro is an advancement in their trem design, and so only have those produced now – hence they appear on all new guitars. The original 7VWHs that Steve had delivered to him had original Edges on them, but the models from each subsequent year have the latest trem on them.
I read people above saying Steve should go back to "the roots" and release another DBK Jem, yet I'm also reading people complain about the new black Jem.
As someone else pointed out above, people complain about the 555 saying it's cheap, yet the complain about the Jem7 Prestige models as being too expensive. But put these guitars in contrast with a PRS, or a Les Paul, they really aren't that expensive. I personally don't find the price of Jems too high. They are both functional tools and luxury items. I see the anniversaries as being collectible guitars - and if someone chooses to buy it and put it under the bed, or play the **** out of it is up to them – but they shouldn’t be criticized for either.
If I bought a Jem20, or even a Jem10, or DNA or UV swirl, I would do so because it's a thing of beauty I would cherish. They aren’t only instruments to me, but works of art. So the Jem20 was conceived as something unique, very limited, and commemorative. It’s production is expensive and complicated. Sure – it’s easy to pass it off as a piece of plastic – but if it’s a piece of plastic to you, then save your money for a different guitar.
And though some of you took exception to Jeroen’s comment that (paraphrased) said “if you don’t like it don’t worry – there are other guitars that you’ll like better;” this is a simple pragmatic approach. It’s not a “**** you” - it’s just an acknowledgement that you can’t please everybody. And while one of you said it doesn’t sound like the “words of the man” – it’s realistic to think that Steve would probably shrug his shoulders and agree – that you can’t please everybody. He can only hope that the next Jems that come out might appeal to people – but there’s sure to be a camp that hates those too.
Like I said above, not every Jem has thrilled me to the core, but there have been plenty that I love – so they are the ones I go after. If this year’s lineup doesn’t appeal to me, I’m sure that perhaps next year there will be some that will.
Now that I’ve stated my opinion, let me state a few facts:
Regarding the design of the Jem: Steve oversees every aspect of the Jem, and things usually go through countless revisions before they are approved. I have had hands-on experience working with Steve on a project for Ibanez, so I can state this without hesitation or doubt.
The Jem is designed around his idiosyncrasies – both as a player and as an artist. There has been lots of experimentation on Steve’s part with different Jem configurations – but he likes the sound of the way the guitar is now – hence you haven’t seen a mahogany Jem, or a Jem with a completely scalloped board etc. etc. released to the public (yet anyway....) A “blues Jem” like someone suggested, or any other genre-specific Jem wouldn’t be staying true to the type of music Steve makes – so what would be the point? That’s what the RG is for. The Jem is a guitar designed to help Steve achieve the sounds he’s looking for. And like any professional player, he occasionally modifies his gear – but don’t expect all of those mods to carry over into the guitars released to the public. I doubt many people would find a guitar with tape over the bottom of the neck pickup very appealing.
There are many other speculative comments that are being thrown around as fact - and I can understand Jeroen feeling the need to point out that just because you might think something and say it, doesn't suddenly make it reality. I’ll have to address those as I see them – it’s getting too late right now for me to sift through the thread – though I will say that I’m encouraged to read posts from Demiurge and Davester1234 in particular who seem to have a pretty good understanding of how the world works and the practicalities involved.
The bottom line is this: Even if you don’t like a certain Jem, I doubt distributors will have a tough time moving them off the shelves. For everyone who hates a certain type of guitar, there are another 5 with hot cash in their hands who want to exchange it for the same instrument.. In relation to the Jem 20, it’s a highly limited run, and geared towards the collector – while the VWH and the new BK are geared towards the player. There is no sign whatsoever that a special issue acrylic guitar represents the future of the Jem or Ibanez.
Phew – now my fingers are tired.
Thanks for listening, and by no means think this is a message discouraging you from expressing your taste or opinion. I’m only representing another opinion, but one that is based in the knowledge of proximity, practicality and insight into how things work in the world of Steve Vai.