Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: A Mile High (USA)
I've seen a lot of pointless arguments on here, but this one just about takes the cake. Who cares if Steve's JEMs are prototypes or not? Rich Pike would probably know, but why does it matter? Prototype or not, they are NOT stock models due to the massive modifications that have been made to them. Regardless of whether or not they were "off the shelf" VWH's or LACS prototypes, they're made of the same woods and have the same base features.
IF Evo was a "prototype", it still started off as being an essentially identical guitar to the countless JEM7VHW's that are currently hanging on the walls of guitar shops worldwide. Perhaps the pickups were a bit different, assuming that they too were the Evolution prototypes. But...who cares? Why's it matter? NONE of Steve's VWH's can be considered stock by any means, do to the Feiten mod alone.
If the JEM with the serial # of 616852 has a "factory" serial number, please let us know what year it is? Seems to me that that's either a 1961 serial number (impossible for many reasons) or a 1996 serial number, IF it's a "factory" number at all. Not very likely for a guitar which came out in 1993, and which Vai had in 1992. If anything, it's more likely an LACS number, which would make it possible "prototype". I'm fairly sure that EVOII was one of the first few VWH's that Steve received.
Therefore, technically, each and every one of Steve's touring JEMs can be considered "custom" or "one-off". And I'm pretty sure that I recall reading somewhere that Thomas Nordegg installed the Sustainers for Steve, not Hoshino (since Hoshino is just the Ibanez distributor for the majority of the US and doesn't actually handle any artist requests). It's possible that the LACS did this for him, but I doubt it. Plus, Steve's an admitted compulsive tinkerer. He's been known to disassemble and modify his toys on numerous occasions (re: the very first JEM prototype that Ibanez sent him, etc.).
Bottom line: the heated argument is pretty pointless, and comes across as being little more than childish. Mildly amusing? Yes. Worthwhile? Not at all.