i grew up in the 80's and always wanted a Jem and only saw a couple in person at local music shops. they were way out of reach of a kid in high school at that time with a $5 an hour job. i really wanted a VBK. that sweet green vine and the monkey grip were just amazing touches that i dreamt of having my hands on. but alas, i was but a kid without much money to get one.
many years later (15 to be exact) i ran across this website dedicated to Jems. thru this website i talked to a guy who was selling a DBK and was willing to take a little money down and let me pay in a couple installments. he had a RG570 in mint shape as well that i was interested in. i was going thru a divorce at the time and didn't have a lot of cash but he worked with me anyway.
while this was happening i talked to a different Jemsiter about swapping some gear for a mahogany Jem style body and a neck he had made himself and had been stuck with on a deal gone bad. i figured the RG570 the other guy was selling would make a great parts guitar for the custom Jem style guitar. i saw a computer generated model showing a mahogany Jem with chrome everywhere (thanks Loop!) and figured this was the way it would be if i was to have my way! there is a pic somewhere on jemsite of the computer generated mahogany chrome Jem that Loop created. if someone finds it pls post a link. thanks!
after some time i finished paying for the DBK and the RG570 and they came to their new home. Wow! my first Jem! very nice neck and what an awesome look! it was stunning with the chrome Lo Pro and a beautiful, blood red UV1000 case! i was in 7th heaven (pun intended!). but it still didn't have that wonderful vine i had always dreamt of.
the mahogany Jem parts finally (6 mos after start of the deal) was finished. he routed a handle and an angled jack for me and even had to route for the trem. the body was going to be a Tele style hardtail RG for the original guy that crapped out on the transaction - so a lot of mods had to be done and the super cool guy doing the work (thanks Frank!) was very busy. i wasn't going to put any pressure on him as i wanted him to not feel rushed and do the best job he could. the anticipation was incredible!
i was given a maple neck w/ an Ibanez shaped headstock, mahogany veneer overlay, blank (no inlays) ebony board and 24 wonderful jumbo frets that were in mint almost unplayed condition and real abalone side dots. what a perfect fit! he did an incredible job! Jeremy would've been proud! i opted not to get a single in the middle and he wasn't set up for a lion's claw route. it was MY Jem - it was everything i wanted it to be!
a zebra Tone Zone in the bridge helped put it a little closer to what i wanted.
i had the honor of getting Dr.Vai to bless it... i mean sign the headstock for me at G3 '04. he was kind enough to sign some other knick knacs as well.
i ran across another ad for a jemsiter selling a players VBK - could it be? it could - he was willing to work with me with installments as well (still recovering from divorce).
after a few payments, a 15 year dream came true, i recieved my dream Jem - the model i had always hoped to have - a Jem777VBK!
oh glory be! i was in heaven! it was a little tagged here and there but it was my dream Jem! it didn't have all the original parts but it still looked like the stock guitar i had always wanted. i had to fix a slight neck crack (Rich's tech pages worked great!), put a green Evo in the bridge and a Paf in the neck, install all new clean original black hardware, polish the frets and adjust everything out but it was a labor of love! i had my VBK!
as things go with us that are afflicted with GAS, i decided to trade my DBK (i miss it dearly!) for the chance to own a USA SLS Jackson in a straight swap. i was a wreck while waiting for this to arrive and loosing my DBK - my BELOVED DBK! i miss the DBK but i never looked back with the beauty, playabilty, tone and feel of the Jackson. eventually i'll have another DBK (probably on installments!LOL!).
after many GAS attacks and coutless other guitars going in and out of my guitar family i was finally hit with a bug for the 7VWH. the grail of the players Jems. i never used to like the overall look but it finally grew (like a vine) on me and i came to really appreciate the overall looks of it.
while driving past a tiny music store i spied something out of the corner of my eye in their window - a Jem7VWH! the other local store that actually HAS Ibanez doesn't even carry the good stuff! i was in disbelief! they never had ANY name brand guitars none the less a signature guitar such as this in that closet of a music store! i figured it had to be a 555 but decided to check it out anyway.
low and behold it was a Jem7VWH! i picked it up with such excitement and care! i had only had the chance to pick one other 7VWH while at NAMM last Jan ('05) and i never had the chance to plug it in.
i carefully plugged it in with the reverance of a priest baptising a new baby. i knew in the first strum that this was the wholy grail of Jems!
i quickly asked about the price and case and immediately signed some financing papers (divorce is a BITCH!). i left the store with the '04 Jem7VWH in a new UV1000 case, the plastic still on the covers and all the tools for $1500 - way more than i could afford but i had to have it!
it took me over a month to actually use the 7VWH onstage but when i finally did - WOW! i played things that have never come out of my fingers before! it was like this guitar was linked directly to me in a weird phychic kind of way - unbelievable! i am now using it regularly at gigs and have named it "Elvis" and plan to tape the name just like Steve's on the body. i love this guitar and yes, i'm still making payments for it! my quest for the grail has ended! i'm sure i will still buy and sell many guitars but this is one i will always have and play.
this instrument has now been in my possesion for a little over 2 months now and still as clean and taken care of as you'd expect of an instrument of this calibur. it will get some lines and marks and possibly a ding or two but never will it ever be neglected!
(thanks Chris for use of your '03 Jem pic - "Kat" until i get some of Elvis.)
thanks to those who actually read my poorly written story. i had to get it out and if anyone would appreciate my enthusiasm about these instruments - it would be fellow Jemsiters! thanks to all who have made Jemsite what it is and helped fulfill some of my simple dreams!