Below is a message ive sent to ibanez explaining the situation.
I need to know if anyone else has had the same situation with the new models. (No sustain of artificial and natural harmonics). If anyone wants more details, I can explain further. Thanks. Lenny.
My name is Leonard DeRoma from Australia, and I’d just like to mention that I’ve been an honourable Ibanez guitarist for many years (I own a Paul Gilbert Series Ibanez, and currently use a JEM DBK live) and have had many enjoyable live and recording experiences with many of the JEM series of guitars (DBK, HAM90th, and DNA).
I was recognised as one of Australia’s top technical/progressive metal guitarists, and I am now playing in one of South Australia’s top working cover bands.
At the beginning of this year, I decided to invest in my ‘dream guitar’ - the Ibanez Steve Vai JEM 7Vwh. The ‘Ibanez Centre’ in Brighton, South Australia had a year 2000 model in stock which I tried and liked, but unfortunately, their quotations on the guitar weren't good enough, and I received some poor customer service over the phone when trying to get the best deal for the guitar. I decided to purchase the guitar from Cecere’s music at Maylands, South Australia, and wait for the new 2003 model (Model number F0304337). This seemed like the logical thing to do at the time, expecting the newer model to be better and hold its value longer. (Sort of like buying a new car .... generally you wait for the new and improved model).
I received the Ibanez 7Vwh guitar in March, but as beautiful as the guitar looked, I know my guitars, and I knew there was a problem with it. The latest Ibanez catalogue ‘marketed’ the new Edge Pro tremelo system to have increased sustain and improved performance. However I was able to demonstrate that the natural and artificial harmonics ‘die off’ with no sustain, almost as if something is intentionally dampening the string, making the guitar unplayable and unacceptable for a guitarist of my level.
(Basically, there is no way Steve Vai himself would accept this guitar).
To be 100% sure that it wasn’t my playing, I let a few other JEM guitarists play my 7Vwh against theirs (almost apples for apples with a DBK and a HAM90th) through their setup. They were able to ‘feel my pain’ , as their earlier model JEM's absolutely screamed all over my 7Vwh, recognising something was not quite right on mine almost immediately. Basically, all artificial harmonics popped out on theirs, and natural harmonics continued to sustain when the whammy system was depressed up and down. On mine, the notes died off straight away.
As the only real difference between the guitars was the new trem, it’s the only thing I could isolate as being the problem.
Also, just to check that mine wasn’t a one-off lemon, and the problem might be a design/production issue, I played a 2003 7Vwh with the Edge-Pro (exact apples for apples) at John Reynolds Music in Adelaide, South Australia. This guitar had the same ‘problem’, and their staff and management know of this, and believe that the problem either lies in the new Edge-Pro trem system, or there may have been a bad batch of guitars sent to Australia.
Thankfully, the staff and management at Cecere’s music understood that this guitar was unacceptable, and made the Ibanez agency (Australis Music Group) aware of the issue. Australis believed that the guitar was ‘made to specification’, but thought any issues could be resolved in the 'setup' of the guitar. Australis payed Ibanez certified guitar repairer, Fretco in Adelaide, South Australia to do the setup. Unfortunately the problem was still there. Fretco assured me that the guitar was perfect. However, once I re-demonstrated the problem to them, they were like .... ‘oh, I see what you mean’. But they said there was nothing they could do about it, and there may have been a design issue somewhere on the guitar.
The next step was to set up a meeting with Australis, store manager Claude from Cecere’s, and myself. The Ibanez Australis representative, Kurt, gave up his time for me to demonstrate the issue to him. Although he clearly could hear that there was a problem with my 7Vwh compared to my friends DBK, he was quite hostile, and refused to accept that my 7Vwh had a design problem, and that’s just how the guitar was. (Almost wiping his hands clean on the issue on behalf of Ibanez and the Australis company).
I made it quite clear that my reputation and use of the Ibanez product around Adelaide, was worth a lot in itself, and a lot of music business (especially Ibanez guitars) is generated from other guitarists wanting to know my setup and the equipment I use to try and get my sounds. I also made it clear that I need the guitar to perform live, I want to be using and promoting the Ibanez product, but for any guitar of that level and price range, I expect it to play, sound, and perform at the highest of levels.
Within the meeting, Kurt and Claude came to an agreement on sending some old stock of JEMS with the old Lo-Pro Trems the following week for me to try-out. Unfortunately, they had no old model 7Vwh for me to evaluate. They decided to send only 2 guitars - a 2000 model JEM bsb, and a 2002 model JEM 7Vbl. The JEM 7Vbl being quite close to the JEM 7Vwh with Evolutions, and Alder body. The only difference was the rosewood fretboard and the trem system.
After a rough setup, I found both the bsb and 7Vbl to be fantastic in comparison to the 7Vwh. I ended up taking the JEM 7Vbl. As the guitar retailed for $5000 compared to the 7Vwh $4900, I unfortunately had to pay an additional $70 to make up the difference. Very disappointing. I wasted a lot my time sorting out the issue, and tried to be as calm and nice about the situation as I could.
As the customer/end user, thinking about the situation, although I am happy with the way the JEM 7Vbl plays, I haven’t ended up with the guitar I wanted. (I still obviously want the White JEM 7Vwh, either a new model that plays at the highest level, or an unplayed older model).
I’ve ended up with an old model guitar that I had to fork out more money for when the problem wasn’t my fault. This isn’t good enough from my point of view.
I love the Ibanez product range of guitars, and really hope someone can track down the problem. This may avoid thousands of dollars worth of recalled stock and warranty claims in the near future. Maybe it was just a bad batch of 7Vwh sent to Australia. I must also mention that I am very grateful to the Cecere's Music Store for recognising the seriousness of the issue, and working with me in the lengthy process to replace the guitar. Hopefully I can eventually get the guitar that I want, the White Steve Vai JEM 7Vwh .... one that works.
Some feedback and response on the issue would be greatly appreciated. I hope this message gets forwarded onto the Design Team and the Executive Team at Hoshino/Ibanez Japan.
50 Glendale Avenue,
South Australia, 5159
041 981 4190
08 8358 6693