JEMJR Mods - Don't try this at home - Jemsite
Tech: Setup, Repairs and Mods Guitar workbench discussion such as setup, repairs, mods, installing new parts and more.

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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-06-2019, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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JEMJR Mods - Don't try this at home

Iíve completed the main updates on the JEMJR and have been meaning to post an update, but Iíve been a bit preoccupied with work. The guitar was given to me by my mother-in-law as a parting gift before she died from lung cancer. She was not a wealthy woman, but she knew I loved Jemís and wanted to give me something really meaningful to remember her by. After she passed, I decided that I would update the guitar in the best way I could, to try and bring out the best in it.

Itís going to stay in the family for a long time so for me spending the money was not an issue, but at $1,500 AUD (~$1,100 USD) for the upgrades, my recommendation for anyone considering doing this is, donít. Buy a JEM7VP instead, seriously. If you really really want to pep up a JEMJR, the minimum changes would be the neck and bridge pickups, put in an Edge tremolo and get the frets sorted out. Even then I would still recommend going for a JEM7VP.

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-06-2019, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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Re: JEMJR Mods - Don't try this at home

So what have I done?
The first thing to go was the tremolo, the stock TRS101 style trem is pretty rotten. For me the update to an original edge tremolo was a no-brainer, but in hindsight I’m thinking a Lo-Pro Edge may have been a better choice. I got my luthier to install it as I wanted to have the old studs removed and replaced with Edge locking studs. In the end this didn’t happen as the luthier found that the original studs wouldn’t budge and he was worried about cracking the body so they’ve stayed. The new tremolo is bullet-proof, I have been absolutely brutal with it and it comes back to perfect tune every time - awesome.

One of the main things about this guitar I noticed was the dull/muddy sound and lack of sustain. I’m assuming this is due to a combination of things, the body is an Asian variant of mahogany with no maple cap so it’s heavy, dense and seems to steal tone. In my opinion the quantum humbuckers are terrible, the single coil was OK but I had a spare evolution single coil lying around so why not. The pickups I used are Dimarzio evolutions (DP159 bridge, ISCV2 middle and DP158 in the neck), I chose evolutions because they are a bright and punchy which is what this guitar lacked. I know people seem to think that with a floating tremolo it doesn’t matter what you use, you lose sustain, but putting the edge in has definitely (in my opinion) made a difference.

As far as tone and sustain are concerned, the above modifications have absolutely transformed the guitar. It sounds amazing, it doesn’t sound like my MIJ Jems, but I was going for a punchy dirty sounding guitar tuned down a half step for a bit of chug and that’s exactly what I got. I really like it a lot.
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Last edited by pteropid; 09-09-2019 at 04:11 PM. Reason: grammar
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-06-2019, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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Re: JEMJR Mods - Don't try this at home

Which brings me to the last modification, the neck.

Wow, how bad is the fret work on this thing, I swear I nearly cut my fingers everytime I played it, the fret edges were like razor blades. Obviously the guitar lost a lot of moisture during its life from an Indonesian factory to a southern hemisphere dry climate, but Ibanez can’t get away with that poor excuse, the fret levelling was a joke. At least the neck itself had a nice clean relief with good adjustment. This kind of says a lot about the guitar in general, it had so much potential but wasn’t quite given the attention it needed. It’s like it was a $1,000 guitar that played like a $299 guitar.

The profile of the neck is very similar to the early MIJ JEMs almost identical to my 88 FP and 89 VBK, there is a subtle difference in the fretboard radius, but it’s barely noticeable. For me as an old fart, one of the things that makes a Jem a Jem, is the scalloping from the 21st to 24th frets, so I got my luthier to measure the scalloping on my 777VBK in order to best replicate that particular neck, while he was levelling the frets and sorting out the hideous fret-end dressing.



As you can see I paid the price for digging too deep (just like the dwarves did) and lost some of the inlays. This was expected, and I had to make a decision at the time as to whether I was prepared to lose some inlay at the expense of the scalloping. Although I was not over the moon about the damaged inlays, my goal was to get the neck to feel as close to my MIJ Jems as possible regardless of how it looked, so that’s why I went ahead with it. Ultimately the modifications to this guitar were about how it played and sounded, the cosmetic stuff may come into play a little later down the track. I’ve always liked Steve’s Evo, but I’m not able to justify paying the price for one. I’ve never liked gold hardware and the black hardware on Evo really appealed to me. I guess this guitar is kind of like my own little version of Evo, I’ll try and track down a pearloid scratchplate and covers, as I do think the white Jem’s look better with the pearloid accoutrements.

Thankfully, spending the money made it a $2,000 guitar that plays like a $2,000 guitar. I actually like playing this guitar now, so it’s mission successful.

BTW, this guitars name is “Dirty Gerty”. Gerty was my mother-in-laws nickname and she was a pretty grungy, down-to-earth chick, so it seemed to fit. I’m sure any questions about the upgrade process have been answered in other posts, but I’m happy to answer any questions that anyone may have. Cheers.

Last edited by pteropid; 09-07-2019 at 02:01 AM. Reason: grammar
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-06-2019, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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Re: JEMJR Mods - Don't try this at home

Sorry about the images, I don't seem to be able to post images on Jemsite anymore for some reason. Hopefully the imgur links work OK.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2019, 08:00 PM
 
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Re: JEMJR Mods - Don't try this at home

Great story and the guitar looks like it came out to your satisfaction.....Looks fantastic to me
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-09-2019, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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Re: JEMJR Mods - Don't try this at home

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Originally Posted by Evil Z06 View Post
Great story and the guitar looks like it came out to your satisfaction.....Looks fantastic to me

Thanks Evil Z06, I really had to sit down and work out exactly what it was that I didn't like about this guitar. All sorted now.


I've been thinking about it and I guess if some one had a JEMJR and spread these upgrades out over a couple of years then it may in fact be worth the effort. So maybe the "Don't try this at home" title was a little harsh.


Cheers,
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-10-2019, 02:50 PM
 
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Re: JEMJR Mods - Don't try this at home

I ruined a Korean 555BK body trying to put the bigger japanese anchors for using the locking studs; using the original anchors and trem posts have been a wise idea. I ordered a new raw alder body and constructed a 1996 Fire Garden Tour Bad Horsie tribute out of it. Refretting, EVOs and 21-24 fret scalloping were also a must on my project. Now it is one of the best sounding and looking axes I own. Congrats on yours! Put a black pickguard on it to make it look different (Vai and Keneally used a white 7V with black pickguard during 1996-1997 and it looked gorgeous).
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-10-2019, 04:08 PM
 
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I ruined a Korean 555BK body trying to put the bigger japanese anchors for using the locking studs; using the original anchors and trem posts have been a wise idea. I ordered a new raw alder body and constructed a 1996 Fire Garden Tour Bad Horsie tribute out of it. Refretting, EVOs and 21-24 fret scalloping were also a must on my project. Now it is one of the best sounding and looking axes I own. Congrats on yours! Put a black pickguard on it to make it look different (Vai and Keneally used a white 7V with black pickguard during 1996-1997 and it looked gorgeous).
saw this just as I was thinking about replacing my trem posts. Thanks for making me think twice.
That is one gorgeous guitar. Well done.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-10-2019, 06:01 PM Thread Starter
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Re: JEMJR Mods - Don't try this at home

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Originally Posted by vy100 View Post
I ruined a Korean 555BK body trying to put the bigger Japanese anchors for using the locking studs; using the original anchors and trem posts have been a wise idea. I ordered a new raw alder body and constructed a 1996 Fire Garden Tour Bad Horsie tribute out of it. Refretting, EVOs and 21-24 fret scalloping were also a must on my project. Now it is one of the best sounding and looking axes I own. Congrats on yours! Put a black pickguard on it to make it look different (Vai and Keneally used a white 7V with black pick-guard during 1996-1997 and it looked gorgeous).

Ahh, thanks for that info vy100, that makes me feel much better about keeping the original posts. I was planning to push my luthier to go ahead and try a bit harder. To be honest it stays in tune so well I think I'll just let it go. I'll monitor it over the next couple of years to see if there is any change.


I remember one of my friends that I worked with in the industry in the 90's, his name was John Jurkovic and was just a mind blowingly good player. He had an 88FP that was his main stage guitar but over time the posts went walkies through the basswood body heading towards the neck. Apparently he got a luthier to cut a rectangle of basswood out of the stud mounting area and replaced it with a chunk of hardwood (not sure what) redrilled the holes and painted it black. John never had trouble with the posts again after that. I guess the mahogany in the JEMJR is likely to be a bit tougher and less likely to allow the studs to go walkies.

Last edited by pteropid; Yesterday at 05:04 AM. Reason: words are hard...
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-10-2019, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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Re: JEMJR Mods - Don't try this at home

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saw this just as I was thinking about replacing my trem posts. Thanks for making me think twice.
That is one gorgeous guitar. Well done.

Thanks I874U


I was hoping that if I posted the info about the JEMJR mods it would help people see what they would be up for if they went the same route.


Cheers.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 12:09 AM
 
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Re: JEMJR Mods - Don't try this at home

Nice write up, looks like it came out great!
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 12:30 AM
 
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Re: JEMJR Mods - Don't try this at home

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Originally Posted by pteropid View Post
Ahh, thanks for that info vy100, that makes me feel much better about keeping the original posts. I was planning to push my luthier to go ahead and try a bit harder. To be honest it stays in tune so well I think I'll just let it go. I'll monitor it over the next couple of years to see if there is any change.


I remember one of my friends that I worked with in the industry in the 90's, his name was John Jurkovic and was just a mind blowingly good player. He had an 88FP that was his main stage guitar but over time the posts went walkies through through the basswood body heading towards the neck. Apparently he got a luthier to cut a rectangle of basswood out of the stud mounting area and replaced it with a chunk of hardwood (not sure what) redrilled the holes and painted it black. John never had trouble with the posts again after that. I guess the mahogany in the JEMJR is likely to be a bit tougher and less likely to allow the studs to go walkies.
Fot loose anchors that is the ideal solution, I have done it on several of my basswood and alder Jems without problem.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 05:10 AM Thread Starter
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Re: JEMJR Mods - Don't try this at home

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Nice write up, looks like it came out great!

Thanks Leviathus, I've made contact with the luthier and I've decided to get him to mill a custom scratch-plate and covers in the white pearl. They had initially tried to source the parts from Ibanez but no luck, other suppliers seemed unable to get exactly the right scratch-plate.


Hopefully it won't be too expensive or time consuming, I just got it back and I don't really want it gone for another two months.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 05:20 AM Thread Starter
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Re: JEMJR Mods - Don't try this at home

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Fot loose anchors that is the ideal solution, I have done it on several of my basswood and alder Jems without problem.

Sounded like the right thing to do.


I'd love to see some images of your custom axes, I'm intrigued by your mention of the 1996 Fire Garden Tour Bad Horsie tribute. I love the evolution pickups, I've been using them in most of my project guitars since the early 90's.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 04:00 PM
 
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Re: JEMJR Mods - Don't try this at home

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Originally Posted by pteropid View Post
Sounded like the right thing to do.


I'd love to see some images of your custom axes, I'm intrigued by your mention of the 1996 Fire Garden Tour Bad Horsie tribute. I love the evolution pickups, I've been using them in most of my project guitars since the early 90's.
Enjoy! Hope you like it!

https://files2.soniccdn.com/images/p...inal/36156.jpg

https://files2.soniccdn.com/images/p...inal/36158.jpg

https://files2.soniccdn.com/images/p...inal/23167.jpg

https://files2.soniccdn.com/images/p...inal/23712.jpg

https://files2.soniccdn.com/images/p...inal/23713.jpg

https://files2.soniccdn.com/images/p...inal/23714.jpg
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