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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone, I mentioned in one of my posts that I was restoring an ’89 VBK that I bought. I just got her back from the luthier so I thought I would post some progress pictures for anyone who’s interested in this stuff.

Before I start though I want to send a big shout out to Rich at ‘Ibanez Rules’, Rich you are awesome! Thanks so much for helping me get hold of all the fiddly bits and pieces. Rich managed to get all the parts I needed to me from the other side of the world in 3 business days. I had ordered some parts from a local supplier and they took nearly 4 months to arrive so you can see why I’m so impressed.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ve said this before but I’ve been searching for years for a VBK in Australia but they are rare as hen’s teeth and I’ve never seen one come up for sale. I have seen quite a few for sale overseas but I’m not keen on buying a guitar without first checking it out.

I found a VBK down the road from where I live that came up for $2,400 (~$1,750 USD) but she was in pretty sad shape see pic. I knew it was going to take a lot of time and dollars to get her back to full health, but hey what gentleman doesn’t help a lady in need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
I did the usual fret polishing, board clean and oil, did a tear-down and setup from scratch to find anything that I could address straight away. The paint work is battle worn, but not ridiculous and the scratch-plate had some pretty significant gouges that I know would probably not respond to any mild cutting compound. So that’s where I made the first mistake, I ordered a new scratch-plate from the local guitar shop in October 2018 and it arrived in February 2019, Doh!

Surprisingly it fit, the design is slightly different to the original but one thing I do prefer is the different volume pot position. I am of course keeping all original parts catalogued so that I can take it back to original condition.

I intend to try and track down someone who can electroplate the original tremolo baseplate and saddles as I’d like to put the original back on, but the replacement will be fine for the next couple of years at least.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I left her with a well-known luthier for a couple of months so he could go over the neck and try to figure out how to address the previous repair job. From what I can tell, the neck suffered some catastrophic damage in 1995, I'm assuming it was dropped hard and as usual the first thing to suffer is the area around the scarf-joint.

When I bought it I could see that whomever repaired it did a good job and it had remained stable for over 20 years, but it had accumulated dirt and as with the rest of the neck needed to be taken back to bare wood and re-oiled.

The luthier was raving about how good she sounded and played and asked me to call him if I ever wanted to sell her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
One thing that was initially very concerning was the headstock decals. The JEM logo was missing and the Ibanez logo had been masked and clear coated. I’m assuming that back in the 90’s when it was repaired they gave up on the fine detailed JEM part of the logo and just focussed on preserving the larger Ibanez name and banner. During the tear-down I checked all the factory stamps and pickup press marks and everything was legit, so I knew it wasn’t a fake, just a mess. Whoever did the clear coat must have been drunk and passed out halfway through as the headstock paint job is an absolute joke.

I'm not going to redo the paint job on the body, as I find I can relax when playing her, I'm not worrying about bumps or if the kids pick her up and have a strum. That is the complete opposite to my '88 FP, I can't relax when I play her and usually only last about 5 minutes before cleaning and putting her back on display.

If anyone can suggest a good way to restore the headstock logos I’m all ears. I considered ordering some water decal paper and printing my own then doing a clear coat, but I don’t really want to screw it up.

All up she's cost me about $3,200 (~$2,300 USD). Which is pretty much what I would pay for one in good-very good condition. She'll never be mint, but that doesn't matter to me.
 

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Much respect for taking on this project. I’m an Aussie (from Brisbane) that lives in the US and my VBK is my favorite Jem that I own. To each their own but the 777’s are my favorite players. There’s just this “butter” quality to them that I can’t explain any better than that! Keep up the good work. That’s quite a project that you have taken on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Much respect for taking on this project. I'm an Aussie (from Brisbane) that lives in the US and my VBK is my favorite Jem that I own. To each their own but the 777's are my favorite players. There's just this "butter" quality to them that I can't explain any better than that! Keep up the good work. That's quite a project that you have taken on.
Thanks tonetheus, it was so good getting her home after two months at the luthier. None of my guitars play as well as her, she's my daily driver and I barely played anything while she was away.

I think I'm going to hold off on the final stages of the restoration as I'd like to have her around for a few months. I think the JEMJR is the next project that needs to be addressed, I have all the parts now and just need to get her to the luthier for the neck work and edge install.
 

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Great job on the guitar! Looks fantastic... glad you like the way it plays too. I've never had the opportunity to play a Jem and wonder about the neck profile.

Someone on here mentioned a seller on Etsy that has several different Ibanez decals. I just ordered an old Roadstar II logo and it looks great, but I did not see any Jem logos. Might be worth contacting if you need help with the logo? Very nice seller, product packaged well. He actually sent me two logos, presumably because he knows I will mess up one waterslide and need another... ha ha.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/GuitaRest...name&listing_id=457442956&search_query=ibanez

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have a VBK the only thing that needs to be done is to repair, just, the headstock. Excellent guitar I've had it for years.
Definitely worth repairing in my opinion. I wonder how many were actually made? I would be suprised if there were more than 100 around in Australia. Given how fragile the 1st gen ones were there's probably less than 100 left in Australia.

Do you have any photos of your VBK? I'd love to see it :grin2:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Great job on the guitar! Looks fantastic... glad you like the way it plays too. I've never had the opportunity to play a Jem and wonder about the neck profile.

Someone on here mentioned a seller on Etsy that has several different Ibanez decals. I just ordered an old Roadstar II logo and it looks great, but I did not see any Jem logos. Might be worth contacting if you need help with the logo? Very nice seller, product packaged well. He actually sent me two logos, presumably because he knows I will mess up one waterslide and need another... ha ha.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/GuitaRest...name&listing_id=457442956&search_query=ibanez

Good luck!
Thanks for the support FireEagle :grin2:

The neck profile is different to the original RG550's, the early FP's and VBK's are a little thicker and rounder, it's a subtle difference but definitely noticeable. The limited run PBK and RB models have the thinner RG profile and they are absolutely amazing to play, easily the best guitars I have ever played in my life.

https://ibanez.fandom.com/wiki/JEM7_(Root_Beer)
https://ibanez.fandom.com/wiki/JEM7P

One thing I did find when I was selling them in the shop back in the day, is that the necks would often go out of whack over time compared to the FP's and VBK's etc. I don't know if that was just my experience or if it was a common thing?

Having said that, if I saw an RB or PBK come up for sale in Australia for a reasonable price I would buy it in a heart beat. I remember one really bad neck on an RB that was twisted, apparently they repaired it by steaming the crap out of it and then placing it in a jig and storing for a month in the roof space of a house in the middle of an Australian summer. Worked a treat apparently!

Thanks for the etsy link, that's exactly what I was looking for. I'll contact them and get my luthier to do the hard part. I know the original decals were applied without a clear coat, but I think in this instance I'll get a thin nitrocellulose paint job over the top (see attached pictures), the logos on the older jems used to scratch off so easily, especially when threading new strings under the string tree.
 

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Thanks for the Jem neck info... I like them a little thicker than the Wizard, so might be just right for me. Hopefully I can try one someday.


I like the clear coated headstock, looks nice and hopefully won't scratch the decals like you mentioned!
 

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Much respect for taking on this project. I’m an Aussie (from Brisbane) that lives in the US and my VBK is my favorite Jem that I own. To each their own but the 777’s are my favorite players. There’s just this “butter” quality to them that I can’t explain any better than that! Keep up the good work. That’s quite a project that you have taken on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks Vernie38, nearly there!

My luthier has tracked down an electroplater that can sort out the cosmo black trem corrosion, so that's awesome. I'm still deciding on whether to get the body resprayed when I get the headstock restored, I guess it will depend on the price. That will pretty much complete the restoration. The massive JEMJR upgrade is due to be finished very soon so the VBK will be back to the luthier. Pics will be uploaded on completion.

Cheers
 

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It would be helpful if you share what route you go and the price. My brother acquired this VBK and he's thinking of restoring it.
 

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It's looking great mate. As much as it was a regrettable sale I'm so glad it went to someone that put in as much effort with as much attention to detail as you have. If you ever do decide to sell I want first dibs ... I didn't realise how rare they were at the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
It's looking great mate. As much as it was a regrettable sale I'm so glad it went to someone that put in as much effort with as much attention to detail as you have. If you ever do decide to sell I want first dibs ... I didn't realise how rare they were at the time.
Hey dude. Yep she's in good hands, still some work to go. I think you'd have to fight my luthier for her if it came down to me selling though. :grin2:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
So I got the replated original tremolo back from the luthier. The saddles didn't plate so well, so I replaced them with saddles from a new Edge and also the tuning screws.

I think it turned out pretty good, the electroplater managed to colour-match the Cosmo black really well. It cost about $140 all up including the saddles, would probably be cheaper if I only did the base-plate.



So now it's only the headstock decals and cut/polish the paint work, then it's all finished. :grin2:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
OK, so in a moment of weakness late last year I caved and sent the VBK to Ernie at ET guitars to get the paint and headstock decals done from scratch. Quite confronting to see her like this, but Ernie knows what he's doing and I'm looking forward to getting her home in the near future. The main hurdle at the moment is getting hold of water-slide decals in the correct green.
 

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