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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!

Like many of the folks out there, I am one of the drooling masses that simply can't afford his/her dream guitar. However, I have noticed that one could potentially purchase a Jem piecemeal. Looking on the net, I see that lots of the components can be acquired individually (bodies, necks, pickups, knobs, bridges, whammies, pickguards, etc).

By trade and personal passion, I am an artist. I think it would be a great experience to hand paint the body to have an even stronger connection with the instrument. I'd get it professionally clear coated, then take all the components and have a tech/luthier put it all together and fine tune it.

Is this a feasable goal? Will I end up paying more than a stock guitar, or might I save money? I think I'd feel too guilty to paint over an existing Jem, they all have too much of a history to do something like that (especially the limited ed ones).

Thanks for any help you can share.

-Paul

(I hope this is in the right section, I could decide which one it pertained to the most)
 

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I pesonally think, that if you can do it, it is worth it. You could choose any color of paint you wanted, and you could accessorize it the same way too. Again, if you have the skill, why not?
 

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It's up to you, what do you like best about the Jem? The look? The inlays? The grip/claw?

Why not mod and RG body with the features described above that you like the most? Then if you're successful in doing the work then it would be worth it for you :)

I'm not too bothered about the claw/grip, but i'd really like to swirl an RG body just because it'd be cool to have something that i've done myself.

I think you'd end up saving money if you bought an RG body and did the work yourself, although i think you'd pay more getting a professional to do it and the work may not be as good, that's obviously down to the person carrying out the modifications though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks, both, for such a quick reply!

I appreciate the input!

Mr.Wonderful- I think the only things that would hold me back would be:

*the price (I just hadn't a clue what I might be getting myself into. If you tried to buy a car bit by bit you'd end up paying many times what a pre-built car was worth. I didn't know if it would be the same case).

*some miscellaneous problem I hadn't anticipated. Both of your encouraging words relieves me a bit of the unknown.

Andelusion- Good questions!

Well, Vai's music has profoundly affected me and is a great drive to further my learning to play. The sound cuts right through me, and evokes a lot of emotion. Seems like a good direction for me to go in, musically speaking, if it has such a deep impact on me.

I like the shape of his Jems, I can't tell how much of it is my association with who it is that is playing it, though. But, I do like the graceful forms and delicate shapes. The monkey grip is neat, though I don't feel strongly about it, either way. I suppose it might be a nice tribute (and maybe even convenient).

Even before I started learning to play, I've admired detailed neck inlay, so that would be nice to have.

I have an idea to sculpt the knobs (tuning/volume and tone) and have them cast in silver.

What usually bothers me about some of his available models is that they tend to be too neon for my likings. If I could afford multiple guitars, I could see having one that really screamed out at you. But, since I'll need my guitar to play many roles, I'd like it a bit more subtle. My artwork tends to not be as bold color-wise, much of it is monochromatic.

Though I understand that gold hardware may perform better (better conductivity) I just don't like the look. Too gaudy for my tastes, I guess.

I'm about to reveal my true lack of Jem knowledge- and RG would be without the monkey grip?

again- thank you very much for your replies!
 

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nightserpent, after a good deal of reading on this forum you'll find out that a Jem is more or less a high end RG with a routed monkey grip and lions claw.

It sounds to me like your best bet would be to get an RG body from e-b-a-y, strip it down and refinish it/paint it or do whatever you want to get put your personal stamp on it :)

You may be able to find a Jem neck on e-b-a-y (the Jem7VWH necks are my favourite - the one which you'll see Vai with most of the time, it has the vine all the way down the neck) if not then click on the 'LGM' banner at the top of this page (it's red and orange) to see quotes for neck linlays, Jeremy (who is on these forums as 'littlegreenman') does excellent inlays to your specifications, drop him an email.

Once you've got the body and neck sorted, then you can start looking at the hardware (Pickups, bridge, tuners, etc). The Jem7VWH model (white, gold hardware which Vai uses the most) he as lo-pro edge bridge (the production models do anyway) and DiMarzio Evolution pickups, the bridge and pickups can be purchased at many different places, best do some research :)
 

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More than likely you won't end up saving any money, and you will probably end up spending more, but you can get the Jem to look just like you want it to and have options current jems don't.
Personally I would make one with 22 frets and a fixed bridge.
 

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Andelusion said:
nightserpent, after a good deal of reading on this forum you'll find out that a Jem is more or less a high end RG with a routed monkey grip and lions claw.

It sounds to me like your best bet would be to get an RG body from e-b-a-y, strip it down and refinish it/paint it or do whatever you want to get put your personal stamp on it :)

You may be able to find a Jem neck on e-b-a-y (the Jem7VWH necks are my favourite - the one which you'll see Vai with most of the time, it has the vine all the way down the neck) if not then click on the 'LGM' banner at the top of this page (it's red and orange) to see quotes for neck linlays, Jeremy (who is on these forums as 'littlegreenman') does excellent inlays to your specifications, drop him an email.

Once you've got the body and neck sorted, then you can start looking at the hardware (Pickups, bridge, tuners, etc). The Jem7VWH model (white, gold hardware which Vai uses the most) he as lo-pro edge bridge (the production models do anyway) and DiMarzio Evolution pickups, the bridge and pickups can be purchased at many different places, best do some research :)
Dear NightSerpent, Please listen to this guy, He's talking sense !!!
If you're realy looking to do a custom version of a Jem then go get a cheap RG and spend the time upgrading it to Jem specs, He's right you know !

Ben
 

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Hey nightserpent, I'm in the midst of doing one of these projects my self. I got an old rg that had an original wizard neck, I just made a body myself from American Alder, with grip and claw. I just purchased a set of evolutions and an Hs-3, I'm going to use the bridge and electronics from my 350dx and I will have, as custom a guitar as Mr. Vai Himself. Sure it may not have all the high end parts, But I'm pretty sure no one else will have one like mine, and you still can't wipe the grin off my face from getting the monkey grip and claw to work out. It feels awesome to do it your self, like you said you make a connection with the guitar and because I can still use the rest of the parts from the other guitars, it didn't really cost that much extra. By the way the guitar is going to be bright yellow with blue pickups, blue controls, mother of pearl pickguard, rosewood wizard neck, black hardware, and as a tribute to Mr.Vai I am going to inlay a VAi guitar pick (hot pink) on the back upper horn. Any way go for it and if you ever have any question just ask. chef21
 

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nightserpent,

I am currently doing what you are contemplating. In fact I am working on 3 projects, none of them are finished yet, but progressing bit by bit. I have purchased most of the parts from evilbay, but also had some custom work done, on two guitar necks (one by LGM). Two have old RG bodies modified, but one was an original 777DY. I had to re-finish the 777DY because it was really stuffed up by someone (re-painted) and quite damaged in places, requiring some re-building and shaping to the horns and other dings in the body generally. But I obviously good it for a good price! Word of warning though - the biggest danger in these projects exactly like you said, unexpected problems. Everything you buy you MUST make sure it is to the correct dimensions for fit. Neck pockets and pickguards are two primary offenders.

This has cost me a lot of money so far. But look at it this way. A complete custom jem would be more expensive than a stock jem, and a DIY will be around the price of a stock jem, maybe less depending on how industrious you have been collecting the bits, and the amount you can build yourself. The custom inlayed necks are the most expensive parts of the whole project, if you can do it yourself, then you will save money, but it also takes some skill and lot of time.

The whole thing takes quite of bit of your time. You should only attempt it if you have the time and inclination to spend on this sort of thing. The satisfaction from the creation will be that it was exactly what you wanted and done by by your own hands So in that light, the value of the instrument will be immeasurable to you and you will learn a great deal along the way, I have so far and I think will continue to do so.

Think of Brian May's "Big Red" guitar, he built that one with his dad, out of odd bits and pieces, the neck from the mantle piece of an old fireplace. He still plays it to this day.
 

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The Jem7VWH model (white said:
I suppose I'm just niggling, but, Vai's Evo has a black original edge trem on it, but you are right that the production 7vwh's have gold hardware. Also, I'm doing a somewhat similar RG to Jem project, and even if it doesn't turn out as well as a production or custom model, there is still such a great sense of accomplishment and pride in building your own instrument. Good luck with it all.
Galen.
 

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I think price wise you won't really save, but buying a Jem piece by piece might make it seem like less of a blow to the pocketbook, and you would end up with a one of, fitting your needs!
 

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I meant no offence, but I was just telling him what Vai himself used, because if he were to build it from parts he could conceivably get whatever trem he wanted and to know what Vai used may have helped Nightserpent decide what he wanted if he decided to build a guitar from parts. Again, I apologize if I offended you.
Galen.
 

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It's definitely worth doing, and you can save money, depending on how much you can do yourself, and how long you're prepared to wait.
Firstly, some parts go on e-bay for alot of money (I've seen people buy guitars, then split them and make loads of profit selling them as parts), but if you're prepared to wait and keep looking then you'll find bargains. If you're gonna refinish it yourself then condition doesn't matter so much and you can get a cheaper one that's been dinged alot, and then fill the dings, etc before you refin it. And you're unlikely to find a jem body so get an RG and mod it.
Also, the more you can do yourself, the more you'll save (obvious I know but so true with guitars). If you do a bit of research and want a longer term hobby/project then you can build stuff very cheaply - I can now do inlays, and I've built several necks from scratch, and lots of bodies - all it costs is my time, and the raw materials (the only time these get expensive is if you want a really figured wood, for example. If you just want plain wood then it's cheap compared to buying a neck/body).
The only words of caution are - take your time, do your research on project-guitar, or guitar building books, practice on off-cuts, etc. You can end up spending alot if you rush in and mess stuff up, having to buy it again.
But it's a great hobby, and awesome at gigs when someone compliments your guitar and you know that alot of the way it looks is down to you.
Good luck,
Rich
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks to everyone!

I appreciate at the thorough feedback! From what you've all written, I am encouraged to give it a go. It may take time to research and hunt down the right pieces, but I have patience.

I think I'll start by talking to some of the local techs and luthiers in the area and see who is interested, to what extent, and for how much. At this stage I'd have to rely on their skills for making sure everything is properly assembled and installed.

Again, thatnks for the suggestions, direction and encouragement.

-Paul
 

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