The brand new Ibanez JEM JR has just been announced and it is the cheapest version of the Steve Vai signature guitar ever released. The iconic ‘Monkey Grip’ and Tree Of Life’ inlay are both there, so where exactly is Ibanez cutting the cost?
If you have never seen an Ibanez JEM then you must have been living under a rock for the last 30 years! Steve Vai’s legendary signature guitar series has been the inspiration for players all over the world since its initial release all those years ago. But it was always an expensive, premium guitar.
There was a plain white JEM/UV version of the guitar for a while. Yet nothing close in terms of ‘wow factor’ to the classic ’80s neon colours of the original JEM guitars. We understand that this run is a limited edition affair, so you may need to move relatively quick on picking one up.
Retailing at £449 each, there has certainly been some cost cutting involved to get it out at this price point, especially when you consider a fully fledged JEM can cost you in the thousands. So where does this new version manage to save you money?
With a mahogany body attached to a Wizard III neck, the JEMJRSP-YE (yellow) and JEMJRSP-PK (pink) offer many of the JEM’s characteristics, including the H/ S/ H pickup configuration and double locking trem system. So you get the versatility of pickup combinations and stability of a locking trem system. But you don’t get Steve’s signature DiMarzio pickups or a fully fledged EDGE trem system.
The instrument comes equipped with a set of Ibanez Quantum Neck and Bridge Humbucker pickups, plus a Quantum single-coil mid pickup. These are all ceramic magnet pickups, so expect a fairly hot output from them all.
The bridge is a Standard Ibanez Double Locking Tremolo System and so may not be quite as stable as the fully fledged EDGE system on Steve’s full priced models. All the hardware is in traditional Cosmo Black, so it all looks the part.
You can get the JEM JR in either a shocking neon pink or yellow finish and each guitar looks really similar to the original ones from the ’80s. I would have loved to have seen a Loch Ness Green one as well!
But for £449 I am not complaining. I love these and think that if it encourages more people to pick up the guitar and enjoy playing then it cannot be a bad thing. Okay, there will be some compromises, but if they had made guitars like this when I was 14, then I would have jumped one. Well played Ibanez, these look cool as f**k!
RRP – GBP 449 due end of September
Ibanez main page