When Ibanez launched its Steve Vai PIA model at NAMM 2020, some guitarists were a little disgruntled by the four glaringly bright finishes. Ibanez seems to have taken heed; the successor to the venerable JEM now comes in a sleek new black finish for 2021.
Ibanez has decided to offer the PIA3751 in a new Flat Black finish, in addition to last year’s Stallion White. Designed together with guitar legend Steve Vai, this model was introduced last year in four colours. Ibanez has retained the gold hardware for this version, which I think works very well with the reserved Flat Black finish, and complements the guitar well.
Steve Vai tweaks
The PIA model incorporates a number of Steve Vai’s personal tweaks introduced with the PIA in 2020. These include a magnetic back plate for easy access to the trem springs, an Ultralite tremolo arm and his Flower Grip, which replaces the Monkey Grip of the JEM.
The Flat Black version keeps the set of DiMarzio UtoPIA – including the etched pickup covers – as well as more practical things like the Luminlay side dots. From a performance standpoint, a few features are worth opinting out, like the 24 jumbo stainless steel frets along with a scalloped fingerboard on the 21-24 frets and that Ibanez locking Edge tremolo system. All that makes for a very capable guitar that can perform beautifully.
The PIA model launched to mixed reviews last year, with most of the objections coming from the colours on offer at launch, all of which were quite gaudy and bright. This year’s Flat Black finish certainly tones down the overall look. I think the newly designed PIA Blossom inlay sits better on this darker themed 2021 model. Of course, you can still opt for the Stallion White version from 2020, so you can go lighter if you prefer.
Tell us what you think of this new darker version for 2021, is it hitting all the right notes for you?