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Vai's Guitars
Ibanez Jem and Universe Series


Much of the information and pictures on this page was garnered from Lawrence Larsen's most excellent Jem 777 page.Check it out for yourself and see the real thing. Special thanks to Lawrence for allowing me to mooch off of his material!


New pictures and information about additional Jem and Universe models are courtesy of Colter McCorkindale! Special thanks as well to Colter for loaning me his prized Ibanez catalogs!


Check out production years for Jems and Universes -- NEW!



Jem 777 Series

This is the guitar that started Steve Vai's solo carerer. The first of the Jem series, appearing in 1986, it was designed after one of Steve's own guitars, the "Green Meanie" which he played during the Flex-Able era. There were 777 made, each signed and numbered by the master himself, Steve Vai. They feature a very light basswood body, maple neck and fretboard with 24 frets, and pyramid inlays. They also have a Floyd Rose licensed "Edge" floating bridge with the "lion's claw" recess carved out underneath, and two DiMarzio PAF Pro humbuckers flanking a DiMarzio single-coil pickup especially designed for the Jem series. The most unusual feature of the guitar, and a trademark of Vai guitars, is the so-called "monkey grip" handle for ease of transport. The yellow model with pyramid inlays came later, is still in production, and is identical to the Green except without Vai's signature, and it is not a limited run. You can get a new one for $1200. Also available was the same yellow guitar with yellow vine inlay on a black fingerboard, and a black model with green pickups and a green vine inlay. Only the yellow/pyramid guitar is still made. Note: the Lo Pro Edge bridge replaced the older Edge bridge starting in 1991 on all 7-series models.




Jem 77 Series

I was told by a salesman that the 77s are more expensive new than the 777s (which are now available only in yellow), probably due to their funky finishes. To my knowledge, they are mechanically identical to the Green 777 above. The finishes were a green swirl, a purple multi-color similar to the Universes, a tacky floral pattern, and a vivid pink. Only 366 GMCs and 271 PMCs were made in their single year of production. The Floral model is still available for about $1300. Click here to see a big Green Multi-Color. An unusual, older 77 model was the "Root Beer" Jem, featuring a dark sunburst finish, matching vine inlay, and the original style of moneky grip, which was a plain oval cutout instead of having depressions for your fingers like regular Jems have.Click here to see a big Purple Multi-Color.






Jem 7 Series

The Jem 7 series began in 1990 with a black guitar featuring the original style monkey grip and white pyramid inlays. Click here to see another black Jem 7P. A Blue Floral Pattern was introduced in 1993. Again, mechanically they are identical to those above save that the black model has a different fret wire. Neither of these models is still being produced. Two models still in production are the white Jem7VWH and the "Burned Stained Blue" Jem 7BSB. The white Jem swapped the basswood body of standard Jems for alder wood, designed by Steve Vai for better tone and sustain. The white Jem also features DiMarzio Evolution pickups in all positions, replacing the PAF-Pro/Jem Single-Coil pickups in other Jems. The white Jem was used for most of the "Alien Love Secrets" album. This model is the most expensive of the Jems, running about $1450 rock-bottom price. The other model still being made features a finish created by actually torching the wood, then staining it transparent blue. The Jem7BSB has a basswood body like regular Jems but like the 7VWH has Evolution pickups. It has a unique inlay as well -- screw heads.





10th Anniversary Jem

A new issue, limited to 250 issues, the "Jem 10" model has engraved pick guards and headstock plates. Very much rarer than even the original Green Jems, sure to be a collector's item. The guitar shop I go to is getting one, and they want three grand for it. If only I had the cash...










Universe Series

Yeah, baby! This is the guitar that made Passion and Warfare. The Universe is a 7-string model, where the extra string is a B on the low end. The multi-colored model was used by Steve Vai on the album "Passion and Warfare". There was also a black model, which was discontinued and just brought back into production for 1996. You can pick up the black beauty new for $1300 (but around $2000 list). A green model the same color as the original Jems also appeared with half-green/half-yellow pickups. A white model was also made, with white abalone pyramid inlays.Click here, here, and here to see pics of other Universes.







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