Friday, February 20, 2009
Guitar Fridays: Ibanez JEM Series
This guitar is a little different from the previous ones I've posted about in that it's artist specific. Or at least originated that way. But before we get to that, let's look at the guitar itself.
This guitar sports an alder body, 24 frets with a rosewood fingerboard, an Edge Pro locking bridge system, DiMarzio pickups in a HSH configuration (humbucker, single coil, humbucker), and a look that beckons to be touched.
This sleek and sexy guitar is incredibly versatile. The transparency of sound from the pickups and their 5 different sonic configurations really allow for a wide range of tones, from blues to metal, to even jazz. But it's mostly known for one thing: pyrotechnics. This thing is not only designed for sonic variety, but for speed, accuracy, and whammy extravaganzas.
The JEM was born in the shred-heady days of the late 80s and came to prominence with the help of co-creator Steve Vai. It now has several iterations, including the infamous Universe seven string guitar (which single-handedly ushered in the uber-low nu-metal of the late 90s, early 00s--so if you're a fan, thank Steve). If you're looking for a versatile axe that screams sex appeal even when silent, the JEM is choice for you.
For examples of the JEM in action, I highly recommend Steve Vai's Passion and Warfare.* It is simply one of the greatest guitar albums ever made. Even though it's a shred-tastic wankfest, there are wonderful moments of soulful and emotive playing that few shredders are able to pull off. It's a virtuoso performance by one of the best players alive.
For a quick video of Steve putting the JEM through its paces, here is Tender Surrender from Alien Love Secrets. One of my personal favorites.
* The song Alien Water Kiss was purely an improvised piece used with heavy effects. So for the album's official sheet music, Steve had an artist create a beautiful representation of what the sheet music would look like, including strange notations, notes that trailed off the page, and even a puckering fish (yes, strangely enough, it worked).