30 Years Ago

Steve Vai and Ibanez changed the world of guitar

Steve Vai, Ibanez and the JEM

The 1987 Chicago NAMM Show marked the introduction of the Steve Vai-designed JEM guitars and constituted a major turning point in the fortunes of Ibanez and the development of the electric guitar. The JEM, with its cutting edge floating tremolo and monkey grip, took off like a rocket. Ibanez was finally viewed as an important innovator and there would be no looking back. 30 years later, the JEM has become an iconic image in the world of guitar and, for over a decade, its sister model, the RG, is second in worldwide sales only to the Fender Stratocaster. Ibanez is very pleased to celebrate this 30-year milestone in the ever-evolving and fruitful collaboration with Steve Vai.

Steve Vai speaks on creating a legend

Steve Vai, virtuoso guitarist and architect of the JEM, recounts the iconic guitar’s origins.

JEM Anniversary models

The striking JEM models that shocked the world return in all their splendor.

JEM777LG

Loch Ness Green

JEM777LG View Specs

JEM777DY

Desert Sun Yellow

JEM777DY View Specs

JEM777SK

Shocking Pink.

JEM777SK View Specs

The Roots of the Revolution

The Pre-production JEM777LG

Pre-production JEM777LG

The pre-production JEM777LG features a slightly different pickguard. Missing is the Edge Guard or bridge guard, a device designed to prevent the tremolo bridge from being “palmed" out of tune (the Edge Guard can be seen on the JEM777 catalog spread on the opposite page) A patent conflict prevented Ibanez from continuing to offer the Edge Guard, and only a few models were shipped with one.

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Chicago, 1987

Steve Vai unveils the first JEMs and nothing is the same again.

1987 Chicago NAMM Show

The Turning Point

The introduction of the new Steve Vai JEM guitars at the summer 1987 Chicago NAMM.

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The Pyramid Scheme

The Pyramid Scheme

The disappearing pyramid inlays on the JEM777 guitars were a tribute to Vai's interest in mysticism.

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The Guitar Mania Show

The Guitar Mania Show sponsored by Ibanez, Guitar World magazine, and Relativity Records at the Limelight.

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Steve Vai

The journey from Long Island musician to creator of an iconic guitar.

I never imagined I'd be a guitar endorser. I didn't even start out to be a guitar player. Since I'm from Long Island, I played accordion. I also played tuba in my high school marching band and I played keyboards in a rock band, but not guitar.

STEVE VAI

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JEM TIMELINE

The Evolution of Icon: a 30-Year JEM Timeline.

Steve Vai JEM777LNG

JEM777LNG

1987

Steve Vai JEM777DY

JEM777DY

1987 - 1996

Steve Vai JEM777SK

JEM777SK

1987 - 1989

Steve Vai JEM7RB

JEM7RB

1988 - 1989

Steve Vai JEM77FP

JEM77FP

1988 - 2003

Steve Vai JEM7PBK

JEM7PBK

1989 - 1990

Steve Vai JEM777VBK

JEM777VBK

1988 - 1992

Steve Vai JEM777VDY

JEM777VDY

1989 - 1991

Steve Vai JEM777VSK

JEM777VSK

1989

Steve Vai JEM77BFP

JEM77BFP

1991 - 1994

Steve Vai JEM77GMC

JEM77GMC

1992 - 1993

Steve Vai JEM77PMC

JEM77PMC

1992 - 1993

Steve Vai JEM7VWH

JEM7VWH

1993 – Present

Steve Vai JEM7BSB

JEM7BSB

1996 - 1998

Steve Vai JEM10TH

JEM10TH

1997

Steve Vai JEM90HAM

JEM90HAM

1998

Steve Vai JEM7DBK

JEM7DBK

1999 - 2004

Steve Vai JEM2K DNA

JEM2K DNA

2000

Steve Vai JEM7VSBL

JEM7VSBL

2002 - 2004

Steve Vai JEM77BRMR

JEM77BRMR

2005 - 2006

Steve Vai JEM77VBK

JEM77VBK

2007–2011

Steve Vai JEM20TH

JEM20TH

2007

Steve Vai JEM7EAFXBK

JEM7EAFXBK

2009

Steve Vai JEM7VWHL

JEM7VWHL

2009

Steve Vai JEM77FP2

JEM77FP2

2010 – Present

Steve Vai JEM77PBFP

JEM77PBFP

2010 – Present

Steve Vai JEM7V7WH

JEM7V7WH

2013 - 2016

Steve Vai JEM70VSFG

JEM70VSFG

2013 - Present

Steve Vai JEMJRWH

JEMJRWH

2013 - Present

Steve Vai JEMJRLWH

JEMJRLWH

2016 - Present

Steve Vai JEM77WDPCNL

JEM77WDPCNL

2016 - Present

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