J-EM review by Freya

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 2.9 (17 votes)
Freya: J-EM
0

Sound — 9
As a guitar teacher I am regularly expected to demonstrate a number of different styles, although personally, I enjoy to play classic rock, blues and instrumental music by artists such as Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson and Yngwie J. Malmsteen. I would like to make it very clear that I never expected a replica JEM costing only 150 to match the quality of an original Ibanez priced around 2000! Instead I have tried to evaluate the guitar as fairly as possible. Despite how little I paid for this guitar I was very surprised by just how versatile it was. The pickups have a wonderful brightness and clarity, unlike so many budget priced guitars that have a tendency to sound "muddy" or dull. The neck humbucker pickup particularly really sings and has a lovely warm tone. Unfortunately, Freya Musical Instruments were unable to tell me what the pickups were when I enquired, so I am unable to say what they are exactly? I tested the guitar through a Marshall MG100DFX and a Kustom 20 watt practice amp on both the clean and overdrive channels and the guitar really sounded fantastic! I did find I needed to use an external overdrive/distortion pedal with the practice amp to get a decent tone (due to poor quality overdrive on amp) but could happily play the guitar straight into the Marshall without need of external pedals all day long! The pickups may not be DiMarzio's but they sure do the trick!

Overall Impression — 9
I have used a number of different guitars throughout my 20 years of playing and as a guitar teacher feel it is important to look for quality instruments for all budgets in order to best advise my students whether they be purchasing their first guitar or up-grading to a model better suited to their individual taste/styles. I purchased this guitar out of curiosity as many of my students are discovering Steve Vai's music and want an Ibanez JEM and their unfortunate parents have been breathing down my neck for a cheaper alternative. Freya Musical Instruments really do offer a friendly and enthusiast service and were very prompt and helpful when answering my emails prior to purchase. Of course, I do not compare this guitar in any way to an original Ibanez JEM. Nobody could expect a guitar purchased for 150 to compete with a 2000 guitar. However, I can confidently say that this guitar performs well and produces a lovely range of tones. The action is smooth, is a real pleasure to play and guitar looks amazing! If it where lost or stolen I would definitely buy it again only, as Freya fastest selling model, it is not always easy to get hold of as my students are discovering. This is a lovely replica of one of the most recognized and sought after guitars without needing to worry about owning a Chinese made Ibanez fake.

Reliability & Durability — 9
Despite having one of my Ibanez RG350S available as a backup (I would recommend all performing musicians to carry a spare!), I had no need for it as the Freya proved itself both worthy and dependable as far as live performance was concerned. The strap buttons are secure without the need for strap locks, although I must confess that strap locks are a beneficial addition to many guitars. I took a chance on buying this guitar as it was not a brand that I recognized, however it has proved both reliable and dependable time after time and has become quite a favourite of mine on stage! You would think I had the real Ibanez from all the attention it attracts!

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
As part of their customer service, Freya Musical Instruments will personally set the guitar up for you before shipping. This includes choice of string gauge (Ernie Ball Slinky 9's or 10's) and action tailored to your preference. Considering this guitar only cost me 150 it is very well made and finished very well. The only flaw that I could find with the finish was that there was less paint inside the "monkey grip" than the rest of the body. However, this is not visually noticeable and I was purposely looking for something to fault. The guitar has a lovely low action, without any buzzing and the licensed Floyd Rose works perfectly. The only other fault I could find with the guitar was that one or two of the frets "choked" slightly. This was easily fixed by my local guitar tech and cost very little to remedy. Most budget price guitars have these kinds of issues so I won't judge the guitar too harshly.

Features — 9
Freya Musical Instruments are a small company based in Ireland. All their guitars are made in China and imported to Ireland where they sell them via their eBay store. They make replicas of many popular guitars such as Stratocasters and Les Pauls. The guitar I am reviewing here is a copy of the Ibanez JEM. The guitar's specifications closely follow those of the original Ibanez model; Basswood body with Maple neck featuring the Tree-of-Life inlay on a two octave (24 fret) Rosewood fretboard. Hardware includes gold-plated licensed Floyd Rose bridge with whammy bar, locking nut and die-cast tuners. Other features include two humbucker and one single-coil pickups, one volume and one tone control and a five-way switch. The finish is white with a pearloid scratch plate. Only the headstock differs from the Ibanez as, although similar, is a slightly different shape and finished in black with "Freya" logo. The body also has a "monkey grip". Guitar comes with a padded "Freya" gig bag.

29 comments sorted by best / new / date

    FrauVfromPoB
    Did any of you actually read past the blurb at the top? Taking the actual quote from the review, it says: "I would like to make it very clear that I never expected a replica JEM costing only 150 to match the quality of an original Ibanez priced around 2000! Instead I have tried to evaluate the guitar as fairly as possible." Note the use of the word 'instead'. In this context, the quote suggests that the J-EM is NOT as good as an actual Ibanez Jem, but still surprisingly good for a budget guitar. Try reading the review instead of whipping out your elitist dicks and flopping them around at the first mention of a budget guitar that doesn't royally suck.
    Jasperyeah
    FrauVfromPoB wrote: Did any of you actually read past the blurb at the top? Taking the actual quote from the review, it says: "I would like to make it very clear that I never expected a replica JEM costing only 150 to match the quality of an original Ibanez priced around 2000! Instead I have tried to evaluate the guitar as fairly as possible." Note the use of the word 'instead'. In this context, the quote suggests that the J-EM is NOT as good as an actual Ibanez Jem, but still surprisingly good for a budget guitar. Try reading the review instead of whipping out your elitist dicks and flopping them around at the first mention of a budget guitar that doesn't royally suck.
    Thank you for seemingly being the only other person to have the common sense to READ.
    GMoorefan84
    First of all I would like to apologise to anyone who was offended by the text at the top of the review next to the picture. Unfortunately, the second sentence has been completely taken out of context and is not of my doing! Secondly, in reponse to MarkoakaNiggaK's accusations: I am an independent guitar teacher and in no way associated with or in the employment of Freya Musical Instruments. I am simply a satisfied customer! Lastly, and most importantly, I do not believe that the Freya guitar compares with an original Ibanez JEM in any way! I own no less than 3 Ibanez guitars myself and have a very high regard for the quality of build, sound and playability of their instruments! My evaluation of the Freya J-EM was in comparison with other SIMILARLY PRICED budget guitars, and not with a top-of-the-range Ibanez! I personally do not see the harm in a young student who wants to upgrade from their cheap Encore or Squier Strat copy to an "affordable" guitar that at least looks like the guitar that they really want?! I do agree with DoubleBassCrash that a cheap copy will never be the same as the real deal but how many 11 or 12 year olds can get a payment plan for a Ibanez JEM7V? Also, as stated in the review, parents are equally unwilling to pay 2000+ for their child's instrument and have been asking me to find a "cheaper alternative", hence the basis of this review! I do appreciate all your comments and thank you for sharing your opinions!
    vegamusic
    You know something. It must be a man thing when guys start playing the guitar and they feel that they have to degrade something they neither understand nor have actually played. Its like saying I dont like brussel sprouts. Have you ever tasted them? No. Well how do you know you wont like them. These muppets need to realise that custom guitars are massively overpriced. The same as designer clothes etc. I recently seen a documentary on tv where it said that Designer aftershaves are made for $5 while they sell for $80! There is a 12 yr old on youtube called Bello Pluto from Ireland playing Sweet child o mine who owns a REAL Ibanez Jem. His rich parents purchased it for him. Is this right that a 12 yr old should own a REAL one of these guitars? How is he ever going to understand the value of a guitar or anything for that matter. Freya are providing young boys and girls with an affordable alternative that obviously is not going to replicate the REAL thing, hence the term replica! Duh. If Steve Vai's name wasnt on the side of the real thing it would be selling for 300-400 bucks. I own both the real thing and a Freya version. The sound is not obviously the same but with something like Revalver MK you can get close to the sound of the real thing. But think about this for a second! If you buy Freya version for 199 euro. You can then buy the REAL pickups, the REAL tremolo arm mechanism and you have something with quality close to the real thing. Isnt this how Eddie Van Halen came up with his Guitar designs. He tore apart guitars. You are not going to tear apart a REAL one, so you could have a near 99% version to a real one for less than 500 bucks by making the changes yourself. Guitarists who are complaining about this guitar really need to get a life and remove the bulls balls between their legs. I can imagine if they had a son they wouldnt think twice about purchasing this guitar!!! lol.
    RetroGunslinger
    EpiExplorer wrote: FrauVfromPoB wrote: Did any of you actually read past the blurb at the top? Taking the actual quote from the review, it says: "I would like to make it very clear that I never expected a replica JEM costing only 150 to match the quality of an original Ibanez priced around 2000! Instead I have tried to evaluate the guitar as fairly as possible." Note the use of the word 'instead'. In this context, the quote suggests that the J-EM is NOT as good as an actual Ibanez Jem, but still surprisingly good for a budget guitar. Try reading the review instead of whipping out your elitist dicks and flopping them around at the first mention of a budget guitar that doesn't royally suck. I can accuse you of doing the same for thinking that nobody read the review, well I did, and it STILL sounds like a trainwreck of a guitar.
    How does that review possibly give you the impression its a "trainwreck" of a guitar?
    Jemstar
    I own 2 real Ibanez Jems a 7vwh and a 1987 777DY and I would go as far as to say that the Ibanez Jem models are some of the finest electric guitars in the world. I call bullshit that these cheap Freya guitars are anywhere near as good. Infact I hope Ibanez sue Freya for ripping off the design and cheapening the image of real Jems.
    Ibeanez
    You're better off buying a $150 used guitar from anywhere but China, than buying a $150 new guitar from China.
    panman79
    Lame review. I've played one of the fake JEMs from ebay. In my experience it was nowhere near as nice as the $2000 model. It looked pretty much the same but thats all knockoffs do is look kinda the same. The pickups were garbage.
    EpiExplorer
    I never expected a replica JEM costing only 150 to match the quality of an original Ibanez priced around 2000!
    Really, really think hard about that statement and then think again, because I dont think you know what you're talking about. I wouldn't put hopes on a small irish indie company that sells a replica for 150 being able to match the quality of a real, japanese built JEM thats worth 1500-2000.
    DoubleBassCrash
    I suppose if you want a cheap copy made in China, there it is. But how long would this cheap copy sate your desire for the real thing? If it were me and I had to choose between getting this guitar now or waiting for a JEM7V, I'd save my money or get on a payment plan for the JEM7V. The real deal isn't cheap because it's a Made in Japan Signature guitar, but If you think the price tag for a real JEM7V is bad ($2,500- $3,000), have a look at the price of the PGMFRM1, haha! That Fireman Makes the JEM7V look mad reasonable, doesn't it? If you can live with used gear, there are people out there looking to sell their JEM7V, and just by searching the web you can see that you get one for $1,500 at guitar center. I'd imagine someone in a pinch might let it go for a little less than that. There's nothing wrong with buying good used gear.
    EpiExplorer
    FrauVfromPoB wrote: Did any of you actually read past the blurb at the top? Taking the actual quote from the review, it says: "I would like to make it very clear that I never expected a replica JEM costing only 150 to match the quality of an original Ibanez priced around 2000! Instead I have tried to evaluate the guitar as fairly as possible." Note the use of the word 'instead'. In this context, the quote suggests that the J-EM is NOT as good as an actual Ibanez Jem, but still surprisingly good for a budget guitar. Try reading the review instead of whipping out your elitist dicks and flopping them around at the first mention of a budget guitar that doesn't royally suck.
    I can accuse you of doing the same for thinking that nobody read the review, well I did, and it STILL sounds like a trainwreck of a guitar.
    JimiJames42
    Oh, and as a teacher, I often recommend electric, especially to my younger students who need inspiration to drive the perspiration. I keep a 3/4 scale tele clone handy for this very purpose.
    notryt
    I had a jem floral and it was an obvious knock off. the floral pattern was different... the tremolo was crap. and the pickups.. dont even go there.. I bought a wiring harness, some ibz pickups and a used trem on ebay.. final word,, it was a hell of a guitar when finished.. not in par with my 1570 with evos.. but it was worth the 500 total I sunk into it. the wizard style neck makes all the difference
    JimiJames42
    Ok, wanna see how playable this guitar is? Limitations are in my hands, not this sweet playing guitar! Just some noodling around in E, pushing my abilities but this should give you some idea of how playable this guitar really is and the merit of my opinion.
    JimiJames42
    Once fine guitar! My Freya J-EM showed up just in time for jam night! What can I say! I am VERY PLEASED with this guitar. Even with new strings, the tuning was very stable, the guitar sounds very sweet and is very versatile and plays as well as (if not better than) many more expensive guitars. I was most impressed that the trem was set up properly! The neck is superb and very playable, fret dressing professionally done, setup spot on, electronics better than expected, pots and switch are clean sounding, pickups are stronger than I expected with the possible exception of the single coil. Intonation also was on ( a real surprise ). I will be doing a much more in-depth review as I get time. For now she's on the practice stand and coming to my next gig (tonight). How is it that you guys can rate this guitar poorly without ever touching one?!!!
    djcheesmo
    Lastly, what teacher recomends an electric guitar to learn on? properly it should be acoustic so you get to feel tone and string and build them calouses.But that is only my opinion.
    JimiJames42
    Well, I ordered one based primarily on this review (noting the only negatives were from those who'd never touched one). I'm patiently waiting for it to clear customs and will be back to share my experience. Well met.
    GMoorefan84
    From personal experience, I can appreciate that students will often desire guitars that are "out of reach". As a young student I always wanted a 1958/1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard like my hero - Gary Moore. Unfortunately, my parents could not afford to buy me a REAL Gibson, let alone a vintage one, so I was forced to settle with a cheap Westfield copy that I bought myself from my limited income from delivering news papers. I didn't get my hands on a real Gibson Les Paul until I was in my mid-20s! Although I can proudly say it was definitely worth the wait, I never regretted buying that Westfield as it kept the dream alive! That's how I see the Freya J-EM: Far from a true Ibanez, but enough to make a student very happy in the meantime!
    djcheesmo
    boys and girls wow relax lol, if you only knew that 150L given to the proper Chinese craftsman could actualy buy you a very personal and even hand made guitar, it is all in where and from whom you buy.
    djcheesmo
    I own many Ibanez including the real deal 1993 and yes it plays fantastic, I also have a copy from korea that i have worked on the neck,etc, the bridge was replaced by a german floyd, and yea that is my main axx when i play at a bar that pays next to nil while saving my real beauty home,if this axx gets broken oh well.get the point?? it is all in your fingers, how you play ,what you feel while playing, it all comes out regardless of a $4000 guitar or 40 dollar guitar, stop thinking if you had EVO or FLO you'd be a god too.
    steve987
    Of course, I do not compare this guitar in any way to an original Ibanez JEM. Nobody could expect a guitar purchased for 150 to compete with a 2000 guitar.
    Read before you flame?
    colm c
    Freya are actually pretty decent for how much you pay, Ive played them a couple of times and while not amazing theyre pretty good.
    DoubleBassCrash
    GMoorefan84 wrote: First of all I would like to apologise to anyone who was offended by the text at the top of the review next to the picture. Unfortunately, the second sentence has been completely taken out of context and is not of my doing! Secondly, in reponse to MarkoakaNiggaK's accusations: I am an independent guitar teacher and in no way associated with or in the employment of Freya Musical Instruments. I am simply a satisfied customer! Lastly, and most importantly, I do not believe that the Freya guitar compares with an original Ibanez JEM in any way! I own no less than 3 Ibanez guitars myself and have a very high regard for the quality of build, sound and playability of their instruments! My evaluation of the Freya J-EM was in comparison with other SIMILARLY PRICED budget guitars, and not with a top-of-the-range Ibanez! I personally do not see the harm in a young student who wants to upgrade from their cheap Encore or Squier Strat copy to an "affordable" guitar that at least looks like the guitar that they really want?! I do agree with DoubleBassCrash that a cheap copy will never be the same as the real deal but how many 11 or 12 year olds can get a payment plan for a Ibanez JEM7V? Also, as stated in the review, parents are equally unwilling to pay 2000+ for their child's instrument and have been asking me to find a "cheaper alternative", hence the basis of this review! I do appreciate all your comments and thank you for sharing your opinions!
    True, I see your point, but then again some parents might invest in an instrument like that for their 11 or 12 year old kiddo if they show great interest and a marked improvement on their current instrument. I grew up in a household of musicians, I started out with a cheapo korean Epiphone, i couldn't get my first high end Japanese Prestige Ibanez until I showed them it was worth the investment. Parents don't want to buy their kids expensive stuff that's just going to end up being a fad. So I definitely hear you loud and clear. I was 11 when I got that Epiphone, I had to wait until I was 16 before I got my first Japanese Prestige guitar, 'course back then the musician's I knew were "we only play American instruments" so I was constantly frowned upon, lol. I speak from my experience on waiting, I could I have had a handful of other cheapo guitars between the ages of 11 and 16, but the wait (for me, anyway) was well worth it. Payment plans & patience have always been my shindig, though.