JEM555 Steve Vai Signature review by Ibanez

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.6 (135 votes)
Ibanez: JEM555 Steve Vai Signature

Price paid: $ 1281

Purchased from: Sound Control

Sound — 9
I play power metal/metal/rock, bit of satch, bit of Opeth, bit of Symphony X. Similar ish sounds in some cases, but overall it suits my style. I have also found my self playing a few other genres, including indie and funk, it's a little excitable as the pickups have a high output, but I love that aspect of this guitar.

Overall Impression — 10
Other than the initial part of it needing a setup the guitar is beautiful, it may not have the full vine inlay of the JEM7, but it's still a great looking, and great playing guitar, it turns heads! I can't really compare it to any other guitars of a similar price range, as I haven't played any, but compared to a 300 stage master or a 200 daisyrock/schecter it blows them out of the water, but then again you would expect it to.

Reliability & Durability — 9
Strap buttons were fine, but I replaced them with a DiMarzio clicklock strap. Seems solid, doesn't go out of tune that easy. The only reason I wouldn't gig without a backup would be incase a string went and I had to quickly switch to one with 6 strings still on it! Other than that I'd have no problems gigging with just this guitar.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
When it came from the factory it had a poor setup, but since I took it to the guitar tech at sound control it's a beauty to play. It was ok to begin with, but now it's fantastic after the action was sorted. it's a comfortable fit, if that's what you mean. The finish is nice on it, may need the occasional clean, but it shines after a quick wipe with a microfibre. I adjusted the Edge for 10's instead of 9's.

Features — 10
Comes with a Jem neck, similar to the wizard II, Di Marzio evolution pickups HSH, double locking Edge III bridge (according to flight case included. Jumbo frets, basswood body, mother of pearl Tree of life vine inlay 3-12 frets. Also a "Steve Vai" clear inlay at the 24th fret. Volume, tone, 5 way selector, trem arm. I think it was at least a 2004 model, made in Korea.

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    WOW all this talk about the Jem555. lol You have me really worried now, I just purchased a used Jem555 over the phone from a Guitar Store and Im getting it today. I did play the guitar last week and it seemed to be a really good player. I read the comments here then went looking around, and I found out that there were alot of fake Jem555's made in China and usually sold on auction sites like ebay and being listed from Hong Kong. There is a site that shows all the counterfeit Jem555's and if you know anything at all about a jem, you can tell the fake a mile away. But I take it that is not what your talking about. Im still excited about going to pick up my Jem555 today but the first thing im looking at is the bridge, if its not a Edge II then I will tell them to forget it. I will just stick with my Ibanez RGT42DXFM, and I know that isnt a Fake lol. Rock on everyone
    A lot of very uneducated people here (get your facts straight) The pickups are awesome - wide variety of sounds. Clean tones through a valve amp are awesome. Blah blah blah ! GOOD guitar.
    Cougz2112 wrote: Think ive been put of buying one of these now because i want the thing to stay in tune! izzit really that bad?
    its not that bad because the newer ones comes with the Edge III, they are generally much better than the lo-trs that the old jem555 has(they are HORRIBLE!!) and i STRONGLY suggest you set up the guitar yourself! the factory set up is SH*T. stays in tune fairly well(might go out of tune by a couple of cents tho) but to the inexperienced ears they wont be able to tell the difference! so gigging with it shouldnt be a big problem
    Think ive been put of buying one of these now because i want the thing to stay in tune! izzit really that bad?
    People...People.. TO all the ones saying this clownery about the JEM555 is "fake": just remember when this one was the last release,and everyone of you were saying :"that's the last ! Woohoo so it's the best !"... Please stop this 'VAI competition' it is ridiculous. I can't wait for another JEM to be released, so everyone will say that the JEM7V is now fake... I would pay to hear Steve talking about this guitar finally,so then you'll all lick his ass... Ciao
    i dont understand why so many people are bashing it, sure its not the JEM7V. but that doesnt mean its not the JEM, from my point of view a guitar is a guitar, i bet if the JEM7V was cheaper than the JEM555, all you fanboys will cry about how the JEM7 is a fake. sure the lo-TRS was a mistake, but they fixed it with the new EDGE III, its not EDGE-Pro or the FR, but its half decent and if you are a good guitarist you can make it sound better than any JEM7 played by a noob. so overall i think its a pretty good guitar, might not measure up to the JEM7V but it is by no means a shitty guitar (pardon my french)
    OMG Not a real JEM? It may not be a JEM you like.. but it is what it's called. And Ibanez calls it a Jem. Therefor it's a Jem numbnuts.
    well jem555 is a great guitar in my opinion but it depends on the setup on the bridge the olny problem i had was the nut stripping but i had a free replacement anyway and ummm jem 555 is not fake it is more of a prototype but not fake and look at the JS-100 you think because its the lowest level of the JS series its fake? pffft kinda dumb if you ask me... but anyway final opinion if this is setup right the bridge will be fine and if you dont go retarded on it you'll make it last.
    Lolz it's not really a big deal to me wether it's a "fake" Jem or not, it's a real guitar, so just look at how it plays. I agree that this guitar is of lower quality than the other jems. But we cant really compare them that way since it's meant to be a cheaper model. It's a great guitar for its price. But for people looking for the steve Vai sound it probably wouldnt quite do it. Then again, if you dont have the skills, the real jem wouldnt do it for you ethier
    the staggerwing
    okay my turn: 1.It says Ibanez 2.It is on vai's personal site and still say it's fake??? wrong!!! it's real deal but the rich spoilt boys only think a 7v is a real jem because it's price, but, if you want THE ONLY REAL JEM 7V FLO you have to kill steve vai and steal the guitar.
    JEM 555 are real. I used to own one until I switched to the Ibanez JEM7V. Jem 555's aren't that bad, they were pretty good when I had it for 3 years. I only modified the Bridge to an Edge Pro. There was nothing wrong with it at all, even with such low action, it didn't have fret-buzz. The JEM333's are the ones that are usually fake. They may not be well known about but the JEM333's are the main ones being faked.
    Ibanez dont make the real JEMs for left handed people so this guitar is one of my only options for a good Ibanez that looks class as well as plays good.
    i bought this guitar for 680 pounds and i love it. it wont go out of tune easily. i have a very low action without fret-buzz the pick-ups sounds great, the whole guitar in my opinion is amazing and is the best guitar i have played.
    Some people are yuppies - you make me sick ! I have this guitar, the white one, and the reviews given were pretty accurate (except for the idiots who claim it's fake) Is an Epiphone fake cause it's not a Gibson? If it's so fake point out what's diffrent than the original. Don't just bash the guitar for nothing you sissies! The only thing that irritates me about my guitar is the locked tremelo system - if the bridge falls due to a string that snapped you need to be patient and set up the bridge all over again, however you can get a spring that holds the bridge straight the whole time, making life a bit easier . It takes extremely long to tune. PLaying live without a backup would be risky - a string snaps the gig's over. The only diffrence between this guitar and Steve's is the hardware. The pickups, wood / neck are the same. Overall, I would rate every category a nine except for Reliability. When I do have enough money I'll buy the original with the Tree of Life inlay. [quote]rancidryan wrote:its a real jem Noted.
    imoeng wrote: fake jem!! no offense...
    i love the fact you research from a fan site its a real jem
    Dont be a prick, its not a fake JEM, a fake JEM7V perhaps, but that doesnt make it any less of a JEM than any of the others. Besides, not everyone can afford nearly 2 grand either you snotty twat.
    1. It aint fake. 2. Yes, other places make it aswell. Doesn't make it 'fake'. It works, it everything an awesome guitar needs. Its almost identical to the 7v. Seriously, the critics are bogus. Look at the specs, Almost Identical.
    dude, you guys complain too much. if you can't make a cheap guitar sound good then you fail as a guitarist, period. the jem555 isn't even considered a low quality guitar, just low quality compared to the jem. again, if you need awesome tech and all that shit, you're not a guitarist. i can, and know over people who can make a squire sound descent. its all on your set-up, not your gear. don't be such a baby.
    Esta guitarra esta buena, pero la descripcion creo que esta incorrecta, Este modelo trae un puente edgeIII. El mismo reemplaza al lo-trs/II. Estos ultimos que menciono eran bastante inestables, el II mas que el lo-trs. Estuve a punto de comprar una. El sonido era excelente, pero tenia roto el mango y no me intereso. Esta guitarra no se comercializa en EEUU justamente por la mala calidad del puente de las primeras series. Pero este modelo con el nuevo edgeIII es excelente. Saludos!
    I think people are misunderstanding the use of "fake". Yes it's an Ibanez. Yes it's a JEM. But it's fake in the sense that it's a lower quality, Korean made, guitar that shouldn't be sold as a JEM. I think from what I read it's basically an RG with a monkey grip sold under the JEM label. My brother bought one a couple of years ago and has had nothing but trouble with it. It constantly goes out of tune and the fret buzz (despite being set up several times) is horrendous.