Sound — 9
Amp I run through is a Marshall MGdfx30. This guitar really screams and howls, if your a metal freak or into hard-rock (anything rock for that matter) and/or shred this guitar will definitely appeal to you. Due to the high output pick-ups they really roar. The neck pick-up on distortion is very punchy and bold, rolling back the tone knob decreases the tremble and the tone becomes slightly lighter. Whilst the Bridge pick-ups just screams, notes really ring out and the sustain lasts forever. The middle pick-up (I don't really use it alot) is very quite and I seem to get a bit of hum coming out of it which I can't seem to dampen. To be honest the only thing I find this guitar to be good at is anything hard rock, thrash metal, progressive rock, soft rock, punk etc. That kind of stuff. And it does it well! definitely sound likes a Jem, and all this talk about its a fake is bull crap because mine was made in Korea and its built quality is just fine and it sings really nicely! No problems. As I have played guitar more my musical taste has grown and that is the problem I have with guitar though is sounds really good at what is does best I can't get real warm tones out of it and not alot of variety other then anything hard. No warmth. But then again its a Jem isn't it? 9/10 for the fact it sounds so good but not a perfect 10... The middle pick-ups need some working or something. On clean channel the neck pick-up booms whilst the neck pick-up is nice and crisp and the middle pick-up sound really Acoustic like, rolling the tone knob back the sound all becomes slightly more mellower. The problem with the clean is there is no real character to the sound, at times quite dull and plain, but that's basswood for ya!
Overall Impression — 8
I have been playing the guitar for nearly two years now and this guitar has been my only guitar for the past 12 months so I'm pretty sure I know what Im talking about. Like I said if your main focus is anything rock, shred or metal etc this guitar WILL satisfy your thirst! If your like me and you listen and enjoying playing a bit of blues & some jazzy warm stuff on top of rock and progressive rock which I love!! chances are you will need a back up guitar on top of the JEM 555 or just get another guitar like I have, hopefully I'm getting the JS1200. One of the only problems I have with this guitar is the edge 3, if you dip down really hard the sound goes flat and if you bend up it sounds slightly sharp maybe it needs some lubricant? I don't know. Value for money... 3.8/5... For the price you'd be far better of to get an RG Ibanez, if it came with a real good tremolo then we'd be talking but for the price a better tremolo is a must, if your a die hard Vai fan that can't afford the jem 777 you'll like the JEM 555 I'm sure, if your like me and not crazy about HIM and listen to a wide range of styles of music its not the best choice to make I think. Don't get me wrong its a great guitar but not great value for money, if you like thrash metal etc get a good RG model, remember your just paying more money for his name on it and the vine inlays don't really influence my decision on things... If you do decide to get get a JEM 555 don't by Brand New the set-up is poor out of the factory from my experience and a lot of others have said the same thing.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Should withstand gigging seems pretty hard, I'm knocked it around a few times and it hasn't shown any signs of bruising or bumps etc. Does however seem to scratch quite easily and thus shows. Just don't throw the guitar on the ground and it will hold up. All parts will have plenty of life in them if you don't do anything silly with them. They only thing I would be concerned about is snapping a string.
Action, Fit & Finish — 5
Set-up was horrible when it first arrived excessive dip in the neck, the tremolo was making a crunching noise whenever I used it and the saddle which hold the strings in the tremolo had moved forward causing bit marks in the scratch plate and as a result the intonation had be properly sorted. The guitar was returned back to the shop where a REAL set-up was made, a new scratch plate was put on and properly new springs too. When the guitar did come back it really was nice (however still needed some lubricant on the springs where it was rubbing against the body itself causing clicking noises). I was having regrets in the first place but now I'm fairly happy with it. Since then I haven't had a single problem, just needed a proper set-up that all. 5/10 for its poor set-up when I bought, but not a 0 because once st-up right its off
Features — 8
Okay this guitar is made in Korea and made in 2008 it features American Basswood body, DiMarzio Evolution pick-ups and a Edge 3 tremolo, same specs as any other JEM 555 for that matter. Included a hard case.