JEM70V Steve Vai Signature review by Ibanez

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  • Features: 10
  • Sound: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 5.8 (10 votes)
Ibanez: JEM70V Steve Vai Signature

Price paid: £ 989

Purchased from: GAK

Features — 10
It's an JEM70V (the sea foam green one) - a Korean made JEM made in the Ibanez premium factory, it's 24 jumbo frets, a rosewood fretboard on a 5 piece maple/walnut (I think) neck with titanium reinforcements, so the neck isn't as strong as a Vigier neck but it's stronger than other necks plus it's got the tree of life inlay and if that don't make you want this guitar nothing will.

The body is made of basswood so there's nothing special to talk about the tone of basswood is very transparent I feel so yeah and as I mentioned its the sea foam green finish which looks stunning.

Its a JEM so you all should know the general shape of a JEM, super strat with the monkey grip and the large cut away, now I have had this guitar a year and damn I have never hit the back of my hand off the cut away when I'm playing a solo, it has even gotten to the point that it does feel weird when I place the back of my hand on there.

Original Ibanez edge trem so none of the fancy screw wheel stuff you get on some of the more recent S series ZR bridges so get your screw drivers out when you are changing strings kids. Seriously this trem is fantastic I'm a huge advocate of double locking trems and this is one of the best I have played, and that's including a Floyd 1000 series which is like apparently one of the best Floyds you can get without going german.

The pickups are Steve Vai's signature DiMarzio Evolution pickups and to my ear they are really sweet and almost like watery I can't explain it better than that, its an HSH configuration with a 5 way blade selector switch, the humbuckers aren't overly bright but with enough gain they really sing. Clearing up and splitting the coils you can get an almost pseudo Strat or even Tele sound with the correct amp settings. 

The machine heads are just standard Ibanez machine heads nothing special but they are accurate with tuning and if I didn't use the locking nut or the trem I'm sure they would hold tuning perfectly.

When I bough the guitar it came in a very nice hardshell case which was beautifully lined and moulded to the guitars shape, the case candy was some spare bushels, a spare spring and a small multi tool with all the allen keys and screw drivers for changing strings and so on.

Sound — 10
It's a JEM I keep reiterating that but it's true, it's probably the most versatile "signature" guitars out there so it suits almost all styles of music, I'm a huge Vai fan (funnily enough) but I also love Satch, Paul Gilbert, Yngwie Malmsteen, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman and Guthrie Govan. Then getting to the more extreme styles I like Mayhem, Morbid, Death, Marduk, Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth. So the guitar is versatile as hell putting it mildly. 

I have currently a Marshall Valvestate 200, its a solid state 100 watt 3 channel 2 twelve combo and I think it sounds beautiful though I do have my eyes on another amp. (Any guesses what it may be? Yes you in the green shirt). A Carvin Legacy 3 and a matching Legacy 4 twelve cab. Pedal wise I own a Dunlop Standard Cry Baby so the only distortion I use is the guitar into the gain channel of the amp

The guitar is dead quiet even on the single coil (I guess that's why they call them hum cancelling single coils) even on the high gain channel with the gain dimed (don't you judge me) but I can get most sounds I'd need out of this thing from Steve Vai to Winery Dogs to Cannibal Corpse and everything in between give or take the authenticity of actual EMGs for the Cannibal Corpse stuff.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
When I got this guitar from the store it traveled from the south of england all the way up to the east of Scotland during the middle of January so a little bit of neck movement and tuning issues were expected, but when she showed up the strings were a little flat but that was it no other issues with the neck set up I love the way it came, set up with D'Addario 10s which I was going to change them to anyway but I didn't need to all I had to do for the set up was lower the middle pickup as that's where I pick but other than that she was perfectly set up.

Cosmetically there are tiny little flaws in the nooks and crannies of the guitar, where the in put jack goes in the pain hasn't fully coated there but honestly I'm nit picking to F*** to find a flaw but just cause I found one I'm having to put it as a 9.

Reliability & Durability — 10
The guitar could easily with stand live playing so long as you don't either light it on fire, throw it headstock first into the ground or hold it by the trem arm and shake it so much you snap the trem completely, but you know who would do that *cough* Pete Townsend *cough* but yeah just playing this guitar live with a fresh set of stretched strings, you could easily play a gig with this guitar without changing unless you break a string.

The hardware will last as long as it does, if you pour a beer into the pickup every night then they won't last, if you care and love the guitar they will last or if you play the guitar and use it as a guitar then yes they will last, I'm sure the only way you could ruin the hardware is if you were careless or violent with it.

The strap buttons are solid but I would never ever gig without strap locks I don't know if its just paranoia or just wanting my guitar to be safe but never gig with strap buttons regardless of how solid they are, but if you are just playing round the house or going to a friends to jam yeah the strap buttons would hold up exceptionally well.

To the in experienced gigger looking at this review, NEVER EVER GIG WITHOUT A BACKUP. Ahh now that's off my chest I can explain, you never know what's going to happen, if you have just put a fresh set of strings on an hour before the gig and you are convinced they won't break don't chance it, take it from experience I was teching for a friends band and their guitar player was playing a Kramer with a Floyd (which was set up horribly but they wouldn't let me fix it cause it would take too much time apparently) and I was stood at the side of the stage and his b string snapped, he looked at me in horror and rage as if I done something (which I didn't, just cause I had wire cutters in my pocket doesn't mean I done anything) but yeah he then proceeded to throw his maple bodied Kramer at me and order me to put new strings on it in 5 minutes. So folk that haven't gigged before. ALWAYS TAKE A BACKUP even if its your crappy Strat take it.

And now back to the review. The finish I don't think will wear off, but then again there's different kinds of sweat and there's different kinds of playing and so on, I don't think I could wear the paint away any time soon but that's just me.

Overall Impression — 10
My overall impression is very positive one I love this guitar I love the feel, the look, the sound and everything. It fits my music so well which as I have said consists of mainly instrumental rock like Vai and Satriani, but also classical influenced stuff and even punk if that's what my band mates want to jam this guitar does it all.

I have been playing around 10 years and in the years I have been playing I own a rubbish 3/4 nylon string classical, a beginner rubbish knock off Strat that has so much sentimental value I would never part with it, a Jackson Dinky JS32T and a ESP LTD Alexi 600 pink sawtooth which in itself is amazing. Amps wise I have a rubbish 15 watt practice amp that I never use but I give it to my friends if they want to jam, I used to own a Line 6 Spider IV 30 watt combo but I sold that a few years back in order to make room for my pride and joy amp my current beast my Marshall Valvestate that I mentioned before, and the only pedal I use is a standard Dunlop Cry Baby was. 

If it will be stolen I would be a little bit miffed but I think that would be the same for most people, and you ask me would I buy it again? In a heartbeat its the perfect guitar for me there is not a thing about it I would change I love every little detail, as the great John Legend put it "love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections" which makes me think he was singing about a guitar even though he is a piano player (he may play guitar in his spare time but I have no idea).

20 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Wait, a guitar worth £1k has a basswood body? Jeez
    It has a basswood body because that's what Steve wants and uses. One of the Ibanez Vai sig model videos has him explaining why he wants basswood bodies.
    It does make me wonder why then on the JEM7V it has an alder body. To me it looks like a way of cutting costs but still charging a high amount of money.
    Vai and Satch and I think EVH too all use basswood. There's a reason for that. Its light, and cuts through nicely. It's not to cut costs.
    Yeah, it wasn't the basswood I had a problem with, it is a nice sounding wood, however it is generally on cheaper guitars. The thing I was questioning was why on this guitar, which isn't the top end model, does it have basswood as the body but on the more expensive JEM's they use alder. To me, this looks like a way for them to cut the cost of the JEM but still charge a high amount of money. The same thing happens with the JS guitars.
    The JS line has always been basswood. The bulk of the JEMs and all universes have been basswood. Its just the JEM7vwh that happens to be alder, but pretty much every other guitar that Vai plays is basswood with the exception of the acrylic one. Nothing with the choice in wood is associated with cost. Ibanez cuts cost via cheaper manufacturing locations.
    I highly doubt that changing a body from high-grade alder to high-grade basswood creates any savings that should affect prices. I think it's more to do with availability.
    Have you ever heard of unknown brands such as Suhr/Ernie Ball Music Man/Tom Anderson? Have a look what most of their guitars are made of. I too once thought that Basswood is inferior. I was wrong .
    $2000 for a KOREAN Guitar?!?! You people are ****ing LOONEY. You can get an American Deluxe Strat for that!
    Complaining about basswood body, rosewood fretboard, and now that it's not made in the US... This comments section contains every dumb cliche possible at this point.
    Sorry, but a guitar made with labor rates that are 1/20th of American should not cost double an American made guitar that has been played on almost every famous recording in the history of modern music. NO guitar made outside North America or Japan should cost ANY more than $700.
    My main guitar (with a Strat). I really enjoy playing this guitar. Just want to practice watching this beauty !
    The way you use punctuation is atrocious.
    anyone commenting on someone's else punctuation,. is atrocious and a *!",.
    Basswood body and rosewood fretboard...I'm sorry, but a guitar at this price should have better wood.
    thing is whats better for you may not be better for other people, i like the basswood and rosewood combination, i hate the sound of mahogany so you see better is purely preferential
    Love Steve Vai and the Jem line of guitars, but a guitar with a double locking trem does not scream "versatility" to me!? (how was my punctuation??)