Saturday, August 17, 2019

Review: Ibanez Jem 77 BFP

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are reviewing one of the best sounding guitars I have ever tried: an Ibanez Jem 77 BFP (blue floral pattern), made in Japan in the early '90s (this model has been in production from 1991 to 1996, and it's considered today one of the best of its serie).

The Jem serie is still in production today (although most of the models are now manufactured in Indonesia), and it has been created by the guitar hero Steve Vai: he has designed a guitar so unique and comfortable that still after 30 years is one of the best sellers of the company.
The Ibanez Jem has been sold throught the years in countless versions: its lineup ranges from very affordable models all the way up to several thousand of dollars ones, and this 77 bfp that I have been playing for a while is a top of the line version made in Japan, one of the early originals.

The guitar is a superstrat model, as the '80s guitar heroes wanted: similar to a stratocaster but with a Lo Pro Edge tremolo (very similar to a Floyd Rose), a much faster neck, hotter pickups (Di Marzio PAF), premium woods and build quality, and a look that draws attention;
the guitar features in facts a gorgeous blue floral pattern both in the body and in the fretboard, the neck is 25.5" and has 24 jumbo frets, in maple, and it's as fast as it gets.

Another particularity is the fact that the Ibanez Jem features a cutout in the body that serves as a "handle", like it's a luggage: it is called "Monkey Grip" and it is sometimes used by Steve Vai in his live performances.

You can really tell the premium attention this guitar received when it was built: it is made for the most demanding players, and still today it has a market value of 2500 $.

So far I have described the looks but how does it sound?

The version I have tried had active EMGs, the 81 and 85, pickups that I had also in other guitars, so I could make a recording comparison with another guitar with the same pickups to hear the differences in the wood (recording that unfortunately I have lost, because I have made it several years ago), and I can assure that this guitar is the best sounding guitar I've ever tried, the tone is sparkling, perfectly balanced, the bass is tight and the midrange is very sweet, and you can really tell where the money go in a high end guitar compared with a low end one: even if the wood is the same type, it can be super cheap or very expensive,  and this, combined to the build quality, makes the difference in the end.

Besides how it sounds, you can tell the difference by how it FEELS: the neck of a high end Ibanez guitar it's like melted butter under the fingers (and in this specific model the higher frets are also "scalloped"), and it really helps you, it's easier to play and encourages you to go faster.

Thumbs up!


- Number of control knobs: 2 control knobs

- Pickup selector controls: 5-way selector switch

- Pickups brand and model: DiMarzio JEM single coil pickup(s), DiMarzio PAF Pro pickup(s), DiMarzio pickup(s)

- Pickups configuration: 2 humbuckers and 1 single coil pickup

- Finish colors: blue finish

- Graphics: floral or plant graphics

- Made in: Japan

- Scale length: 25.5 inches scale-length

- Body material: basswood body

- Body shape features: double cutaway, monkey grip

- Body style: super strat style body

- Pickguard material: transparent pickguard

- Hardware: Bridge Lo Pro Edge tremolo

- Hardware color: black hardware

- Fingerboard material: maple fingerboard

- Fingerboard position: markers vine fingerboard position markers

- Neck: Neck joint bolt on neck

- Neck material: maple neck

- Number of frets: 24 

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