Ibanez JEM 555 (Steve Vai model)

Guitar

Made by Ibanez

Description 24 fret guitar with 3 pickups and tremolo arm
Posted By Wim Deblauwe (258)
Directory Equipment: Guitars
Rate/Review This Resource
Overall Rating: 4.0 (of 5)
Rating Votes %
1 14 ||
5 71 ||
1 14 ||
0 0 ||
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From 7 votes total

Member Reviews


On 2/16/2004, Carlos Eduardo Seo (900) posted:
Overall Rating:
After watching Steve Vai live in 2000, I decided to buy a JEM. The only one I could find was the low-end 555. I took it home and since then it's my main axe. After the mods I made, it's the best guitar I've ever played. The only thing that still bothers me is the ugly half-vine inlay.
Model Year: 2000
Price: $900.00 (new)
Where Obtained: Timbres Instrumentos Musicais
Features:
- Made: Korea.
- Materials: Basswood body, maple neck and rosewood fretboard. Pearloid vine inlays to fret 12; pearloid dots elsewhere.
- Frets: 24 Ibanez SBB215-150 'Jumbo' frets.
- Controls: 1 Volume and 1 Tone knobs and a 5-way switch.
- Pickups: DiMarzio Evolution humbuckers (neck and bridge), DiMarzio JEM Custom single coil (middle), passive electronics.
- Body: white RG-style body with monkey grip and lion claws tremolo cavity.
- Bridge: Ibanez Lo-TRS II (Floyd Rose Licensed).
- Tuners: double locking.

It's one of the finest instruments made in Korea. The pickups are great and the construction has minor flaws (bad paint job inside the pickup/electronics cavity and poor electrostatic shielding and grounding). The ugly things here are the half-vine inlay and the 'Steve Vai' inlay on fret 24. They should have made a full vine on this one. The tremolo is terrible and much inferior to the Lo-Pro Edge. Overall, it has decent features for a budget signature guitar.
Playability:
Playing it out-of-the-box, I felt there was something missing here. The tremolo has too much bar play and the finish on the back of the neck is too abrasive. Despite all this, the neck has great playability and it's very fast. The jumbo frets really help on high-speed runs.

I must say I had to mod this thing a little. I sanded the back of the neck and removed all the finish, leaving it in natural wood. With this simple modification, the neck has become even more confortable. Another thing I have done: I coated the insertion arm of the tremolo bar with nail polish. This has reduced bar play and now it's a great playing guitar!
Sound Quality:
I play this through a lot of effect pedals and two amps: a Fender and a Marshall, and I must say this is the most versatile guitar I've ever played. Blues, jazz, rock, everything sounds good on this thing. The Evolution pickups have a lot of sustain and the sound is perfectly clear. An awsome-sounding guitar!
Durability:
It's reliable enough for live playing, but as it has a floating tremolo, I wouldn't play it live without a backup. The only adjustment I haev to do is fine tune the guitar. The rest seem to stay where you adjusted them (truss rod, intonation, action, etc).
On 5/20/2002, Daniel Verberne (875) posted:
Overall Rating:
A very solid machine really, I would go for the upper model, the JS-1000 if I had had the cash at the time, but my girlfriend of the time came first :)

These days i'd go for the JS-1000 without though :) The pickups are the main sticking point, along with the much better neck and playability of the JS-1000.

Overall this guitar is great for the intermediate player who maybe admires the tone of a player like Joe Satriani but wants a guitar that can be flexible enough to dial in lots of different tones.
Price: $1600.00 US $800 (new)
Where Obtained: Allans Music, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Features:
This is a Korean Made model. Check the Ibanez site for the specifics of the standard JS-100 guitar setup.
Playability:
The action that can obtained on this model is very good, however adjustment of string tuning across the neck will mean (with most floating bridge setups) an adjustment of the intonation, etc. Pickup wise, this guitar is quite capable to deliver some rich, warm and fat tones. However, since I have not had the pleasure of playing the next model up (The older, more refined brother, the JS-1000, see review on this site), I cannot claim the pickups on this guitar are fantastic. I am using this guitar thru a good quality amp, a Marshall Valvestate 2000 amp, and I get really nice tones, from really harsh, treble-laden lead tones, to thicker, warmer jazzy tones. If I had a problem with this guitar is that the intonation can go out quite easily and the pickups are a far-cry from the Fred pickups on the JS-1000 (Apparently). I've created some nice recordings, however, which this guitar, so if you want to play a nice electric and don't have the means to go the extra mile (or 50-60 miles!) to buy a JS-1000, this model is a nice compromise. Make sure you have a nice amp to take advantage of it though! Cheers!
Sound Quality:
Great variety of tonal colours.... Once again, amp dependent too to a large extent...
Durability:
Climatic changes affect this guitar a fair bit, not that I test it by putting it in the freezer than playing it out under the sunlight, but I just notice that its tuning can go out quite easily, even with a decent truss rod adjustment and fairly new strings.
On 5/4/2002, Archie Sanchez (350) posted:
Overall Rating:
For the looks you'd be hard-pressed to find another guitar this exotic looking.looks great onstage or off, but if you have a bit more cash id recommend those other pricier jems......(sigh).......
Price: $500.00
Where Obtained: auction
Features:
Very light, dimarzio pickups & beautiful vine inlay up to the 12th fret.mine has a black finish, and a 5-way selector for the pickup.
Playability:
My model's neck is pretty warped, and i can get that close-to -buzzing action without the strings actually buzzing against the frets.and the neck is pretty flat, so les paul players beware.but due to the super thin neck it still plays better than most other guitars ive played.
Sound Quality:
I currently dont have a decent amp, so im using it with my sony component hehehe...sounds pretty good.when i plug it in a real amp the dimarzios are excellent and cast a warm sound. i can get that vai-esque tone with only a few tweaks on my effects.with a little reverb and delay you'd be screaming in no time!!!
Durability:
Unfortunately, the 555 doesnt have a truss rod so you have to b careful with the neck.changes in string gauge greatly affect the stability of the bridge, and you have to adjust it after every string gauge change.of course you have to consider that my model is only secondhand......my suggestion is to stick with one tuning and gauge for best results...
On 7/5/2000, Peppe Lahtinen (1754) posted:
Overall Rating:
Very good guitar for people who seek modern tone and good playability.
Features:
Playability:
No complaints here. Very light and easy to play. The neck might be too shallow for some players.
Sound Quality:
The body of this guitar vibrates well and after you add high-quality pickups and good workmanship the sound is obviously good. However the pickups are little too overpowering for my taste.
Durability:
On 11/3/1999, Wim Deblauwe (258) posted:
Overall Rating:
not cheap but very good sound. If I'm honest i bought it for the looks but i kept it for the sound.
Price: $35000.00 BEF (new)
Where Obtained: Music Verschelde Kortrijk (Belgium)
Features:
Playability:
Sound Quality:
The different pickups (humbucker, single coil and again humbucker) all give a different sound wich is very nice. The single coil produces a lower output than the humbucker wich is probably normal but here it is really a lot quiter.
Durability:
I got it 4 years now and no major problems so far.