Ibanez Jem 7v review

Mr Via's favourite axe gets another addition to the range

  • £1899
Love it or hate it, the JEM looks like nothing else

MusicRadar Verdict

It's a JEM, what more can you say?


  • +

    Ergonomic design. Cool features.


  • -

    Divisive scalloped frets.

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Back in 1986, Steve Vai found an unexpected parcel under his Christmas tree; it turned out to be a prototype sent to him by Ibanez. Vai loved it and hooked up with the Japanese giant to design the legendary JEM.


The original JEMs made the world choke on its coffee, and the spec is still impressive.

Vai's influence is everywhere on the 7V, from the elongated Strat stylings of the alder body and the scalloped top frets, to such cosmetic fripperies as the monkey-grip and 'Vine Of Life' fret inlays.

It also features a five-piece maple/walnut neck, shaped to his preferred depth of 19mm, an Edge Pro tremolo and a trio of DiMarzio Evolutions.


Instantly identifiable on the shelf, the 7V is equally assertive when you plug in.

The body is a like a 'go-faster' Strat, with deep cutaways that let you cruise freely across the two octaves while waggling the highly responsive trem.

The neck is a little fatter than you might expect, but this is an ergonomic player and quickly feels like an extension of your arm.

Vai's unique pickup switching system remains one of the JEM's most compelling selling points.

Selecting each pickup individually unlocks warmth and character at the neck, a classy singlecoil snap in the middle, and a beefy sneer at the bridge.

You can then try the more unusual voicings in positions two and four, where the middle combines with the inner coil of each humbucker.

So as you might expect, we loved the 7V. Sorry Steve, you ain't getting it back.

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