Back in 1990, my elder sister offered a subscription to a magazine of choice and my brother and I picked “Guitare & Claviers”, a french magazine that kept us posted about everything concerning this wonderful instrument, the guitar. Each issue had at least an Ibanez ad with Steve Vai on it posing as the ultimate guitar god.
For those who weren’t there, this was the reign of hair bands and shred guitar in rock music since Edward Van Halen opened the gate and before Kurt Cobain shut it all. Van Halen’s home made guitar set the benchmark for who ever wanted to go his route and Kramer was the brand that ruled until Ibanez took over in 1987 with their most famous endorsee: Steve Vai. I was soon a big fan of the guy’s music and needed a weapon of choice.
Ibanez brand started as a cheap made in Japan alternative to American golden age guitar models such as Fender Telecaster, Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul, Explorer or Flying V. But of course the fun stopped with a lawsuit in 1977, forcing Ibanez to rethink their products. A decade later, they came up with the Jem series, inspired by Steve Vai’s stage favorite tool named Green Meanie. Bill Reim, Mace Bailey and Rich Lasner, the Ibanez USA guys along with Hoshino, the Japanese part of the brand and the Fujigen factory with Makoto “Nick” Sugimoto, the man who built the guitar, joined forces to please the guitar star. The Jem had it all: pointy horns, day-glo colors, super fast neck, a double locking tremolo system and a wonderful pickup layout that promised to mix the best of Les Paul-ish sounds with Stratish ones: my dream guitar!
Of course being a broke teenager I couldn’t afford the real deal, but Ibanez thought of kids like I was, the RG series was there to fulfill our dreams for a fraction of the price.
Fast forward, I finally got my hands on a JEM FP from the first batch produced in an outstanding condition and it doesn’t disappoint. 🙂