|Body And Neck:|
Steve Vai and Ibanez go together like pizza and beer! What a combination, as the popularity of Steve Vai signature models prove. Today we’re looking at the JEM77WDP – nicknamed ‘Woody’ for obvious reasons. While it’s not the most expensive guitar in the Steve Vai signature collection, it still comes in at under $2000 – a sizeable sum for most of us. Let’s find out if it’s a worthy investment…
First up, the looks – and wow, the JEM77WDP features an incredible design which makes it an obvious addition to the JEM series, but a unique one at the same time. It features the classic Ibanez Superstrat body shape, with double cutaways and a scale length of 25”. Earning its Woody nickname, this model sports a solid mahogany body with a walnut top, enhanced with a low-gloss warm charcoal brown finish.
The sturdy and sleek neck also makes use of walnut, alternating with maple, and features the slim Wizard profile for sensational playability. Attached to this is a nice rosewood fretboard, completed with 24 jumbo frets and the distinctive Tree of Life fretboard inlay. In addition to this is the equally familiar monkey grip handle in the body, while unique decoration includes a striking wooden pickguard and control knobs. With some advanced finishing techniques, such as Ibanez’s premium fret edge treatment, this JEM is a joy to play and the overall build quality is hard to fault.
Onto hardware and electronics, and this awesome guitar is loaded with three DiMarzio Dark Matter 2 pickups – a single-coil in the middle, sandwiched by two humbuckers with custom pickup grills at the bridge and neck. These passive ceramic pickups are super-hot and tended to by simple controls – just a master volume, master tone and a pickup selector switch.
The JEM77WDP also comes fitted with a very solid Edge-Zero II tremolo bridge for huge vibrato capabilities, as well as a locking nut for extra tuning stability. The tuners on the headstock (which beautifully match the wooden pickguard) are chrome and give a feeling of precision when used. This guitar also arrives with a softshell case to give it a little protection while in transit.
As you’d expect, the super-hot DiMarzio combo gives huge power although they soften out the higher-end so everything sounds well-balanced. It’s actually a very deep and warm guitar in tone, helped by both the pickups and wood choices, but make no mistakes – it’s still a beast in terms of output. Pretty much any tone, clean or distorted, is easy to come by thanks to the trio of pickups, although high-gain lead playing is where this baby really excels.
Ultimately the JEM77WDP is a great purchase for any guitarist who loves high-end rock or metal, although you wouldn’t be condemned for playing blues or jazz on this beauty! The tone is powerful but refined, the playability is second-to-none, and the style is so unique. A real treasure and not bad value considering the premium price.