Steve vai custom guitar

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Steve Vai series

Steve Vai holding his JEM7V named "Evo"

For a full list of Steve Vai models, see Portal:Steve Vai series.

The Steve Vai series are several Signature lines of solid body electric guitar and acoustic/ electric guitar models offered by Ibanez. They are the signature guitars of Steven Siro "Steve" Vai (born June 6, ), an American rock guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and producer.

As a guitarist, Vai is known for its work with Alcatrazz, David Lee Roth, Frank Zappa and Whitesnake as well as for an extensive solo career of primarily instrumental rock.

As an Ibanez endorser, Steve Vai has multiple signature series products, including three distinct lines of the solid body electric guitars, the JEM, PIA and, Universe series as well as the Euphoria line of acoustic/ electric guitars.


JEM series

The initial model in the JEM line and the first signature guitar produced for Vai, the JEM, was introduced in

The design of the JEM series was influenced by the Fender Stratocaster, but with a more aggressive style. This type of guitar would come to be known as a "Super Strat". Perhaps the most instantly recognizable feature of the JEM models is the monkey grip on the upper body.

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Universe series

The seven string Universe (UV) series was introduced in The initial Universe models were the first seven string electric guitars offered by a major guitar company.

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PIA series

The PIA series is a new line of solid body six-string electric guitar models which debuted for The PIA is the initial model in this new series.

The design of the PIA is similar to Vai's JEM line, but with a yin/ying floral cutout pattern in place of the JEM's iconic Monkey grip. Other design changes include more rounded edges and a new magnetic tremolo cavity cover. In addition the PIA model includes newly designed UtoPIA pickups.


Euphoria series

The Euphoria series is a line of acoustic/ electric guitars designed with Vai. The initial model in the line, the EP7, was introduced for It was the third signature acoustic guitar offered by Ibanez following the SG10 for Stefan Grossman in the early s and the limited Paul Gilbert signature PGA in the late s.

The Euphoria series is characterized by a thin body with a pointed Florentine cutaway to allow access to the upper frets of the fret fingerboard. Special electronics allow the player to access a number of various acoustic sounds.

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Personal guitars

Steve Vai owns an plays several Ibanez guitars. Currently, he mainly uses a couple of models resembling the JEM7V production model. His current main guitar dubbed "Evo" is an early production model and "Flo" is a Floral JEM77 painted over. Due to extensive wear and tear, Vai's guitars occasionally get parts replaced, such as the tremolo and even the neck.

Most of Steve Vai's stage and studio guitars are stock or made out of stock parts, meaning that they are not specially made for him but come from the regular Ibanez production lines. Some of them do get modified to some extent, such as the installation of a sustainer pickup or a True Temperament fingerboard.

Ibanez also built a couple of custom guitars for Vai, including two heart-shaped triple neck models, another triple neck based on the JEM7V and a double neck resembling the JEM77B.

Other equipment

Steve Vai has also worked with Carvin Guitars to develop the Carvin Legacy line of guitar amplifiers. Vai wanted to create an affordable amp that was unique, and equal in sound and versatility to any guitar amp he had previously used. Vai's effects pedals include a modified Boss DS-1, Ibanez Tube Screamer, Morley Bad Horsie, Ibanez Jemini Twin Distortion Pedal, TC Electronics G-System, Morley Little Alligator Volume pedal, Digitech Whammy, and an MXR Phase 90/Phase on the Passion and Warfare album. He has used a number of rack effects units controlled via MIDI.

External links



Ibanez and Steve Vai have had a mutually beneficial relationship since the mid 80s when Ibanez produced the Vai-designed Jem guitar. Now over 30 years on, Steve continues to play the Jem with new models appearing yearly in a range that shows no signs of slowing down.

The Ibanez Jem is an immediately recognisable instrument. This 'Steve Vai guitar' has a carrying handle cut into its body for one thing! The Jem also has a wonderful vine inlay travelling up the entire length of the fingerboard as well as a long history of incredible finishes that include swirl designs, floral patterns and bright neon solid colours.

Here at guitarguitar we love Steve Vai and we love Ibanez so we are nearly always the first to get new Jem models in stock in the UK! Some of the more affordable models including the Jem JR are among our best selling guitars (especially in Desert Sun Yellow and Shocking Pink!), so we maintain large stock levels of these models in order to satisfy demand for a guitar range that refuses to conform or compromise.

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Steve Vai Shares His Private Guitar Collection

When Steve Vai appeared on the cover of the September issue of Guitar Worldto discuss his latest projects—including the new 25th-anniversary version of his masterpiece, Passion and Warfare—he agreed to let us photograph several guitars from his staggering private collection.

Below, you'll find photos of 10 guitars (mostly Ibanez), each of which is accompanied by a revealing tidbit courtesy of Vai.

To read our entire interview with Vai, head here. Enjoy!

Photos: Kevin Scanlon

Ibanez JEM SP (Shocking Pink)

“This is a reissue of one of the first JEMs that was released back in the day. In the mid Eighties I made a design for a guitar that fit the quirky musical sensibilities I was reaching for. I sent it out to a bunch of people and said, ‘Whoever makes me the best guitar—I’ll play it.’ Ibanez was the winner, hands-down, and it led to the first JEM and RG models. They were so bizarre with their fluorescent colors and their monkey grips. Ibanez must’ve been scratching their heads, thinking, What’s with this guy? But the guitars have sold pretty consistently through different trends and recessions.”

Ibanez UV77 7-string with burnt finish

“This is Bruno—a dipped multicolored seven-string that I took a blowtorch and a wire brush to in the Nineties. I have no idea why I did that; I guess I just liked the burnt-wood look. I first tried it with the natural wood aspects in my home studio and wondered what the same technique would do to a multicolored finish. You can see the guitar in the ‘For the Love of God’ video, and by the way, attempts to recreate my treatment of the finish have not been successful.”

Ibanez UV77SVR Passion and Warfare 25th Anniversary Limited Edition

“Silver is part of the Passion and Warfare 25th Anniversary seven-string release. There’s three of them—Passion, blue and pink; Warfare, orange and yellow; and Silver, silver and blue. Ibanez made different ones to match the various color combos on the cover of Passion and Warfare.”

"Bones"—custom built by Performance Guitar

“Bones was one of the predecessors to the JEM that I had made at Performance Guitar [a custom shop in Los Angeles]. There were others: Little Annie Fanny, Playboy and Cowgirl. I just went into Performance Guitar and gave them my specifications, tweaked the body shape, and requested particular pickup configurations. I later gave these designs to Ibanez and they refined them to make me the beautiful instrument that became the original JEM.”

"Flo"—modified Ibanez JEM77 with true-temperament neck

“We’ve done a lot of different JEM variations, including a white phase. Flo started out with a floral finish, but was redone in white. It has a true-temperament neck—hence the crazy, wavy frets—and a Fernandes Sustainer pickup. It’s one of the guitars I usually tour with: a real workhorse, and a warm place to call home.”

"Woody"—custom Ibanez JEM

“Woody is yet another example of a makeover that the JEM has seen—with a legacy guitar like this, we’ve gotten to fool around with all kinds of aesthetics. This one is completely different than any other JEM. It’s got a highly polished mahogany body, and the pickups are ones I worked on with Larry DiMarzio specifically for the guitar—they’ve got a brightness that compensates for the warmth of the mahogany. Then there are those cool steampunk covers [designed by Michael Mesker].”

Ibanez Jem77 7-string baritone

“One of the cool things about having had such a close relationship with Ibanez for so many years is that they’ve made me basically any guitar I can think of. Many years ago, I saw a baritone guitar and thought, That’s interesting—I should have one. That’s how this particular guitar came about.”

Ibanez JEM77 Floral Pattern

“My wife and I had just moved into this home in Hollywood and were decorating it. We found a curtain fabric we liked and when it came time to make another JEM I thought, How cool would it be to have this on a guitar? Ibanez figured out how to get the fabric to stay on an instrument, and it made for probably the best-sounding JEM. It must have something to do with how the fabric interacts with the wood. Ibanez ended up buying all the remaining fabric from the manufacturer and quickly ran out. Later, when we changed the décor in our house, I sent the old curtains to Ibanez so they could make more floral-pattern JEMs. Some people are actually playing guitars with fabric from my living room!”

Fender Stratocaster “Sticker Strat”

“One day when I was 15 or 16 I went up to my bedroom and found that my mother had woven $ into the strings of my acoustic guitar with a note that said, ‘This is for your Stratocaster.’ I ran to Matthew Music at Roosevelt Field [a shopping center in Long Island, New York] and bought this natural-wood Strat. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in my life, and I played it all the way through my Frank Zappa days. It’s gone through all kinds of electronics and has had every locking tremolo device known to man. At one point I’d chopped up so much wood inside that I had to rebuild it.”

"Cherry Blossom"—Strat-style Ibanez with custom paint job and doodles by Steve Vai

“This was a guitar I requested from Ibanez with a body half painted white and half painted raspberry. I was going on tour with Experience Hendrix and wanted to pay tribute to Hendrix and the Strat that he had hand-painted [and burned at the Monterey Pop Festival]. I never really felt like I had any real artistic talent, so that’s why it’s not much more than doodling, but it looked very cool onstage.”


Steve Vai


Steve Vai is a virtuoso guitarist, visionary composer, and consummate producer who sculpts musical sound with infinite creativity and technical mastery. At age 12, he started taking guitar lessons from Joe Satriani. At 18, he began his professional musical career transcribing for, and then playing with, the legendary Frank Zappa. More than three decades, million in album sales, and three GRAMMY Awards later, Vai has proven himself, in his own right, one of music's true originals.

Vai's work has been recognized with a long list of awards, including an even dozen from Guitar Player. Most recently, the TEC Foundation honored him with the prestigious Les Paul Award, created in to salute those who have set the highest standard of excellence in the creative application of technology. Past winners include Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Herbie Hancock, Steely Dan, and Bob Clearmountain. In bestowing it on Vai, TEC noted, "Steve Vai's sheer breathtaking facility on the guitar is acclaimed in the rock world and beyond… Vai has dedicated his talents to creatively advance the language of music. While many artists fit easily into a single category, Steve Vai remains unclassifiable. He is a musical alchemist of the highest order."

The latest product of Vai's alchemy is 's The Story of Light, his 16th solo album. It follows up the live tour de force Where the Wild Things Are, and was released on Favored Nations Entertainment, founded by Vai in to present works by musicians who have "attained the highest performance level on their chosen instruments." The label's roster features artists including Tommy Emmanuel, Steve Lukather, Eric Johnson, Billy Sheehan, and Larry Carlton, and more than 70 releases.

Vai's full discography encompasses more than 60 albums, including many with Zappa, others from his stints with David Lee Roth (just after he left Van Halen) and Whitesnake-at the peak of its popularity-live releases, collaborations, compilations, and orchestral works. Highlights include 's groundbreaking Passion and Warfare, and 's Sound Theories Vol. 1 & 2, performed with the Netherlands' Metropole Orkest. Vai's other orchestral compositions include "The Middle of Everywhere," which had its world premiere in with the Noord Nederlands Orkest, whose director Marcel Mandos said, "Steve Vai's music can easily compete with that of famous contemporary composers."

The Story of Light follows the cosmic journey of a man driven mad by grief, intertwining tragedy, revelation, enlightenment, and redemption. It continues a narrative arc begun on Vai's album Real Illusions: Reflections (his last solo studio release). Largely instrumental, The Story of Light spotlights guest vocalists including singer-songwriter Aimee Mann-dueting with Vai on "No More Amsterdam," which she also co-wrote-and Beverly McClellan, a season one finalist on The Voice, appearing on "John the Revelator." The track was inspired by a vintage recording of blues singer Blind Willie Johnson, whose acid-soaked vocals are sampled in the mix as well.

Throughout, Vai's lead guitar lines bend sounds and listeners' minds in equal measure. Looking ahead, he envisions a third set of songs that will unravel the mysteries and reveal truths woven through The Story of Light and its predecessor. The completed trilogy, envisioned as cinematic-even operatic-in scope, will include lyrics, narration, and visuals.

Vai's signature instruments include the Ibanez JEM guitar, which he designed in with first-of-its-kind features including the floating tremolo and the monkey grip. The JEM is now one of the longest running, most successful signature series guitars in history, and for over a decade its sister model-the RG-is second in worldwide sales only to the Fender Stratocaster. Also for Ibanez, Vai designed "The Universe," the first commercial 7-string electric guitar. This instrument inspired a revolutionary metal subculture that started in the mid '90s. Among his many other innovative collaborations with equipment manufacturers, he designed the Steve Vai Legacy V3 series of all-tube amplifiers with Carvin Corporation.

In the film realm, Vai has credits including Executive Producer for the acclaimed Hank Garland biopic Crazy, in which he also appears as Hank Williams. In the feature Crossroads, inspired by the legend of blues icon Robert Johnson, he appears as Jack Butler, "the devil's guitarist"-and collaborated with Ry Cooder on the music scenes.

In , Vai established (with Ruta Sepetys) the Make a Noise Foundation to provide instruments and music education to young musicians without means. "Music educates the whole person as an integrated individual. It educates the mind, the senses, and the emotions," says Vai. "Those interested in music should not have to sacrifice their ability to develop important skills and express emotions due to limited financial resources." A Steve Vai Guitar Scholarship will be awarded in as part of a collaboration between Make A Noise and the Musicians Institute College of Contemporary Music.


Custom steve guitar vai

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Ibanez JEM Junior Steve Vai Guitar Demo!

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