The Ibanez JEM series has its roots in an intimate collaboration with master shredder Steve Vai that goes back to 1986. Vai specified every aspect of his signature model from aesthetics and playability factors to perhaps most crucially, the pickup array, electronics and trem bridge. Remaining largely unchanged since the initial model was unveiled at NAMM in 1987, variations have mainly focused on pickup and bridge choices, dependant on the price points of subsequent sub-models.
Guitar Notes from Brian Baggett
Go behind the scenes to see some of today's most extraordinary acoustic and electric guitars being designed and crafted. Learn what makes an exceptional instrument and discover the history and technology behind the most revered vintage guitars. Join Private Reserve Guitar video presenter Brian Baggett on his explorations of the custom shops operated by Gibson, Fender, Martin, Paul Reed Smith and many more. Learn about tone woods, tunings, scale lengths, and much more—all curated by Brian—a remarkable guitarist in his own right.
This week’s featured archtop is built for the guitarist who seeks an instrument that generates extraordinary warmth and couples that with inviting playability. Gibson Custom Shop luthiers have substituted mahogany back and sides for the usual maple on the L-4 CES, producing a bottom end that’s exceptionally round and resonant. The 175 body shape makes it a pleasure to play.
What a difference an inch makes! The 25-½”-scale neck on this Custom Shop Les Paul Long Scale lends this venerable design a whole new bag of tricks. For Les Paul lovers who may reluctantly put their LPs aside in favor of a longer scale guitar when it’s time for drop tunings or slide work, no such tradeoff is necessary with this versatile guitar.
For working guitarists seeking a single instrument that can do it all, the Music Man John Petrucci BFR 6 Koa Top deserves serious consideration. Built in collaboration with the Dream Theater guitarist, a pair of DiMarzio pickups—a Liquifire in the neck, a Crunch Lab in the bridge—combined with a piezo nested in floating trem bridge generate just about any tone you can imagine.
The Gibson Custom Shop LeGrande has a legacy that stretches back to 1961 when Gibson introduced the Johnny Smith archtop—a fitting tribute to the celebrated jazz guitarist. Some of Gibson’s best luthiers applied themselves to the task of creating this extraordinary jazz box that has since become a greatly sought-after instrument among collectors and jazz guitarists.
The huge projection and reverberant bass notes that pour out of the Martin Custom Sinker Mahogany Dreadnought are largely the result of the extraordinary wood used for the back and sides. But before we get to the guitar itself, the story behind that mahogany is a fascinating one worth telling.
Imagine veteran session guitarist Michael Landau has just handed you his well-worn and thoroughly broken-in Strat to take for a spin. That’s what you’ll experience once you take hold and start playing the Fender Custom Shop Michael Landau Signature 1968 Relic Stratocaster.
Respected session and touring guitarist David Grissom and Paul Reed Smith Guitars have enjoyed a decades-long relationship, the DGT being a beautiful outcome of that partnership. Over the years Grissom’s perspectives as a seasoned pro have served as an important influence on the development of PRS instruments.
A pair of TV Jones pups gives this Tele a whole lotta beef when you want it. Sure, it’s got that elemental Tele twang DNA, but the hum-free pickups add a layer of warmth and squish that, with the right amp, easily get into full-throated fur-covered territory. From rockabilly to jazz to blues to hard-driving rock, this is one Tele that can do it all while delivering the classic playability that makes the Telecaster the icon that it is.
This week’s featured Private Reserve Guitars selection represents the highest levels of luthiery and is crafted with some the most lavish woods available. A part of Taylor’s top-of-the-line Presentation Series, the PS10E spares nothing where appointments are concerned. From the meticulously crafted “Nouveau” paua abalone inlay on the fingerboard to the breathtakingly figured cocobolo back and sides, this is an instrument intended for the most discriminating collector. African ebony binding and extensive paua shell appointments speak to its no-compromise cosmetics.