|NOT IN COLLECTION
This was an original prototype Jem built by Performance guitar before my Ibanez endorsement.
I used this guitar on the eat em and smile tour. I believe it was Elwood (my tech at the time) who covered it in pages from Playboy magazines. Seemed very apropos for that tour. This guitar gave me a lot of trouble through the tour. Always dropping out, bad pots, tremolo problems, etc. After the last show of that tour I had had it with that guitar and decided to smash it into little pieces and flush them down the toilet at the gig. Yup, I was that guy back then. I can’t remember what actually happened to the body but it may still be around somewhere.
From what I can remember… after a handful of my guitars were stolen from where we rehearsed with DLR for the Eat Em And Smile tour, I needed to move fast and get some guitars built for the tour. This was an opportunity for me to design a guitar based on my quirky stylistic desires. I went to Performance Guitar, a little guitar shop in Hollywood at the time, and purchased four 24 fret necks, which were relatively rare at the time, and four bodies with slight alterations from the norm such as a larger cut away for my hands to reach those high notes. I could never understand why Strats and Les Paul bodies had cut aways that made it very difficult to play on the highest frets. There were other stylistic things that I wanted that I couldn’t quite find on other contemporary guitars at the time such as a pick up configuration that had humbuckers in the neck and treble positions, and a single coil in the middle. I liked the sound of humbuckers, but also liked that ‘tubey” Strat type sound you get when you combine 2 single coil pickups. So I requested a 5 way pick up selector that, when in the position that engages the humbucker in the neck position, and the single coil middle pick up, it would split the coil on the humbucker giving me 2 single coil pick ups. The pickups were supplied by Steve Blutcher at DiMarzio. That was the tone I wanted. This switch did the same thing in the position that engages the treble and middle pickups. This was very exciting to me and later I was told it was unique at the time. I also moved the volume pot down a bit and eliminated a tone control from the conventional 2 tone controls of a Strat.
Some time before that I was experimenting with carving out the wood behind the bridge on my “Sticker Strat” so that the whammy bar had no obstructions when pulling the notes sharp, to the point of snapping the strings at times. Most guitars with Whammy bars at the time didn’t really go very sharp when pulling on the bar, if at all. I was so thrilled with this. That’s when I recorded the Attitude Song. I was told later that this was perhaps the first completely floating trem system with that much pull in it. A few other technical changes such as the input jack being on a slant instead of the conventional ways that Strats and Les Pauls have them. The way they were on those guitars never made sense to me because if you step on your cable, there’s a clear shot for the cable to pull out of the jack. With the slant design, that wouldn’t happen. And then of course, I had to do something quirky and peculiar so I requested these guitars to have a monkey grip of sorts so I could wield the guitar around on stage. Who-da-thunk?
At that time, “Elwood” Francis Patrick was my guitar tech. He had Steve Soest assemble the guitars and Soest reached out to Gavin Menzies, an excellent luthier, for help. They worked to construct all the guitars in time for the tour. Through the Eat em and Smile tour, I started to get approached by all the major guitar companies to endorse their products, but I was already content with my new design. But I decided to send the specs out to many of these companies and have them build a prototype. They were all way off mark except for Ibanez. Ibanez made the exact guitar that I wanted and delivered it in a few weeks. This guitar was based exactly on my designs of these first 4 prototypes, with some slight additions such as the last 4 frets on the neck being scalloped. Again I was thrilled. I then entered into an endorsement agreement with Ibanez and that was basically the birth of the Jem. The Jem was a high end guitar and Hoshino (Ibanez) were also interested to make a lower end model that did not have the monkey grip, and that was the birth of the RG. I call it the sister to the Jem. I could not be more happy with my long relationship with Ibanez and my lovely Jems.