Missing Guitars

Below is a list of guitars we are currently trying to locate. If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of any of these, please let us know by mailing to missingvaiguitars@gmail.com. Your help is appreciated!

Previously Sold
Description
Photos
Anny Fanny

Serial Number 01447

One of the most recognisable guitars of Steve’s “Eat ‘Em and Smile” days, the Little Annie Fanny guitar is so named because it is covered with art from Little Annie Fanny comic strips. It was used mostly as a backup guitar on tour, yet it appears in many photos and posters from 1986. The guitar’s front & middle pickups were removed, and it features an early handle grip pre-dating the Jem. Its 22-fret maple fingerboard is scalloped, and it features a Floyd Rose tremolo.
Steve donated this guitar for a fund raiser held by “Bikers against drunk driving”.

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.


Ike Tuner

Jackson Soloist

Serial #: J0334

This pink Jackson electric was used extensively on the Alcatrazz “Disturbing The Peace” tour in late 1984 and 1985, and re-appeared during the ”Eat ’Em and Smile” Tour. It has also appeared in a few magazines and ads – namely a DiMarzio pickups ad with Billy Sheehan. It was once outfitted with a plastic wrist-rest, and had the words IKE TURNER written on the front of the pickguard in white lettering. It has since had the rest and pickguard removed, the screw holes filled, and the guitar was repainted a lighter shade of pearlescent pink. A crack in the nut/back of headstock has been repaired – hence the extra set of screws in the back of the neck. Interestingly, this guitar also displays Steve\’s early experimentation with what would become the lion\’s claw cavity on the Jem guitar. Deep grooves (painted black) descend into the guitar body under the floyd rose string-lock screws. This guitar was sold in the 2000’s.

Zng Zng

Despagni JEM “Zng Zng” Custom

No Serial Number

This custom guitar made by Steve’s longtime buddy Joe Despagni, was used on the David Lee Roth Eat Em And Smile Tour – and can be seen in many photos from that tour. It is nicknamed the “Zng Zng” guitar.

Lightning Bolt aka BB

“Joe Jem” Custom Guitar.

No Serial Number

Custom made guitar by Steve’s longtime buddy Joe Despagni. This was used on the David Lee Roth 1986 tour and can be seen in many photos from that tour. In 2002 this guitar was auctioned for charity, Alex Lo of Illinois is the proud new owner of this guitar. We keep it listed here because it\’s such a unique and historical guitar, pre-dating the Ibanez Jems.

Stolen
Description
Photos
Swiss Cheese

Despagni Custom

 

The guitar from the Yankee Rose video with all the holes in it; it sort of looks like intergalactic puke. It was designed and made for me by Joe Despagni. The body was metallic green with holes carved through the body in various sizes and colors. There’s a handle carved in the body as well, to enable Steve to hold the axe and play with one hand. Loaded with a gold Floyd Rose and one humbucker, this beauty also shares the spotlight in the “Yankee Rose” video.

This is the “Swiss cheese Guitar” that Joe Despagni made for me and I used in the Yankee Rose video. This guitar was slated to be taken on that tour but it was one of the ones that got stolen from our Pasadena rehearsal pad, Perkins Palace.

 

Stucco Blue

Custom Electric Guitar

No Serial Number

Built by Steve from various parts during the Alcatrazz days (1984/1985), this guitar was Steve’s first custom-made guitar and featured customized electronics and three humbucking pickups, which could be split to single coils if preferred. It was used onstage during the Alcatrazz “Disturbing The Peace” tour in 1985. Steve has no idea what happened to this guitar.

Stolen/missing
Description
Photos
Pumpkin

Ibanez Jem 77 prototype

No serial number

A prototype Jem. There was a time where extensive experiments were performed with different swirled color combinations, and this was one of the possibilities (this color was never marketed by Ibanez). This is one of Steve’s favorites. SV Loaned to a friend and it was never returned and he can’t remember who he loaned it to.

Posting found on Jemsite:
Back in 1996 I found this “Jem” in a local guitar shop. i didn’t care how much it was I wanted it! This guitar was much more than a standard Jem it was a prototype Jem. With the LA Custom Shop logo on the back with Mace Bailey’s name inprinted as well. It has the Monkey Grip but no Lion’s Claw tremolo cavity. In place of the “Jem” logo on the headstock is says “Steve Vai”. I bought the guitar for $800. A steal even 12 years ago. This guitar wasn’t without its flaws though. The clear coat finish had air bubbles in spots. The orange and black Dimarzio’s (Steve Morse Models) the orange was flaking off, eventually I scraped the rest of the orange paint off, the picture is from when I first bought it. The body itself is narrower that a standard Jem. The nut width of the neck is 1 5/8″. The unfortuate thing about this guitar, even with the Lo Pro Edge, it was a bitch to stay in tune. From a collectors standpoint it was awesome though. I owned this guitar for about 2-3 years. I eventually traded towards a Peavey EVH Wolfgang Standard (Vintage Sunburst/Flame Maple top). I got my money back on it, so I didn’t lose anything on it. some people I know think i was stupid for getting rid of it. I kind of kick myself for it now, but in return I got an awsome guitar that I owned for about 7 years before I got sold that as well. I think I regret selling the Wolfgang more, at least that was playable. I remember several years ago looking on Steve Vai’s website and there it was, my old guitar, the exact same one! not a copy, I matched the swirl on both pictures and realized that is was the very same. This made me even more sad about getting rid of it, oh well. Ibanez i guess made several guitars like this for Steve, I guess they were test gutiars to see what finishes he liked. His website stated that this was one of his favorites, now i’m even more upset. The picture below is of my nephew holding the guitar, the other pic is from Steve Vai’s website, see for yourself. One thing I remember about that time period is that I could go into any of my local guitar stores and find several used Jems. I remember the day i went to sell this guitar, the shop had a Floral Jem, a desert yellow Jem a black Jem 7P at the same time. Local shops now very rarely have used guitars thanks to ****.

Floral with Roland GK-2A synth controller

Ibanez Jem 77FP

Serial: 262339

This is a standard Jem 77 Floral Pattern fitted with a Roland GK-2A Synth controller. The synth pickup sits between the bridge and humbucker pickup, and a small cable runs over the tremolo to the small controller module positioned to the right of the tone knob (and affixed with velcro). This guitar is part of Steve’s Harmony Hut arsenal but has vanished.

Pink Berry

Ibanez JEM777SK Shocking Pink

Serial: 871239

Manufactured in 1987, 1988, 1989. But this is a one off, baritone guitar that was custom made for Steve by Ibanez.

Pink Jewel AKA PJ

Ibanez JEM777SK Shocking Pink

Serial: 883074

Manufactured in 1987, 1988, 1989. Used extensively on the David Lee Roth “Skyscraper” tour in 1988. One of the first pink Jems. Steve had this guitar modified with a built-in preamp, giving it a 6 dB boost. Considering the amount of use and abuse this guitar took over the years, it is in surprisingly good condition and in fact the thin protective plastic cover is still on the pickguard.

Onyx

Ibanez JEM777VBK

Serial unknown

This guitar was used on several songs from “Passion & Warfare”, and also on “Late Night with David Letterman’s 10th Anniversary Special” in January ’92, when Steve performed “Like A Rolling Stone” with Bob Dylan and an all-star band.

Florenza

Ibanez Jem 77FP

Serial Number 260950

Barry

Gibson SG

I got this guitar after the Univox Les Paul. Barry Calavagna came to rehearsal with it. It was root beer and ugly so I sanded the finish off and made it even uglier. I put a lot of miles on this guitar. It had one single coil pick up, no whammy bar, was hard to play but it beat the Les Paul. Barry ended up giving it to me but then asked for it back and I have not seen it since. That was in 1976.

No name

A natural burst Stratocaster that I don’t have a photo for. This is a 1976 tobacco burst Strat with auto tuners on it. I gave it to someone to take the auto tuners off and I can’t remember who and it was never returned. The serial number 574417.

No known photos..
SRS

Ventura Double Neck

This was the first guitar I purchased with my own money. I washed dishes for an entire summer and bought it at Mathews Music in Rosevelt Field Long Island aourn 1976 give or take a year. I believe that Ventura was a brand made by Ibanez and this guitar was their Gibson double neck knock off. I loved this guitar and really cut my teeth on it. I would sit on the floor and lean up against my bed in my teenage bedroom and play this guitar for hours and hours. It’s on this instrument that I developed my picking technique and made marvelous break throughs. I used it in the rock bands I was in while in high school. When I moved out to California in 1980 I brought this guitar with me. I left it by the door in my appartment at 1435 North Fairfax street apt #14. I believe it was taken by Mike Rudetski. He was a guitar player that I knew from Berkley. A very talented and funny guy who unfortunately got involved with bad drugs. He came to visit and the guitar seemed to be missing after he left. Poor Mike eventually died of an overdose in Boy George’s apartment in the 80’s. I know it’s a long shot but if anyone ever comes accross a Ventura double neck circa mid to late 70’s please let us know.

If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of any of these, please let us know by mailing to missingvaiguitars@gmail.com. Your help is appreciated!