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Nita Strauss Enters the Signature Guitar Market with Her Badass New Ibanez JIVA10

Nita Strauss with her new signature Ibanez JIVA10, which was introduced at the 2018 Winter NAMM Show.

Nita Strauss with her new signature Ibanez JIVA10, which was introduced at the 2018 Winter NAMM Show. (Image credit: Samuel Lathrop)

It’s rad enough that Ibanez—your favorite guitar maker—builds a kickass signature model just for you. But for Alice Cooper and We Start Wars guitarist Nita Strauss, the honor is extra special: the move, besides putting her in the company of Paul Gilbert, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, makes her the first female signature artist in the company’s lengthy history.

Ibanez unveiled the guitar—the JIVA10—at the 2018 Winter NAMM Show. The ax, which is based on the company’s S Series, sports a slew of eye- and ear-catching features, including a blonde-to-black burst and Strauss’ new signature DiMarzio Pandemonium pickups (with a DiMarzio True Velvet Single Coil in the middle position).

“There are a couple of things about the guitar that I think people didn’t expect, and one of them is the burst,” Strauss says. “My manager and I were having lunch with Larry DiMarzio, talking about the guitar’s specs—and it just hit us at the table. Larry said, ‘Look at you—you’re blonde and you’re wearing all black!’ A lot of people said they thought it was gonna be pink or purple, but when have you guys ever seen me play a pink guitar? I don’t even own one! I spent a long time designing the pickups with DiMarzio. They sound amazing with the combination of woods.”

The perfectly balanced, seven-pound JIVA10 has a mahogany body, a quilted maple top and a bolt-on maple Wizard neck with an ebony fretboard. Other features include an Edge-Zero2 tremolo with a screw-in bar, Luminlay fret-position markers and Beaten Path inlays, which Strauss calls the heartbeat of the guitar.

“It’s like an EKG line, and the ‘spikes’ correspond to the dots on the fretboard,” she says. “The heartbeat gets faster as you get up toward the higher part of the neck, which is where the magic happens.”

Maybe the most unexpected thing of all is the guitar’s name. Even Strauss was surprised. “I’ve been designing my signature guitar since I started playing, drawing pictures of it in my middle school notebook—and it was always called the Hurricane,” says Strauss, referring to her longtime nickname and social media handle. “Ibanez was all set to go, but in November, they said they couldn’t use the name since it had already been trademarked. This was in November for a January release! So I started thinking about it—then ‘jiva’ popped into my head. It was as if divine intervention said, ‘I have something for you.’ My dad’s band was called Jiva in the Seventies. [In Hinduism] your jiva is your life force, your creative essence. Any time you’re creating something, that’s your jiva manifesting itself. I thought, what name is more fitting for a guitar that’s the biggest manifestation of my creativity?”

The JIVA10’s street price is $1,499. For more information, check out ibanez.com.

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Damian is the editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine. Before that, he was Guitar World’s managing editor and online managing editor, and his non-Pulitzer-Prize-winning stories have appeared in Guitar Aficionado, Vintage Guitar, Total Guitar and several other rectangular places. He's been known to write some riveting liner notes, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's Complete Epic Recordings Collection box set by Sony Legacy. Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's Gas House Gorillas, also was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, an instrumental rock act that toured the universe and elsewhere and released three albums via Austin's Deep Eddy Records. These days he performs with at least two New York City-area bands and often can be spotted with a Telecaster, probably with a four-way switch, a Gene Parsons-installed B-bender and aftermarket pickups.