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Steve Vai Shows the Creation of His Woody JEM Custom Ibanez Guitar

Guitar virtuoso Steve Vai recently shared a video on his official YouTube channel showing the creation of his custom Woody JEM, a guitar he had created by Ibanez specially for the Vai Academy “All About the Guitar” 2015 camp.

As it begins, the video shows Vai arriving at Hoshino headquarters and sitting down to discuss the guitar’s specs with Mike Taft, artist relations manager for Ibanez, and master luthier Tak Hosono, who built the Woody JEM.

Pulling out a folded sheet of paper, Vai shares his ideas for the guitar.

“I’m looking for something a little more earthy, a little more exotic looking than the crazy kind of JEMs that I’m used to,” he tells them. “I wanted to go with a mahogany body, because I don’t really have one that I’ve used. I’ve read about them and I know that they’re kind of bright.”

From there, the process gets underway, and you can see each stage of the guitar’s development—from the selecting of its woods to its electronics and intricate inlay work—all of it leading right up to the moment that Vai finally sees the finished guitar.

The film was shot by Mike Orrigo and edited by Taj Musco, and it’s a treat to watch. Check it out below.

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Christopher Scapelliti
Christopher Scapelliti

Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player (opens in new tab) magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World (opens in new tab), a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.