NAMM 2020: Ibanez unveils its spectacular new Steve Vai signature model - and it's not a JEM

(Image credit: Ibanez)

NAMM 2020: In a move that could be described as saving the best until last, Ibanez has launched its latest collaboration with Steve Vai, the Paradise In Art.

An ornate, avant-garde S-style that looks very much like a more evolutionary advanced JEM, the Paradise In Art (PIA) has a solid alder body, a five-piece maple and walnut neck, with a rosewood fretboard emblazoned with multi-colored blossom inlay.

The PIA also features an all-new DiMarzio HSH pickup set that’s yet to be named, 24 jumbo stainless steel frets with Prestige edge treatment, gold hardware, and a Floyd Rose Edge tremolo. The finish options all have great names and comprise Stallion White, Envy Green, Panther Pink and Sun Dew Gold.

Speaking to Guitar World ahead of our March 2020 cover story, Steve Vai said that the PIA is created in much the same spirit as the JEM: it's a player's guitar.

“Just like the JEM, it’s a very sleek, very kind of ‘metal machine,’" he said. "It’s built for tone, for speed, for intonation, for real performance. The way it sits on me, the way it sounds, the way it plays…it just feels like home. The minute I got my hands on it, I instantly felt a deep connection to the instrument.”

The petals signify the bond that two people have when they resonate together, and this is represented in the art of the guitar

Steve Vai

But the big news is the Petal Grip, which replaces the time-honored Monkey Grip looks kind of like a TMNT domino mask but of course reprises the foliage theme. Again, very thoughtful of Vai and Ibanez to design a guitar with a carry handle, but, as Vai explains, the design is more than just a practical appointment.

“The petals signify the bond that two people have when they resonate together, and this is represented in the art of the guitar,” explained Vai in a statement.

“The petals are also reminiscent of the Yin and Yang sign which is thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. The petals are also the most beautiful and attractive part of a flower and intended to signify a message of unity and companionship. It is the ethos that guided the artistic design of the guitar.” 

Well, that artistic design is certainly stunning, and proof, if needed, that there are few, if any, more fruitful partnerships between guitarist and manufacturer than that between Steve Vai and Ibanez. There are no prices for the PIA just yet. More details as and when we have them.

For all the hottest gear news, see our NAMM 2020 hub.

For the full story from Vai himself, pick up the March 2020 issue of Guitar World, on sale January 28. Better still, save yourself some money and subscribe here.

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Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.