Benny's Guitar History - Part Four
So in part three, I really only talked about the Jem 555 and the slightly peculiar means by which I arrived at buying it. So let's pick it up right there in 1995 and forge ahead a little.
At this time, I was a 3 axe dude, no more, no less. I had the workhorse Jem 555, the now very unloved (and somewhat forlorn) Yamaha RGX, and my trusty old 1985 Fender acoustic. For acoustic sessions and performances I also had a cheap 'Encore' electro/acoustic (it was a poor copy of an Ovation bowl-back, but it had a nice tone, played like butter and recorded really well). Technically it wasn't mine (it actually belongs to my brother), but I had it on permanent brother loan for years, and used it extensively any time acoustic guitar was required. In fact, I believe it was that very guitar that I used to record the guitar parts for the original version of Imaani's debut single 'Where Are You' (the UK's Eurovision Song Contest entry in 1998). Not that anyone ever heard that version, but there you go. Anyway, that's how it stayed until around 2002 when I started a small eBay business buying and selling guitars. Truth be known, I did not intend to become a seller. It happened quite by accident. I had some money to spend and I had decided after 17 years of playing guitar, it was about time I bought a top of the range instrument, rather than the budget models I had always had to use up until then. I ended up buying a mint condition Ibanez Universe 777 PBK 7-string from a seller in the USA. Coupled with an extremely favourable exchange rate then, I ended up paying around £400 all in, for a guitar that I knew was worth a heck of a lot more here in the UK. So after I played around with it for a few weeks, adapting or acclimatising to the extra string; I sold it for nearly twice what I had paid for it.
Intriguing wouldn't you say? This gave me the idea to try and drum up a bit of capital in order to upgrade some of the gear in my studio. I would begin buying all my favourite guitars in, playing them for a week or two, and selling them on. It worked very well for a time, and I made a good profit on pretty much every guitar I bought. Plus, I had the added bonus of being able to indulge in owning guitars I would not have otherwise had. I could buy some Jem or other, play it, touch it, feel it, cuddle it and then give it up. It was almost like leasing cars, except that I made a profit every time (well almost every time, see Jem VBK below). Just for the record, here is a list of some of the axes that came and went, many of which I bought multiple examples of, either because I really liked them, or they seemed to be really good sellers: Ibanez Universe UV 777PBK - 7 string
Ibanez Universe UV 777PBK - 7 string Super Custom
Ibanez Jemniverse - Custom 7 string Jem/Universe hybrid Ibanez Jem 7VWH Ibanez Jem 7DBK - Tons of these Ibanez Jem 7BSB Ibanez JS1000BK Ibanez JS2000G Ibanez Jem 7VSB Ibanez Jem 90th - The only one I truly truly regret selling. It was magnificent. Ibanez Jem 7RB
Ibanez RG3120TB Ibanez RG3120TR Fender Telecaster USA standard - A special commission for a pal.
Ibanez Jem 777VBK - The only guitar I bought from Europe instead of the USA, and It broke my heart. You may remember me mentioning the Jem VBK in an earlier part. My mate Tim offered his minter to me in 1991 or thereabouts, and I lusted after it, but couldn't afford it. Well, this was an example of heart ruling the head. I saw a VBK on eBay, they didn't come up often, it was a German seller, the listing was in German, and the pictures were only so so...
You guessed it, the guitar arrived and it was in a far more beaten up state than the pictures suggested.
I had paid too high a price for it in the first place, didn't benefit from a particularly great Euro to Pound exchange rate, and just couldn't be arsed to try and wrestle with the seller about it, as I felt kinda stupid in a 'Caveat emptor' sort of way.
I did eventually sell it, but only after many months and several unsuccessful eBay listings. I still came out in profit, but only just, and only by discounting a few things I really should include (like the cost of all the listings etc).
I never bought another one, and it kinda ruined the mystique of that particular model for me. With that experience, as well as encounters with a few dodgy buyers, increased shipping and duty costs, and the exchange rate slipping back to a less favourable level; I eventually decided to quit. I took the bulk of the money I had made doing the business, and sank it into upgrading my recording studio gear. This kind of put an end to the business.
It was quite a short time really, and I was quite disappointed as there were several classic Jem, Universe and Satriani models that I never managed to experience.
So by about 2005 it was all over, and in addition to the three/four instruments I started this blog with; I kept the Universe Super Custom for myself, so let's talk about that.
This axe was simply stunning.
It had started life as a standard UV777PBK, which fans will know, was the UV model that reignited flagging interest in the range from anyone outside of the death black Korn brigade. It was beautiful to begin with. Galaxy Black, with Pearl front binding, All Seeing Eye pyramid inlay on the lower bout, (plastic) mirror pick-guard, and a bound neck with Pyramid Inlays on the fret-board.
My one added the following awesomeness:
Polished Stainless Steel 'Tree of Llife' vine inlay
Black Ebony fret-board
Scalloped upper 4 frets (like original series Jems)
Matching Chrome polished truss rod cover.
Polished stainless steel mirror pick-guard
It was absolutely stonking, and I loved it.
However, as it was so unbelievably gorgeous and totally mint, I rarely played it.
The only band I performed with using it, was my short time playing with Indie band H-Pisces in London around 2006/2007, but that's a whole other story.
In terms of Guitars, it was all change in 2008, so we'll pick it up there in the next part.
Part Five coming soon