The Ibanez Jem is a mass-produced electric guitar based on the signature instrument played and endorsed by virtuoso guitarist Steve Vai. The Jem is distinctive due to its unique design, which features a carved-out grip. The pickup layouts for Ibanez Jem guitars are standard across the series, but the wiring configurations vary. The bridge and neck pickups are humbuckers and the centre pickup is a single-coil pickup. You select the pickup configuration with a five-way pickup selector switch. If you want to upgrade or customise your pickups, you will need to rewire the Ibanez Jem.
Find a detailed pickup schematic. A pickup schematic details the layout of the guitar's circuitry and shows you where to solder each wire. You should consult the schematic before beginning any modifications on your Ibanez Jem. The Ibanez website has wiring schematics for each model of Jem, select your model and year from the drop-down menu to find the right one.
Remove the strings. In order to remove the pickups to access the wiring, you will need to take off the strings. Use this is an opportunity to put on a new set and clean the neck.
Unscrew the old pickups. Be careful not to yank or pull when removing the old pickup as this can damage the wire. Detach the old pickups from their wires by melting the solder with a soldering iron. Then remove the existing pickup wiring from the pickup selector. You can leave the wiring that connects the selector to the potentiometers and the potentiometers to the output jack intact if you wish. Otherwise you may wish to resolder or replace the wiring as part of your maintenance schedule.
Remove the back panels from the guitar using a screwdriver. This enables you to access the wiring for the potentiometers and pickup selector.
Solder the new pickups to the existing wire after consulting the wiring schematic. Ibanez Jem guitars require pickups to be soldered using three wires per pickup. There is a red wire, a green wire and a black wire. It is essential that these are soldered to the correct terminal on the pickup selector, otherwise the circuit will not work.
Slide the wires from the pickup through the hole at the side of the pickup cavity and pull them through at the other end. Different models of the Ibanez Jem have varying wiring configurations, so consult the schematic for specific instructions. Typically you solder the green wire to the left side terminal of the pickup selector and the red and black wires to the terminal's right side. The potentiometer for the volume dial always connects to the output jack. The wire from the left and centre terminal must run from the volume dial to the output jack while the wire from the right terminal connects to the tone dial.
Put on a new set of strings and test the guitar. If there is any buzzing or hum, inspect your wiring. If there is no sound at all, consult the wiring schematic to ensure you have connected everything correctly.
Since you have access to the potentiometers, clean them with a dry cloth and plastic-safe contact cleaner.
Always solder in a well-ventilated area.
Tips and warnings
- Since you have access to the potentiometers, clean them with a dry cloth and plastic-safe contact cleaner.
- Always solder in a well-ventilated area.