Ibanez JEM DBK (model year 2002)

Price Paid: 
$1200 U.S.
Country of origin: 
Body wood(s): 
Neck wood: 
One piece Maple
Fretboard Scale: 
Number of frets: 

The Ibanez JEM DBK is the perfect fit for a nitch I was looking to fill. My need was a little odd to begin with so I'm more than pleased with this guitar. I wanted a guitar with an extremely modern, (heavy), appearance that would still produce the vintage tones of the late 1950s and 1960s. Able to create sounds similar to the tone of the Gibson P.A.F / LPs. I wanted a stage image adjustment without altering my tonal prefence. The JEM DBK filled both requirements in spades. Truthfully, if not for the push of my metal loving wife, I would have passed on this model because of the extreme modern metal appearance of the guitar. Satan himself would love the appearance of the JEM DBK.

Start with the general build and body shape of any Ibanez JEM model including the pistol grip body cutout, the Low Pro Edge trem recessed into the body with locking nuts, the standard JEM neck shape sporting 6105 tall / thin frets, etc..  Remove the fancy vine inlay and use inlayed phillips wood screw heads as fret markers. Take the evil black finish to the next level by blobbing it up into a texture only an insane old world oil painter could love. Toss in a mirrored pick guard because mirrors are always spooky. Presto Change-o. The Devils Axe. The first half of my quest was More than fulfilled.

The second half came from a set of DiMarzio pickups specifically made to replace the standard DiMarzio Evolutions featured on most JEMs. Pickups that would take into account the lightweight Basswood body / floating trem design factors and create the tone of the old PAF. This was the guitar that started production of the DiMarzio Breed pickups. They're very specific to the type of electric guitar the JEM DBK falls into. Stick them in a Les Paul and you've got more low mids and bottom than you would ever want your guitar to produce. In a hollow or semi-hollow you get squealing mud. But .... In a lightweight body with a floating trem you get verrry close to the tone of an old Gibson solid body.

The neck plays like a dream and the guitar is beautifully balanced when played standing as well as comfortable when sitting down. If an old school guitarist can get past the looks and actually play it, (closing your eyes helps), they'll find a high quality instrument with a very beautiful voice that loves to be played.


If you like the looks, not many. The mirrored pick guard that will show scratches. The Ibanez 5-way switch that will get "crackly" if you don't keep the front of the guitar clean and free of dust. Yep. That's about it. The rest is all good.


I guess my wife was right about buying this guitar. I've owned the JEM DBK for eight years come January and it's not going anywhere. It both sounds and plays wonderfully. The hardware has held up nicely and the neck is as straight as the day I bought it. I've no regrets at all. I love the ugly beast.

Overall Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)