RESTORING AN ELUSIVE UNICORN Ibanez Jem 77FP RESTORATION PROJECT PART 1 THE SEARCH

December 13, 2016

 

   A few months ago I started a hunt. I had found a Jem 77FP Neck on Craigslist up in Eugene, OR not too far from here. I emailed the guy then called and he wanted to work a trade for pedals. I was all about that being  that I run a small pedal company called Kinnatone.

I got the neck and It was awesome I posted it to Instagram with the caveat if anyone has a body or the fabric for the body on these let me know.

No one knew anything or had anything.

 

 

   I started looking around the web for a builder to build a square pocket Jem body.

I found Chris Mai on eBay and a few other guys as well but Chris was pretty cool in his emails and I really liked the guy right off. We discussed the body and what I was trying to do. He said he had one of these necks and that he ended up swirling and making it a GMC model. I looked at the pics he sent and was really liking what I saw. Chris does great swirl paint jobs you should really check out his site sometime. http://www.mai-guitar.com

 

 

I really want a swirl Jem at some point but this project I had in my head the gawdy pink peony flowers and vines on the black background with the pink pickups. I know its not a manly mans guitar and eccentric as heck, but its what I wanted.

I remember watching a video early 90s of these guitars at the NAMM show and was way into Steve Vai at the time. I was about to tell Chris to go ahead and GMC SWIRL IT.

 

 

I even contacted GMW about painting it like the 77FP it would have been quite a chunk of change. The price was good for the work involved but out of my budget. It would have been gorgeous though. He even told me you should really try to find the fabric cause painting it will look nice but that pattern is pretty unique.

You should look up GMW guitar works if you haven't his paint jobs are out of this world! http://www.gmwguitars.com/

 

 

I had been looking every evening a few hours here and there for the elusive unicorn of fabric,sometimes staying up way too late doing so on my phone. My wife would wake up from time to time 2 or 3 o clock in the morning and look at me like I was nuts.  I was on a mission and really wanted to find this fabric.  I'm very determined to get what I want in life and I have found that when I settle for something other than what I actually want I always regret my decisions. Yes I'm a little bit meticulous about certain things but in the business I'm in (insurance sales by day and pedals by night) I have to pay attention to those small details.  So I kept looking.

 

DEAD ENDS

I hit many dead ends in this search. Articles on Jemsite and other guitar builder forums where people tried before to reach Atlantis but had failed along the way.

One night I was looking up floral pattern artists trying to match up the style of flowers.

There is something special about the whimsical way these are drawn and its unique compared to other fabrics. I figured if I could find the artist I can find the fabric. 

 

I had a lead one night looking at fabric over on etsy there was a Sears Roebuck fabric that looked a lot like the fabric on the 77fp only issue is it was green and tan and yellow had birds and stuff. Wasn't correct at all but had a similar quality the way the flowers were drawn. So I did a search for Sears Roebuck vintage drapes. Nothing that evening.

I kept on the Sears kick a few nights and then moved on.

I emailed fabric companies and quilters forums, sewing forums, upholstery people.

Some people referred me to other people but  the end result was still no fabric.

 

I even searched Japanese and Korean and Chinese and Indian fabrics, Waverly patterns, French , English, German, No luck there either. Issue with most the fabrics is the patterns were too busy and every thing was so close and not spread out like this design. They would have birds, dragons, paisleys or something totally out of the norm for this fabric. 

 

The last week or so I hadn't looked around much at fabric. I had decided that I was going to maybe take it to a local local printer that has this huge flatbed UV printer and have them UV print the design on the body. I even looked at Axe Decals and you can upload a custom picture on their site and get a vinyl wrap for your guitar. Its a great idea and I figured one of those methods would get me an FP77 till I can find a real body or fabric somewhere that goes with this neck.  I like many others was getting a little disappointed not finding this fabric anywhere.  It's a tough nut to crack and I started thinking I might have better luck curing cancer at this point.

Then it happened!

Last night I did a search for Floral Fabrics and found a fabric that had a lot of the same qualities and similar colors and flower shapes it was a little fancier and more refined than the 77fp fabric. I almost bought it. 

 

The listing had a brand name JAY YANG. 

Here is an interesting article on him

 

 

JAY YANG, the creator of the legendary--and highly successful--Orient Express decorative fabric collection for P/Kaufmann in 1974, went on to other successes before stepping aside from fabric design, has returned with his own specialty design company, ECMills. Yang, a Taiwan-born designer is known for big floral designs and has built on his signature flowers with other looks in this fabric collection. The ''Yang signature stands for a certain aesthetic, same as a musician's tune or an artists' handwriting,'' he said. ''I have established a handwriting for well-drawn flowers which has now been expanded to other traditional designs. His first fabric collection was inspired by his Chinese heritage. Design ideas come from his travel photographs, museum visits and design reference books. Patterns are drawn over and over until the scale, placement and repetition of design details is pleasing. Some fabrics have as many as 26 colors.

 

With this new knowledge I did the same thing I did when I was on the Sears Roebuck trail and Searched for Jay Yang Floral Fabric. I saw lots of great patterns he even had a dragon one that would make a sweet guitar top! About 30 minutes into my search last night

 

Up popped a picture in google search that looked really familiar to me!

 

 

 

 

 COULD THIS BE THE LOST CITY OF ATLANTIS?

This was it!  The peony was definitely the same flower I had seen many times on my hunt through google images for pics of this guitar! The rest of it looked correct too. I put this on my watch list on eBay and screen shot the picture and put it into an app to compare it side by side with a picture of a Jem 77fp

As I get more info on Jay Yang fabrics I will let you all know. I talked to his Niece this morning and she is forwarding on my info to him so I can ask a few questions about the years of production Variations etc. The fabric picture wasn't quite square in the pic on the listing but you can see it matches up perfectly. The yellowing lacquer is making the guitars have a yellowish tint over the fabric that's why the raw fabric looks so much brighter and nicer.  Thanks for visiting my blog please check out the rest of the site. This blog will follow various projects and also pedal mods and repairs.

Thanks,

Brian Kinnaman

Owner Kinnatone Effects.

Up Next the various patterns of the Jem 77FP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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