A New Tribute to the 7 String Guitar That Started It All

Guitarist extraordinaire, Steve Vai is back with another guitar to add to his already impressive lineup – and it’s a special guitar.

Vai's Ibanez UV7P Guitar

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It’s special because it’s a tribute to the original Universe – the UV7, which hit guitar stores in 1990. It was the first commercially available 7 string guitar. For something that’s so commonplace now, most guitarists didn’t even know what to do with a 7 string guitar. They learned pretty quickly, however, and now 7 stringers are everywhere, and many guitarists are well versed and know exactly what to do with that extra string.

During the research and development phase, Vai and Ibanez went through many iterations to get it just right.

The UV7P is modeled to be exactly like the original Universe – as far as features. The P stands for “Premium” – yet it’s affordable. It was manufactured in Indonesia, which is how they’re keeping the guitar priced so low. Vai says that the luthiers who make this guitar are trained by the same ones who made the original Universe guitars, back in the early 90s.

Vai-UV7P-Ibanez-Rear

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The body is American Basswood, and the neck is a Wizard-7 5 piece maple / walnut neck with titanium rods. That’s all topped off with a rosewood fretboard with the familiar green dot inlays.

A nice touch that your hands will certainly appreciate – premium fret edge treatment.

The pickups are all DiMarzio Blaze series, arranged as H-S-H, just like the original universe.

It’s all switched with a five position pickup selector, and the sound options are rounded out with a single volume knob, and a tone knob.

The bridge is a Edge Zero-II 7.

Will the UV7P stand up to the original, as far as quality? I think Vai would make sure that they did – it’s a tribute guitar dedicated to his first forray into 7 stringers with Ibanez, so I’d like to think that he would keep the quality top notch.

History of Vai’s Universe Guitars

The first commercially available 7 string guitar, the Universe has certainly stood the test of time. They’re still going on the secondary market for $800-$1,800, so they’re very high in demand – and the quality and playability on these is legendary.

Since the beginning, there have been several universe models, one notable being the UV777, which was produced from 1991 to 1993. It had a maple fingerboard, and was the most expensive universe at the time.

The UV777BK replaced the UV777 and is still available today –  Ibanez has manufactured Universe guitars every year since 1990 except for 1995.

So this is a worthy tribute. To a guitar that changed guitarists thinking – and got manufacturers adding more strings, and got guitarists figuring out what to do with them. To a man who has pioneered some pretty amazing changes to the art of guitar and the manufacture of guitars.

We’ll update this article as soon as we’ve got some pricing info.

Tim Monaghan (131 Articles)

Tim has been playing guitar & bass since he was 12 years old and has been in Jazz, funk, rock & metal bands. Influences include Jeff Beck, Stanley Clarke, Doug Stegmeyer, Baden Powell, Steve Vai, and pretty much anyone else who has a unique style that expresses their individuality. One of Tim’s many hobbies is building, tweaking, and repairing basses and guitars.