I wanted to design a Jem that had a classic look to it. We experimented with some color combinations and I decided on a white guitar with gold hardware. Ibanez had sent me 4 of them when they were available. They were production models with absolutely no modifications. I couldn't even tell them apart. I started to play them all to get a feel for the one I wanted to make my main ax.

Guitars are like snowflakes in that it seems like there are no two that are exactly alike. Each of those 4 guitars had a slightly different feel and sound. None were better than the other just a little different.

At the same time, I was also working with DiMarzio designing a new pickup. There were four that we experimented with and each was named after a Harley Davidson engine style. They were the Flathead, Knucklehead, Panhead and Evolution. The one I liked the most was the Evolution, so DiMarzio put them into production and they are still available.

The reason I liked the Evolution pickup was that it had a hot output, smooth yet cutting top end and tight bottom end. I had them put in one of the new white Jems and to tell the guitars apart I had to write something on them. That's how Evo got her name. Another one at the time was Flo. The way I got her name will remain a secret for a while.

There was something about Evo that I responded to. Even though she was technically exactly like every other production model guitar, there was something about her touch and sound that moved me. To this day, whenever I see her, my heart goes pitter-patter. Regardless of what is going on in my life, highs or lows, Evo is always a tender sanctuary. The feeling I get when I see her or approach her is akin to a warm home where you feel safe and secure, maybe even around the holiday season - you get the picture.

I started playing her before the Sex And Religion recordings and she has been my main ax since. The only time I use another guitar is if I'm looking for a sound that Evo can't deliver. Flo received a Fernandes sustainer and these days I have been using her more often for two reasons: I have been using the sustainer, and poor Evo is coming to pieces. Read the descriptions and look at the pictures! I did not want to put a sustainer in Evo because it really changes the sound.

I have several backups for Evo and Flo that I use and take on tour. The original Evo II was given to Charlie Bolis. He is a cool guy that is one of my studio techs.

Although Evo is just made out of wire and wood, I'm afraid of how much emotional investment I have in her. I think when you play an instrument long enough it becomes an extension of yourself in ways that run deeper than anyone may understand but you. It moulds and shapes to your body and style or you mould and shape to it. It is the tool an artist uses to express his or her deepest emotional expressions and secrets. For me, Evo has been the voice of my heart and has seen the depth of my most depressed emotional frames of mind to my most euphoric moments of joy and divine love, and she usually gets the brunt of it all. I have cried, screamed, prayed and bled through that instrument, and like I said, although she is only wire and wood, there is an emotional investment in her. I'm afraid at how much I love her but I know that she is only on loan to me for a short time and will one day be dust. But for now, there's still quite a bit we have to say together.

USED WITH PERMISSION FROM VAI.COM

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