Music Gear Central: Ibanez IJV50 JamPack: Everything a beginning guitarist needs

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If you are thinking of gift ideas this holiday season, especially for someone who is interested in taking up the guitar, worldwide guitar manufacturer Ibanez may just have something for you.

Complete with a solid six-string guitar, guitar strap, electronic tuner, gig bag and accessory pouch, the IJV50 JamPack is a strong, out-of-the-box deal that will have any aspiring player making music in no time. The quality of this impressive acoustic will surely keep any beginner interested, perhaps the most important aspect of choosing one’s first guitar.

I received my first guitar in 1982 after my grandmother caught me flailing about while listening to old Black Sabbath albums I found in the closet of a bedroom that was once occupied by my uncle. She figured I would get better sound out of a real guitar than I was getting out of the inverted tennis racket I was pretending to master. She was correct—for a few months. I quickly lost the drive to even pick up the instrument, and gave it up to be a drummer. My decision was made partly because I had become as obsessed with Alex Van Halen as I had been with Peter Criss of Kiss five years earlier. However, the biggest factor in my choice to shelve my guitar was my frustration in tuning it and that the action was so poor it took most of my strength to press the strings against the fret board. I didn’t start playing again for another eight years.

Recipients of the IJV50 JamPack will not have to worry about the same fate. I have played many guitars at the low- to mid-price points, and have found consistencies among them all. However, Ibanez’s V50 has emerged as my favorite among some very reputable names.

The guitar itself has a spruce top with a body made of Agathis. The rosewood fret board is easy on the fingers, and the mahogany neck is very easy to navigate, which has become a trademark on Ibanez guitars and basses at all levels.

Keeping the V50 in tune is amazingly simple, withstanding aggressively played chords and notes. It also sounds as clean as any dreadnaught three times the price, which had me baffled at how kind this outfit is on the pocketbook.

The entire package lists for $249.99; however, most retailers are letting it go for around $100. I do, however, recommend purchasing a humidifier, which is absent from the IJV50 ensemble, to keep the wood body and neck from stretching and bending during climate changes. Guitar humidifiers are simple to use and are very affordable, at around $10 to $50.

Jim Hagerty is a staff writer for The Rock River Times covering the local, regional and national entertainment scenes. He is also a singer/songwriter and drummer. He can be reached by e-mail at

From the Nov. 29 – Dec. 5, 2006, issue

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