What grabs you about Ibanez guitars? Is it the fact that rock icons like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai play Ibanez? Maybe you like the shapes and designs? Maybe it's the tone? I believe every guitar player is drawn to certain designs, but whatever your predisposition is, there's an Ibanez guitar for you.
Many of the designs offered are of the double-cutaway variety, like a Fender Strat. But they don't stop there. If you prefer something a bit more exotic and unique, you've got the Destroyer, which was a lot like the Gibson Explorer, and the Iceman, an original Ibanez design.
Ibanez also has a nice selection of hollow-body and acoustic guitars. They've really made a solid name for themselves. For quite some time, "made in Japan" didn't necessarily mean a good thing, but those times have certainly changed!
Historically, there was a period of time where Ibanez made copies of other manufactures' designs. They weren't the only ones - many Japanese companies were out to capitalize on the success of Gibson and Fender. They flooded the market with cheaper versions of famous guitars like the Les Paul and Stratocaster. Back in the day, everyone thought if it was "made in Japan", count on it to be a cheap copy.
This business model landed Hoshino Gakki in some hot water, as the big boys weren't gonna take someone using their intellectual property (the designs) to profit or worse, damage their reputation. Ibanez spent a few years buried in lawsuits, but by 1978 was out of the copy business and only manufactured their own designs.
The Ibanez guitar brand has been in existence since 1929, created by the Hoshino Gakki company in Japan. The name came from a Spanish guitar manufacturer, Salvador Ibanez, which Hoshino Gakki began importing to Japan. By 1935, Hoshino Gakki owned the brand name rights.
They began using the 'Ibanez' name exclusively in 1957. In the 1950's and 1960's, you could get Ibanez guitars that were very similar to Fender guitar designs. For a good compilation of photos and information about vintage Ibanez guitars, here is a good site. You can also go here to read more about the Ibanez company history.
Ibanez guitars and basses have been iconic in rock music since the early 1980's with the Iceman. It was in the late 1980's when Steve Vai lent his celebrity to the company and the JEM line was introduced. This body style has an interesting "Monkey Grip" on the top of the body. The JEM line has a real fan base - here's a cool site devoted to the JEM.
But Vai certainly wasn't the first rocker to play Ibanez. In fact, before Jimi Hendrix started playing Stratocasters, it's been suggested he had an Ibanez (well, actually it was a Guyatone exported from Japan with the Ibanez name).
And there are quite a few others playing Ibanez. These include:
And let's not forget "Satch" himself - Mr. Joe Satriani. He's responsible for making the JS model famous. Hell, he's got 7 designs you can choose from!
The latest (as of Summer 2008) Ibanez has come out with is the JSBDG (seen on the right), an exact replica of Joe's "Black Dog" guitar. Only 100 of them were made to be distributed worldwide. If you had to pay list price, it would set you back $8000.
Of course, the economics of supply and demand have brought the price down a bit - I saw one on eBay for $6000. Aw come on, that's a deal, right? Right... I'll take two, thank you!
Here's a cool vid of Satch tearin' it up with one of his Ibanez's:
Get yourself over to the Ibanez Guitars website to check out all the cool axes...
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