Fender or Gibson? For many guitarists, this is a tough question to be asked... but there's a breed of players who'd find it very easy to answer: they'd simply say "Ibanez"! From all the most popular guitar brands in the world today, Ibanez took the longest to establish a reputation, but its importance and influence is now undeniable. Here's a look at the history of Ibanez guitars, plus a selection of some of the best Ibanez guitars available today, which you can find on our website and PMT stores.
Ibanez. For most guitarists who hear this word, the first thing that'll come to mind is that it's a quality Japanese brand. But... hang on... it doesn't sound very Japanese, does it? This gives a clue to the long and winding road that took Ibanez to where it is today - one of the biggest, most distinctive and well-loved guitar brands around.
Ibanez started in 1908, which makes it one of the longest-running guitar brands on the planet, but it took a really long time until it was firmly established as one of the top guitar manufacturers in the world. When they started, company owned by Hoshino Gakki was just the musical instrument sales division of the Hoshino Shoten, a bookstore company.
The Ibanez name was only adopted in 1935 when they started making their own classical guitars, after a few years importing Salvador Ibáñez acoustic guitars from Spain. Fast-forward a few decades, and by the late-50's/early-60s Ibanez was making guitars at the same factories that produced Teisco guitars, and, indeed, these Ibanez models look exactly like Teisco's, as any guitarist who love cheap Strat-style guitars from the Sixties will quickly notice:
Back then, Ibanez was just one of many small companies trying to grab a slice of the popular market, with guitars that looked a bit like Fender, a bit like Airline, a bit like Burns... you get the idea. Like Teisco, basically, or any other more obscure "cult" brands of the era... pretty cool stuff, but nothing that could set the brand apart.
In the 1970s, it was more or less the same: in the era of Classic Rock, Ibanez made some truly excellent Les Paul copies... so good, and so similar to the originals, that they ended up landing a lawsuit against Ibanez!
Today, these guitars are sought-after by players looking for great MIJ (Made in Japan) Les Paul-style guitars. But back then, the ensuing lawsuit was to be the nail in the coffin for that strategy of copying American brands. After all, by the mid-1970s Ibanez had reached a level of quality comparable to the bigger brands anyway, but with guitars at a more affordable price, so they started making some original designs, such as the Iceman:
It was to be a wise decision, and soon Ibanez started to be used by famous guitarist such as Paul Stanley from Kiss, who favoured an Ibanez Iceman from the late seventies, which inspired his latest PS120 signature guitar.
This exemplifies what made Ibanez so special: original designs with radical differences from the more traditional models from Fender, Gibson and other classic brands, such as: radical body shapes, slimmer necks, 2-octave fingerboards, slim pointed headstocks, higher-output electronics, humbucker/single-coil/humbucker (H/S/H) pickup configurations, locking tremolo bridges and different finishes.
Ibanez was the right brand at the right time - designing guitars which were perfect for the new, fast, hard-rocking players of the burgeoning Heavy Metal that started to develop in the late seventies! The brand was also the first major brand to manufacture 7- and 8-string guitars. This, and their ongoing collaboration with Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, cemented Ibanez as one of the greatest guitar brands, ever!
THE BEST IBANEZ GUITARS RIGHT NOW
PMT are part of a select group of stores who can sell the Limited-Edition, Prestige Ibanez models, which are some of the best ones available today. Here's a look at some of them, plus other great Ibanez guitars also worth checking out!
Ibanez JEM7V7 7-String Steve Vai Electric Guitar
The Ibanez JEM7V7 is a top-of-the-range Steve Vai signature model, with exquisite finishing, superb quality and amazing tone. And if your budget can't stretch that far, the Steve Vai JEM Junior is outstanding value... View more
Ibanez APEX20 Munky (Korn) Signature Guitar
The Ibanez APEX20 is a beast of a guitar, and perfect to deliver the combination of musicality and durability that Munky needs. View more
Ibanez RG8PB 8 String Guitar in Sapphire Blue Flat
This Ibanez RG8PB is a stunning example of Ibanez craftsmanship and one of the best value 8-string guitars we have in stock, and there's a 7-string version also available. View more
Ibanez S7721PB-NTF 7-String Natural Flat Ltd Edition
This Ibanez S7721PB-NTF is a 7-string beauty with Wizzard III neck and is the rock'n'roll equivalent of an elegant, quick and lethal weapon. It rocks! View more
Ibanez RG7421PB-CNF 7-String Guitar
The Ibanez RG7421PB-CNF offers pure hardtail performance with a distinct look from the poplar burl top, every other feature is classic Ibanez RG. Available in very limited quantities. View more
Ibanez RG655 Electric Guitar in Galaxy Black
This Ibanez RG655 (also available in Cobalt Blue) keeps to the core philosophy of speed, power and quality for guitarists who take it to the limit. A great player! View more
Ibanez S5520K-KB Prestige Series Electric Guitar in Koa Brown
The Ibanez S5520K-KB is a masterpiece crafted in Japan, and has an exotic edge with its Australian Blackwood, Marbled Rosewood and Titanium neck rods. View more
Ibanez RGIR20BFE-WNF Iron Label Electric Guitar in Walnut Flat
This Ibanez RGIR20BFE-WNF Iron Label model is a Limited Edition Ibanez with slick finish, pro grade hardware and tone woods that emphasise attack and sustain, with thunderous EMG pickups. View more
BEST IBANEZ BASS GUITARS
Ibanez SRFF805-BKS SR Fanned Fret Bass 5 String
The Ibanez SRFF805-BKS SR is a labour of love from a dedicated team at Ibanez. Designed to offer even tension and jaw dropping tone for 5 string bassists, and is a bargain for what you get. If 5 strings is not enough for you, there's a 6-string version also available! View more
Ibanez SR750 Bass in Natural Flat
The Ibanez SR750 Bass represents immense value for money. If you're looking for an instrument which plays the way you need it to the SR750 is perfect. The right choice of tone woods, slick neck and custom electronics gives plenty of power and precision. Also available in 5-string and 6-string versions! View more
By Ivan Silva