Ibanez: One of the Best Guitar Brands in Japan

Many people around the world have dedicated their lives to music. It may be by having a musical career or by creating musical instruments that would enable other people to play beautiful music. There are several musical instruments that one can choose from to play music, but probably the most common musical instrument used around the world is a guitar. There are different kinds of guitars that one can play. Moreover, there are also various brands that offer unique pieces of guitars. One of the most famous brands is Ibanez.

History of Ibanez: With the JEM and Iceman Series

More commonly known as Aibanizu in Japanese, Ibanez is a guitar brand that originated in Japan. The brand is owned by none other than one of the biggest musical instrument companies in Japan, Hoshino Gakki. The company is based in Nagoya located in Aichi, Japan. They said company was actually among the first ones to be able to successfully gain sales in imported guitars in the US as well as in Europe. It was also the first to mass-produce guitars that consist of seven strings and eight strings.

Aside from guitars, Ibanez manufactures effects, amplifiers, accessories, and other instruments. Its manufacturing factories are spread out in Japan, Indonesia, China, and the US. At present, there are almost 130 models of acoustic guitars and 165 models of bass guitars manufactured by Ibanez. It also has over 300 models of electric guitars.

It was in the year 1908 when the company known as Hoshino Gakki started its musical instrument sales division of a bookstore chain called Hoshino Shoten. On the other hand, the brand called Ibanez goes back to the year 1929 when Hoshino Gakki decided to import guitars, specifically Salvador Ibanez ones, from Spain.

However, the company behind these Spanish guitars was bought by Telesforo Julve in the year 1933. As a result, Hoshino Gakki made the decision to make their own Spanish-style acoustic guitars in the year 1935. Initially, they used the brand name “Ibanez Salvador.” As time went on, they were simply just called “Ibanez.”

It was only in the late 1950s when Ibanez guitars started to have its modern look and feel. The late 1960s showed some Ibanez guitars with wild-looking designs, showcasing the experimentation phase of the brand. These guitars were manufactured by Guyatone, Kiso Suzuki Violin, and their very own factory in Tama, which was established in the year 1962.

However, the Tama factory halted its operations in manufacturing guitars in the year 1966. As a result, Hoshino Gakki had to look for other guitar manufacturers. For a time, both the Teisco and the FujiGen Gakki guitar factories became the manufacturers of Ibanez Guitars. Sadly, the Teisco guitar factory closed down in the late 1960s. Ultimately, only the FujiGen Gakki was used to manufacture most Ibanez guitars.

There was a time when some Ibanez guitars looked like copies of Gibson and Fender models. This was called the lawsuit period in the history of Ibanez guitars. During this time, Ibanez guitars were produced under the Mann name so as to get away from authorities not just in the US but in Canada as well.

Hoshino Gakki decided to introduce Ibanez models that looked nothing like those designs of Fender and Gibson to clear its name. These models include the Roadstar series and the Iceman series. Since then, Hoshino Gakki has produced its own set of designs for Ibanez models. As time went on, the popularity of Ibanez guitars grew. One of its significant periods was in the late 1980s and the early 1990s.

The relationship between Hoshino Gakki and well-known guitarist Steve Vai paved the way for the introduction of JEM and the Universe models under the Ibanez brand. It was a hit to guitarists worldwide. Following the success of the Iceman and the Roadstar series, Hoshino Gakki was able to enter the superstrat market by introducing a more affordable version of the JEM series called the RG series.

Aside from electric guitars, Ibanez also had acoustic guitars under its name. These acoustic guitars had varying strings, including nylon and steel strings. Initially, most of these guitars were manufactured by the FujiGen guitar factory. However, as the company grew and expanded, Ibanez guitars are now also being manufactured in other countries in Asia like Indonesia, Korea, and China.

Sub-Brands of Ibanez: Prestige, Gio, Etc. 

Alexander Lesnitsky from Moscow, Russia [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

There are various sub-brands under Ibanez. One of the most popular ones is the Ibanez J. Custom. This series is the most expensive among all the sub-brands under Ibanez. This is because these guitars are the most exclusive as well as the highest-end custom shop ones. According to Ibanez, this series is “envisioned to be the finest Japanese-made guitar in history.” The guitars under this series were made by some of the most skilled luthiers under the brand.

Some of the aftermarket pickups they feature include the DiMarzio PAF-7 in the 7-string model as well as the Seymour Duncan Jazz and Custom 5 in the 6-string model. In addition, J- Custom also has 5 piece maple or wenge necks coupled with Titanium reinforcement rods, Edge Zero tremolo systems, and a rosewood fingerboard accentuated by a tree of life fretboard inlay.

Another sub-brand under the belt of Ibanez is the Ibanez Prestige. Guitars under this series are considered top of the line models. They are also manufactured in Japan. In comparison to other models, Ibanez Prestige guitars are made with high-quality materials and high craftsmanship. Its bridges are also made of higher quality compared to other regular guitars.

Another noteworthy sub-brand is the Ibanez Premium. Guitars under this series are somewhat similar to the other models under the Ibanez brand. However, Ibanez Premium guitars are made in the premium factory of Ibanez in Indonesia instead of in Japan. As for more affordable options, one can check out the Ibanez Gio. This series offers guitars at low costs without compromising playability.

Ibanez Solid Body Electric Guitars: RG, S, DN, X, and More

There are many types of solid body electric guitars that are manufactured by Ibanez. First on the list is the Ibanez Roadstar Guitar, more commonly known as the Ibanez RG. All Ibanez RG guitars have 24 frets and slim necks. These slim necks are called “Wizard.” They are beneficial for when players want to play faster than usual. These guitars offer fixed bridge systems as well as floating tremolo systems.

However, the Ibanez RG only featured the fixed bridge systems recently. Originally, it only featured tremolo bridge systems. At the time, Ibanez offered the RG series, which had the fixed bridge systems. Today, both models are still being manufactured. The difference between the RG and the RGA now is the latter’s arched top. The arched top enables players to have that added comfort while playing the instrument.

For people who love heavy metal, the Ibanez RGD is worth checking out. This series has a scale of 26.5 inches, which lets users tune their guitars while holding standard string tension even without using thicker gauge strings. It also has an extra deep scoop cut located on the lower horn of the guitar so that users would have an easier access to high fret. At present, there are two models under this series still being built by Ibanez.

Another series worth looking into is the Ibanez Saber series, more commonly called the Ibanez S. It features an extremely slim body built from mahogany with varying string models. It features 6 strings, 7 strings, and 8 strings. Based on the year of manufacture, these models may either have 22 frets or 24 frets.

One thing that all S models have in common is the width of their bodies in the middle. Usually located where the pickups are, the width is slightly thicker but it would taper off as it runs along the outer edges of the body. The guitars also feature fixed bridge systems as well as different types of the Edge bridge system. The models also utilize Lo-TRS and Zero Resistance or ZR. At present, there are eight guitars still being manufactured under the Prestige S-Series.

Another hit for heavy metal lovers is the Ibanez Darkstone, more commonly known as the Ibanez DN. It features a set-in neck that is ideal for fast playing and for added comfort. It also has a medium fret as well as coil-tapped pickups. Sadly, this guitar has been discontinued.

For players looking for something unique and unconventional, take a look at the Ibanez X series. The guitars under this series have unusual body designs that still work for guitar players. One of its guitars is the Ibanez Xiphos, which was designed to look like the letter X. There are several guitars under this series that are still being manufactured today.

For people who like traditional rock, check out the Ibanez Artist, more commonly known as the Ibanez AR. This series can also be used to play heavy metal. It is a single cutaway that features 24 frets and has a scale of 25 inches. It offers a wide range of bridge systems as well as pickups based on the specific model chosen.

People looking for a simple guitar that can be played in several genres can look into the Ibanez FR. It features a simple body that is designed for multiple genres of music. As for beginners, they can check out the Ibanez Mikro series. The guitars under this series are designed especially for beginners or for children who would be learning to play the guitar for the first time. The guitars under this series are also convenient to carry around.

Hollow Body Electric Guitars, Basses, and Amplifiers like Tube Screamer 

Ibanez also makes hollow body electric guitars. One of its popular series is the Ibanez Artcore series. This series is best used by people who are only beginning to play guitars. The models under this series were first released in the year 2002. It caters to players who are on a budget and still looking for affordable guitars with high playability.

As for the flagship model of the Artcore series, it would be none other than the Artcore Custom. The guitars under this series are made of maple and feature a set-in construction type of neck. These guitars also have hand rolled frets as well as wood control knobs.

For a lighter genre of music like jazz and blues, one may opt to check out the Ibanez AK. The guitars under this series have a thin set-in neck as well as a body that lets users easily access the higher frets. One of the distinct features of this series is its lower body horn, which is considerably sharper than other models under the Artcore series.

Ibanez also manufactures signature basses like the K5 Fieldy. Its design consists of a custom 5-string Soundgear as well as the “K5” Inlay located on the 12th fret. Early models of this were made in Japan. However, its production was eventually moved to the other factories that Ibanez use in Asia.

Aside from guitars, Ibanez also produces accessories such as amplifiers. Some of the guitar amplifiers that it makes are the Tube Screamer, the Iron Label, and the IBZ. Under the IBZ series are the IBZ15GR and the IBZ10G. Ibanez also features bass amplifiers. These include the Promethean, the IBZ, and the Sound Wave. As for acoustic amplifiers, Ibanez offers the Troubadour.

With a brand name known all over the world, Ibanez is a brand that is music to the ears of guitarists that know their instruments well. Guitarists know that Ibanez produces some of the best guitars on earth. It offers a wide range of products that cater not just to guitar aficionados who can spend a lot of money on any guitar but also to beginners who are on a tight budget. Playing an Ibanez guitar means creating music that is fun, distinct, and pure.