Ibanez, The Untold Story

By Paul Specht
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Ibanez is one of the most recognized and respected makers of electric and acoustic guitars and accessories on the planet, but there has always been a great deal of mystery surrounding its history, and that of its Japanese parent company, Hoshino. This new book by Ibanez product manager Paul Specht (with contributions from Michael Wright and Jim Donahue) tells the tale from when Hoshino first began importing Salvador Ibanez acoustics from Spain in 1929. The story of Ibanez’s ascension from being an exporter of inexpensive guitars made by Tokyo Sound and Kuroyanagi Gakki to becoming a manufacturer of instruments that could rival those of the top U.S. brands is a case study in this company’s determination to do whatever it took to fundamentally change the way professional players thought about Japanese guitars. I especially enjoyed the chapters dedicated to the original models that Ibanez began introducing in 1974, and, of course, its exemplary signature guitars, such as the Bob Weir Pro, the George Benson GB10, the Artist and Studio Series, the Paul Stanley Iceman with its shattered glass top, the Joe Pass JP20 and Lee Ritenour LR10 hollowbodies, the Pat Metheney series, the John Scofield JSM100VT, and the guitar that was a harbinger of things to come—the forward-thinking Maxxas, which cemented Ibanez’ endorsement deal with Steve Vai, and pointed the way to an equally beneficial arrangement with Joe Satriani.

That’s just part of the story, too, as the book also covers acoustic guitars, basses, 7-string models, amplifiers, and effects. And if you’re too ADD to wade into the contents to discover how and when your beloved four-pickup Agent model came to be, you can quickly find out via the handy reference guide in the back of this 300-plus page book—which lists the basic specs of just about every guitar, bass, and effect that Ibanez has made from 1957 to the present. Loaded with great stories and brimming with photos (many of which have never before been made public), this interesting and extremely informative book definitely deserves a place in any guitar nut’s library. Hoshino.
—Art Thompson