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Ibanez is a guitar brand owned by Hoshino Gakki based in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. Hoshino Gakki was one of the first Japanese guitar companies to gain a significant foothold in the United States and Europe with their Ibanez branded guitars and were later followed by other Japanese guitar companies such as ESP guitars.


The Hoshino Gakki company began in 1908 as a musical instrument sales division of the Hoshino Shoten bookstore company. In 1935 they began manufacturing their own stringed instruments. The company had little presence in the Western world until the mid-1960s. The Ibanez name dates back to 1929 when Hoshino Gakki started importing Salvador Ibanez acoustic guitars into Japan from the famous Spanish luthier Salvador Ibáñez (1854 - 1920), but when the Spanish workshop was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War (1936 - 1939) and the original guitars became unavailable (and very much sought after because of their excellent quality), Hoshino Gakki bought the Ibanez brand name rights and started making Spanish and acoustic guitars on their own, first as "Ibanez Salvador", and later as "Ibanez" [1].

The modern era of Ibanez guitars began in 1957 [1] and the late 1950s and 1960s Ibanez catalogues [2] show guitars with some wild looking designs [3]. Some of the late 1960s Ibanez designs were similar to Hagström and Eko guitar designs and Hoshino Gakki used the Teisco and FujiGen Gakki guitar factories to manufacture Ibanez branded guitars after they stopped manufacturing their own guitars in 1966. After the Teisco guitar factory closed down in 1969/1970 Hoshino Gakki used the FujiGen Gakki guitar factory to make most of the Ibanez branded guitars and the Ibanez headstock logo also changed from a metal logo to a more modern decal logo.

This was the beginning of the Gibson Guitar Corporation, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, Dan Armstrong and Rickenbacker Ibanez copies. Using somewhat cheaper materials and greater automation in manufacturing, they were able to sell these guitars for a significantly lower price than the originals. The low price combined with the relatively high quality of the guitars made these models very popular. Many guitar aficionados feel that the early and mid 1970s mark a low point in the quality of guitars from the major manufacturers, which helped contribute to the popularity of the Ibanez copies.

After the lawsuit period Hoshino Gakki introduced Ibanez models that were not copies of the Gibson or Fender designs such as the Ibanez Iceman and Ibanez Roadstar. The company has produced its own unique guitar designs ever since. The late 1980s and early 1990s were an important period for Hoshino Gakki's Ibanez brand. Hoshino Gakki's relationship with Frank Zappa's former guitarist Steve Vai resulted in the introduction of the Ibanez JEM and the Ibanez Universe models and after the earlier successes of the Ibanez Roadstar and Ibanez Iceman models in the late 1970s/early 1980s, Hoshino Gakki entered the superstrat market with the Ibanez RG series which were a low priced version of the Ibanez JEM model [4].

Hoshino Gakki also had semi acoustic, nylon and steel stringed acoustic guitars manufactured under the Ibanez brand name. Tama acoustic guitars were made from 1974-1979 at the Tama Drum factory. In 1979 the Tama acoustic guitars were renamed to the Ibanez Artwood Series and were also made at the Tama Drum factory. Most Ibanez guitars were made for Hoshino Gakki by the FujiGen guitar factory in Japan up until the mid to late 1980s and from then on Ibanez guitars have also been made in other Asian countries such as Korea, China and Indonesia. During the early 1980s the FujiGen guitar factory also produced most of the Roland guitar synthesizers, including the Stratocaster-style Roland GR-505, the twin humbucker Roland GR-202 and the Ibanez X-ING IMG-2010.

Hoshino Gakki owns the Ibanez (guitars) and Tama (drums) brand names. Ibanez is only a brand name that is owned by Hoshino Gakki and therefore Ibanez does not produce guitars. An Ibanez guitar is not produced by Ibanez, but by Hoshino Gakki, who contracts guitar factories to make Ibanez branded guitars. There were many Japanese guitar distributors in the 1970s/1980s operating in Japan and cooperating with overseas guitar distributors that used their own brand names and sometimes had their guitars built in the same FujiGen guitar factory that Hoshino was using.

One of these distributors was Jack Westheimer who played a part in many Japanese and Korean made guitar brand names. Jack Westheimer was one of the founders of Cor-Tek (Cort). Some of the brand names associated with Jack Westheimer were Cortez, Pearl, Kingston, Teisco, Silvertone and many others. There were also guitar brand names owned by the Japanese guitar making factories such as Westone by the Matsumoku guitar factory and Kasuga by the Kasuga guitar factory.

Sometimes stencil (template) guitar designs were shared by Japanese guitar companies and distributors so an early Hoshino Ibanez branded guitar might look the same as another brand name guitar produced by a different Japanese distributor but only Ibanez, Cimar by Ibanez and Maxxas branded guitars were made for Hoshino Gakki and are the only guitar brand names that have appeared in Hoshino Gakki catalogues. Cimar guitars were not produced by Hoshino Gakki but "Cimar by Ibanez" guitars were produced for Hoshino Gakki by Cimar [5].

The Starfield guitar brand was also owned by Hoshino Gakki. In the 1970s, Hoshino Gakki and Kanda Shokai shared some guitar designs and so some Ibanez and Greco guitars have the same features. The Kanda Shokai Greco guitars were sold in Japan and the Hoshino Gakki Ibanez guitars were sold outside of Japan. From 1982, Ibanez guitars have also been sold in Japan as well as being sold outside of Japan [6].

Guitar brands such as Antoria shared some Ibanez guitar designs. The Antoria guitar brand was managed by JT Coppock Leeds Ltd England. CSL was a brand name managed by Charles Summerfield Ltd England. Maurice Summerfield of the Charles Summerfield Ltd company contributed some design ideas to Hoshino Gakki and also imported Ibanez and CSL guitars into the UK with Hoshino Gakki cooperation from 1964-1987. The Maxxas brand name came about because Hoshino Gakki thought that the guitar did not fit in with the Ibanez model range and was therefore named Maxxas by Rich Lasner from Hoshino USA. [7].


Harry's Rosenbloom, of Medley Music, based in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, was manufacturing handmade guitars under the name "Elger." By 1965 Rosenbloom had decided to stop manufacturing guitars and chose to become the exclusive North American distributor for Ibanez guitars. In 1971 Hoshino purchased Elger Guitars, renaming the company "Hoshino U.S.A." and retaining the company headquarters in Bensalem, Pennsylvania as a distribution and quality-control center.

The so called lawsuit was brought by the "Norlin Corporation", the parent company of Gibson guitars against Elger/Hoshino U.S.A. in 1977, and was based on an Ibanez headstock design that had been discontinued by 1976. Hoshino settled out of court, and by 1978 had begun making Ibanez guitars from their own designs [8].

After the so called lawsuit Hoshino Gakki abandoned the strategy of copying "classic" USA electric guitar designs and moved to the popular superstrat era in the mid-1980s. The newer Ibanez models began incorporating more modern elements into their design such as radical body shapes, slimmer necks, flatter 2-octave fingerboards (which allowed for faster playing), slim pointed headstocks, higher-output electronics, humbucker/single-coil/humbucker pickups, locking tremolo bridges and more colourful finishes.


Electric guitars[]

File:Ibanez RG220.jpg

Ibanez RG220

  • Ibanez GIO series are budget priced Ibanez guitars. They have the GIO name assigned to their headstock above the Ibanez logo. The GIO series are the budget priced copies of the Ibanez RG, RX, SA, SZ, and AX series. The GRGM mikro, the sole Ibanez 3/4-sized guitar, also belongs to this category.
  • Ibanez RG series (previously named Roadstar Guitar, hence the name RG), are the Ibanez superstrat guitars, all featuring 24-fret slim necks. Most of the Ibanez RG models have bolt-on-necks with high-performing tremolos, although some are neck-thru or fixed bridge models. The first Ibanez RG was the 550 in 1987, which was the cheaper version of the Ibanez JEM, Steve Vai's signature model. It featured pretty much the same specifications except for the "Monkey Grip", the "Lion's Claw" below the tremolo, the Vine or Pyramid inlay and the DiMarzio pickups. Shape, colors, pickup configurations, and woods were pretty much the same. From 1987 to present the RG came out in hundreds different versions, some having different pickups and pickup configurations (HSH, HH, HSS, HS etc), some lacking the pickguard and some with different woods, tremolos, and colors. It is not clearly known how many versions have appeared since 1987. In 2003, Japanese-made RGs became the RG Prestige series, which featured an all-new neck construction (much more reliable now), a redesigned tremolo (Edge-Pro) and a 6-step special treatment to the fretboard for even more comfortable playing. It has the following subseries: RGT Prestige (neck-Thru) and the RGA Prestige (Arch-top and fixed bridge) however some newer models have floating bridges.
  • Ibanez S series also known as the Saber series are famous for having ergonomic and lightweight mahogany bodies. A notable endorser of the Ibanez Saber series was Frank Gambale, who obtained his namesake FGM signature guitars in 1987. As of 2008, Dragonforce guitarist Herman Li (a long time S series player) uses the E-Gen signature guitars, which are nonetheless but a S series Ibanez guitar with some modifications. The series has the following subseries:
    • S - The S models use the "zero resistance" floating tremolo, which enables the strings to stay more in tune. Also available as S Prestige, high-end range which are made in Japan/Korea - S2170, S4170 AB.
    • SZ - The SZ or SZR (introduced in 2008) models have hardtail bridges and thru-body stringing, as well as a 25.1 scale set neck that has a different feel than the S and SA's guitar's bolt on 25.5 scale neck. Also available is the SZ Prestige, high-end range which are made in Japan/Korea.
    • SC - Similar to the SZ models. No longer in production.
    • SA - The SA models feature a flatback body (S models feature a curved back), and have synchronized tremolos. Also the basic SA models have a hidden plate bolt on neck design. Subseries include the SAS, basic SA models with Set-in neck design, and the SA Prestige.
    • SV - The SV models have a thicker neck and a TZ100 tremolo bridge.
  • RT series - Superstrat design with 24 frets. Discontinued in 1994.
  • RX series - Superstrat design but with 22 frets instead. Discontinued in 1998, and currently only exists as GRX (budget model of RX series).
  • AX series - Gibson SG copies - currently only exist as GAX model and GuitarCentral exclusive model.
  • Axstar (aka Axstar by Ibanez) - discontinued
  • EDR/EXR - Ergodyne series - discontinued
  • Artist Series - In the mid-70's Ibanez started producing a line of double cutaway solid body guitars. Some of these featured tri-sound switches which enabled the player to alter the humbucking pickups to single coil or out of phase modes. There were various models, the best known of which, produced in the 1980s, are the AR100, AR105, AR150 (all without the tri-sound) and AR300, AR305, AR350 (all featuring the tri-sound). The artist series established the company as manufacturers of high quality original instruments. Early endorsers included Bob Weir and Steve Miller. The AR300 has since been reissued as a cheaper, downgraded model.
  • ARC-100/300 (Retro Series)
  • ARX-100/300 (Retro Series)
  • AR-100/200 (black vintage top)
  • Ibanez Artcore Series - Ibanez's full and semi-hollow guitar line. Subseries are
    • AF (Full hollow)
    • AK (Full Hollow)
    • AFS-75t (Full hollow vintage vibrato)
    • AG (Full hollow)
    • AS (Semi hollow)
    • AM (Semi hollow)
    • AXD (Semi and Full hollow)
    • AWD (Semi and Full hollow)
    • FWD (Semi and Full hollow)
  • Ibanez Jet King 2 and Jet King 1 - A modern remake of the Ibanez Rhythm maker, vintage looking and sounding guitar
  • Radius series - discontinued, a modified version is now taken over by the Joe Satriani signature series which features a multi-radius neck.
  • RS Roadstar Series - Consists of the Talman, Radius and Saber series
  • EX Series - Manufactured in Korea.
  • X Series - Various X-shaped and star-shaped instruments geared towards metal players
  • PF - Performer series
  • PL - Pro Line series
  • RR - Rocket Roll
  • DT - Destroyer
  • IC - Iceman
  • CN Concert Series - This was a short lived series produced in 1978 then discontinued soon afterwards. It features an [Asymmetric|asymmetric] double cutaway body with two humbuckers, a hard tail bridge and a bolt on neck. The top end model (the CN250) was one of the earliest guitars to feature "half vine" fingerboard inlays.
  • Ibanez j.custom - Previously an exclusive custom range available in Japan only. Now available worldwide.
  • U.S.A. custom - USA custom range.
  • AFD - Artfield
  • (M)GR - Ghostrider
  • Cimar by Ibanez

Production Signature Models (Past & Present)[]


Ibanez JEM 555BK

  • Stanley Jordan Signature
  • JS - Joe Satriani Signature
  • Universe and JEM - Steve Vai Designed Guitar
  • PGM - Paul Gilbert Signature
  • AH10 - Alan Holdsworth Signature
  • PS10 - Paul Stanley Signature
  • MFM - Marty Friedman Signature
  • VM1 - Vinnie Moore Signature
  • FGM - Frank Gambale Signature
  • JPM - John Petrucci Signature
  • RBM2NT - Reb Beach Signature
  • MBM1 - Matt Bachand Signature
  • DMM1 - Daron Malakian Signature
  • AT - Andy Timmons Signature
  • MMM - Mike Mushok Signature
  • MTM - Mick Thomson Signature
  • NDM2 - Noodles Signature
  • GB - George Benson Signature
  • PM - Pat Metheny Signature
  • JSM - John Scofield Signature
  • ICJ100WZ - Jay Yuenger Signature
  • K7 - Korn Signature
  • APEX - Munky Signature
  • K5 - Korn Signature Bass
  • E-Gen - Herman Li Signature
  • STM - Sam Totman Signature
  • ORM - Omar Rodriguez Signature
  • ADM - Adam Moher Signature
  • PKW - Peter Kirkwood Signature

New Guitars for 2008[]

  • Xiphos 7-String - XPT707 (X-Series)
  • S-Series Prestige - 24-fret
  • SV-Series Prestige - 24-fret, vintage tremolo
  • Iceman - ICT700 (return to the Ibanez catalogue - IC-Series)
  • E-Gen - Herman Li Signature - EGEN18 (derivate of the S-Series)
  • STM - Sam Totman Signature - STM1 (derivate of the IC-Series)
  • NDM - Noodles Signature - NDM2 (return to the Ibanez catalogue - derivate of the Talman Series)
  • ORM - Omar Rodriguez Signature - ORM1
  • SZR - 22-fret, new version of the SZ series, SZR520 and SZR720 (with vine inlay & gold hardware)

Bass guitars[]

  • ARTCORE Series- Archtop Basses
    • AFB200 - Hollow-body bass guitar
    • AGB200 - Semihollow-body bass guitar
  • Blazer
  • BTB Series
    • BTB Prestige - High-end range which are made in Korea.
  • DWB Series
  • EDA (Ergodyne) Series
  • EDB (Ergodyne) Series
  • EDC (Ergodyne) Series
  • EWB Series
  • GAXB Series
  • GSR Series- A lower-cost version of the Soundgear Series
    • GSR 205 - Nominated for Ibanez's "Best of Model" award
  • GWB Series
  • ICB (Iceman) Series
  • JUMPSTART Series- Similar to the GSR Series, named for the Jumpstart Pack which comes with amp and other accessories.
  • K5 Fieldy- A custom 5-string Soundgear w/ "K5" Inlay centered on 12th fret
  • Musician Series
  • ROADGEAR Series
  • SR (Soundgear) Series
    • SR Prestige - High-end range which are made in Korea.
File:Ibanez Artcore headstock.jpg

Headstock from an ARTCORE series guitar

  • SRX (Soundgear) Series
  • SDGR Series
  • ATK Series
  • EX series
  • Roadstar Series
  • S series
  • TR Series

Acoustic guitars[]

  • AE Series
    • AE5LG
  • AES Series
  • AW Series (sr900)
  • DT Series
  • EP9 Series
  • EW Series
  • GA Series
  • JAMPACK Series
  • MANDOLIN Series
  • MASA Series
  • PF Series
  • TALMAN Series
  • V Series
  • Concord
  • SAGE Series

Ibanez endorsers, past and present[]

       Main article: List of Ibanez players

Effect pedals[]

File:Ibanez de7.jpg

Ibanez DE7 Delay/Echo Pedal

In the 1970s, the Nisshin Onpa company who own the Maxon brand name developed and began selling a series of effect pedals in Japan. Hoshino Gakki licensed these for sale using the name Ibanez outside of Japan. These two companies eventually began doing less and less business together until Nisshin Onpa ceased manufacting the TS-9 reissue for Hoshino Gakki in 2002.

Tube Screamers[]

       Main article: Ibanez Tube Screamer

Based on the earlier Overdrive I and II pedals, Hoshino Gakki began releasing the first Ibanez Tube Screamer, the TS-808 in the late 1970s. These contained the famed JRC4558D integrated circuit (IC). Many players consider this one of the best solid state pedals to emulate the sound produced by an overdriven vacuum tube guitar amplifier.

Over the years, Hoshino Gakki released many different kinds of pedals bearing the Ibanez Tube Screamer name. The first was the TS-9 Tube Screamer, which included only a few component changes and often, but not always, different ICs. In 1985 the Master or L series were introduced and sold only for a year. Many claim that in this series, there's no Tubescreamer. Looking closer circuitwise shows that there is one but in the disguise of the Metal Screamer with slightly changed component values. The name change was most likely for marketing reasons.

Based on the Master series but with slight changes in housing in 1986, the Power Series were introduced, which included the TS-10. Like many of the Master and Power Series pedals, there were not many differences in the circuitry between these and their 9-series counterparts. To make production cheaper, these pedals used circuit board-mounted potentiometers (pots) and jacks. In 1992, Hoshino Gakki began re-issuing the Ibanez TS-9. Then in 1996, Hoshino Gakki added a CE mark to the back of the Ibanez pedal, which is required for it to be sold in Europe.

In the early 1990s, Hoshino Gakki released the Ibanez Soundtank series, which, except for the first run which was metal, had cheap plastic enclosures and like the Power Series before it, used less expensive parts. Around 2000 came the Tone Lok series, and the TS-7, which included a switch for added gain. In 1998, the new TS-9DX was introduced, which included a 4-way switch for capacitor changes and changes in the clipping section. Then in 2002, Nisshin Onpa stopped production of the TS-9 for Hoshino Gakki. Post-2002 circuit boards say Ibanez instead of Maxon.

Due to popular demand, Hoshino Gakki reissued the Ibanez TS-808 in 2004, complete with the JRC4558D chip. Original TS-808's, and to a lesser extent, TS-9s, have become highly collectible. Many overdrive pedals in production, especially those by "boutique" manufacturers, are a modified version of the Tube Screamer circuit.

Serial Numbers[]

Approximate Ibanez Serial Numbers (non Acoustic)

Japanese Ibanez Serial Numbers

1997 and after (CE logo designation)

  • F = FujiGen
  • YYXXXXX format
  • YY = year (98=1998)
  • XXXXX = production number


  • F = FujiGen
  • H = Terada
  • I = Ida Gakki (Iida)
  • YXXXXX format
  • Y = year (2=1992)
  • XXXXX = production number


  • MYYXXXX format
  • M = Month (A = Jan to L = Dec)
  • YY = year (82=1982)
  • XXXX = production number

Most Ibanez models with this serial number format were made by FujiGen Gakki. Exceptions are the Ibanez Blazer models which were made by Dyna Gakki and the Axstar by Ibanez models AX40, AX45, AX48, AXB50, AXB60, AXB65, AX70, AX75 which were made by Chushin Gakki. The Ibanez Axstar AXB1000 model was made by FujiGen Gakki.

Korean Ibanez Serial Numbers

C = Cor-Tek (Cort), S = Samick(1990-1995), S/SQ = Saehan(Sunghan), P = Peerless (Iida), Y = Yoojin, A = Sae-In.

  • YYMMXXXX format
  • YY = year (03=2003)
  • MM = month (01=Jan..12=Dec)
  • XXXX = production number

E = Sung-Eum

  • YMMXXXX format
  • Y = year (9=1999)
  • MM = month (01=Jan..12=Dec)
  • XXXX = production number

W = World

  • MYXXXX format
  • M=month (1=Jan .. 9=Sep, X=Oct..Z=Dec)
  • Y=year (3=2003)
  • XXXX = production number

Indonesian Ibanez Serial Numbers

I = Cor-Tek (Cort) Indonesia, K = KWO

  • YYMMXXXXX format
  • YY = year (03=2003)
  • MM = month (01=Jan..12=Dec)
  • XXXXX = production number

Chinese Ibanez Serial Numbers

Z = Yeou Chern, J=Sejung

  • YYMMXXXXX format
  • YY = year (03=2003)
  • MM = month (01=Jan..12=Dec)
  • XXXXX = production number

Odd Ibanez Serial Numbers

  • 2940000 Acoustic
  • 2 = Cor-Tek (Cort) Taejan
  • YYXXXX format
  • YY = year (94=1994)
  • XXXX = production number
  • Ibanez Ghostrider model numbers GR=Cor-Tek (Cort), MGR=Samick

Older Acoustic

  • YYMM (Kato)
  • YY = year (82=1982)
  • MM = month (01=Jan..12=Dec)

Silver Cadet model

  • Z = Woo-sin

Pickup Serial Numbers[]

Ibanez and Greco Nisshin Onpa (Maxon) pickup serial number format consisting of 5 numbers up to and including 1977. Ibanez Super 70 pickups have the same serial number format.

  • First number = Nisshin Onpa (Maxon) pickup code (1, 2, etc)
  • Second number = Year (7=1977)
  • Third number = Month (0=Jan ... 9=Oct then .=Nov, X=Dec)
  • Fourth and Fifth number = Day of Month (01-31)

Ibanez and Greco Nisshin Onpa (Maxon) pickup serial number format consisting of 6 numbers from 1977 to 1982.

  • First number = Nisshin Onpa (Maxon) pickup code (1, 2, etc)
  • Second number = Year (9=1979)
  • Third and Fourth number = Month (01=Jan ... 12=Dec)
  • Fifth and sixth number = Day of Month (01-31)

Ibanez "Super 70" pickups made by Nisshin Onpa (Maxon) had a alnico 8 magnet. Ibanez "Super 58" pickups made by Nisshin Onpa (Maxon) had a alnico 3 magnet. Ibanez "Super 80" pickups made by Nisshin Onpa (Maxon) had a ceramic magnet. All of the above pickups DC resistance is approximately 7.5-8.0 kilohms.


  1. Ibanez, The Untold Story by Paul Specht (Michael Wright, Jim Donahue) ISBN 0-9764277-0-2

External links[]