A short history of Ibanez guitars

An Ibanez S570B electric guitar.
An Ibanez S570B electric guitar. (Photo by Preetam Jinka, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Hoshino Gakki company

Ibanez didn’t start out life as Ibanez. The company began in 1908 as Hoshino Gakki. Initially Hoshino Gakki was a division of the larger Hoshino Shoten, a bookstore chain headquartered in Nagoya, Japan.

The era of the lawsuit guitars

In the late 1950s, Ibanez decided to enter the US guitar market. At that time, both Fender and Gibson were dealing with quality issues, leaving many musicians frustrated and looking for better instruments. The Japanese company saw an opening. They began to build and sell copies of popular American-made guitars, including Fenders, Gibsons, and Rickenbackers.

The era of innovation and diversity

Normally, a lawsuit like this would have had major implications for a company, but this didn’t stop Ibanez; it didn’t even slow them down. By the late ’70s, enough players had gotten their hands on the Japanese guitars that their quality was well known. All Ibanez had to do was come up with original designs and continue to make great guitars — which is exactly what they did.

An Ibanez JS10 Joe Satriani signature guitar.
An Ibanez JS10 Joe Satriani signature guitar.

The TS808 Tube Screamer

While there is much more Ibanez history that could be told, no story would be complete without mentioning the company’s revolutionary TS808 overdrive pedal. Created during the tail end of the lawsuit era, it is seen by many guitarists as the “holy grail” of guitar pedals. Such guitar greats as Eric Johnson and Carlos Santana popularized the pedal, and of course, Stevie Ray Vaughan used a Tube Screamer when building his iconic sound.

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Jon Clemence

Jon Clemence

Medium needs more guitar-related content. I. Am. That. Hero!