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Ibanez (アイバニーズ Aibanīzu?) is a Japanese guitar brand owned by Hoshino Gakki. Based in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan, Hoshino Gakki were one of the first Japanese musical instrument companies to gain a significant foothold in import guitar sales in the United States and Europe, as well as the first brand of guitars to mass-produce the seven-string guitar and eight-string guitar.
Ibanez in 1960s–1970s
The Hoshino Gakki company began in 1908 as the musical instrument sales division of the Hoshino Shoten, a bookstore company. The Ibanez brand name dates back to 1929 when Hoshino Gakki began importing Salvador Ibáñez guitars from Spain. After Telésforo Julve bought the company in 1933, Hoshino Gakki decided to make Spanish acoustic guitars in 1935, at first using the “Ibanez Salvador” brand name, and then later using the “Ibanez” brand name.
The modern era of Ibanez guitars began in 1957, and the late 1950s and 1960s Ibanez catalogues show guitars with some wild looking designs, manufactured by Kiso Suzuki Violin,[model 1] Guyatone,[model 2][model 3] and their own Tama factory established in 1962. After Tama factory stopped guitar manufacturing in 1966, Hoshino Gakki used the Teisco and FujiGen Gakki guitar factories to manufacture Ibanez guitars, and after the Teisco guitar factory (Teisco String Instrument, Company) once closed down in 1969/1970, Hoshino Gakki used the FujiGen Gakki guitar factory to make most Ibanez guitars.
Ibanez in 1980s–2000s
In the 1960s Japanese guitar makers started to mainly copy American guitar designs and Ibanez branded copies of Gibson, Fender and Rickenbacker models started to appear. This resulted in the so-called Ibanez lawsuit period. During this lawsuit period Ibanez started producing guitars under the Mann name to avoid authorities in the US and Canada. After the lawsuit period Hoshino Gakki introduced Ibanez models that were definitely not copies of the Gibson or Fender designs such as the Iceman and The Ibanez Roadstar. The company has produced its own guitar designs ever since. The late 1980s and early 1990s were an important period for the 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 Roadstar and Iceman models in the late 1970s/early 1980s, Hoshino Gakki entered the superstrat market with the RG series which were a lower priced version of the Ibanez JEM model.
Pat Metheny with his signature model
Ibanez EW20ASE (Exotic Wood)
Hoshino Gakki also had semi acoustic, nylon and steel stringed acoustic guitars manufactured under the Ibanez name. 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 G-505, the twin-humbucker Roland G-202 (endorsed by Eric Clapton, Dean Brown, Jeff Baxter, Yannis Spathas, Steve Howe, Mike Rutherford, Andy Summers and Steve Hackett) and the Ibanez X-ING IMG-2010.
Cimar and Starfield were guitar and bass brands 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.
Guitar brands such as Antoria and Mann 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.