Ibanez dates back to pre-World War 2, with origins in Spain, but they really came into prominence from the famous “lawsuit” models in the 1970s. Here’s a couple that are awfully Fenderish, and one that’s less Paul than original, if you catch my drift.
“Mediocre minds imitate. Great minds steal.” – Show business truism As you can see, the company duplicated the famous deigns of big American guitar giants like Gibson, Fender, and even Rickenbacker. But while the guitars looked and even played similar (or better), the price tags were a lot easier to deal with. Then as now, Ibanez wasn’t afraid of putting the player ahead of playing nice with their competitors. This also gave the company the reputation of a shoddy Japanese-made product. (There was a lot of that going around in the early ’70s, but like Honda and Toyota versus the AMC Gremlin, the best products won out in the end. They always do.) As the decade moved on, the company started innovating, rather than imitating. The Artist series guitars for George Benson, the Iceman model for Paul Stanley (KISS) and the Destroyer for Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden) put the company in the hands of some of the most influential players of the day. They also established Ibanez as the burner of choice for metal maniacs, and set the stage for what would become the company’s elecric mainstay, the Roadster.