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Guitar: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit

Jon Freeman 25 Sep 01 - 07:55 AM
catspaw49 25 Sep 01 - 08:35 AM
Jon Freeman 25 Sep 01 - 08:51 AM
catspaw49 25 Sep 01 - 10:16 AM
Rick Fielding 25 Sep 01 - 11:48 AM
GUEST,Den 25 Sep 01 - 11:58 AM
kendall 25 Sep 01 - 01:13 PM
John MacKenzie 25 Sep 01 - 02:19 PM
John MacKenzie 25 Sep 01 - 02:26 PM
Rick Fielding 25 Sep 01 - 05:14 PM
Jon Freeman 25 Sep 01 - 05:26 PM
Phil Cooper 25 Sep 01 - 07:56 PM
bill\sables 25 Sep 01 - 08:07 PM
marty D 25 Sep 01 - 08:16 PM
Guitartone 19 Aug 10 - 07:36 AM
Guitartone 19 Aug 10 - 07:40 AM
GUEST,guitcaster.com 03 Apr 11 - 03:21 PM
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Subject: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 25 Sep 01 - 07:55 AM

I had asked a question in alt.banjo when the subject of the Ibanez mastertone copy cropped up. The reply I got had was dropping of my list. I had another look and thought it may be of interest to some people here. I hope copying from one group to another is not a breach of ettiquite... Anyway, here goes...

Jon


Hi, Jon... The Ibanez-Gibson lawsuit was very interesting. Gibson sued Ibanez for patent and copyright infringement around 1977. The suit was eventually dropped, but Ibanez decided that they no longer needed or wanted to produce Gibson clones; their products were well known by then, and they saw the advantages of developing products which looked distinctly Ibanez. This was a wise decision for them, as time has proven. Although Ibanez no longer makes banjos, it is a major electric guitar maker these days, and the Ibanez line of 7 string guitars is one of the most popular with the current rock trend of low tuning and deep tones.

The Joe Satriani and Steve Vail rock guitars are sought after and demand good prices, and the company is making a John Scofield reissue of one of their best jazz models from the early 80's, which is renewing interest in their jazz guitars, which were a lot like their banjos; very good, and a lot of bang for the buck. (Personally, I think the company will get back into making the jazz guitars long before they ever start rebuilding their banjo market, and I bought a 1981 Ibanez FB100 this year because I think the value is going to go up a lot in the next year or two.)

The suit came about at a low time in Gibson's history. By 1970, the Gibsons were really starting to go to hell in quality, and the management, who were mostly Norlin scrubs who knew nothing of the company's heritage or products, knew they had problems but didn't know how to fix them. Norlin was the parent company of Gibson at the time, and was a division of Coca-Cola.

Ibanez started importing guitars into the U.S. in the early 60's or slightly before. At first, Ibanez was on par with Teisco and the other Jap-crap instruments- cheesy woodwork, questionable electronics, lotsa plywood, etc., but Hoshino, Ibanez' parent company, saw the decline of U.S. workmanship in Fender and Gibson products, and gradually kicked their product quality up, as well as their prices. They decided to take advantage of the cheap Yen vs. Dollar, and put out as good a product as they were capable of making. This was gradual and evolutional; there were a lot of false starts and funky stuff that came and went (this is still happening, too). The first good Hoshino products went to Europe, where brand loyalty was not as strong as it was here.

By about 1974, Ibanez was kickin' butt here, though. If you look at their electric guitars, which have always been their mainstay, Ibanez consistantly produced a better playing, better looking and better sounding instrument than either Fender or Gibson during that time, and did it for half to 2/3 of the price of the competition. A lot of their guitars were close copies, but just as many were original designs, and just as many (or more) Fenders were copied as were the Gibsons.

Ibanez also copied Rickenbacker, Kramer, Gretsch, and other U.S. companies, too, but only Gibson tried a lawsuit. Gibson found out to their distress, though, that they didn't have much they could sue on! Most of the Gibson patents had either expired or were easily gotten around by minor changes, and most of the elements that clearly identified Gibsons, such as the body proportions and shape, finish, setup, etc. were not patentable. Of the guitars that Gibson had strong patents on- the Explorer, Flying V, and Moderne- none had been produced for almost 20 years and couldn't be easily enforced.

The Ibanez Flying V electric guitar was the instrument that brought the fight to a head. Ibanez made a better and more faithful copy of the famous and rare guitar- limed mahogany finish, shape, the rubber grip strip, etc.- than Gibson made when it tried to re-introduce the Flying V in 1975. Nobody bought the Gibsons, and the Ibanez were going for more than list price and flying off the shelves! Gibson sued about 4 months after they reissued their Flying V.

Ibanez agreed to quit making guitars with a Gibson shaped peghead (the only thing Gibson could clearly enforce copyright on), and that was that. Within a year or so, Ace Freehly of Kiss quit using his Les Paul and adopted an Ibanez Iceman guitar, and Ibanez came out with a Freehly model, which started the artist endorsements for Ibanez that continues to this day. They have a big and effective artist relations dept. in the company.

Ibanez banjos were more of an afterthought than anything, and were never sold in the quantities of their electric guitars. Even more Ibanez mandolins than banjos were sold, because there was a rather healthy U.S. band of banjo makers which took much of the market. OME, Stelling, Great Lakes, Martin-Vega, Fender, ODE, Liberty, and many other makers started about the same time Ibanez banjos were imported. There were very few mandolins available at that time, though, and Ibanez made a killing with theirs- they were good, cheap, well made, solid wood, etc.... typical Ibanez success stuff, and on par with contemporary products. Bill Monroe endorsed them, although he never used them, except for his appearances in Japan, where he kept one on stage as a second instrument. I asked him about the endorsement deal, and he said "they was pretty good for their time." After Gibson finally realized their mando market depended mostly on him and did the good overhaul on his old Loar, that was the end of Monroe and Ibanez. I'm sure he gave his Ibanez mandos away.

Regards, Stanger


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Subject: RE: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Sep 01 - 08:35 AM

Very similar to the Takemine/Martin situation from the same period. I don't know the story in the depth you related, but essentially, Takemine out Martined Martin and the end result was better stuff from Martin as well. I have one of those Taks from that time and it's really more like an older Martin....they did a superior job on all counts. The Japanese gave several other American manufacturers in MANY products, like cars, a serious wake-up call about the same time as well.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 25 Sep 01 - 08:51 AM

Drifing further but spaw, at least you woke up! I think we just sat by and watched with the cars, motorbikes, etc. The first Japanese cars I remember had good engines but were "rot-boxes" but that problems long gone...

Jon


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Subject: RE: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Sep 01 - 10:16 AM

Yeah Jon....The joke was, early on, that their cars were made from the reprocessed beer cans we sent them, but it wasn't a joke for long. The Japanese learned what the market was like and what we needed/wanted. They were still working on the rust thing, but I remember when Datsun brought out the 240Z and it was immedaitel tought of as a poor man's Jaguar, which wasn't too far off the truth.

Another upshot of this, with instruments especially, was that a lot of American companies decided they could rip-off themselves and set up their own Asian factories.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 25 Sep 01 - 11:48 AM

Great thread Jon.

A little project that I've had for a number of years is hunting down GOOD inexpensive copies of Gibson Mastertone banjos for my students. The early Ibanezes are pretty competitive with ANY vintage Gibson, and can usually be found at a fraction of the cost. They ARE getting more expensive but haven't cracked the 1000 buck (Canadian) mark yet.

I'm curious if anyone knows about "El Degas" banjos. Were they made in the same factories as Ibanez? They made a couple of deluxe banjos during the seventies that are hard to beat. Quite heavy and solid, with fine tone. These are rel bargains today, and can still be had for under 800 (Canadian)bucks.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: GUEST,Den
Date: 25 Sep 01 - 11:58 AM

Good thread Jon, useful info. I have an Ibanez mandolin which plays and sounds great, probably a gibson clone but I'm not entirely up on Gibson mandolin history. I almost bought a Tokai fretless bass one time. It played beautifully but I ended up missing the deal by a day or so. Does anyone know much about them, just curious, Den.


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Subject: RE: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: kendall
Date: 25 Sep 01 - 01:13 PM

I had an Ibenez guitar back in the 70's not bad, not great, but, pretty.


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Subject: RE: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 25 Sep 01 - 02:19 PM

What pisses me off is signs in music shops which proclaim "Epiphone by Gibson" when what you get is by neither, but merely a Japanese con trick.

Jock


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Subject: RE: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 25 Sep 01 - 02:26 PM

What pisses me off is signs in music shops which proclaim "Epiphone by Gibson" when what you get is by neither, but merely a Japanese con trick.

Jock


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Subject: RE: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 25 Sep 01 - 05:14 PM

Worse than you think Giok. Japanese instruments are now HIGH end. Most of the instruments are now called "Off Shore" Martin's done it as well though.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 25 Sep 01 - 05:26 PM

Well I've never heard of them Rick but that doesn't mean a lot. Maybe you could try asking the question over in the alt.banjo newsgroup. There is a small number of regulars over there who seem to me to be pretty knowlegeable on banjos.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 25 Sep 01 - 07:56 PM

I had an Ibanez strat copy from the 1974 era. Great sounding guitar. Unfortunately the intricacies of playing an electric guitar by myself (not too many people around that I knew that I could jam with that liked my taste in music)so I wound up selling it and sticking with acoustic guitars.


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Subject: RE: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: bill\sables
Date: 25 Sep 01 - 08:07 PM

I have got a Ibanez Artist 5 string from the 70s. I was told when I bought it it was one of a few because of the Gibson lawsuit. It is almost identical with the mastertone and sounds just as good. Pity I don't play it very much these days.
Bill


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Subject: RE: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: marty D
Date: 25 Sep 01 - 08:16 PM

My banjo is an El Degas and is identical to the Ibanez Artist. Maybe they use different labels for different marketing areas.

marty


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Subject: RE: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: Guitartone
Date: 19 Aug 10 - 07:36 AM

I would like to say something very logical but always overlooked...the first prototype Gibson Les Paul or Fender stratocaster or Martin D28 was an original but the next one they made was a copy of the first one ...it may have been better or worse but it wasn't the original all succeeding guitars were copies of the original !!!. Therefore All guitar copies that came after the original design(prototype) were copies and it doesn't matter who made them ..the only thing that matters is how good they were .. I have an Antoria Jazzstar a copy of a gibson 335 (I used to have a Gibson 335) the Antoria is in my opinion much better sound wise and build quality than the 335 gibson made copy I once had. We are too concerned with Brand names so much so that even when the brand we like has it's guitar made in Japan, Korea, Tiawan or wherever we are still stupid enough to pay extra for then even when we could buy the same guitar with a different name on it for a fraction of the price.
It's all about sound and build quality NOT about brand names !


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Subject: RE: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: Guitartone
Date: 19 Aug 10 - 07:40 AM

Ooop ! I meant to say Antoria Rockstar not Jazzstar as being the Gibson 335 copy I have a Jazzstar as well ...another great copy !!


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Subject: RE: Guitar: Ibanez/ Gibson lawsuit
From: GUEST,guitcaster.com
Date: 03 Apr 11 - 03:21 PM

I possess the first deluxe 59er guitar a great instrument. I purchest the guitar in chicago at the old guitar gallery on wabash. This guitar is an awesome copie still play it today


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