by Ryan Gabrinetti, Burbank Shop Manager
If you are on the hunt for the perfect “sleeper” vintage guitar, sometimes you have to turn preconception on its head. With the aforementioned Gibson ES-335 boom in full swing, many a player these days are on the hunt for the perfect hollow or somewhat hollow guitar, and whatever you want to make of guitar music today, it’s clear that the traditional build styles are creeping back just as much as psych rock crept onto the latest Lil Yachty LP.
Back in the mid 1970s, Ibanez was a major player in the lawsuit guitar business, making quality replicas of the major American manufacturer’s instruments in Japan at a fraction of the cost. Until this point, companies Gibson and Fender had not given their intellectual property any serious defense, but when the cheaper and superior quality copies started flooding the American market with help from some clever distributors, the behemoths woke up and took action. Ibanez’s introduction of the very-Les Paul-esque Super Standard in 1977 was the last straw, leading to legal action from Kalamazoo. It was at this point that the brand needed a pivot into something a little more legit to survive, and so this sent the folks at Hoshino Gakki back to the drawing board.
Do you have a 1970s Japanese guitar you’re looking to sell? Contact us here!
Through his breakout in the 1970s and into the present, George Benson succeeded in melding infectious pop sensibilities with mind-blowing jazz chops through multiplatinum smash records like “Breezin’” and it’s no wonder that Ibanez signed him up for an endorsement deal. The Ibanez GB10 George Benson Model debuted at the summer NAMM in Atlanta on June 11, 1977 and impressed with its details like the art deco adjustable tailpiece, ornate inlays, and namesake in pearl at the top of the fingerboard. Its most unique feature has to be the pair of floating mini humbucking pickups, mounted on the pick guard and neck respectively, allowing the carved spruce top to resonate more fully in the jazz tradition. Somewhere between a 335 and Les Paul in body size, its configuration is familiar but distinct, and the fully hollow design makes it fairly easy on the back compared to those yard sticks.
While the modern Ibanez brand mostly appeals to shredders who like extra strings and carrying their guitars like briefcases, the Ibanez of the 1970s catered to a different kind of shredder, a suave and elegant one with a Burt Reynolds mustache, emphasizing traditional building styles and shag carpeting probably. Early adopters included John McLaughlin and Paul Stanley, who both took to their line of original solidbodies like gnats to light, but when it came time to introduce a proper signature model to the coffers it took someone a little Breezier for the folks over in Japan to put a name to wood. The legacy of the Ibanez George Benson Model is surprising — not only is it the longest model in continuous production for the brand, he continues to play and stump for them today. This model is part of the wave of quality builds that established Ibanez as a player in their own right on the world market, helping them move out of the lawsuit copy era and into something else entirely.
Do you have an Ibanez George Benson Model you’re looking to sell? Contact us here!