The origins of Ibanez and the anatomy of Steve Vai's pioneering JEM

Ibanez JEM
(Image credit: Future)

The Ibanez guitars brand goes back a long way, specifically to late 19th century Spain with luthier Salvador Ibáñez (1854-1920). But it was the American guitar wizard Steve Vai who really put the name on the map with the launch of his now classic JEM signature solidbody at the NAMM Show in 1987. 

At the heart of it all is the Japanese Hoshino company who, in 1929, began importing Ibáñez classical guitars soon after the instrument became popular there. Unfortunately, the original Valencian Ibáñez workshop was destroyed in the late 1930s during the Spanish Civil War, at which point Hoshino began making acoustic guitars itself in Japan under the Ibanez brand.

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Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar WorldGuitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.