Ibanez Lawsuit Archtops

January 5, 2008

Nicolai Foss

Ibanez’ mid- to end of the 1970s copies of mainly Gibson archtops have an excellent reputation. This is reflected in the amount of praise that the seller, Archtop.com, of this Ibanez FA-510 is able to mobilize, advertising it as an “Ibanez L5CN,” indeed, “the most faithful L-5 clone anyone’s going to build, as long as Gibson has lawyers.”

Oh well. I bought my FA-510 in 1984 as new at (then) appr. 1,200 USD. I regretted the purchase, but was only able to sell it it about three years ago (at the same price that I paid twenty years earlier :-(). Acoustically, this was the most dead archtop I have ever played. Only slightly better than a solidbody guitar. Part of the explanation was that the tonewood — at least on the specimen I owned — was extremely thick and the guitar was therefore very heavy and non-responsive. But it was pretty (though nothing unusual on today’s standards), and plugged into an amp it certainly sounded allright.

However, the experience gave me a distinct distate for Ibanez lawsuit archtops, and my distrust in them has largely been confirmed by the other specimens I have occasion to try out. IMHO Ibanez only really got its archtop act together with the GB-10 and, particularly, the lovely GB-20. And the Joe Pass model was excellent value, but that is a different story.

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3 Responses to “Ibanez Lawsuit Archtops”

  1. DHM Says:

    On the subject of brand-new archtops, and specifically brand-new acoustic archtops, I’ve just noticed that Godin announced its entry into the market earlier this month:

    http://news.harmony-central.com/Newp/2008/Godin-5th-Avenue-Archtop-Acoustic.html

  2. Jazzy Says:

    Thanks for the info about the Ibanez, I called Joe at http://www.archtop.com and asked a bunch of questions about the guitar, for some reason I didn’t have much help from him determining if the guitar had a solid top or laminate. I think he knows that it’s a laminate but is very shrewd about selling guitars with the “it’s hard to tell” routine.

  3. Nicolai Foss Says:

    Jazzy, Hmmm, based on my interaction with Joe I would consider him to be a very honest guy. His reputation is generally excellent. Chances are this Ibanez is actually a fine guitar (although the one I owned sucked).


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