Ibanez is one of our favorite brands here at Wired Guitarist, and when we had the chance to have Thomas Appleton at Ibanez answer some of our community’s questions…we jumped at the opportunity.

Thomas answers some long time questions like why Ibanez doesn’t offer custom shop models to the general public, as well as a playful hint at the new Tosin Abasi prototype we’ve seen floating around.

WG:  Does Ibanez monitor feedback from customers on forums at all?  For example, if Ibanez sees a certain model being discussed a lot on forums, or a certain spec being asked for, will they take that into account when deciding on new models to release?

Ibanez:  Ibanez is constantly on the lookout for new trends.  Creating the right tools for the job has long been our hallmark in the industry.  From the very beginning in the 70’s we were working with artists like George Benson, Bob Weir, Paul Stanley and others. We took their input and put that into development creating instruments that were able to give them precisely the sounds and functions that they were looking for. Moving instrument manufacturing forward and not looking back has always been our goal.  We knew from the start that technical innovation was the future and living in the 50’s was not going to help us make the world’s best instruments.  Moving into the eighties it was all about speed and function and we met that challenge head on with the creation of the RG and S Series and this was realized further with the JEM series (View our full guide to the Ibanez Jem) and other high profile signature series, the Joe Satriani for instance.  In the 90’s we saw the next wave of the 7 string phenomenon and were once again there creating the instruments needed to harness the sounds of the times.  Moving into the 2000’s down tuning and extended range instruments called for more advanced planning and technical prowess to create the best sounding instruments and pickups to clearly delineate tone no matter how far guitar players wanted to down tune. Then hitting the 8 (and now 9) string wave we were working once again with the artists who made the genre what it is.  Between Meshuggah and Animals As Leaders we were able to work hand and hand with genre defining artists to determine what it was they needed to create their signature sounds.  A lot of work and back and forth design goes into creating these instruments before they ever see the light of day.  We do look at fan forums as well as general guitar related forums to see what is trending, but most of the ideas that make it to market usually evolve from the input of artists trying to take their craft to the next level.  This is what makes our products stand out among the crowd of manufacturers available today.  [Editor’s note, you may want to read our Ibanez history guide if you’re interested in this topic!]

WG:  Will multiscale/fanned frets be coming to the Prestige line up?  Multiscale models are rapidly gaining popularity and several brands are charging almost $2000 for Korean made guitars – and are getting paid for it because people are willing to pay the upcharge. 

Ibanez:  Currently we do not have any multi-scale instruments available in the Prestige line-up.

WG:  We get a lot of people in our community asking about a custom shop like ESP, Jackson, or Fender.  The LACS (LA Custom Shop) exists, but is presently restricted to endorsers only.  Can you explain the reasoning behind not opening a semi-custom shop?  Is it something that leads to too much headache without much room to stay profitable?

Ibanez:  We are working to create the best instruments we can for the market.  We put a lot of effort into creating a diverse line-up with many functional differences between models.  We know that some musicians prefer Ebony fingerboards over Rosewood, while some like Maple.  Then we have the fixed bridge versus tremolo conversations.  Added on the various pickup preferences we work with all the major manufacturers and offer models featuring DiMarzio, EMG, Seymour Duncan and Bare-Knuckle pickups. We offer a wide variety of features to address many of the players needs.  Doing this with production runs makes it much more accessible to a wider range of players.  At this point in time we prefer to have our engineers and builders focused on the future of musical instrument development helping once again to create the necessary tools for our fans that are accessible rather than focusing on one off instruments that are unattainable by most players.

WG:  The new Tosin prototype has been getting a lot of attention, particularly in our community as there are a lot of progressive metal fans.  Are experimental designs like the one Tosin has been using something that Ibanez is looking to get into more aggressively?

Ibanez:  Tosin prototype?  What Tosin Prototype??? It was that or “I cannot confirm or deny those allegations Senator,” I do like the highlighted answer though.

WG:  What factors affect how long a series runs for and whether or not it gets a Prestige variant? 

Ibanez:  The factors that affect a series length or breadth are varied.  Obviously sales has a huge impact as well as general market reaction.  Form and function also play a big role as to whether or not prestige versions are warranted.  Anyone can make a good expensive guitar.  It is much more difficult to make instruments that are affordable and functional with great tone.  This has long been our focus.  Ibanez is not about fleecing their fans.  We want to create the best guitars we can and keep them coming back.

WG:  What factors affect what models distributors decide to carry?

Ibanez:  I can’t speak for other distributors.  We look for models that serve our market.  While we are moving to a more global society at large there are still differences in musical tastes and genres from the United States to Asian and European markets.

WG:  Is it true Ibanez keeps specific models for themselves for preservation?  Various people over the years have posted suggesting Ibanez has a few guitars like the rare 777LNG stashed away.   

Ibanez:  We do have some unique models preserved including very early 1900’s acoustic guitars which we displayed at the NAMM show a few years back.  More than that I cannot elaborate.

That concludes our interview with Ibanez!  By the way, if you’re in the mood for a delicious Ibanez, then take a look at our current inventory of Ibanez guitars!

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