- The Hoshino Gakki company begun in 1908 as a musical instrument
sales division of the ''Hoshino Shoten'' bookstore company. In 1935
they began manufacturing their own stringed instruments. The company
had little presence in the Western world until the mid-1960s.
Harry Rosenbloom opened a music store in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania,
northwest of Philadelphia. Due to the post-World War II music boom,
his sales soon outstripped his inventory, and he began a company
called Elger Guitars in an attempt to manufacture enough
guitars to fill his needs.
Guitar company made a relatively small number of hand-built, high
quality guitars through the early 1960s.By 1965 Rosenbloom had
decided to stop manufacturing guitars and chose to become the
exclusive North American distributor for Hoshino Gakki instruments.
At the time, the phrase "made in Japan" was considered to have
negative connotations of low quality, so Hoshino Gakki and
Rosenbloom wanted to distribute the instruments under a
"non-Japanese" name. Hoshino had recently acquired a small Spanish
guitar company named Ibanez, and it was decided to market the
instruments under this brand name.
Hoshino purchased Elger Guitars, renaming the company "Ibanez
U.S.A." and retaining the company headquarters in Bensalem,
Pennsylvania as a distribution and quality-control center.
early 1970s Ibanez began making guitars that were almost exact
copies of popular models by Gibson, Fender and Rickenbacker. Using
somewhat cheaper materials and greater automation in manufacturing,
they were able to sell these guitars for a significantly lower price
than the originals. The low price combined with the relatively high
quality of the guitars made these models very popular. Many guitar
aficionados feel that the early- and mid-70s mark a low point in the
quality of guitars from the major manufacturers, which helped
contribute to the popularity of the Ibanez copies. These guitars
have become known as "lawsuit" guitars and have become somewhat
collectible. The actual lawsuit referred to was brought by the
Norlin Corporation, the parent company of Gibson guitars, in
1977, and was based on an Ibanez Guitar#Headstockheadstock
design that had been discontinued by 1976.
Ibanez settled out of court, and by 1978 had begun making guitars
from their own designs. Abandoning the strategy of copying "classic"
electric guitar designs, the newer models began incorporating more
modern elements into their design, such as radical body shapes,
slimmer necks and flatter fingerboards (which allowed for faster
playing), higher-output electronics and colorful finishes. This led
to an increasing popularity with heavy metal musicheavy metal
The company also began an extensive program of consulting with
well-known guitar players and creating signature models made to the