Shortly after I left Central Washington University in 2001 for Olympia was when I found my first guitar. Actually, I was living in Tumwater, which is about a dime’s worth of difference, closer to the brewery. Taking a morning walk around the new neighborhood and finding my way around. What I found was a garage sale, and that’s where I found it waiting for me.
There are several unique things about Ibanez that are also very stereotypical of Japanese industrial culture. Ibanez was a Spanish guitar maker that was purchsed by Hoshino Gakki, a Japanese musical instrument company that was importing Ibanez guitars up until the Spanish Civil War in 1935.
Ibanez was one of the companies that were making close to identical copies of more expensive American made guitars, such as Stratocasters or Les Pauls. These are called “lawsuit guitars” and are very collectible. The Road Star II was not one of these, it had an Ibanez headstock design and a slight variation on the stratocaster body design. The more modern Ibanez guitars have a thinner, pointier, more pronounced cutaways than the Ibanez Road Star II or traditional Stratocaster. There were also some “batwing” strap buttons, that I hated, and replaced. But no other guitar has similar strap buttons like those big V looking things.
Opening the shotgun style case, another unique feature to Ibanez, to see the shining white guitar was all it took. I think that I had the cash on me and carried it home; I don’t remember going home to get my truck. It still had the original warranty card in the case with the purchase date of 4/20/1984 written on it.
There was a little Hiwatt practice amp, that I traded in to a major guitar outlet for a new solid-state amp. I really should have kept the small amp for carrying around, like I said, it was small and lugging around a big amp to friend’s houses is a pain. I think that it was $150, maybe $100 for the whole deal at the garage sale. A great deal, at the time they went for about $150-200 used, they go for $300 or so currently.
Anyone can go to a guitar chain or local music shop for their first guitar, how many people just happened on theirs? Finding your guitar is like meeting a beautiful woman, sometimes you find them, sometimes they find you, but when it’s right somehow you just know.
Recently I had been searching for a(nother) guitar to complement my Ibanez Roadstar II, which is my first guitar. Basic difference between the two guitars is that one has been routed for a bridge humbucker pickup and Floyd Rose style tremolo and the body is contoured more like a Fender Stratocaster, whereas my first one is a fixed bridge, all single coil pickups, and the body is not contoured, just kind of square rounded-corner.
The Ibanez Roadstar II is known for it’s bolt on neck, one of the best you can apparently, you see them separated from their bodies and for sale quite a bit. It’s amazing that these guitars aren’t worth more considering how much the necks sell for on eBay, up to about $100 is pretty common, but you see complete guitars for $300-400 depending on rarity and how original the equipment is: original case, original strap buttons etc.
So, of course I’m doing my over-analyzing, thinking of all the myriad of ways to go when I saw this on eBay. It was late, and I was feeling impulsive and put the first bid on it, $100, shipping was $23, waiting about five days was excruciating and of course the last 30 minutes the price doubled on me up to $77, plus shipping it was right at my $100 budget. Kind of feel like I overpaid for it, but it just pairs too well with my other Roadstar.
This guitar is far from cherry, it has been well used, the headstock is scratched deeply, looks like a razorblade almost, there is sticker residue left behind, but the neck is straight and in good condition and the body should clean up nice. I love my other Roadstar, and several of my friends have tried to buy it from me after playing it, so I feel pretty good about the new addition to the “family.”
So I need a set of pickups, thinking about a Seymour Duncan Invader for the bridge, but I really don’t know if that is too high output, maybe go with something a little more vintage sounding. The pickguard is going to be another tough choice. Let me know if you have suggestions. There was a guy I ran into at a local Guitar Center, overheard me talking about a Floyd Rose bridge and wanted to give me one for free. Too bad he didn’t have it on him, because I’ve been trying to get a hold of him for a week now and we haven’t had any luck meeting up. So Eric, let’s make this happen soon, I’m ready.