1980 Ibanez AR100

Ah… Vintage Japanese guitars. If ever there was a frustrating rabbit-hole to fall down, this is probably it. Unless you’re a Gibson fan, in which case that is probably more frustrating as Gib$on quality control is essentially non-existent, and half the workforce are drunk. The other half are unparalleled, exquisitely gifted craftspeople of the highest order, but for every ninja, there is an idiot. This is the only reason I can think of for the ‘all or nothing’ nature of Gibbo’s. they’re either brilliant, or they’re shit.

Enter Japanese Luthiery in the 1970’s; Japan was already producing instruments of what it considered to be the highest quality, but the reputation of the brands in 1970’s USA was not stellar. Much to the confusion of the Japanese Luthiers. Investments were made; Quality control was doubled down on, glues were improved, stock drying and clamping times extended, the explanations for the instability of the products after making their way across the pacific was hunted, found and executed without hesitation. The result was one of, if not the finest and most progressive periods in modern guitar-making. By 1980, Aria, Ibanez, Tokai, Yamaha many notable others were at the peak of their powers, Gib$on lawsuits navigated and moved on from, the now famous guitar making factories (Matsumoku, Fujigen etc…) had the enviable arsenal of class leading QC, impeccable workmanship and world beating production technology. As a result they were producing the most reliably brilliant guitars in the world. Bar none (this is the opinion of The Guitarmourer and is obviously debatable, but only if you’re intent on being wrong).

Ibanez’ AR models were the ‘Les Paul killing’ double cut guitars that came with astounding feature sets for the price. This model, the 100, being closer to the bottom of the range than the top packed an impressive punch and cost a fraction of the US made equivalent, with more reliable results. This particular guitar was found in a guitar shop in Birmingham (the real one, in the UK) back in 2018 or so and it was a delight to own and play. It was my go-to for gigging and rehearsing for about a year, until financial embarrassment forced sale.