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I can't confirm this, but Fujigen may have gone as far as to produce the majority of the catalog, and Hoshino would put its "Ibanez" brand on the front and back covers.Some people have found online copies of these older catalogs (a good source for these can be found at Vintage Ibanez Guitar Catalogs - 1971 through 2007) and point to the pictures without logos as evidence that "Ibanez" made unbranded guitars. Some unbranded guitar pictures from a 1973 Ibanez catalog: The answer to this depends on what your definition of "lawsuit" (as it relates to MIJ guitars) is.I have been playing, collecting, repairing and analyzing vintage Ibanez (and other MIJ guitars) for over 30 years, and I am often asked this question.The reason I get asked it is because many people who are selling an old guitar without the Ibanez brand on it put something to this effect in their ad: So, if you have found this article because you are considering buying a cool old guitar, the information I have presented below should help you avoid paying more for a guitar than it is actually worth, or finding out later, when you go to sell it, that it really isn't an Ibanez at all.They are based in Japan, but also have a US subsidiary, Hoshino USA, headquartered in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.Hoshino owns no manufacturing facilities beyond a small custom shop in California.Fujigen is known to have produced guitars with these brands during the 1970s: And, there are obviously many more.
Just to be double clear: No lawsuit was ever brought against Aria, Greco, Ventura, Lyle, Fernandes, Tokai, or anyone else during the 1970s (or even 1980s). Here's a copy of a letter sent to Gibson Dealers on June 9, 1977, announcing the lawsuit: It begins like this: June 9, 1977 Dear Gibson Dealer: Today, Gibson, Inc., started legal action in Federal Court to stop the Japanese exporter of Ibanez instru- ments and its distributor from importing and selling instruments similar in appearance to those manufactured by Gibson.
Through the 1970s and early/mid 1980s, Fujigen was the exclusive manufacturer of electric Ibanez guitars and basses.
It's this intricate relationship between distributor (Hoshino), brand (Ibanez) and factory (Fujigen) which makes for much of the initial confusion surrounding MIJ guitars and their origins.
Loosely defined (and coming into more popular use on sites such as e Bay and Craigslist) a "lawsuit" guitar is ANY old guitar made outside of the USA that is a copy of a popular US-made guitar.
In this sense, any MIJ (or made in Korea, China, wherever) guitar that looks like a Fender strat or tele; or a Gibson Les Paul, SG, ES-335; or a Martin acoustic; or a Guild or Rickenbakker; can be labeled as a "lawsuit" model.
You see, Fujigen did not make Ibanez-branded guitars exclusively.