Ibanez Guitars of the early 1980s part 1

When I was learning to play the guitar in suburban CT in the late 80s, the name Ibanez was pretty much synonymous with ‘guitar.’  Every shop sold Ibanez guitars, and most kids owned them.  My brother and I had imported Fenders, which were considered old-fashioned at the time (this was pre-Cobain).  I still have (and use) my $380 1990 ’52 Telecaster reissue.  I can’t imagine that I would have kept a 1990 Ibanez RG for all this time.

Big Cats (Tigers)/Tiger-stripped maple tops, git it?   Before Ibanez introduced the RG and S lines, they had a large run of transitional models that bridged the gap between the ‘Lawsuit’ -era Gibson copies that first allowed them to gain traction in the US market and the ‘super-strat-shredder’ things that sold so vigorously in the late 80s.   The AR series was their Les Paul-type instrument, and I believe that some variety of AR has remained in production since 1979 or so.  Just a few years ago I picked up a 1980 Ibanez AR50 (very similar to the object depicted above, minus the flame maple top, inlay, and binding) for …$80?  at the flea market.  Fantastic guitar.  Within a few weeks I bought a circa 1975 Ibanez Rickenbacker-copy bass…  for $65.  Yesterday, at the same flea market, I found another circa ’75 Ibanez Rick bass, poured out of the back of a box truck along with old shirts, patio furniture, and chipped crockery.  “Five Hundred Dollars,” said the truck-owner.  “It’s a lawsuit model.”  The cat is clearly out of the bag.

The Ibanez AS series, their 335-type instrument.

Ibanez guitar effects circa 1981.  Still highly-coveted units.  We have an AD80 analog delay at Gold Coast Recorders and it gets used on a great number of productions.  It’s unusual in that it uses two 9V batteries rather than one.  I’ve never done a side-by-side comparison with our similar-era Boss DM-2 delay pedal but maybe soon…

More early Ibanez coverage to come soon to PS dot com…  If yr into this sort of thing, I highly recommend this book: “Ibanez The Untold Story”... which seems to be out of print…  but well worth seeking out.

Check out some previous early Ibanez Guitar coverage on PS dot com:

Ibanez Guitars 1975

Ibanez Guitars 1977


1981: Battle of the ’55s

1981: Korg and Roland both release prosumer drum machines designated 55.  The KORG KR-55 is a non-programmable drum machine with many preset patterns and individual volume controls for each sound.  Regardless of what this advert claims, trust me, this thing does not remotely sound like an acoustic drum kit.  The sounds are pretty charming tho.  I had one of these for years and now i have somehow ended up with only an empty KR55 box.  The Boss (ROLAND) DR-55 is quite different: despite the very crude prototype-esque appearance, the DR-55 is a programmable drum machine.  We have one of these at Gold Coast Recorders and while it seems to be overlooked in favor of our TR606, it is a worthy unit.  For some odd reason the DR55 seems to command a higher price than the 606 on eBay.  Anyone have an idea why?  Has the DR55 been embraced by a leading contemporary artist?

Sex Sex Sex Sex (guitar accessories)

No explanation necessary

I manage to do a fair amount of business selling bespoke microphone preamps, filters, amplifiers, etc; but I could stand to sell more.  Perhaps the problem is my marketing technique.  Perhaps I could stand to ‘spice things up’ a bit.  Perhaps the vacuum tubes in my designs could be given a more phallic character through quasi-clever wordplay and/or illustration technique.  Or perhaps the complete pieces could themselves entirely become metaphorically represented by a female body/persona, and the potential buyer could be encouraged to ‘inject them full of life’ with your ‘signal.’

Does sex really sell or do we simply gravitate towards the easiest possible metaphor for any product message?  And if sex DOES sell, then why not ingestion?   Eating?  As important as procreation is to the survival of the species, a starving man will surely choose a cheeseburger over a romantic dalliance.  Perhaps the dominance of sex-based, rather than food-based, advertising in our culture, signifies nothing so much as the fact that we’re not hungry enough.  If we were hungrier, would be be less easily aroused?  And how about the other two ‘F’s of human instinct (fuck, feed, fight, flight)?   Why not more combat-based or fear-based advertising?  All the ads in the series come from a single 1981 issue of GUITAR PLAYER magazine.

Which ‘bone’ exactly is the ‘mojo bone’?  And how could this ‘bone’ interact with a ‘back door’?

If you have been feeling/touching one body for sometime now, consider the improved sensation that could be possible from… oh never mind.

The heels have come off and the couple has exited the scene.  Crucial to the progression of the movement from LR to BR: the fire; the wine; the dulcet tones of your Ibanez Artwood.  All helpful tools in mastering the art of (reproducing human) life.

Those who have mastered their technique need not execute their practices in a darkened room.  Consider our mood lighting.  Mirrored (balls/ceiling panels) sold separately.

Cinema Sound Circa 1953

Today: some random bits+bobs of Sound-For-Film technology of the early 1950s.  Above: the All-New JBL Theatre Sound Systems, which claim to offer the higher-fidelity needed to properly reproduce the newly-available magnetic soundtracks that were being used in 35mm film at the time.  Prior to the introduction of magnetic 35mm film soundtracks in the 1950s, all film-sound was reproduced in theaters via an optical sound-track which ran alongside the edge of the film-frames.  Fidelity was limited, although I cannot say exactly to what frequency range.  Can anyone tell us what the first feature-film was to be exhibited nationwide with a magnetic soundtrack?

Above: Cinema Engineering presents… the fader!  Straight-line attenuators have certain advantages over rotary controls, such as quicker visual feedback and a range of motion that better correlates with human bio-mechanical consideration.  Nonetheless, rotary faders remained in use in pro audio well into the late 60s.  Does anyone know who first patented and/or marketed the linear fader?

Above: the Cinema Engineering 6517-E ‘Sound Effects Filter,’ aka a high-pass and a low-pass filter both built into a single instrument.   I could find this sort of thing very useful; especially for tracking multiple ‘stacked’ parts such as one singer delivering 7 vocal harmonies over a single phrase, as I found myself doing in a session earlier this week.  Just carve out all of the unnecessary super-high and super-low end… the 80 or 100 hz high-pass filter built into many mic preamps is certainly useful but it’s obvs not always the best cut off choice.

Above: an advert for Glen Glenn Motion Picture Sound Co. circa 1953.  Anyone out there work for this firm?  We’d love to hear yr stories….  drop us a line…

Above: RCA’s ‘film phonograph,’ an apparatus that records and plays-back 35 mm magnetic sound-tracks and plays-back 35mm optical sound tracks as well.  I ended up with a couple of 16mm sound track readers at Gold Coast Recorders; not sure what to do with them.  Has anyone had any luck converting an optical-track reader into a signal processing or signal generating device?  Seems like there’s some potential to make it into  interesting experimental instrument; strobe-light-controlled oscillator perhaps?



1953: What is High Fidelity?

Lee de Forest (L), the man who invented the voltage-amplifer tube, takes in the state-of-the-art in consumer audio reproduction c. 1953.

Download a two-page article on the subject of “What is High Fidelity” as-published right at the dawn of the hi-fi cultural phenomenon.

DOWNLOAD: IST-1953-09-Callen-What_Is_High_Fidelity

Audio.  From children’s toy to naval communication device to home entertainment to art, all within one lifetime.  What has changed significantly in our conception of the role of audio technology since 1953?  As this article makes clear, in 1953 ‘fidelity,’ or verisimilitude to some supposed acoustic event, was the ‘state of the art’ in audio, and contemporary technology such as the U47 mic and the Ampex tape machine was finally making this verisimilitude possible.  We now no longer have the expectation that a piece of audio ‘represents’ or ‘stand-in-for’ any actual acoustic event that ever happened in the physical world (Katy Perry track? Or Sgt Peppers?), but what have we gained?  What new expectations/demands do we have?

Altec Theatre Equipment 1955

Download the four-page 1955 ‘Altec Stereophonic Sound Equipment for Theatres’ brochure:


Units discussed, with text, specs, and images, include: A150-C 4-channel preamplifier; 1530T power amp; 1520T amp; 625 and 629A speaker systems.

The Altec ‘Voice of the Theatre’ (VOTT) auditorium/theatre speaker systems are oft discussed; the A5 and A7 and all the other numerous variants (data on which can be found elsewhere on this site) provided high volume and excellent frequency response in large motion-picture-exhibition theaters in an era when amplifier power was limited by the available technology of the day.  This unusual catalog provides a good look ‘backstage’ at the various bits+bobs that Altec made for the projection booth and as support for the VOTT systems.

Spring 2012

Bad Vibes is one of my favorite places to find out about new music, posting significant new tracks as well as exclusive interviews with recording artists.   The guys who run it also have really good taste in movies so if yr nextflix cue is running low, stop by there for some inspiration.  When I learned that they were interested in hosting a Preservation Sounds mixtape I was super-excited to get involved.  The concept here is similar to the previous dozen mixtapes I’ve done: everything is pulled directly from vinyl LPs I have dug up at the flea markets and estate sales of Western CT in the past 4 months; digitized in crystal clarity (+ plenty of old dust) via my trusty Benz cartridge and Apogee convertors.   The big difference tho: since this mixtape is ivegotbadvibes #0026, it is available for quick download at the Bad Vibes site: and: it’s been cut together into one seamless springtime jam.  Visit Bad Vibes to download the mixtape.

Follow the link below for detailed track notes and more of the best album art of all time…

READ ON::: Continue reading Spring 2012

Pultec 1977 Full-Line Catalog

Download the complete twelve-page 1977 Pultec outboard audio equipment catalog:

DOWNLOAD: Pultec-1977_catalog

Units covered, with text, specs, and photos, include: Pultec EQH-2, EQP-1A3, and MEQ-5 equalizers; Pultec HLF-3c and HLF-26 filters; Pultec SP3 and MH4 mixers.

Until I saw this catalog I had not realized that the original Pultec production run had extended into 1977.  These are the solid-state Pultecs, not the more coveted vacuum tube units that trade in the $5000 range, but AFAIK the actual equalization stages are the same as in the earlier tube units.  I have never scratch-built a Pultec clone, largely because the idea of hand-building the multi-tapped inductors always seemed a little daunting to me.   I recently found myself in possession of a large batch of various MiniDuctors, though, and I am wondering if these can be put service in a Pultec-type circuit.  The mH values are very close to those in the putlec schematics, but I cannot find any reference online to anyone building a Pultec using MiniDuctors rather than a large coil-wound inductor.  Anyone have any idea about this?




I have an upcoming session with an artist who wants to keep the album all live, very raw.  I am expecting it will be a fun session.  The material has a classic RnB/blues vibe, so I am considering running some live mixes to GCR‘s circa 1950 Magnecord PT6 along with the Pro Tools multitrack.  But which brand of ancient 1/4″ tape to use?  Perhaps these circa 1952 audiotape ads will help decide the issue…

information and ideas about audio history