Sunday, November 7, 2010

1970s Ibanez Les Paul Custom Guitar

Hi there!

Today we are looking at a lovely 1970s vintage Ibanez guitar. This is one of the tried-and-true “lawsuit guitars”, the ones that were built in Japan that got Gibson’s panties in a bundle. And from the pictures you can see why: this is a super-good copy of a Les Paul Custom.

A good copy, with one major cost-cutting difference: it has a bolt-on neck.

Other than that, this Ibanez is spot-on. It has a mahogany body and a maple top, finished in its original gorgeous cherryburst, with full body and neck binding. The front has only a couple of very tiny surface scratches. The back of the guitar is also in great condition with minimal worming and surface nicks. The binding and edges are in great shape.

The neck is a dream to me. It is a 3-piece laminated bolt on neck with the lawsuit headstock. It has the old school Ibanez logo and diamond inlay/applique. There little fret wear, and the neck is nice and straight with just the right relief for a low action with the 10-46 strings I had on it. The ebony fretboard is a nice bonus.

The hardware is in good shape. The original open gear tuners are there, and they still all have their dust covers. Maybe 30% of their gold finish has worn away.

But now we start getting into stuff that has been changed on a 37 year old guitar. It has new Gibson pickguard, control cavity covers and selector switch bezel. All of the screws have been replaced with new one from Stew Mac.

The electronics sound fantastic. It has a pretty new pair of Epiphone Classic '57 pickups. It still has the original harness and pots/caps. The original pickups are nowhere to be found.

A big plus is that this guitar weighs in at about 8.5 pounds, which is at least 2 or 3 pounds lighter than a contemporary Gibson.

Dating this guitar is a little tricky. There is no serial number, so I figure it is later than 1973 (earlier ones had a rounded fretboard) and earlier than 1975 (when serial numbers were introduced).

Though not completely original, this is a great playing and sounding guitar. The pickups really deliver the vintage sound: like a Gibson Les Paul but brighter and with more bite. Besides that, it looks great (the photos do not do it justice), and it is really hard to find these 70s Japanese guitars that have not been abused. For under $400, it was a tremendous alternative to a real Les Paul.


  1. Hi Rex,

    I have a very similar Ibanez Les Paul Custom copy that I bought second-hand in 1979. I'd like to try to date this guitar. Any suggestions where I should start? Where would the serial number be, if there is one?

    Thanks and regards,

  2. Hi Karl.

    Very few of these have serial numbers. If it had one, it would be on the back of the headstock. If the end of your headstock looks like the one on this posting, the closest you can get would be a general date range of 1970 to 1977. They are great guitars, and hold up really well. Congrats on keeping yours for so many years!


  3. Hi Rex,

    Thanks for getting back to me. No serial number on the headstock (which is just like yours). It looks just like the 2351M shown in the 1973 catalog, with the odd, uncovered bridge pickup.

    From what I can glean from various online sources, it's later than '73, because the end of the fretboard (at the heel end) on mine is not rounded (here are pictures of a rounded one, -

    Also, apparently they started having serial numbers from August '75. So my guess is mine is a '74-mid '75.

    I bought mine from a friend of mine in Dublin, when I was 17. I still remember the first time I saw it. It was the first electric guitar I'd seen up close, and held. I remember being struck by how small the body looked (I was used to acoustics, - my Ibanez Concord model 697, which I still have too, by the way). Both still play really well.

    My main electric now is a Telecaster, but when I pick up this Ibanez, the neck feels so familiar and playable. Love it.

    Many thanks and regards, Rex.


  4. They're beautiful to play, aren't they?
    Myself, I have a left-handed vintage lawsuit era Ibanez Les Paul Custom. It has no serial number, but a 'light' pressure impress 'Made In Japan' on the bolt-on neck plate ; Open Book Moustache Head; Fat logo on Head; pearl inlays on head and frets; rosewood fretboard (in my case,not ebony). I don't know if the humbucker pickups are original (probably not) and nor are the Grover Heads which replaced the originals. All metalwork goldplated,.. yeah... I love it. My research suggests this dates my guitar to between 1971 - 1973.

  5. what a great instrument, better tone than current my opinion.

  6. I also have a left handed Les Paul copy,which I've trying to date for years. I bought from a friend back in 1984 who was moving and needed the money. "Fiona" and I have been together ever since, a great guitar,I wouldn't sell or trade her in ever.

  7. I have one i bought in college 30 years ago. It says "Standard" on the headstock but otherwise looks just like these pictures. It does have a serial number: L761808, MADE IN JAPAN. I guess this means it was made in 1976.

    I own about 12 acoustic guitars, but this is my only electric. I love it and can't imagine what I would want better. I may refinish the tarnished tuners, etc. just to make it look prettier.

    I would love to know more about anyone else who has this guitar and more about the guitar.

    Thanks everyone!

  8. Do you sell that guitar????? send me your hotmail or phone thanks

  9. Hi. Sorry, but it is long gone.


  10. I have a 1972 black custom les paul ibanez,it`s 40 yrs. old and when i plug it in a 1967 twin,it sings.the rosewood fret board is grooved from so much string bending.

  11. I was given one of these nearly identical to the one in the pics, and it needs work. It sounded like it had a loose wire or a bad pot but I am not sure. I bought a pot/cap, jack and 3 way switch replacement kit for about 50 bucks but not sure I got the right setup. It still sounds a little off. Do you have a suggestion for what to repair/replace to get the beast back up and running? I love the look of this guitar, and having played acoustic for almost 20 years, its my first electric, so I am not a complete noob.

  12. The big difference is the Ibanez is 25.5 in. neck

  13. I had one of these in 1988. the 2350 with Serial number in the neck plate on the back. Had my first child and sought to keep it. I originally paid 250.00 US for this then. I ended up losing it. It took me almost 25 years to replace it. I have finally replaced it in 2014 from an EBAY bid of roughly 1000.00$ US. I have played it only a handful of times since then. For me it is about restoring the most precious things that I lost in the divorce. It is immaculate. The only issue would be the fading to yellow of the trim around the face and neck. The serial number suggest to me that this ebony beauty is dates back to about 1973-74. Only the MNFT. could tell me for sure, and I have no way of finding that out. Works perfectly and plays wonderfully.