IBANEZ 2402 "LAWSUIT" 6/12-String Double-neck

In 1986 I bought a nice Ibanez 6/12-string cherry finish doubleneck guitar, shaped like a Gibson SG. This model is called Ibanez 2402, and is an unashamed rip-off of the famous Gibson EDS-1275 doubleneck, used by numerous guitarist including Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend, John McLaughlin, Andy Latimer and Steve Howe just to mention a few. This Ibanez guitar, like all of the 70'ies Ibanez copy guitars, is known as an Ibanez "lawsuit" guitar.

During the 70'ies, Ibanez was the prime example of a japanese copy guitar manufacturer. Ibanez built affordable guitars of good (enough) quality, and thus filled in a gap for aspiring guitarists, not able to cough up the money for the real thing. They also built effects pedals, some of which have even become classics. Eventually Ibanez started to produce their own original models, and became a top brand themselves, which happened at the end of the seventies.

The 2402 model is one of Ibanez finest copy guitars. It came in cherry or white finish. Both are very beautiful instruments. It has a tone quite similar to the original. Especially the 12-string neck is a dead ringer for the Gibson. I had the pleasure to play a real Gibson once, and in my opinion the neck also feels quite similar to the Gibson. The Ibanez is not entirely a copy of the EDS-1275, and in fact the switching arrangement has one advantage over the Gibson. The Gibson has two switches, while the Ibanez has a pickup switch for each neck, and then a third switch, to switch between the necks. This is a very practical arrangement in live situations, and I wonder why Gibson didn't do the same.

The neck switch usually just takes the signals from each neck and route them to the output mono jack. But I had my neck switch rewired to route each neck to it own channel on the output jack, which was then replaced with a stereo jack. This modification can even be done with the factory switch itself, and the mod is 100% reversible. With this mod, I am able to route the 12-string and the 6-string to different amplifiers or effect lines. Using the guitar in the ordinary way only requires a stereo-to-mono lead, while the stereo-routing can be obtaind with a stereo lead to the pedal board.

The infamous "lawsuit" nickname originates from the disagreement between the owners of Gibson guitars and Ibanez japanese owners about the use of logos on the guitar headstocks. The Ibanez guitars were visually very close copies of original Gibsons and Fenders, down to the inlay logos on the headstocks. While a company like Rickenbacker routinely sues companies for copying their signature guitar body shapes, the Gibson lawsuit, giving the Ibanez range its nickname, really was about the use of logos. The issue was eventually settled, as in fact Ibanez had already stopped using Gibson logos prior to the lawsuit. But these guitars will always be known as the lawsuit guitars.

There were speculations that the lawsuit was about the Ibanez guitars being too good copies of the original Gibsons. Gibson obviously must have felt threatened by the increaing market share of the japanese company. But despite being fine guitars, the Ibanez copies are not of the same build quality as Gibsons. They are still fine guitars though, and it is said that the build quality just got better and better during the 70'ies, until Ibanez started to build their own famous original models.

Ibanez announced their decision to stop producing copy guitars in favour of original models sometime in 1976. But even so, they must have continued copying designs for quite a while. The doubleneck that I own can be dated september 1978, based on the serial number, and so must be considered one of the last - and best built - Ibanez lawsuit guitars.

And a fine instrument it is indeed.