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Jon4bass (Jon4bass)
Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 6:51 pm:   

Hi All,

I just emailed Jeff Hasselberger about my L6S copy question, but thought I'd also post this to the forum.

I appreciate fine Japanese-made guitars, having recently bought an Epi Elite '63 Dot 335 Natural (Terada factory). I also have Fender, Gibson, Taylor, and Alembic guitars/basses in my "arsenal" (as they say).

Anyways, I bought an L6S copy in the early '80's. This guitar has the name "Speedfire" on the headstock. After retiring it in the early '90s, I recently took it out of the closet to "bring it into active duty" and am having a new bone nut and setup done by my local guitar tech.

This is a Japanese made guitar (says "Made in Japan" under the stop tailpiece) with a high build quality. It has a set neck and the headstock has the Gibson moustache (open book) shape. It also has Gotoh "Star" Keystone tuners. It seems to be correct to mid-to-late '70's L6S specs except that the rotary switch numbers are embossed rather than raised. If any guitar qualifies as "lawsuit", this one seems to ace it. :-)

Would anyone know if this "Speedfire" L6S is a "disguised" Ibanez?

Harry (Harry)
Posted on Monday, May 24, 2004 - 3:38 am:   

Hi Jonathan!
I'll take over for Spiro here, because he already told this story so often that I believe it's time somebody else takes over the stick..... ;-) (hi, Spiro!)
If your guitar says: "Speedfire" than it is a "Speedfire" and no Ibanez. Although the next identical guitar that came out of the same factory may even have gotten the "Ibanez" logo.
See, Ibanez was not an individual and independent factory. The company that made these guitars was called Hoshino Gakki and one of their brands was Ibanez.
Hoshino also made Greco, Antoria etc. and these guitars were in most cases 100% equal -exept for the name- to the guitars that beared the Ibanez logo.
To be sure if your guitar could be a Hoshino product it would help to see a picture.
Kind greetings,
Jon4bass (Jon4bass)
Posted on Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - 12:02 pm:   

Hey Harry,

Thanks for the information. This forum is giving me a better understanding of guitar manufacturing in Japan.

I will try to post pics of my "Speedfire" L6S copy after I get my guitar back from the shop.

Jon4bass (Jon4bass)
Posted on Sunday, June 06, 2004 - 4:33 am:   

Hello Harry, Hello World!

This story should be titled "My Pawnshop Prize Without the Pawnshop". :-) I've been playing guitar and bass for some time (34 years) and have learned some things over the years....

In 1981, I bought a Gibson L6S copy, which of course didn't cost as much as the "real" thing. I played out with this guitar a couple of times and "noodled" with it at home. At the time, my Ovation roundback was my #1 guitar. I put the L6S copy in the closet in the late '80s. This guitar made an appearance in the early '90s as a prop for my "Rock Star" Halloween costume, but back into the closet it went.

Since that time, I've been playing out and recording with other guitars in my arsenal. I recently decided to take my Speedfire L6S Custom copy out of mothballs and put it back in active duty. After a new bone nut and setup (thanks to my guitar tech at "The Repair Zone" in San Diego), this axe is ready to rock.

I introduced my old axe (made in '77 according the the Ibanez no. system) to the "modern" era by playing it thru my J-Station Amp Modeler and into my DAW recording rig. Playing thru some high gain amp models and my fave Twin Blackface model, it was apparent to me that this guitar has a forward, spitty quality with all tone controls up. These are hot humbuckers. Turning down the mid-tone control to about 6 or 7 smoothed the tone very nicely.

I opened up the control cavity for the 1st time and was greeted with 27-year-old sawdust. I compared the parts and wiring to the schematic of a real L6S and everything was there including the choke coil on the mid-tone control. The switch positions (there are 6 of them) deviated from the "real" one only in the out-of-phase settings (e.g., 1 is supposed to be series in-phase and 6 is series out-of-phase, this is reversed on my L6S copy and ditto for the parallel in- and out-of-phase settings).

I'm happy to rediscover this axe. :O The question now is, who (in Japan) made it? The pics below should provide clues:

Jonathan's Speedfire L6S Custom in OHSC:
guitar in ohsc

A shot of the headstock:
pic of headstock

A shot of the body. Note how the heel of the neck blends into body. This is a set-neck guitar. Also, dot position markers are MOP.
pic of body

Closeup of body showing controls, bridge, and tailpiece:
pic of controls

Closeup of the beautiful abalone inlay logo on headstock:
pic of logo

Back of headstock showing Gotoh "Star" tuners. Note that housing shape is half an octagon. Gotoh make great tuners. Note too, Ibanez style serial no., which is in gold ink under the poly finish. This ser. no. indicates this guitar was made in April 1977.
pic of star tuners

Harry (Harry)
Posted on Sunday, June 06, 2004 - 6:28 am:   

Hi Jonathan!
Thanks for the pictures. Looking at them I can only draw one conclusion: this guitar must be a Hoshino product. The construction (a set 3-piece maple neck, inlays, truss rod cover etc.) the used woods, even the Star-tuners!
I own such a guitar with the Ibanez logo and I compared it to your pictures. I really tried, but I could not find any difference.
So the headstock might have said "Ibanez" as well...
Kind greetz,
Jon4bass (Jon4bass)
Posted on Sunday, June 06, 2004 - 5:57 pm:   

Hey Harry,

Your Ibanez Vintage Page site is awesome as well as your guitar collection! You have a pic of a Speedfire copy of some Gibson Custom guitar on your Signs and Logos page. Your pic is the only "Speedfire" I've seen on the 'net before I posted my pics.

I still don't understand the reasoning for the Speedfire brand if indeed it was from Hoshino. It could be a brand for another country (though I got my Speedfire from the US, where Ibanez already has a market) or it could be an upscale brand like Epiphone Elite/Elitist. I dunno....


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