Once upon a time… Hoshino Corporation – (Ibanez’s parent company) started exporting copies of American electric and acoustic guitars in the sixties. Their copy guitars were so exacting in detail that Gibson sued Ibanez (unsuccessfully) in the late ’70’s. As a result of the lawsuit, Ibanez slightly altered their solid body designs so that Gibson and Fender would not be so nervous. Why would the guitar monopolies be concerned? Because by the mid seventies Ibanez had reached a level of quality that equaled them. And lower labor rates plus efficient manufacturing meant that Ibanez guitars could be sold for almost half (or less) of the cost of a Les Paul or Strat.
In 1974 or 1975 Ibanez co-operatively designed a new shape in solid body electric guitars. Here’s the short scoop from Jim Donahue – a 16 year Ibanez employee and now head of Guitar Design, Quality Control, Parts.
“In the mid 70’s a Guy in Japan at Ibanez wanted to make a Japanese guitar that was a mark of Japan, something to be proud of. His idea was to build a guitar widely loved and respected, like a Les Paul or Strat. So he called a meeting with the main guitar companies in Japan. Ibanez (Hoshino) Greco (Kanda Shokai) Diawa and Fuji. They had a close door meeting and the Iceman was designed. Each company had distribution rights to it in different global markets. Ibanez for the USA.”
This resulted in one of the best looking and original designs to emerge from the Pacific Rim. With the triple coil pickup and mahogany body the first series of Iceman were light weight tone giants ahead of their time. Initial sales were not overwhelming as the very conservative American guitar culture was slow to realize the quality and value of Ibanez.
The Iceman was produced from 1975 to 1983, in various bolt-on and glued-neck models. About eight different models were available at the peak of Iceman popularity in 1978-1979 (including the IC210 that Steve Miller played on the album “Fly Like an Eagle”)and they retailed from $295 to $495. If you find a used early model these days, they run from $400 to $800. Early models will sometimes go for $1100 to $1700, and the 1978 PS-10 is worth approximately $2000 to $2500.
1978 – 1982 Production Numbers and Serial Number Chart are on this page.
Sales dwindled in the early eighties as the super-strats captured buyers dollars (why oh why?) and by 1983 only 2 models were offered. By the late eighties the Iceman had somewhat of a cult following and was rising in price as collectors bought them up. I used to rarely see an Iceman in a guitar store or pawn shop. When I did find one it was usually an IC50 and priced at $450. That was in 1991. Since re-introduction to the US in 1994, there are plenty of Icemen to go around. Most of the new models are made in Korea, not Japan – although exceptions can be found (like the PS10-LTD and PS10-Classic). Korean made guitars have replaced Japanese ones on the guitar-snobs shit list these days. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t ya think?