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Japanese Lawsuit

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Smadella, Nov 11, 2018.

  1. Smadella

    Smadella Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2016
    Brooklyn, NY
    Hey TBers.
    Honest question: what’s a “Lawsuit Bass” and why should I care?

  2. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Supporting Member

    In the 70s companies like Ibanez got their start by selling unlicensed copies of fender basses and got sued.

    Just one example of many

    jamro217, Smadella and nixdad like this.
  3. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    A "lawsuit bass" roughly defined is any Asian copy of a top-tier American instrument from approximately 1972-78. Strictly speaking, only Gibson was involved in the lawsuit, and that was just over their iconic headstock, not the entire instrument.
    jamro217, ajkula66 and Reedt2000 like this.
  4. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Supporting Member

    And to add, many (not all) lawsuit era instruments were of equal if not superior quality to their prestigeous counterparts
    Smadella and Yammybass like this.

  5. By the time the case would have gone to court, Ibanez had changed their headstock design and went to more original body styles so it was settled out of court, if at all.

    Generically, a lot of sellers on eBay seem to call any older, copy instrument a lawsuit guitar but that’s not really correct.
  6. That may be true for basses, but Takamine was threatened with a lawsuit by Martin for copying their acoustic guitar headstock and logo style. So Takamine simply changed their design and that was the end of that. I actually think Takamine's own headstock and logo look better than Martin's anyway. (I own a lawsuit-era Takamine 12-string acoustic and a later Takamine 6-string acoustic. Both are superb guitars.)
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018
    Smadella likes this.
  7. A story I was told at a guitar store around 1981 was that a shipment of Fernandes Strat copies was seized by Customs on the docks in Long Beach, and rather than pay to ship them back to Japan Fernandes opted to allow Customs agents to saw off the offending headstocks. Supposedly they shipped new necks with an altered headstock soon after.
    I played one of them, and it was indeed a great guitar that I liked much better than the Fenders on the wall.

    Around '75-76 Ibanez went all-in on their own original designs--namely the Artist and Iceman guitars.
    I got a new '77 Artist instead of a Les Paul (still have it) and the quality blew Gibson and Fender right out of the water in every way.
    So called "Lawsuit" guitars and basses are often amazing, although it took until the '80s for Ibanez to get their pickups right, in my opinion.
    Smadella likes this.
  8. Roland GR 88

    Roland GR 88

    Sep 16, 2013
    You shouldn't care.....
    The term 'lawsuit guitars' generally refers to Japanese guitars from the early to mid 70's. True lawsuit models are Ibanez Les Pauls with a headstock shape that mimicked Gibson and Takamine acoustics that had Martin headstocks.
    Fender was not involved other than contracting Tokai to make their MIJ models after they'd produced Strat, Tele, P and J bass copies that although very close in appearance to the originals were often better than the offerings from Fender. Which wasn't hard at that time due to this being a forgettable period for Fender U.S.A.
    As mentioned above, often a true lawsuit guitar (meaning Gibson copies) had bolt on necks, plywood tops and cheap electronics so don't be fooled by marketing and myth.
    wesonbass, ajkula66 and Smadella like this.
  9. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Contrary to popular belief, they are not Japanese. They were made by Colton Laws out of Thibodaux, LA. It’s pronounced Law-soo-eh. Handmade and great players.

    Bigpig, Smadella and Craig4003 like this.
  10. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    It's also pronounced Tibbydough (Nitty Griity Dirt Band) and not Thigh-bo-dough (Creedence Clearwater Revival). John Fogerty will never live that one down.
    wesonbass and Stevorebob like this.
  11. litrfree


    Sep 7, 2018
    Hi, I have a question. This body, it is probably japan ash/sen body from lawsuit era, 70´years, early 80´ - this is maximum. What do you mean, what was it a drand? It is not a Fender Japan, and Greco is not too, I suppose. Did somebody have been seen it, this drilled holes? Weight is 5,5 lbs. Thank you very much for your info, If you have.
    Hohner-tělo-body-japan-precision bass-litrfree-sen-ash-02.
    Hohner-tělo-body-japan-precision bass-litrfree-sen-ash-07.
    Hohner-tělo-body-japan-precision bass-litrfree-sen-ash-12.

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