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Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Smadella, Nov 11, 2018.
Honest question: what’s a “Lawsuit Bass” and why should I care?
In the 70s companies like Ibanez got their start by selling unlicensed copies of fender basses and got sued.
Just one example of many
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.
And to add, many (not all) lawsuit era instruments were of equal if not superior quality to their prestigeous counterparts
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.