Ibanez guitars are most commonly associated with the metal scene, but Ibanez’s roster of sponsored artists isn’t limited to players on the heavier end of the genre spectrum.
Ibanez’s full artist roster can be found at their official website here. Based on this lineup, here is a list of my 10 favourite guitarists who are endorsed by Ibanez:
- Luke Hoskin of Protest the Hero
- Tom Quayle
- Blake Hardman of Counterparts
- Paul Waggoner of Between the Buried and Me
- Yvette Young of Covet
- Tim Henson and Scott LePage of Polyphia
- Ichika Nito
- Shingo Sekiguchi
- Mario Camarena and Erick Hansel of Chon
- Jake Bowen of Periphery
So let’s go a little deeper on why each of these guitarists made my top 10 list:
Luke Hoskin of Protest the Hero
I’ve been a big fan of Luke Hoskin and Tim MacMillar of Protest the Hero for a long time now, so it was great to see Luke finally receive a signature model from Ibanez in the form of the LHM1.
Protest’s intricate, thoughtfully crafted guitar work immediately resonated me when I first discovered the band. I still recall the first track I listened to being The Divine Suicide of K and being immediately hooked by that guitar-orientated intro which still slams to this day.
As well as being an infinitely evergreen and listenable band, studying Luke and Tim’s music for the guitar is a fantastic educational tool for developing your metal guitar playing technique.
Tom also has his own Ibanez signature model (the TQM1) which I’d say he’s earned twice over based on the merit of his playing ability.
It only takes a few seconds of listening to Tom play to realise that he’s ascended beyond the ranks of mere mortals. He no longer seems to have the capacity for mistakes.
The standout quality of Tom’s fusion legato playing for me is his ability to improvise and produce vivid musical architecture without hesitation.
Blake Hardman of Counterparts
Blake’s talent for incorporating melancholy, shoegazey and often incredibly complex melody within Counterparts’ otherwise aggressive sound really makes the band shine.
The balance between the yin and yang in his songwriting for the guitar is perfect and for me forms the key ingredient to the emotional dynamics which make the band’s sound so unique.
Blake plays an Ibanez AZ model.
Paul Waggoner of Between the Buried and Me
Like Protest, Between the Buried and Me were one of my major sources of inspiration for really knuckling down and studying metal guitar playing technique.
Tracks like Alaska, Selkies and Ants of the Sky were and still remain mind-blowing pieces of song writing for the guitar which I still go back to regularly for inspiration.
Paul Waggoner’s masterful guitar playing is fundamental to Between the Buried and Me’s storytelling and combines technical excellence and tasteful listenability seamlessly.
Paul’s signature Ibanez is the PWM20.
Yvette Young of Covet
Yvette’s songwriting is bursting with freshly picked ideas and creativity and her brightly coloured signature model (the YY10) compliments her technical yet playful style.
Adopting a finger-picking and tapping-centric songwriting style, she leads her band Covet in creating dreamlike soundscapes like Odessa and Falkor above.
I’m excited to see what the future brings from Yvette with her level of imagination.
Tim Henson and Scott le Page of Polyphia
Tim and Scott are another pair of fantastically innovative guitarists who routinely cook up a full spread of creative delicacies.
Both Tim and Scott have their own Ibanez signature models in the form of the THBB (Tim) and the SLM (Scott) and I’m not surprised given how inspiring their playing is.
Their band Polyphia has managed to achieve something quite special – they have successfully acquired a mass audience for a technical instrumental band that, on paper, seems entirely esoteric.
I think their secret ingredient was to innovate in their songwriting style and deliver an altogether modern spin on guitar music. Take G.O.A.T. for instance – this is a chimera of a track with a heavy electronic influence and a trap groove/percussion focus which incorporates a jazz-style solo demonstration from each band member. It’s wild and it really works.
Although the band may be polarising for a small minority, I cannot see how this music would be anything other than captivating for anyone who plays an instrument.
Ichika is another highly creative guitarist who does a lot of posting of his song ideas to YouTube. Although a lot of these ideas are posted behind comical titles (as above), they are always sparkling with technical creativity and thoughtfulness.
The track embedded above (A Bell is Not a Bell) demonstrates Ichika’s technical mastery and, equally, his ingenuity in creating otherworldly melodies which have an immersive, transportive effect on the listener.
Based on his YouTube channel, Ichika has a lot of different guitars by different brands, but I have seen him play an RGA (as above), an S Series and a Talman.
Taking you on a thoughtful autumnal stroll, Shingo’s gentle jazz playing will make you want to turn down the gain, switch to your neck pickup and finger pick some contemplative jazz chords.
As another active YouTuber, Shingo’s frequent posts of his original ideas and his arrangements of classic jazz tracks serves as chilled listening and clean playing inspiration.
Guitar-wise, Shingo uses an Ibanez AZN and an AZ2204.
Mario Camarena and Erick Hansel of Chon
Like Polyphia, Chon are another band that is defying convention by successfully delivering technical instrumental guitar music to a large and dedicated audience.
Mario and Erick also incorporate electronic elements to their songwriting to great effect, particularly in songs like Nayhoo above. This lack of concern for uniformity in their discography and their willingness to experiment in their songwriting keeps their work exciting and effortlessly fresh.
Their guitar playing ranges from poppy simplicity to wild, kaleidoscopic melody. This cocktail of shred and subdued playing keeps their music unpredictable and moreish.
Both Mario and Erick have their own signature Ibanez guitars, the MAR10 and the EH10.
Jake Bowen of Periphery
As one of Periphery’s three guitarists, Jake contributes to the tight, cutting edge sound which Periphery is famous for.
Periphery’s glorification of highly crafted guitar tone and their percussive, low-tuned songwriting was an immediate hit for me. Highlights in their guitar work are still tracks from P1 like Zyglrox (above) which truly demonstrates the modern, almost robotic precision of their playing style. Those two initial ideas (0.00 to 0.15 and 0:16 to 0:30) are just unbelievable.
Jake’s signature guitar, the Ibanez JBM, is consistent with their sharp, mechanised sound with its clean matte finish and sharp RGA-style shape.