Monday, May 16, 2016

An Ibanez prototype that never went into production

I came across this video that was recorded in 1979. It features Barney Kessel in a trio setting performing a set of standards. Barney is backed by Jim Richardson on bass an Tony Mann on drums. Barney is in excellent shape and is swinging hard. Interesting is the guitar he is playing. He is not using his trusted Gibson ES 350 but an Ibanez prototype. I found this info on the Belgian jazz guitar forum; 
"In the 70's/80's Ibanez were imported into the UK by a gentleman named Maurice Summerfield who also ran the Ashley Mark publishing co. Apparently he secured Joe Pass' Ibanez deal regarding his signature model. He also did the same for B.Kessel (a close friend of Mr Summerfield's). This went as far as a prototype being made which Barney used on a European tour."
It's my guess that the footage was recorded for Italian TV during the European tour mentioned in the quote above. Unlike the Ibanez Joe Pass, the Barney Kessel prototype never went into production though and was later sold by his son. Jim Bastian writes on his "Gibson Barney Kessel" pages: 

"In May 2011, Barney's own Ibanez signature prototype was advertised at auction on ebay. The guitar, which had no serial number and was made specifically for Barney by Ibanez, was sold by son Dan Kessel, in Beverly Hills, CA. The guitar, sold with a COA, was descibed as being "...owned and played professionally by the leg endary Barney Kessel." The guitar sold for a not-so-legendary price of 2357.00."

What is sure is that the guitar sounded just fine in the hands of Barney. Maybe a bit mellower even than his ES 350. And the music in this video is among the very best I have ever heard of Barney. What a player he was ...

Setlist video:

1. Autumn Leaves
2. Misty
3. Moose The Mooche
4. The Shadow Of Your Smile
5. I Can' t Get Started
6. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
7. Stella By Starlight
8. St. Thomas
9. Basie's Blues
10. Wave
11. 18 Bar Blues


  1. isn't this the same body style that was used in the FG100 and the pat metheny prototype?

  2. A while back I purchased an 2006 Epiphone Zephyr Regent that looked a lot like this guitar. Basically an ES-175 with only the neck pickup, also discontinued, but a nice guitar for a Korean made. One of these days I am going to have a real Gibson, LOL, Telecaster for now.

  3. Whoever bought that guitar got a bargain. That'd be a good price for a nice hollowbody even if it hadn't been owned and played by a legend.