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Collectable Guitars pt 33 – Ibanez Musician

Ibanez Musician MC-550WNThe Ibanez Musician was born out of the Japanese copy boom of the 1970s, which also helped spawn the Ibanez Destroyer and Iceman.

After Ibanez were sued for copying Gibson designs they branched out into original designs. Their first original models were the aforementioned two guitars, as well as the Performer, a Les Paul-type with a small curve cut into the bass side of the neck joint.This design has been more famously used by another Japanese company, Aria, on the iconic PE series.

Around 1978 the Performer was followed by the new Studio and Musician series.

The Musician was a more conservative piece of design than the wild stylings of the Iceman and the “Explorer-on-steroids” look utilised on the Destroyer.

It had a body shape halfway between a Stratocaster and a Les Paul, the same overall shape as a double cutaway PRS, although of course those guitars came about five years later. The most basic model was the MC100, with a bolt-on neck, although all the others, up to the custom order MC550WN model (of which only 465 were made), were neck-through.

The Studio series is less well-known, and less upscale than the Musicians. The Studio series all had set necks, although this was the only main difference to the Musician.

This new series of guitars were known for their excellent sustaining properties, although this did lead to extra unwanted weight. The woods used were usually walnut and maple (for the through-neck), plus ash or walnut “wings” which formed the actual body.

Pickups were Ibanez Super 88 humbuckers, and the high-end MC500 had an onboard three-band EQ activated by a toggle switch. This gave the player free rein to create a properly unique sound, for when the other two toggle switches activating phase reversal and coil splitting of the pickups just weren’t enough.

The MC500 had controls for the passive pickup mode, and three more knobs for when the EQ switch was on. The passive controls were a master volume, master tone, three-way pickup selector and the coil split and phase reversal switches. When the third toggle switch was activated the active controls (a different knob type to avoid confusion between the passive and active controls) controlled Bass boost, Midrange boost and Treble boost. The control layout for the Musician MC500, while vast, was quite simple and easy to use.

The EQ allowed for a vast spectrum of sounds, and the beautiful woods, through-neck, carved top and huge sustain made the MC500 one of the more desirable guitars of the late 1970s. There are also many good reviews of the other guitars in the series, and the models have a cult following among players.

The guitars aren’t too rare, but can be fairly hard to find sometimes. A recent search on eBay uprooted a few guitars, mostly in America.

An MC500 is going for just under £1100, while another MC200 looks to be going for significantly less.

Every review I have read of these guitars praises them, particularly the MC500, and they are worth quite a lot now.

Below is a picture of a beautiful MC500 (albeit with no strings attached), and I will attempt to explain the control layout.

musician Controls

23 Comments

  1. Awesome says:

    That’s a BEAUTIFUL guitar and a terrific article. Many Thanks!

  2. flyssy says:

    thanks for the kind words!

  3. Meezil says:

    Some MC500s had two regular knobs and the later ones had 3 (in addition to the 3 black EQ knobs. The two knob versions (like the MC500NT used to explain the control layout) consisted of a master volume and a pre-amp volume – that’s NOT a tone knob. The versions with 3 knobs (like the MC-500WN at the beginning of this article) were Master Volume, Master tone, and pre-amp volume.

  4. flyssy says:

    Thanks for the extra info Meezil..

  5. ChuckE99 says:

    Don’t forget the MC400 series! It has all the same controls and neck-through construction of the MC500, but with a mahogany core and a flat top. Thanks for a great article on one of the best-kept secrets of the guitar-collecting world.

  6. Shaun says:

    Hi – I’m looking for someone with a musician for sale – any leads?

    Thanks,
    Shaun

  7. Tony says:

    This is for Shaun. I only found this site today because I am thinking of selling my Musician and wanted advice on what it might be worth. I noticed your queston, if you haven’t found one yet let me know and maybe we could help each other out.
    Regards,
    Tony.

  8. David says:

    I have a black 78 musician like this for sale. make an offer to david at david@3zeros.com

  9. Dirk says:

    Flyssy or anyone that can help,
    I own an Ibanez Musician that I believe to be from the 70’s Serial #D785679
    Unlike the MC500 it only has 4 control knobs and one 3 way switch, laminated blond neck through body construction, & Solid Mahogany Body with covered humbucker pickups.
    Question: Where can I find out more information on this guitar, & get an estimate of it’s true value?
    Dirk

  10. flyssy says:

    Hi Dirk, I’d suggest you ask the guys over at the Ibanez collectors forum, they really know their stuff!

    cheers, Flyssy

    http://www.ibanezcollectors.com/forum/vintage-and-custom-electrics-and401970s-onlyand41/

  11. Schmange says:

    Guess I must have been one of the unlucky ones. I bought an Ibanez Musician back in 1977 and by 1978 the neck was so warped it was unplayable. In fact, I was so disappointed in it that I’ve never bought another Ibanez in over 30 years.

  12. Dan Croll says:

    Hi I have an Ibanez musician 1975 in perfect condition im considering selling, would anyone be interested? If so email daniel.croll@btinternet.com

  13. Stevey M says:

    I have a 1977 Ibanez Musician MC100 in very good condition that I have owned since 1979.It has never been gigged or even taken out of the house for that matter. I hardly play it anymore,and am considering selling it.If anyone could tell me what it ‘s worth I would like to know.

  14. M.Suermann says:

    I have a MC 550 WN for sale. info@stage-band-online.de

    Michael

  15. pmills48 says:

    Alas, I was the proud owner of a Musician in the late ’80s thru early ’90s, but the wolf was at the door and it had to go. I bought it used in Calgary for $309 CAD. If I had known I was in possession of such a collectible at the time, I’m sure I’d have arranged things differently. Hindsight is always so brilliantly clear.

  16. LJey says:

    I have a 1978 model, (all original)but the electronics on mine are set up just like a Les Paul.(no switches)When I first started looking around trying to get info on them I would find them butchered up on ebay with people trying to fit dimarzio humbuckers in them. Calling them project guitars.and of course the people that rip them apart so they can sell them by the piece. At that time I was seeing prices from 699 to 900 dollars. but hardly could find one completely original. I wouldnt sell mine for 3 times that.

  17. Ken Morjaria says:

    I have an Ibanez Musician MC-550WN in Mint condition. I have purchased the guitar in the early 80’s and have held this guitar until today. I am now trying to sell this guitar to the highest bidder. I live in North West of London, United Kingdom. If interested, please contact me by email to ken_morjaria@yahoo.co.uk and provide your contact details.

  18. Alina says:

    I have one to sell…

  19. Robert says:

    I am interested in your Ibanez Musician. If it is still available please conact me at Rob5sl@aol.com Thanks

  20. Susan says:

    Ibanez Musician – MC300DS – for sale. If interested please email – susanelizabethevans@gmail.com

  21. jeff says:

    I have a 1981 musician MC550 Wn I am willing to sell. I already have an offer of $1800 but am looking for at least $2200. Any offers? Guitar is in Soth Africa and buyer will have to pay shipping.

  22. jeff says:

    My sale fell through and I am prepared to sell for $1800. Shipping to USA is about $170. Any takers? This is a good price seeing the last 2 sold on ebay for well over $2000.

  23. jeff says:

    Sorry , contact me at jeffb@jeffbloch.co.za

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