There are a lot of guitar stories in the BigCity. A lot of them come with names like Gibson and Fender and a lot of people follow them around like mindless lemmings, genuflecting at the sound of the names. And pay out lots of money. But luckily for you and me, there are a lot of other stories down obscure alleys and behind underpasses. Providing encounters where you come face to face and you say, “I gotta have that guitar.” And even luckier for you and me, there’s a guy on the other side saying to himself, “Oh boy, have I got a sucker on the line now!” Then for a couple hundred instead of a couple thousand clams you walk away with another cool – and usually very good – axe like no one else’s. The BigCity is full of these stories. This 1985 Ibanez XV500 is one of them.
It was a hot day in August and I was bored at work in Center City Philadelphia. Fortunately for me, no one paid attention to me at the office and that gig came with free parking. Parking with in and out privileges and no valet tips! Slip out a little before noon and you could be up I-95 in a flash, get off at Bridge Street, hang a right onto Torresdale just past the crab house and you were outside the fabled Torresdale Music where my friend Marvin held sway over piles of guitars and amps hanging and stacked everywhere in his little corner shop. It seems like a fantasy dream now.
I stepped out of the comfortable air conditioning of my car and entered the dusty tomb, like something out of Dickens. Marvin always had some sort of treasure hidden away in a stack of cases. You scan the tags and pulled out anything that caught your fancy. “What’s that?,” you ask coyly. That fateful day it was this Ibanez that greeted my gaze as I flipped open the case. Was it pink? Was it purple? Yes! One thing for sure, it sure the heck was pointy. I had no idea what it was, but I knew I had to have it. And, since I knew how Marvin coded his costs into his tags (backwards at the bottom), I walked out with my prize for two bucks.
But what did I have? As it turns out I had a relatively rare Ibanez, a relic from the hair band/pointy guitar era of the early 1980s. Fuji came up with this design toward the end of that craze and started production in January of 1985. Besides the nifty points everywhere (which are here miraculously intact), the basswood guitar features a two-tone metallic finish that splits the guitar diagonally between the pink and purple. How could you deny such a beauty? For two hundred.
Ok, but does it play? You bet. It’s well balanced and hot, with two V5 blade-pole humbuckers. Plus, Ibanez’ Pro Rock’r version of a locking top-mounted Kahler, my favorite setup. Not to mention other cool features like a slippery graphite nut and the ‘crystal cut’ edges. Oh, yeah.
In the BigCity, there’s a guitar for everyone and someone for every guitar. I guess like an eHarmony match I was one of the few for this baby. By the time this model bit the dust in November of 1985 only 626 had been made in this finish, with another 709 in I think it was a two-tone blue. I don’t know if this is a match forever like the folks think on the eHarmony commercials, but it’s the kind of guitar that’s my kind of guitar story from the BigCity.