This guitar originally belonged to my cousin, Chris Short, who was, I believe, the second owner. He played it for years back in the early 1980’s in a North Carolina band called Roller (I was their Light-man). Neither Chris or I are sure of the exact year of its manufacture.
Anyway, how I came to own this guitar is an interesting story unto itself.
In the spring of 1988, I put a 50th anniversary Rickenbacker 4003 bass on layaway at AppleTree Music of Shelby, NC. I realized shortly afterwards that I’d misjudged my finances and wasn’t going to be able to afford it. I explained this to Doug Benson, the owner of AppleTree, and he told me that he couldn’t give me a refund of the money I already put into the Rickenbacker ($150), but he could let me pick something else out.
You know, there’s not an awful lot in a music store that you can get for $150.
Anyway, I looked around and just happened to see this odd shaped red guitar hanging at the end of a row of guitars.
I told Doug that it looked very much like the old Destroyer that my cousin Chris used to own. He told me that it was, indeed, the same guitar, that h’d been using it to teach guitar students (it was too beat up to sell). I asked him if he would let me have that guitar for the $150, and he agreed.
So I became the third known owner of a beat up old Ibanez Destroyer (not counting Doug). It’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. This guitar can swing from sweet and bluesy all the way to full-tilt heavy metal, with a warm, full sound that’s ‘impossible to get with a new guitar and new pickups (for those who didn’t know this, the magnet field of the magnets inside of guitar pickups weaken as the pickups age, which results in a warmer, more mellow sound).
Through the years I’ve had a lot of offers from people wanting to buy the guitar. It’s amazingly playable, and has such a powerful, expressive sound, that nearly everyone who has ever played it has wanted it. But the guitar is kind of beat up. It’s been around. There’s no doubt about that. So no one has ever been willing to give me any real money for it. I’ve always thought that its sound and playability more than made up for any cosmetic flaws.
In the end, I’m proud to still own this guitar. I’m thankful I was never foolish enough to sell it. I own a rich and powerful sounding guitar that plays better than anything I’ve ever played. This guitar has been around. You can hear it, and you can feel it.
Ibanez stopped making this model back in the 1980s because Gibson Guitars sued them over copyright infringement or some such (because the Destroyer was clearly based upon the Gibson Explorer).
I don’t know if they’re still in production, but Ibanez brought back the Destroyer as the model DTX120. I’m not sure how the new DTX120’s stack up against the old Destroyers, but I’m glad the style is back. The body is shaped the same way, but it’s a good bit smaller, which I don’t much like. Personally, I’ve always thought that the Ibanez Destroyer had better styling and looked a bit more wicked, somehow, than Gibson’s Explorer. But then I’ve never much cared for Gibson guitars, anyway.
My cousin Chris still fawns over this Destroyer. It’s been twenty years since he sold it, and he still loves the guitar. That says all that needs to be said about this guitar. Some day I’ll give it back to Chris. He can have it back right after they pry it from my cold, dead hands and lower me into the ground. That sounds snarky, but it’s actually in my will that the Destroyer goes to him. But only after I’m dead.
I hope, for my own safety, that he never reads this.
“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”
– J. Robert Oppenheimer