Recently, Polyphia guitarist Tim Henson got the chance to sit down with Revolver magazine to discuss his career, as well as other topics. Among other things, Henson also looked back on his signature Ibanez nylon-string guitar that got into the spotlight earlier this year. However, as it turns out, Ibanez initially wasn’t really keen on doing this model. Asked about his favorite guitar, Tim recalled getting ahold of an old obscure Ibanez model and how it inspired him to team up with the company for his signature guitar. He recalled:
“I was in Europe, in 2019, in a pawn shop and saw an Ibanez nylon electric guitar and I picked it up. I thought, What the fuck is this thing? I texted Ibanez and they told me it was a discontinued, commercially unsuccessful model from 1998. I bought it from the pawn shop and took it home.”
“And the inspiration was… A lot of times in rap, they’ll sample old classical guitar. This way I can make my own samples and use them in beats or send them to producers. I started making loops with it and was just like, ‘This is insane.'”
“So, I called Ibanez and said, ‘Hey, I want a signature of this.‘ And they’re like, ‘Well, you know, it really didn’t do well in 1998…‘ I was just like, ‘What the fuck!‘ So, we made ‘Playing God‘ and I sent it to them, and told them, ‘If you don’t make this guitar, some other brand will — and you’re going to lose out on a lot of fucking money.‘ Then they were like, ‘Oh shit, yeah let’s do it.‘”
The Ibanez model that Tim is talking about is most likely SC500N. This one was heavily inspired by Ibanez’s S-style body for solid-body electric guitars. It’s a somewhat obscure piece and it was produced between 1998 and 2000. You can find some info about it here.
However, this wasn’t the first time that Ibanez had some nylon-string acoustic guitars with a design that feels more like an electric guitar. For instance, in the 1980s, they had LE450 as a part of their Lonestar series. What was interesting is that these guitars had those electric-style 6-in-one headstocks.
Elsewhere in the Revolver interview, Tim Henson also recalled a weird way that he kickstarted his guitar career. Weirdly enough, it was trouble with law that made him practice guitar so much, ultimately becoming one of the most famous virtuosic players today. Henson reflected on this when he talked about what his home is like:
“The idea was to have a smoking station in every room with a tray you could pick up and move. But I got tired of doing that. So, I just got more trays …
“I started smoking weed in eighth grade. It became a huge thing in my life. I started selling it in ninth grade. I also got my first possession [arrest then] because I fucking live in Texas.”
“That kind of sparked my career: I was on probation and extremely grounded. I pretty much just went to school and came home … for an entire year. I wasn’t allowed to have people over or go to friends’ houses. So I pretty much decided I was going to get really, really, really good at guitar.”
Apart from this new nylon-string electro-acoustic guitar, Polyphia’s Tim Henson and Scott LePage teamed up with Ibanez for their own signature electric models. Apart from the expected Super-Strat kind of deal, these models, called TOD10 and KRYS10, come with some high-end traits, including much-appreciated aesthetic features. Henson’s TOD10, for instance, has those Steve Vai-inspired inlays on the fretboard, although they’re not as “floral” as those. You can check out these guitars in the embedded player below.
Photos: Delusion23 (Polyphia – Manchester, UK – 6 February 2019), Ibanez logo