It was 1989 and I was lusting for a new guitar. My lavender Yamaha RGX (which I still have)
wasn't doing it for me anymore. For a couple years I was on a Ibanez kick. Terror is more like it. I
spent more time on the Ibanez magazine ads than I did on the regular articles. I saved and saved.
There was a local music store called DB music. They were the biggest Ibanez dealers around. I
went there constantly, lusting after a 1987 Jewel Blue RG560.
I finally had enough cash and went there to buy it. When I walked through the door, there
before me stood Michael Angelo Batio. At the time his band Nitro had released their first tape.
Yes tape. Maybe a CD. I digress. He was at the store with his entourage trying out guitars. I
wasn't allowed near him. Honestly, I could have cared less because I was on a mission to get my
beloved RG560. Plus he wasn't George Lynch. Well, he was hanging right in the area of MY 560.
At one point he picked it up and played it. I could have hung myself. If he bought it, it would be
over for me. Finally, the store manager said, "He's going to be a while. Can you come back?". "I
just want to buy that guitar". "Sorry, cant do it now" he said. I was destroyed. I left dejected, but
vowed to return. Three days later I returned to get the guitar. I walked in the door and the place
is PACKED. "Whats going on?" I asked the guy working there. "We are doing a clinic tonight".
"Oh cool, well I'm here to buy that blue RG560". "Sorry, the store is shut down for business
because of the clinic". "Michael Angelo Batio is here." BATIO!!!!! Thwarted by Batio once again. I
stayed for the clinic, I mean the shred fest. He used up all available notes in the metro Milwaukee
area that night. Yes, he did play his 4 neck guitar. At one point he went on and on about how he
is known for his fast leads, but how he is also a great rhythm player. At that point he proceeded
to shred like mad and never even came close to playing a chord. I was in the front row, sitting
right next to my guitar. The one I couldn't buy AGAIN. I left that night with internal bleeding, and
substantial disdain for Batio. Now, its not really his fault, but 24 years later the image of getting
screwed twice is still very vivid in my mind. A few days later I called the store and asked if Batio
was there. Was he going to be there? Is he anywhere near the freaking store. "No" they said. Off
I went to buy my Jewel Blue Ibanez RG560. I finally arrive at the store, and go in. A quick Batio
check turns up negative. SWEET! I go over to where my guitar was hanging to find a empty hook.
Gone, sold. I could have cried.
I was not leaving the store empty handed again. They had the same model in a different
color. Lipstick Red Metallic. My lust for the guitar outweighed my hatred for red. Well that guitar
ended up changing my life. My playing ability jumped by leaps and bounds. I still hated the red. I
proceeded to sand off all the paint, by hand. That took weeks and every time I blew my nose it
was red sanding dust. Yes, they make dust masks. I was 17 and didn't care. Over the next few
years it got several different paint jobs. First it was black and I splatter painted it with green and
blue. Next it was a metallic blue. Not the original blue I wanted, but nice. I kept having a skin
reaction to that paint so I sanded it all off. The final state was natural. I shaved a little scoop for
better upper fret access, and added in a kill switch. Thats probably the first guitar mods I'd ever
done and really the start of Benford Guitars. Had I got the color I wanted I probably wouldn't
have messed with it. I'm realizing as I'm typing this that Batio is partially responsible for my guitar
company. I think I just puked a little in my mouth.
Speaking of Batio, I ran in to him twice more in 1992. I was doing live sound at a club called
The Haven in Milwaukee. He had reformed his original band Holland and was playing at that
club. I ran the sound that night, and man did the bass and drums sound great! :) Next week, this
all girl shred band was there playing their asses off. Who was the girl guitar players instructor?
Batio. Who was in the front row? Batio. Who had become my ingrown hair of the guitar world?
Batio. Back to the RG.
Around 1998-99 I decided the RG needed one final face lift. I sent it off to Herc Fede in Philly.
He was doing a ton swirl paint jobs. Off it went to get a four color swirl, have a monkey grip cut
like the Ibanez Jems, change the neck route from a single coil to humbucker and inlay a vine in
the neck. I waited forever. 6+ months at least. When it returned I almost cried. I think I did shed
a tear truth be told. It was beautiful. It was finally a guitar that looked as good as it played. I still
have it and it hangs on the wall a bit higher than all the rest. It doesn't get played much. The
finish is fragile so I just leave it be. Sometimes it will hang for a year without being touched.
When I pick it up, it plays great and is in perfect tune, always. Here are a few pictures. First is
the original LR red. Very nice, but not my thing. Next is the final natural state. And last but not
least is how it sits now and forever.
Back in January 2013 I ran across a worn out 1990 RG560 on Ebay. It was just the body and
neck. A few other things like the tuners, and few electronics were also there. No pickups, bridge,
or any control plates. It was a great deal and the seller was a couple hours away from me. Over
the years I have been hoarding various Ibanez parts. I had everything I needed for finish it off. It
was meant to be. When the guitar came, it was whooped! It deserved better. Now over the years
Ive learned Ibanez finishes cant be touched by any chemical stripper known to man. A heat gun is
king. Mine was dead, so I proceeded to sand all the finish off. This time I used a power sander and
a dust mask. A down draft sanding table also helped. I pondered over what color to make it. Do I
make it look stock? Do I paint it jewel blue and finally have the guitar I wanted when I was 17? I
decided I was going to go a slightly different route. It had to be a blue of some sort. I settled on a
plastic wrap finish. A base color (in this case black) gets sprayed. On top of that a color of your
choice gets sprayed. While that is wet you lay plastic wrap on the guitar. You pull it off right away
taking some of the top color with it. From there it gets cleared. Well my painter tried 3 different
times with limited success. He finally sprayed the top color and lightly wiped it with rags and a
paint brush. It turned out awesome. Black base with a metallic blue pearl top coat. The headstock
got a matching paint job. Before the final clear, a new Ibanez decal was applied. The original
Ibanez logos are silk screened on and wear off easily. To top it off I add 3 new Dimarzios. A Tone
Zone for the bridge, Fast Track 1 and Chopper hot rails. This thing is a monster. The finish on the
neck got removed and I did a oil/poly rubbed finish. Its ultra fast now. Here are some before and
This style guitar and especially this model will always have a soft spot in my heart. The neck
profile is so different than what I play now. Its not even close. Yet, somehow it feels like home. It
was a great project and great thinking about my adventures all those years ago. Batio lives in
Chicago which is basically down the road from me. Maybe I should drop by for a guitar lesson
and tell him the story.