1975 Ibanez Destroyer (later turned into “Shark”)

The Ibanez Destroyer was used on multiple songs on Van Halen’s debut 1978 album, such as: “Running with the Devil,” “You Really Got Me,” and Jamie’s Cryin’.”  Ed would later borrow Chris Holmes’ Destroyer to record parts of the “Women and Children First” album.  In essence, Ed’s destroyer was a vital instrument early in his career.  He used it during his club days starting in 1975, and the guitar can be heard on some of the most iconic Van Halen songs on the first 1978 album.   


Below are the various incarnations of Eddie’s 1975 (model 2459) Ibanez Destroyer.  Ed, along with Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P., received some of the very first destroyers imported from Japan.  

Stock, with white speed knobs.  Ed’s originally came with amber colored knobs (most likely).  The white speed volume/tone knobs are on the earliest photos of Ed with the guitar.

Painted white, with strat knobs from his 1961 Strat.

Heavily modified into “The Shark,” a decision Ed would later regret due to removed wood affecting the sound.    

Guitar Specs

These guitars were made in Japan at the Fujigen factory from 1975-1979.   The body wood was made from Japanese “Sen” and referred to as “Sen Ash.”  However, Eddie Van Halen and Chris Holmes both originally thought they were made of korina due to the advertisements Ibanez used, but “Korina” was just the name of the finish.  It features an epoxy finish which easily chipped, and most of these guitars you see today show extreme chipping over the years.


The pickups were Maxon “Super 70s” and featured “Star” tuners.  Ed would eventually replace the tone/volume knobs with ones from his stratocaster.  The guitar features generally characteristics of a Gibson Explorer:  Set neck construction, 22 frets, fixed bridge, etc.

Something very rare about Ed’s destroyer is the neck joint.  Ed’s destoyer was an extremely early version with bulkier set neck joint when compared to later 1975 versions.  



More general information found at Ibanez Fandom.

The earliest 1975 Destroyer neck joint, above.  This is what Ed had and is very rare.

Most 1975+ destroyers heels look like this.


Stock versions with with “star” tuners.

NAMM prototype destroyers came with Schaller D tuners.

Thanks to Allen G. for the photos.

Above you see Ed’s shark with what appears may be very rare “asterisk” tuners on the three bottom.  However others say they are simply West Germany Schaller Minis.


Ed would use the stock Super 70 pickups until he modifies the destroyer into the “Shark.”

Above you see the different variations of the super 70 pickup seen in the stock destroyers.

Above is one of the earliest known photos of Ed playing the guitar prior to being painted white.

Painted white – notice he replaced the volume/tone knobs with ones from his stratocaster.

Ed eventually cut up the destroyer and turned it into the “Shark” which it is most known for now days.  Ed replaced the nut with a brass version, removed part of the body, changed pickups, and of course striped it with his famous red/white scheme.  Unfortunately, this dramatically changed the tone of the instrument in Ed’s disfavor.  In fact, Ed disliked the sound so much he asked Chris Holmes if he could borrow his to record the “Women and Children First” album in 1980.  

Comparisons of truss plate, and notice how Ed placed a brass nut when converting to the Shark, which perhaps greatly affected the tone as well.  Thanks to Allen G. for the photo and info.

Doug Anderson sold the first Ibanez Destroyers to come out of Japan:  Both of them going to Ed and Chris Holmes.  Above is a video of Doug discussing Chris Holmes’ destroyer.  

Above is a photo of Chris Holmes’ destroyer which is identical to Ed’s when they first received them.  Chris painted his the salmon color, and this guitar was used to record parts of the “Women and Children First” album.

Later in the concert you see Ed playing the Shark/destroyer.

Above is a recent photo of Wolfgang Van Halen holding the shark in its current state.