The series is inspired by vintage guitars such as Fender Telecasters and Danelectros. The Talman body has a shape similar to the vintage Telecaster. In keeping with the Tele tradition, Talman models feature primarily single-coil pickups although some models with humbucking pickups were produced. Many models have lipstick-style pickups which were popularized by Danelectro. The Talman series has been described as "a simple, no-frills, ready-for-just-about-any-gig guitar with easy-to-reach controls, a fast neck, and diverse sounds." Ibanez used the tagline "the Classic Alternative" in marketing the Talman series.
The series was introduced in 1994 and was discontinued after 1998, except for a Paul Gilbert signature model, the PGM900, which was available through 1999. The Talman brand was revived in a small way in 2003 with a new signature model for Noodles Wasserman, the NDM1. A series of Noodles signature models where the only Talman solid body guitars available from 2003 through 2014. They were joined be a new generation of non-Signature Talman models in 2015. The Talman name has been (and continues to be) applied to a line of acoustic guitars which have a body shape vaguely similar to that of the Talman solid body.
The Talman series was a response by Ibanez to the shifting rock music landscape of the early 1990s. The rise of so called "alternative" bands like Nirvana displaced the guitar driven rock of the late 1980s. These new bands were using vintage, pawn-shop instruments instead of the pointy neon shredders that had given rise to Ibanez' popularity during the guitar rock boom.
The Talman was (along with the Ghostrider series) Ibanez' first clean-sheet response to this new market for retro-styled guitars. The Talman line replaced the stop-gap RT series which was an amalgamation of the RG body and Fender Stratocaster-style components.
In a review upon the series solid-body revival in 2015, Guitar Player magazine stated that Talmans were "pretty much period pieces of the mid 1990s" being used by such guitarists as Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big), Noodles (The Offspring), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth), and the late Bob 2 (Devo)". After the line's was discontinued in 1998 they "became one of those quirky designs sought after in the used-instrument market by iconoclasts, lovers of grunge, and players simply looking for something different" and "became one of the most-requested models for the company to revive."