One of the giants in the automobile industry Yamaha has been producing high-quality products for more than eight decades. Yamaha has been known as one of the most popular and trusted brands on the market. Best known for their innovative designs and supreme quality, Yamaha guitars have a rich history of seven decades. The brand was founded in 1887 by Torakusu Yamaha and started to manufacture musical instruments initially. When the first Yamaha guitar was manufactured, how obstacles the brand faced throughout the journey and all other necessary information have been included in this history of Yamaha guitars.
Yamaha Guitar History
It was 1972 when Yamaha made this first appearance on the musical stage. It was the same year when Fender and Gibson’s acoustic guitars are getting immensely popular. About six years ago in 1966, Yamaha produced their first electric guitar with the S-201 and S-302 series. A popular Japanese celebrity named Yuzo Kamaya used many Yamaha guitars in his musical career. In fact, it was Kamaya who encouraged young people to play guitar.
Yamaha changed the S series to the SG series in 1967 and it was the beginning of the famous Yamaha SG guitar’s successful journey. Do you know these SG guitars are considered antique guitars and are sold at high prices? This famous series is composed of genuine instruments manufactured by Yamaha and remote Fender and Gibson formats. However, the approach changed when the demand for electric guitars decreased between 1968 and 1971.
1972 was the entire new era for the Japanese guitar industry. Yamaha produced a new series of solid body instruments and also used the previous production code on these guitars despite the fact that the guitar format was totally changed from the earlier SG series.
Initially, Yamaha designed their guitars in a format also similar to the Les Paul with quite suave lines. Such models featured bolts on their necks. However, the demand for these guitars didn’t meet the production. So, Yamaha decided to launch new SG series guitars in December 1972 with the format closer to Gibson guitars.
They were equipped with pickup having a humbucker type magnets Alnico. SG-85 was a high-end model featuring a mahogany body from Honduras along with the ebony fretboard and set neck. Remember, this is was the first Yamaha guitar with the set neck.
Unfortunately, these guitars also didn’t get any response from the customers. Yamaha decided to modify the set neck to an adjustable neck mechanism and also changed the SG format to the dual cutaway in November 1973.
The New Ear Guitars
In 1974, Yamaha introduced the new SG/SX series guitars to the market. They had an SG design which was already popular for its excellent appearance. The brand tried to endorse Carlos Santana with their new SG-175 acoustic guitar. Although Santana received the guitar he asked them to make the following improvements.
- Frets– Santana wanted a neck featuring 24 frets.
- Weight– The guitar was very lightweight and he was looking for something heavier to get better sustain.
- Buddha inlays.
Yamaha modified the guitar according to Santana’s directions such as back contour, body thickness, Tune-O-Matic Bridge, Buddha inlays, and Switchcraft selector. However, the musician was still not satisfied with the instrument and he was looking for more sustain.
Following are the other changes made by Yamaha from Carlos Santana.
- New OPG-I pickups
- 1-piece neck (T-Cross)
- Wide-Travel Bridge
- Sustain plate under the bridge
- Top 2 pieces in Teakwood
Santana was satisfied with these improvements in SG-175 and h started to play the guitar in his concerts. It was the first most demanded guitar by Yamaha which was in great demand, thanks to Santana. SG-175 and SG Buddha were two entirely different guitars.
SG-2000 was another guitar launched by Yamaha after the success of SG-175. It was just like the Santana Buddha SG with minor differences. For instance, the level of pickups was different as Santana had used Gibson PAF, the number of frets (22F), the number of pieces of wood (3 pieces of maple). Also, the neck (maple + mahogany) is a through one (T-cross).
Yamaha began to export the new SG-2000 series with the name SBG to the international market. The brand didn’t use the SG prefix due to the Gibson SG. Yamaha was trying to protect itself from a trail of the American brand. The prime differences between the SG and SGB models include the tone knob as SG-2000 didn’t feature a Push-Push coil tap switch.
After the company’s debut in international markets, Yamaha didn’t look back. The success of the brand was propelled by two major factors.
The first and most important factor is that the company didn’t compromise on the quality of the material used in manufacturing but still managed to keep the price affordable.
Another prime factor was the company’s approach towards popular musicians. Yamaha guitars were played by famous celebrities including Carlos Santana, Bob Marley, John Lennon, and Mick Jones of the band Foreigner.
From $150 to $5000, Yamaha has been producing the best acoustic guitars with innovative designs and features. Whether you are a beginner looking to find a guitar to start your journey or a professional stage artist who wants to take your performance to next level, Yamaha has everything for you.