YAMAHA SA 30T HOLLOWBODY
T means "Tremolo" and stands for the vibrato that this guitar has. There are also hardtail models without T.
Although this guitar has a serial number at the end of the fretboard there is no straight logic behind it.
No one except the Yamaha HQ support center knows exactly how to figure out what the serial # really means.
Mine has the serial # 10453 and Yamaha say my guitar was built in March 1968 in the Hamamatsu factory in Japan.
I got this information from Kevin who has a great website
and shop with wonderful vintage Yamaha guitars (and more) called
Kevin is the expert and gave me this advice:
There is no straight logic to date the old Yamaha guitars. The only way I figure out is to dial Yamaha HQ support center. Unfortunately they speak Japanese only. Their service hour is from 9 AM to 5 PM JST, or GMT+9.
As for Yamaha old guitar serial number identification, here is their official customer support webpage. Down the page you will see their phone number, also with email icon through which you can email them in English……possibly.
Thanks a lot Kevin!
(and thanks to guitarnie who helped me find Kevin!)
Yamaha built this model from 1966 until 1972 and except for some crackeling pots it is in a very good and all-original state.
I also have the scratchboard somewhere...
It is a light guitar, completely hollow, a bit fragile and old fashioned in the very best way. Beautiful open tuners, very small and narrow frets but good playability, a whammy that does not work as reliably as a Floyd Rose, of course, but at least as good as any Bigsby, while stringing it up is a lot easier (You can do it with two hands only, while the Bigsby requires all three hands that you have... What? You haven`t?)
Construction-wise it is like a Gretsch.
It has a three piece set neck made of maple (not 100% sure, the grain is not very well visible underneath that fantastic red finish).
Scale is 24.75".
Unamped the sound is both, warm and fresh and a bit boxy, too.
The pickups are humbucking and have very low output and I think they sound terrific for clean, crunch and even moderat overdrive.
Humbuckers that are as sensitive and broad- and alive- sounding as singlecoils.
Since the tuning stability isn`t that great and the pots should be cleaned and it feels a bit delicate to handle I never use it live. This is a pitty because I like it`s versatility and the ease of use that the the wiring offers. Along the hefty pickup selector switch there are a master volume, a master treble cut and a pan pot with a middle detent. And all these elements are positioned conveniently exactly where you need them to be - unlike Gibson semi- and hollow-guitars.
I love it very dearly, not only for it`s beauty but also for the soulful sounds.
Buy yourself one of these if you can find one!
YAMAHA SG 1000 (built 1980)
In the USA Yamaha were not allowed to call this guitar "SG" bercause of Gibson`s SG. But here in Europe...
As far as I know this is the first Japanese guitar in the late 70`s to have worldwide success without beeing a copy of any US guitar. Production started in 1976.
Carlos Santana played one after he had played Gibson SGs and before he became a PRS player.
There was a familiy of Yamaha SGs... this here beeing a simpler model, cheaper than the fancier SG 2000 and SG 3000 models, that both had through necks made of maple. So this here is definitely more Gibson-orientated than the posher ones.
Later some models were built in Korea but mine is a 1980 Made in Japan model.
It has a set 3-piece mahogany neck with quite a nice handfull and strongly tapered Les Paulish contour but it offers better access to the dusty end of the ebony fretboard.
It really is the perfect mix of a Les Paul and a SG. Unlike the latter it is not neck heavy and features a fat maple cap (totally plain, no quilt, no flames. I like it! better that way) on the 3-piece mahogany body, that is a thick and heavy as a Les Paul.
The weaker parts are the humbuckers (said to be alnico), the nut and maybe the tuners.
I`m not sure if the nut is all original or if it used to have a brass nut originally.
That was fashionable at that time. The bridge and tailpiece are good qualitiy and heavy brass stuff.
The pickups can be split individually with push-push pots on the tone knobs, but I think I`ll have to try some other humbuckers...
Used individually the split `buckers aren`t that overwhelming, but the combination is very useful.
Playability is perfect and the unamped sound is pretty good too.
So I guess there is very good potential ... and just some minor modding is required.
Yamaha has recently reissued this guitar in several versions.
YAMAHA SC 400
an affordable "axe" built in the early eighties when Yamaha still made some very unique designs that I consider collectable - not from the point of view as a guitar player but more as a fan of weird industrial design.
I simply like the body shape and had to have one. I bought this thing second hand in Helsinki.
I`d say this is a very good looking little Explorer- or Frebird-variation.
Maybe an Explorer for the not-so-macho type of guy?
The interesing thing is that this 25.5 " scale, triple singlecoil guitar has a set mahogany neck combined with ... an alder or maybe maple body topped with an ash veneer... There is no reliable information by Yamaha in the internet. Some say the body is mahogany, some say it was ash, I tend to think it is alder.
I guess I will have to drill a hole in it to verify that.
That intense red dye is called "Persimmon Red".
Anyway this is a pretty unique Fender-meets-Gibson experiment.
I have often wondered why there is no famous guitar model out there combining a mahogany neck with an alder or ash body...
These are strong alnico 5 singlecoils, hum included, the guitar is small and light and makes a perfect beginners instrument.
YAMAHA SA700 "SUPER AXE"
This model was built from 1977-83.
The Yamaha "serial number wizard" that you can find in the internet if you want to find out how old your guitar is has never ever worked, no matter what guitar I have tried. So I don`t know how old my guitar here is. Judging from the amount of dust it has collected it must be pretty old.
This was my very first semi. I bought it second hand and it came with humbuckers. I couldn`t believe how bright it sounded. I felt it was brighter than all my Fender single coil guitars and I disliked it at first. I guess the construction contributes a lot to a clear, airy, bright and fresh sound that helps humbuckers not to get too dull.
Surfing the internet you will read only the best about this guitar and I agree. This guitar is very well built. It is pretty heavy and strong and you think you can run over it with a tank without causing any damage to it. Playability is perfect and it rings and vibrates nicely.
Like the original Gibson ES 335 the body is made of plywood laminated of three layers. The top is made of maple and I read that underneath there is spruce or beech or both. The see-through polyurethan finish is dyed so beautifully and looks so tasty next to the yellowed binding, it looks even better than my "Antique Cherry Red" Gibson ES-335...
The center block inside the body is made of spruce and maple or of spruce OR maple... Again, it is not so easy to find out but I assume it is both - just like in the Gibson original.
The one-piece mahogany neck hasn`t even "ears" attached to both sides of the headstock. It is all made from one beautiful piece. The contour is a D, not too thin and not really fat either with a distinct taper.
I never liked the humbuckers - I don`t know if they were the originals or not. But they sounded shrill, hard and harsh. So I got rid of them and installed two Lindy Fralin Twangbuckers. They are real singlecoils with 6 individual alnico magnets but split into two coils hiding inside a humbucker cover. Almost like the Fralin Dominos in my PRS EG 2 but abit wider. I like them better than the Dominos and they work pretty well in this Yamaha semi. I might keep them in there...
But when I wanted to test some more pickups in that so-very-well-built guitar it happened ... the jack socket fell into the body when I was trying to fix a loose connection that kept shorting out the signal...
This helped me decide, that this guitar should be adapted ruthlessly to my personal preferences. Trouble is, I `m not so sure what they really are...
Anyway, I had to get easier access to the electronics and so I grabed my drill and my jigsaw...
So, once I had ruined it`s resale value completely, this guitar became the perfect "canvas" for further experimentations...