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  #1  
Old 04-05-2011, 04:08 PM
bhumphries bhumphries is offline
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Smile Yamaha Guitar: FG-180 Nippon Gakki Mystery

I own a Yamaha guitar and until recently I did not know it had a history. It is a Red Label with model number of 'FG-180' and 'Nippon Gakki' which I understand to be the manufacturer's location. My Mom bought this guitar in the late 60's. As a teenager I played this guitar with my Mom in Church. It has a few scratches here and there, but it has been well cared for over the years. I have owned it for 35 years and only pulled it out once or twice a year. A month or so ago, I decided to get serious about playing the guitar and am taking lessons right now. What I am finding is that my stubby fingers cannot handle the neck width. I cannot play an A Major in that small of a place on one fret. So, I have to sell it.

In order to sell the guitar, I need a little more background on it. I have tried all the serial number finders on the web and none of them can tell me in what year my guitar was made. The guitar has a six digit number '905854'. I did contact Yamaha and they told me that it had to be made between 1966 - 1968 because after that period, Yamaha began using eight characters as serial numbers. If anyone has any information about the history of this guitar or an better estimation on when it was manufactured and are willing to share that information, I would really appreciate it.

Thanks, Bob Humphries

Last edited by bhumphries; 04-05-2011 at 04:12 PM. Reason: mispelling
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  #2  
Old 04-05-2011, 05:05 PM
ANDY THOMPSON ANDY THOMPSON is offline
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Do you really have to sell it..? Its been a faithful friend all these years.

Try turning it to your advantage...can you fret two strings of an A with one finger...practice.


Capo up two steps, you now have a wider 12 fret..any better..?
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  #3  
Old 04-05-2011, 05:10 PM
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  #4  
Old 04-05-2011, 05:53 PM
arkydigger arkydigger is offline
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According to the serial number, your guitar should be dated 1969. Does the truss rod cover say Reinforced Steel or Yamaha?
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  #5  
Old 04-05-2011, 06:47 PM
bhumphries bhumphries is offline
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Default Trus Card Cover on Yamaha FG-180

It says Yamaha.

Please let me know what that means.

Thanks,
Bob H.
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  #6  
Old 04-05-2011, 07:35 PM
arkydigger arkydigger is offline
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The earlier sixties Gakki's were labeled Reinforced Steel on the truss rod cover.The first letter of the serial number indicated the last digit of the year of production and it repeated every ten years. I have owned a few Red Label Gakki's and they are great sounding guitars with a proper setup. I would keep it if I were you. You might consider going to a slightly wider nut which will help the spacing some. Hope this helps.
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Old 04-05-2011, 09:10 PM
sneaky sneaky is offline
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I`ve been told Nippon Gakki just means Japan Instrument...Hamamatsu is where their factory was as far as I know.
Listen, I own a LOT of old Yamahas, and all but one were made before 1966 when Yamaha opened their own guitar factory, most of mine date between the early 1950s to the mid 1960s, there may be some overlap between the first FGs...the 180 and 150 light green/beige-ish label...and the Dynamic nylon string models I have and my point is this...it is nearly impossible to get a precise date on the old ones, even Yamaha could not give you one so I doubt anybody else will be able to...we can get ballpark dates but thats as good as I`ve been able to find so far and that because of the Japan Vintage series of books and a Japanese web site I found dedicated to the old Dynamic guitars. My oldest yamaha has a 3 digit serial on the neck block and I`ve been told it`s early `50s...the books say they reached 6 digits by 1960 and just who was making the Dynamics remains a mystery since Yamaha did not have their own guitar factory till 1966 and that comes from an interview with Mr. Ueda who says he was transferred from yamaha Motor Division to get the factory up and running so I figure if anybody knows, it`s the guy who did it. See that interview in the Japan Vintage acoustic vol. 1 published by Shinko Music in 2005, a great source for info and it has an extensive article on the Dynamics along with the FGs. They say the two first FG models were light green/beige-ish labels and they say October 1966 as the release date, now thats for Japan, just what they did for exports I don`t know...the authors were Japanese and probably concentrated on the domestic models, but I doubt they exported guitars before they sold em at home and record keeping does not seem to have been a priority so getting exact info is very very difficult and thats why as the owner of lots of old MIJ guitars I have just come to accept the fact that I may never know everything about all the guitars I have, just the way it is and I don`t lose sleep over any of it. Lots of people on line seem to believe they have the best way to date old Yamahas but I am not as sure.
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Old 04-06-2011, 12:13 AM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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I have always played A major with two fingers (normally the index and middle). It works on the narrow necks as well as the wide ones.
You might consider having a new nut made with wider string spacing. It is a modification I have been doing for over 30 years.
Quote:
Quote:
I've been told Nippon Gakki just means Japan Instrument
"Made in Japan", actually.
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:36 AM
sneaky sneaky is offline
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Gakki means instrument...Nippon means Japan...I got that from my Japanese wife, she`s a native so I figure she knows.
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  #10  
Old 04-06-2011, 05:37 AM
AndrewG AndrewG is offline
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Bob, hang onto that Red Label FG180. It's becoming quite a collectable classic and prices for them, in good condition, are rising steadily. I owned one of similar vintage and bought mine, new, in 1969 in London. It cost me UKŁ40! (A lot of money for a 16 year-old school student to find).

If you're finding it awkward to play I'd suggest you take it for a trip to your nearest, decent, guitar technician. A guitar of that vintage will most likely need some routine attention if it has been untouched since new.
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Old 04-06-2011, 07:11 AM
TwoMartinMan TwoMartinMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewG View Post
Bob, hang onto that Red Label FG180. It's becoming quite a collectable classic and prices for them, in good condition, are rising steadily. I owned one of similar vintage and bought mine, new, in 1969 in London. It cost me UKŁ40! (A lot of money for a 16 year-old school student to find).

If you're finding it awkward to play I'd suggest you take it for a trip to your nearest, decent, guitar technician. A guitar of that vintage will most likely need some routine attention if it has been untouched since new.
I agree. You'll be sorry later if you sell it.
Get yourself a new guitar that you feel plays better for you. You have a collector's item in that Yamaha. Hang on to it.
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:48 AM
JLS JLS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhumphries View Post
I own a Yamaha guitar and until recently I did not know it had a history. It is a Red Label with model number of 'FG-180' and 'Nippon Gakki' which I understand to be the manufacturer's location. My Mom bought this guitar in the late 60's. As a teenager I played this guitar with my Mom in Church. It has a few scratches here and there, but it has been well cared for over the years. I have owned it for 35 years and only pulled it out once or twice a year. A month or so ago, I decided to get serious about playing the guitar and am taking lessons right now. What I am finding is that my stubby fingers cannot handle the neck width. I cannot play an A Major in that small of a place on one fret. So, I have to sell it.

In order to sell the guitar, I need a little more background on it. I have tried all the serial number finders on the web and none of them can tell me in what year my guitar was made. The guitar has a six digit number '905854'. I did contact Yamaha and they told me that it had to be made between 1966 - 1968 because after that period, Yamaha began using eight characters as serial numbers. If anyone has any information about the history of this guitar or an better estimation on when it was manufactured and are willing to share that information, I would really appreciate it.

Thanks, Bob Humphries
Have a new nut made with wider spacing, as Yamahas tend to be jammed in to the middle, with overly generous insets from the edges of the fretboard.
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  #13  
Old 02-10-2013, 09:02 PM
Hey_day Hey_day is offline
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I have a similarly described red label with a 7 digit serial of 1492745 but can't figure a date out, any help?
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  #14  
Old 02-10-2013, 09:36 PM
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billder99 billder99 is offline
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It has already been said, but I will say it again just to add reinforcement... hang on to that guitar! You are already learning that the Red Label Yamaha's are objects of fascination for many people. The 180 is one of the most sought after products. It is also a family heirloom. This is an instrument that you should care for and keep in your family. If you continue to play and grow in your playing, you will regret it if you sell it. If you don't stay with it, save it for a child or niece or nephew who takes up guitar.

Don't worry about the A chord, you will conquer it... everyone has difficulty with certain chords. It takes time and patience... you may have to play that A chord 1,000 times to even start to play it cleanly. Consistency will take many more times, maybe 3,000 or 5,000. This is all a normal part of the process. If playing guitar was easy, many more people would play well.

Final note, already said... take it to a good luthier for a professional setup. There are many things that can probably be done to make it easier to play. It is well worth the investment.
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Old 02-10-2013, 10:15 PM
Gizmot Gizmot is offline
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I had an FG-180 back in the late 60's and it was a wonderful instrument. Although a Martin D-18 or D-28 were better sounding, the Yamaha held its own pretty well especially since it was 1/5 the price.
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