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Old 05-08-2012, 03:06 PM
Chinodinho Chinodinho is offline
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Default Yamaha Red Label Guitars?

Hi guys I was just wondering, why is it that Yamaha "Red Label" guitars are so expensive for an all laminate guitar. Also, why are they so desirable?
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Old 05-08-2012, 07:35 PM
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Kitchen Guitars Kitchen Guitars is offline
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Hi, welcome!

Demand and that fewer and fewer are playable drives up the price. The all Lam FG300 is still at the top of my list. But, for what clean ones go for I will buy other guitars with the dough. Be careful buying. Many sellers do not know or turn a blind eye to bad neck angles.
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Old 05-08-2012, 07:48 PM
deadllama deadllama is offline
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Originally Posted by Kitchen Guitars View Post
Hi, welcome!

Demand and that fewer and fewer are playable drives up the price. The all Lam FG300 is still at the top of my list. But, for what clean ones go for I will buy other guitars with the dough. Be careful buying. Many sellers do not know or turn a blind eye to bad neck angles.
As somebody who's always wanted an old Nippon Gakki red label, I'm curious as to what guitars would you rather have for the same money? The reputation I've always heard of the late 60s and early 70s Yamaha stuff is that they're really good values if they're in good shape.

(Genuinely curious, btw. Sometimes I can't tell if it sounds like I'm being sarcastic.)
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Old 05-08-2012, 07:56 PM
stardot stardot is offline
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Default Red label yammies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chinodinho View Post
Hi guys I was just wondering, why is it that Yamaha "Red Label" guitars are so expensive for an all laminate guitar. Also, why are they so desirable?
There's been a bunch of these threads about Yamaha red labels and laminates vs solid etc.

(Trying to keep it simple; here goes MY 2 cents worth.)

Yamaha laminates were made to prevent cracking, not to make a cheaper guitar. Yamaha made guitars in Japan at the Nippon Ghakki factory in Hammamatsu (I'd I spell that right guys?) and the labels were several colors prior to the move to Taiwan with a lot of their production. The red labels included the fg75, 110, 140, 150, 160, 180, and the fabulous FG300.
The 150 was famous at Woodstock with Country Joe playing one with a rope for a strap. The fg180, a hot item worth a lot these days, is a solid copy of a Martin D-18, with a terrific sound. The FG-300 is a real good take on the Gibson Hummingbird, and has a country sound that will make you cry.

The early Taiwan yamahas had red labels and are close in quality and sound, but do not say Nippon Ghakki on them.

Yamaha chose great wood, and learned how to do laminates in a great way.

Why are they expensive and desirable? Good stuff always is!
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Old 05-08-2012, 08:19 PM
Fatstrat Fatstrat is offline
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BUT.....IMO their popularity was based on comparative level to other laminate guitars of the day. I myself choose a 1970's Yamaha (FG-340) because it was IMO by far the best sounding guitar I could afford. And I still own it.
But now the Chinese have really raised the bar on "cheap guitar" quality. To a point that IMO makes the old Yamaha's almost a footnote in history. Buy em for nostalgia, or for collecting. But you can buy as good or better new guitars cheaper now.
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Old 05-08-2012, 09:29 PM
benbo benbo is offline
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I'm assuming here but here's my 2 cents. I beleive that those guitars have the same laminate process my old Sigma has which is a laminate rosewood but its all rosewood layered ? In stead of cheap wood with rosewood outer layer for show. My old Sigma sounds great and I always just thought it was solid wood but looking inside the grain doesn't match up to the back. This one was made in 1970 so I'm guessing these days that process has been scrapped to save even more costs. I've seen a lot of those red label yamahas for sale recently for crazy cash .never heard one but I bet they sound pretty nice
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Old 05-09-2012, 12:09 AM
bananas bananas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stardot View Post

Yamaha laminates were made to prevent cracking, not to make a cheaper guitar. Yamaha made guitars in Japan at the Nippon Ghakki factory in Hammamatsu (I'd I spell that right guys?) and the labels were several colors prior to the move to Taiwan with a lot of their production. Good stuff always is!
Right...from the Japan Vintage series of books, they were getting complaints on cracking on export models of the early...1950`s...Dynamic nylon string models...the #30, 50 and 70. So they made the S series of Dynamic...the S-50 and S-70 models that were entirely laminates. Not sure precisely when the S series started but there may have been some over lap with the FGs which according to vol. #1, was 1966...the S series probably began in the 1960`s, possibly late `50`s...but by the 1960`s Yamaha had expanded the Dynamic line considerably and the line under went several label changes over time...the white with the red dotted border label, again according to books...started in 1960...and they also had the #15 export model at the time but it was all solid wood like the rest of the Dynamic series...the exports have the Yamaha logo arched across the top...domestics have it straight across. So Yamaha had already been perfecting their lamination process before the FGs came into production...there was another series of more classical type Yamahas in the early `60`s as well...the #25, 60, 80, 100, 120 and 150 models with the higher ends being all solid wood...100`s were maple, 120`s were mahogany though I have seen some maple 120`s too...and the 150 which was Palisander. PLUS...they had another series of natural finished classicals that had Dynamic style necks...fatter and thicker than classical necks seen today...the No. 45, 85 and 300...again all solid wood models that seem to date from the early `60s and they have totally different labels than the Dynamics.
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Old 05-09-2012, 02:53 AM
steveyam steveyam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chinodinho View Post
Hi guys I was just wondering, why is it that Yamaha "Red Label" guitars are so expensive for an all laminate guitar. Also, why are they so desirable?
You know, it's more of a myth than a hard fact that they are "so desirable". Why do I say that? Well, I'm always scanning the internet and indeed buying red label (and other) early Yamahas, and you know what? you can buy them at relativley cheap prices; I just bought an FG512-12 in excellent condition for £94, and I also bought an FG-360 for £155. The FG-360 is a veritable cannon of a guitar and is essentially the same guitar as the sought after 300, but without the fancy scratchplate and the adjustable bridge.

Yes, there are quite a few afficianados and 'appreciators' of the early FGs, but in general they do not command a high price when you consider what you are getting for your money. What I'm saying is, they are a bargain! But anway, I'm clearly not trying to hide the fact how good/good value they are, and so long as people continue to (generally) ignore that, and allow them to be sold for low prices, I'm happy to buy them!

Incidentally, the 140 is a great bargain. Most people refer to (and seek) the 180 as being the D-18 clone, but the 140 is also, and it too is a cannon. You can buy them from £120 to £250.

Also note, the red label does not always mean 'made in Japan'. The Japanese ones actually say 'Nippon Gakki'. I'm not qualified to comment on whether the Thai red label guitars compare favourably with the Japanese ones, having not owned one. I'm certainly not 'pre-prejudiced' against them if one came my way.

Some info:

Look at page 3 of this brochure, there's a Yamaha acoustic guitar timeline:

http://www.giles.com/yamaha1/pdf/bro...rs/AG_sogo.pdf

If you then want to know more about a specific model from that brochure, take the model number and insert it here (no gap between letters and numbers):

http://www.yamaha.com/apps/guitararc...hive2.asp?t=ac
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  #9  
Old 05-09-2012, 05:32 AM
stardot stardot is offline
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Default Red Labels

Luckily, Yamaha made a bunch of them, so they are out there. Yes, there are many great laminates coming from china now. I'm still going to look for the old yamahas.

Each one has a little different feel and sound, and that's why I have multiples of my favorites. The FG-75s, all about the Blues! My FG300s, one has low action, the other one has insanely low action, and top veneer made crazy thin from a previous owner.

A pair of FG-360s, one a bit dinged, one better. Sound awesome.

The FG-180s, I have 3. My Nippon Ghakki FG-180 is beat, ugly, sounds terrific. Action getting too high, so headed fr a heartbreak there. I have a FG-180 red label Taiwan model, super nice action, that is top notch. Latest one of those for me is a FG-180-1, made in Taiwan, that has the 3 piece back with a maple strip in it. A little different from the early models in the sound but till good.

I've also got a 340, 345, 350W, 336SB, 335, 335ii, and a mint FG-30 (they only made 30 of those for US production, reissue of the fg180).

Yeah, there's a lot more in my collection, but I'm starting to sound crazy here.

Most of my yamahas were bought up at decent prices, but I'm not above driving far and paying more for one I really want. Hey, keeps me occupied.
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FG-360
FG-350W
APX-20
FG160E
Woodsong K100,SW400
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20+ other Yamahas
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:37 AM
Fatstrat Fatstrat is offline
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I think the point should be made that Yamaha were copies of other guitar designs. They were well made and of the best laminate woods "at the time". Which is late 1960's into the 1970's. We're talking 40 years ago. It would be fairly narrow minded to think that other guitar companies have not yet copied, or technology not improved on those laminate wood processes over the years.
It's IMO more of a fact than myth that they were more desirable. Right up until just a few years ago. I remember not so long ago (within 10 years) when guitars such as my FG-340 (which is not a Red Label model) were bringing $300.+ on ebay. And Red Label models even more.
Now, not so much. Why? Because you can buy better guitars cheaper. My Yamaha was my #1. right up until I got my all solid Silver Creek. Which blows it away. Even though it is a as compared to other all solid guitars, considered fairly near the low end of the quality scale.
As for Country Joe using a Yamaha at Woodstock. The story is that the guitar didn't belong to Country Joe. He wasn't scheduled on the bill as a performer. But was there as a ticket buying spectator. And when the scheduled bands hadn't arrived on time due to the traffic jam, was asked to fill in. But he didn't have a guitar. So one (the Yamaha) was borrowed from someone in the crowd. And a rope tied to it to use as a strap. So the laminate Yamaha took the stage at Woodstock, not because it was the guitar of choice. But because it was all they had.
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Old 05-09-2012, 08:30 AM
stardot stardot is offline
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Default Red Labels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fatstrat View Post
I think the point should be made that Yamaha were copies of other guitar designs. They were well made and of the best laminate woods "at the time". Which is late 1960's into the 1970's. We're talking 40 years ago. It would be fairly narrow minded to think that other guitar companies have not yet copied, or technology not improved on those laminate wood processes over the years.
It's IMO more of a fact than myth that they were more desirable. Right up until just a few years ago. I remember not so long ago (within 10 years) when guitars such as my FG-340 (which is not a Red Label model) were bringing $300.+ on ebay. And Red Label models even more.
Now, not so much. Why? Because you can buy better guitars cheaper. My Yamaha was my #1. right up until I got my all solid Silver Creek. Which blows it away. Even though it is a as compared to other all solid guitars, considered fairly near the low end of the quality scale.
As for Country Joe using a Yamaha at Woodstock. The story is that the guitar didn't belong to Country Joe. He wasn't scheduled on the bill as a performer. But was there as a ticket buying spectator. And when the scheduled bands hadn't arrived on time due to the traffic jam, was asked to fill in. But he didn't have a guitar. So one (the Yamaha) was borrowed from someone in the crowd. And a rope tied to it to use as a strap. So the laminate Yamaha took the stage at Woodstock, not because it was the guitar of choice. But because it was all they had.
Not saying there aren't now, newer great guitars. I have a bunch of them also. The OP asked... Hence my 2 cents. A 2012 Mustang will outperform my '57 Nomad in every category, but won't ever replace it.

A great old FG340 is a fine piece.

Yamaha development isn't just a bunch of people treading water, they are dedicated and smart in the guitar business. See http://www.guitars2go.co.uk/Yamaha_Guitars.htm for some detail.

The newer guitars like the LL6 are great as well. I have some yamaha APX guitars (apx10, apx20) that look great, and have great playability.

I can sit down with my Taylor, Larrivee, Martin, or a cool BTO and have just as much fun any day. Guess I just like the ring of "old wood".

Maybe one day I'll change my mind and flood the market with old yammies all at once!
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'64 Strat
'78 Les Paul
Martin HD-28, 2012-000CNylon
Taylor 310K
Larrivee D-05
3 Pizzecci Dread's
FG-730S
FG-375S
FG-180 (5)
FG-300 (3)
FG-360
FG-350W
APX-20
FG160E
Woodsong K100,SW400
Paul Beard GRE
20+ other Yamahas
(25 others- Garrison, Seagull, PRS, Squier 51, Dynamic, Zager)

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I tried to be good, but there were just too many options.
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Old 05-09-2012, 05:23 PM
deadllama deadllama is offline
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Originally Posted by steveyam View Post
Incidentally, the 140 is a great bargain. Most people refer to (and seek) the 180 as being the D-18 clone, but the 140 is also, and it too is a cannon. You can buy them from £120 to £250.
What is it that differentiates the FG140 from the FG180? Is it just the tuners and the binding, or are there differences in materials used and that sort of thing? Hard to find much concrete info on these things.
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deadllama View Post
As somebody who's always wanted an old Nippon Gakki red label, I'm curious as to what guitars would you rather have for the same money? The reputation I've always heard of the late 60s and early 70s Yamaha stuff is that they're really good values if they're in good shape.

(Genuinely curious, btw. Sometimes I can't tell if it sounds like I'm being sarcastic.)
A brand new FG730s or the L6 will knock many of them out of contending. Just because of 40 years of neck movement, body shifts......
I am not knocking a great FG180, or a great FG300.
IF I got to look at it before shipping charges and it checks out I do have a love for the oldies. I just bought too many Yamaha's off Stevie Wonder on eBay and soured. Locally, more than 9 out of 10 have no saddle left and a canoe for a neck.
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Old 05-09-2012, 07:45 PM
Bobele Bobele is offline
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I know this is misplaced, but I got myself a 1981 Yamaha L-31A a couple of months ago, and it has deep voluminous bass, shimmering highs and miles of sustain. The neck is spot on, and there is a good bit of saddle left. I noticed that the saddle has been compensated for each individual string to optimize intonation. I wonder if this was done from the outset (back in 1981) or it has been done to adjust minimally for a moving neck, over time...
Also the guitar is set up with very low action, so that - compared to my old Taylor 214, I've had to soften my attack. Anyway - just wanted to bounce in on a faintly related thread to let my fellow forumists know that some of the old Yammies are very nice!
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:44 PM
Moonshadow Moonshadow is offline
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Default Yamaha FG580 circa 1976

I bought this FG580 (red label Nippon Gaaki) new in about 1976 and it is still in pretty good condition. There is some cracking of the varnish and really needs some TLC. The pickguard fell off so that needs to be fixed as well.

I don't know much about the guitar but it still sounds superb when played. I am tempted to take it to a luthier to have it reconditioned as it has a high sentimental value if not a monetary value.

I am tempted to have a pick up installed so that I can play it with my band. Does anyone have a suggestion for a pickup that would bring out the best sound of this guitar?

Thanks,

Jeremy
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