Researching Older Yamaha Guitars - Including Grand Concerts

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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Bob Newby
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Researching Older Yamaha Guitars - Including Grand Concerts

Post by Bob Newby » Sun Sep 06, 2009 11:56 pm

Yamaha aficionados:

Clearly many of us own or have owned a Yamaha classical guitar. Many of us started out with a student-grade (or better) Yamaha, and still fondly recall our first instrument. My first CG was a G245S; I still have mine and continue to play it.

I also know that some of you own or have owned Yamaha Grand Concert classical guitars, and that some of us hold them in high regard. I own several, all of which I acquired during the past 12 months, in part out of respect for my first Yamaha. I find them to be beautiful instruments.

One of Yamaha's contributions, to my mind, has been the production of high-quality CGs affordable to the amateur, like me, on a budget. In its own way, Yamaha has done its part to popularize the instrument. In its own way, it has thus helped nurture the market for performance classical guitarists, for luthiers, etc. As others have pointed out, Yamaha is one of a number of companies that have played such a role.

I have done a good deal of digging to locate, on the Internet, the obscure and minimal information that is available on both the history of Yamaha's classical guitars (including their Grand Concert guitars), the specifications of their guitars, etc. If others would like to know about these resources, please reply to this topic indicating your interest, and I will follow up with a post outlining the resources I have discovered. (I wish to confirm interest before I spend the effort involved...)

Best to all,

Bob N

P.S. Several others have indicated interest, so I have revised this thread's heading and my original post. Also, I am drafting a post of the resources I now know of. Stay tuned...
Last edited by Bob Newby on Mon Sep 07, 2009 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Founder of LuthierBuilt - Where musicians and artisans meet, envision and create

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owl
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Re: Any interest in the history of Yamaha Grand Concert guitars?

Post by owl » Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:47 am

Bob, re your post in Message to Administrator... I'm not sure how the mods feel, but as a member I think you will get more response from Public Space
The Luthiers forum is good too, but you might get a larger cross section in Public Space
Because I have answered you here you won't be able to delete this message but you could ask a moderator to move it if you decide you want to do that

Best of luck, and welcome to Delcamp :mrgreen:

Owl
Never, ever give up!... I leave my songprint on your heart.

TheEvan
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Re: Any interest in the history of Yamaha Grand Concert guitars?

Post by TheEvan » Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:51 am

Count me interested.
I had a marvelous GC50 that I eventually sold to the parents of a very promising young player. It was difficult finding information, even the year of build since it is not on the label. It was signed, though, but I never found a thing on the signer.

avoz

Re: Any interest in the history of Yamaha Grand Concert guitars?

Post by avoz » Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 pm

I play most days a Yamaha GC-7A (1981) and would be interested in any information you can provide. Having played many instruments made by the company (mostly cheaper models) when teaching young and old pupils in music classes I agree with your comments about their general high quality. Of course, we could extend this high opinion to other Japanese marques (Matsuoka, Aria, Suzuki et al) and also to other products such as cameras, hi-fi etc.

jonathan_hsu

Re: Any interest in the history of Yamaha Grand Concert guitars?

Post by jonathan_hsu » Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:24 pm

Definitely interested. I inherited a GC-3A built in 1981 from my mother who doesn't even play guitar. It was just sitting under her piano! This was actually the first guitar I ever played and remains my favorite instrument after all these years. I've been wanting to get another classical guitar for some time but have not found anything in the same price range (internet suggests $300-ish) that I like :P

Sean

Re: Any interest in the history of Yamaha Grand Concert guitars?

Post by Sean » Mon Sep 07, 2009 5:02 pm

I'm very interested, although the Yamahas I've owned in the past weren't the Grand Concert variety.

acm

Re: Researching Older Yamaha Guitars - Including Grand Concerts

Post by acm » Tue Sep 08, 2009 2:01 am

Hi Bob
This is slightly off topic, but I notice that you have a Loriente Clarita. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it in comparison to your Yamahas.
Cheers
Andrew

wbajzek

Re: Researching Older Yamaha Guitars - Including Grand Concerts

Post by wbajzek » Tue Sep 08, 2009 3:55 am

I recently acquired an old recording of Norbert Kraft and Bonnie Silver, on which Norbert's playing a GC70. It sounds magnificent to me... I find it very intriguing. My first guitar is/was my mom's guitar, which is a yamaha from the 60s. I've forgotten the model number, it is playable but incredibly unremarkable.

GuitarVlog

Re: Researching Older Yamaha Guitars - Including Grand Concerts

Post by GuitarVlog » Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:08 am

I don't own a GC but I have played one and was very tempted to buy it. I certainly like the CG series.

Would be interested to see what you've learned about these. Much of what I have learned was through Yamaha's own publications and the videos on their Japanese website. I understand that the GD series was an experiment in building hand-crafted classicals in Taiwan rather than in Japan.

Whooper

Re: Researching Older Yamaha Guitars - Including Grand Concerts

Post by Whooper » Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:42 am

Hey, though I am not a fan of big names, this may help you as an initial clue filtered through Google translator.

http://translate.google.com/translate?j ... ry_state0=

Have a good day
Whooper

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Bob Newby
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Re: Researching Older Yamaha Guitars - Including Grand Concerts

Post by Bob Newby » Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:36 am

Whooper wrote:Hey, though I am not a fan of big names, this may help you as an initial clue filtered through Google translator.

http://translate.google.com/translate?j ... ry_state0=

Have a good day
Whooper
Hi Whopper,

Yes, that is one of the resources I'll be including in my forthcoming post. Thanks for noting it. The chart at the bottom will be of particular interest to Grand Concert owners.

Best,

Bob
Founder of LuthierBuilt - Where musicians and artisans meet, envision and create

Whooper

Re: Researching Older Yamaha Guitars - Including Grand Concerts

Post by Whooper » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:15 pm

Hi Yamaha fans,

I introduce one more info. on GC.

http://translate.google.com/translate?j ... ry_state0=

Good night
Whooper

avoz

Re: Researching Older Yamaha Guitars - Including Grand Concerts

Post by avoz » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:35 pm

Whooper wrote:Hey, though I am not a fan of big names, this may help you as an initial clue filtered through Google translator.
Whooper, Thanks for the interesting link - the Google 'translator' seems to have a 'Naked Lunch' style, or perhaps it is the effects of a liquid lunch :D

Whooper

Re: Researching Older Yamaha Guitars - Including Grand Concerts

Post by Whooper » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:37 pm

I have found 2 GC-10 on sale now in a net auction Japan. You will know specifications. Care, these are of 660 mm scale model. Then a long scale was dominant. My K7 is 664 mm.

http://translate.google.com/translate?j ... ry_state0=

http://translate.google.com/translate?j ... ry_state0=

Bye now :bye:
Whooper

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Bob Newby
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Re: Researching Older Yamaha Guitars - Including Grand Concerts

Post by Bob Newby » Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:12 pm

What follows is a brief guide to the Internet resources I have found most useful for researching older Yamaha classical guitars. These are not listed in order of importance, but rather in what strikes me as most-evident to most-obscure:

1. Harmony Central Reviews

Obviously this resource is familiar to a great many of us. It is not, of course, a definitive source of information, but certainly some of the reviews can be helpful, in a number of respects.

It should be noted that a bizarre characteristic of the organization of these reviews can catch the unaware off guard. This is that (classical) guitar reviews will be found in two distinct silos: (a) the silo Acoustic Guitar | Acoustic Guitar; and (b) the silo Guitar | Guitar. Some classical guitars, not just Yamahas, have reviews under (a) and some under (b). A very few have reviews under both (a) and (b). So, it is a nuisance to poke around for a CG review that might, or might not, be there. If you are unaware of this problem, you may look for the instrument in question under one silo and not find it, only to conclude that there is no review of it on the HC site, even though there might be one in the other silo.

Therefore, when I am looking for a review of, say, a Yamaha model, I pull up HC's listing of all reviews of all Yamaha musical instrument products (known as a Brand listing). This list is long, but it spans all the HC silos of reviewed instruments and related musical products. For Yamahas, the URL for this list is http://reviews.harmony-central.com/revi ... and/Yamaha.

2. Yamaha America's Guitar Archives

This resource is also well-known. It is currently located at http://www.yamaha.com/apps/guitararchiv ... chive2.asp. Classical guitars can be looked up in the Acoustic Guitars subsection, two (2) at a time. As with other online resources, this archive's database is not comprehensive, but its coverage is pretty good. Moreover, the information is highly reliable. Each listing includes the following information:
  • Year(s) Sold
  • Original MSRP (US$)
  • Top
  • Back / Sides
  • Neck
  • Fingerboard
  • Bridge
  • Body Depth
  • Color(s)
  • Finish
  • Tuners
  • String Length
  • Nut Width
  • Notes
There is a non-obvious quirk about this archive, best illustrated by example. If I enter both GC7A and GC-7A, the archive's search engine will return information for the first model number entered, but not for the second, even though these are both recognized model designations for the same instrument. In other words, the archive lists classical guitars using their model numbers stripped of hyphens.

3. Yamaha Japan's Website

The practical gateway to Japanese information on older Yamaha CGs is the site map located at http://www.yamaha.co.jp/product/guitar/ ... index.html. Of course, if like me you do not read Japanese, you will have to run this through a translator, such as Google's (see http://translate.google.com). Once you have your translated version of the site map, you may wish to mouse over various graphic images to see the translated text with which they are annotated. In any case, just explore whatever seems of interest, and you may or may not hit upon some useful pages.

Thus far what I have come upon that is useful to me are:
  • - A page about the GC line that mainly repeats information to be found in printed and PDF catalogues; and
  • - Yamaha Japan's archive of discontinued classical guitars.
3a. One-page overview of the GC Grand Concert line

This is at http://www.yamaha.co.jp/product/guitar/ ... index.html. (Whopper has also pointed out this page.) Again, you will want to translate this from Japanese to English, French, German, etc. At present, the top of this page contains an 8-minute video of GC luthiers at work; it's good viewing, including for beefing up your Japanese listening skills. Note that the video may only be viewable via the original, untranslated page.

In addition, there is a wonderful guitar-ancestry chart on this page, which is shown here. The chart is of course Copyrighted by Yamaha.

Image

I hope someone on the forum can come up with translations for the Japanese parts of this GIF image.
Whooper wrote:In responce to GeoffB-san's referring, I will present equivalents below

スペイン伝統の製作技術 (top): Spanish traditional fabrication methods
シリーズ (left) : Series
音を参考 (right): Drawing upon sounds
ヤマハの研究と技術の蓄積 (bottom): Yamaha's amassment of Research and Technology

Hoping to be of your service I remain.
Whooper

3b. Yamaha Japan's archive of discontinued classical guitars

Yamaha Japan's archive, which is the analogue to Yamaha America's archive, can be an addictive research resource. You navigate through this archive, rather than enter a model number into a search widget. To navigate it, put the URL http://www.yamaha.co.jp/item/archive/ through your favorite translator. I have listed the parent archive URL, which includes a direct link to the Classical Guitars section, to satisfy the interests of others who may wish to research some other instrument catagories.

The archive has partial coverage for the following classical guitar model lines:
  • C
  • CG / CGX
  • CP
  • CS
  • FC
  • G
  • GC
  • GD
The information listed for individual guitars is similar to that found in the Yamaha America archive. Unfortunately, this archive also is not comprehensive, nor does it indicate which shop(s) made a particular model; neither does the Yamaha America archive.

4. Yamaha Serial Number Listings

Thus far I have found one source for looking up serial numbers of older Yamaha guitars. I cannot vouch for this source's accuracy or comprehensiveness. With that caveat, it is located at http://vintageguitarpro.com/serialyamaha.shtml.

In my case, I prefer consulting Yamaha directly when researching serial numbers. Support has always been responsive to my requests. They at times can pinpoint which shop an instrument came out of. When possible, I suggest attaching a photograph of the guitar's label.

5. Major Changes In The 2005-2006 Time Frame

It seems Yamaha shut down, or sold, its Custom Shop in 2005 or 2006. If you search for any Custom Shop model in the Yamaha America archive, such as the GC50 or the GC70, you will see the last year of sale listed as 2005. My efforts to locate English-language press about the Custom Shop have been fruitless. I am sure certain folks would like to know what has become of the shop and its extraordinary luthiers. I sure would.

In 2006, Yamaha shut down its outstanding Taiwan operation, Kaohsiung Yamaha. Some believe that only Japanese-built Yamaha CGs are worth looking at. I know different, as all four of my Yamahas are from the Kaohsiung Yamaha shop, and three of these are hand-crafted Grand Concerts. The press release for this shutdown is at http://www.global.yamaha.com/news/2006/20060920.html.

Personally, I find it sad that these two shops are no longer operated by Yamaha. The Music Craft shop, which makes the GC21, GC41, etc., remains in business.

6. Recommended Book
GuitarVlog wrote:I would add this book which I had reviewed at our local library: History Of Yamaha Guitars, ISBN 0634053264
I've previewed a few of its pages on the web, and this looks like a great reference. Thanks, GuitarVlog.

Et voilà! I hope some of you find this guide useful. Suggested corrections and/or additions to this post are most welcome.

Enjoy,

Bob Newby
Last edited by Bob Newby on Mon Sep 14, 2009 9:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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