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:
There is a non-obvious quirk about this archive, best illustrated by example. If I enter both GC7A
, 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
3a. One-page overview of the GC Grand Concert line
- - Yamaha Japan's archive of discontinued classical guitars.
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.
I hope someone on the forum can come up with translations for the Japanese parts of this GIF image.
3b. Yamaha Japan's archive of discontinued classical guitars
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.
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:
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.
I hope some of you find this guide useful. Suggested corrections and/or additions to this post are most welcome.