New to me old Yamaha guitar

Ringo

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I picked this up recently an old Yamaha FG300 Nippon Gakki made acoustic. The pickguard is MIA, had 5 old Grover tuners and one no name tuner, missing bridge pins. I was able to clean most of the old glue off, ordered a new set of tuners and some bridge pins, found a place to get a repro pickguard. And I cleaned it up well, buffed it out, cleaned the fretboard and frets, oiled the fretboard. It was rode hard and put up wet, but it's looking pretty good. From what I can tell it's around a 1969 model. Should be a fun guitar when I get it all back together. First pic is before , then the red label, and after cleaning and buffing.
 

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kuch

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All of the Nippon Gakki Yamaha's that I've played in the past have sounded great. I had a FG 130 back in the day and a FG 180 12 string that were really nice. I imagine the 300 would sound excellent. Nice find if you can get it in playable condition.

Note of caution: I would never purchase an unstringed acoustic guitar because you can't tell if the bridge/body is stable without the tension.
 

Ringo

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All of the Nippon Gakki Yamaha's that I've played in the past have sounded great. I had a FG 130 back in the day and a FG 180 12 string that were really nice. I imagine the 300 would sound excellent. Nice find if you can get it in playable condition.

Note of caution: I would never purchase an unstringed acoustic guitar because you can't tell if the bridge/body is stable without the tension.

It was cheap, I'm not worried about the neck / bridge / body. I know a good luthier if it needs attention. I'll deal with that if it becomes an issue.
 

Freeman Keller

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I still own the 1969 FG150 red label that was my first guitar. Considering its price and construction it is a remarkably good sounding guitar and I still enjoy playing it

It was cheap, I'm not worried about the neck / bridge / body. I know a good luthier if it needs attention. I'll deal with that if it becomes an issue.

The problem with old Yamies is that most of them do need a neck reset and its almost impossible to do. They did use dovetail joints but they are very difficult to get apart in the usual fashion - whether the dovetail is just so tight you can't get the steam into it or whether they used glue that won't separate they end up being very hard to work on.

I tried the normal method on mine (I build and repair guitars, including doing resets) and couldn't get it apart so I sawed off t he neck and converted to a bolted butt joint. The geometry is good now and if I ever have to re-reset it the neck will come right off. I'm sure your luthier knows this, its part of the lore of old Yamies, but just a heads upl
 

howardlo

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I still own the 1969 FG150 red label that was my first guitar. Considering its price and construction it is a remarkably good sounding guitar and I still enjoy playing it



The problem with old Yamies is that most of them do need a neck reset and its almost impossible to do. They did use dovetail joints but they are very difficult to get apart in the usual fashion - whether the dovetail is just so tight you can't get the steam into it or whether they used glue that won't separate they end up being very hard to work on.

I tried the normal method on mine (I build and repair guitars, including doing resets) and couldn't get it apart so I sawed off t he neck and converted to a bolted butt joint. The geometry is good now and if I ever have to re-reset it the neck will come right off. I'm sure your luthier knows this, its part of the lore of old Yamies, but just a heads upl
From what I have heard on The Acoustic Guitar forum Yamaha used epoxy on the neck joints, so hard to remove and heat doesn’t help.
 

zombywoof

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Cool! These early imported all plywood Yamahas have achieved a near legendary status for how good they sound. If the neck is inky you might consider going the kitchen neck reset route. Anybody who has dealt with Harmonys will be familiar with these.
 

zombywoof

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From what I have heard on The Acoustic Guitar forum Yamaha used epoxy on the neck joints, so hard to remove and heat doesn’t help.
While I am far from an expert on imported guitars of any kind, my understanding is the earlier versions of these did not have epoxied neck joints. That came later. From what I gather though the positioning of the neck pocket and the fact they used a lot of glue makes neck resets a royal pain in the butt.
 

Freeman Keller

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While I am far from an expert on imported guitars of any kind, my understanding is the earlier versions of these did not have epoxied neck joints. That came later. From what I gather though the positioning of the neck pocket and the fact they used a lot of glue makes neck resets a royal pain in the butt.
That is my understanding. Unfortunately most of the ones I see do need resets of some form.
 

mystichands

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Nice old Yamaha! I play a 68 or 69 FG110 that I love. My first acoustic was an FG180, bought new in 68. As far as neck resets go, I only put light gauge silk and steels on mine. The lighter strings don’t put nearly the stress on the neck as medium bronze. I also keep it in a hardshell case. If yours is in good condition, just treat it nice. The red label Yamahas are great guitars even if they don’t have all solid woods.
 

Ringo

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I put some new tuners on, strung it up with some new acoustic strings. the neck seems pretty straight, it sounds pretty good! I am taking an electric guitar to my luthier buddy soon, I'll get him to look this old Yamaha over. Worst case I'll flip it and make some money.
 

0SubSeanik0

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I've had my '71(?) FG-300 for just over 30 years now, and I finally just took it into the shop for the first time last week. It's time to start gathering opinions and forming a strategy for what is worth cleaning up vs. restoring and considering the costs (and limits/possibilities) involved. I'm wondering if anyone has recommendations for any of the following.

Pickguard: I also found a place who makes replicas (Backwoods Guitar), but they are out of stock and may not be doing another run in the near future. Any other recommendations?

Tuning machines: I'm stumped on replacing these. I asked the luthier who's working on it now to see if we can clean up and oil them back into shape (it might help!). The luthier seems to think hipshots might be the way to go if I end up replacing. Any other ideas or experiences with this?

Neck/Frets: The frets are fairly worn, but they still have some use left. The neck could also use some straightening, but that would upset the fret levels... and per the luthier, by the time we get them leveled again, there's a good chance the frets will be toast, lol. The action somehow is still decent (not great, but acceptable), so he recommends to just leave the neck as-is, level a couple of slightly high frets, and deal with the neck when the guitar and my wallet are in agreement that it's time to do a proper re-fret. Has anyone re-fretted theirs, and if so, any recommendations on what material? Would stainless kill the aesthetics, or worse, the rich, deep tone of this beautiful beast? I'm curious what folks here might think.

One thing that did bring a smile to my face is that the luthier made me promise to someday, before I leave this world, to please please please get it re-fretted so it plays on :) I can't wait to see how even this simple, fundamental amount of TLC/maintenance turns out. It's long overdue!
 

teletimetx

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I've had my '71(?) FG-300 for just over 30 years now… I'm wondering if anyone has recommendations for any of the following.


Tuning machines: I'm stumped on replacing these. I asked the luthier who's working on it now to see if we can clean up and oil them back into shape (it might help!). The luthier seems to think hipshots might be the way to go if I end up replacing. Any other ideas or experiences with this?

I’ve got this 70’s Yamaha FG 165:

453BE1DB-451E-4881-821F-3B3F7DC0DDAB.jpeg


I put some open back Grover butterbean tuners on. It’s worked out really well. The cost of this set was about 1/3 of the purchase price of the guitar, so that’s not an ideal ratio- but I feel like it was worth it. Got the tuners from Stew Mac on sale.

10A09434-D497-42C5-8E1F-B0A659A010A0.jpeg
 

Freeman Keller

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Neck/Frets: The frets are fairly worn, but they still have some use left. The neck could also use some straightening, but that would upset the fret levels... and per the luthier, by the time we get them leveled again, there's a good chance the frets will be toast, lol. The action somehow is still decent (not great, but acceptable), so he recommends to just leave the neck as-is, level a couple of slightly high frets, and deal with the neck when the guitar and my wallet are in agreement that it's time to do a proper re-fret. Has anyone re-fretted theirs, and if so, any recommendations on what material? Would stainless kill the aesthetics, or worse, the rich, deep tone of this beautiful beast? I'm curious what folks here might think.

0Sub, go back up and read my post #6. The make or break deal on any old guitar is the neck angle. Most have bad angles and need a neck reset - your repair tech should know this. And your tech should know that resetting a neck on an old Yami is not as easy as many other guitars.

Refretting does not fix a bad neck angle - it replaces warn frets. You can do some clean up on the fretboard while you do it - sand out minor divots, maybe deal with a slight hump at the body joint. If you have marginal action now you will have marginal action after refretting.

Old Yamies have somewhat small frets to start with, leveling and dressing should be done very carefully. Often it is possible to just replace the first 6 or 7, but with the smaller frets it might be better to do them all.

I have done the sawn neck reset on my old FG-150 and the actions is now perfect. I also replaced the tuners with open back Gotohs, they were a drop in replacement (I think I used the original bushings). Don't put hipshots on it, there are better choices.

If you do decide to refret it I see absolutely no reason to go to the additional hassle and expense of stainless. Its lasted 30 years with nickel-silver, it will last that long again. However stainless will have no effect on tone if thats what you want.

IMG_4759.JPG
 

985plowboy

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My cousin had an older Yamaha red label he bought used.
Looked like it had been drug down a gravel road, but had absolutely amazing tone.
I spent many evenings with him and a bunch of friends passing it, and other things, back and forth.
Good times.
 

0SubSeanik0

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0Sub, go back up and read my post #6. The make or break deal on any old guitar is the neck angle. Most have bad angles and need a neck reset - your repair tech should know this. And your tech should know that resetting a neck on an old Yami is not as easy as many other guitars.

Refretting does not fix a bad neck angle - it replaces warn frets. You can do some clean up on the fretboard while you do it - sand out minor divots, maybe deal with a slight hump at the body joint. If you have marginal action now you will have marginal action after refretting.

Old Yamies have somewhat small frets to start with, leveling and dressing should be done very carefully. Often it is possible to just replace the first 6 or 7, but with the smaller frets it might be better to do them all.

I have done the sawn neck reset on my old FG-150 and the actions is now perfect. I also replaced the tuners with open back Gotohs, they were a drop in replacement (I think I used the original bushings). Don't put hipshots on it, there are better choices.

If you do decide to refret it I see absolutely no reason to go to the additional hassle and expense of stainless. Its lasted 30 years with nickel-silver, it will last that long again. However stainless will have no effect on tone if thats what you want.

View attachment 974328
This is all great advice, thank you!

Regarding the tuners, do you recall if you needed the vintage 6mm shafts or the modern 1/4”? It looks like I need the former, and there doesn't seem to be much of a choice out there. Your Gotohs look great, and definitely something I would lean toward.
 

Freeman Keller

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This is all great advice, thank you!

Regarding the tuners, do you recall if you needed the vintage 6mm shafts or the modern 1/4”? It looks like I need the former, and there doesn't seem to be much of a choice out there. Your Gotohs look great, and definitely something I would lean toward.
I frankly don't remember, its probably been close to 15 years ago when I replaced them. My policy with any tuner replacement is to remove the old ones and carefully measure shaft diameter and length, bushing hole size at the bare minimum. The little mounting screws rarely line up and almost always need to be filled and drilled. There are conversion bushings available but I think with the Yami I reused the original ones. Use a good pair of calipers, then go to the manufacturers or distributors website and find the engineering drawings for the tuners you want to use and compare
 

Controller

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I still own the 1969 FG150 red label that was my first guitar. Considering its price and construction it is a remarkably good sounding guitar and I still enjoy playing it



The problem with old Yamies is that most of them do need a neck reset and its almost impossible to do. They did use dovetail joints but they are very difficult to get apart in the usual fashion - whether the dovetail is just so tight you can't get the steam into it or whether they used glue that won't separate they end up being very hard to work on.

I tried the normal method on mine (I build and repair guitars, including doing resets) and couldn't get it apart so I sawed off t he neck and converted to a bolted butt joint. The geometry is good now and if I ever have to re-reset it the neck will come right off. I'm sure your luthier knows this, its part of the lore of old Yamies, but just a heads upl
Fascinating. Where did you make the cuts to saw the neck off? Do you have any pics?
 

24 track

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the thing about Yamahas is that you put new strings on them and they sound fantastic all over again , the old ones are dynomite once they mellow with age , Ive never owned a bad Yamaha

I have a FG335Lii for open Key and an APX 5LA for straight tuning , they are keepers.
 




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