Sunday, November 23, 2014

Another 30-Year Closet Find (1981 Yamaha FG-750S)

I have not had time lately to monitor Craigslist or eBay listings consistently, so serendipity has to strike for me to catch a good deal before it disappears. That was the case when a vintage Yamaha FG-750S was listed on my local Craigslist for short money. By the time I emailed the seller, someone else had already expressed some interest earlier in the day, but had not followed through so I was able to schedule to check it out that evening in a neighboring town.

The Yamaha FG-750S made from 1979 to 1981 should not be confused with the later model going by the same designation. Both have a solid Sitka Spruce top (designated by the "S" suffix), but the older model has a Mahogany body while the newer model is Sycamore. The 1981 FG-750S also still has the tension rod adjustment in the head of the guitar instead of the body. Note the cool wood truss rod cover that is characteristic of the late 70s Yamaha guitars versus the later headstock featuring Yamaha's leaf logo. These mid-level guitars (top of the line Yamaha production models of this era were designated as the L series beginning in 1978) are valued for their solid craftsmanship, durability, and playability. I find the tone on these older Yamahas to be much richer and less tinny than the more recent models. If you are lucky enough to find one in good shape, these guitars will give you years of enjoyment without having to break the bank.

Turns out this was another great closet find! The guitar had been the current owner's dad's and the seller had never learned to play it. As a result, the guitar was in great shape overall, with tell-tale ancient strings that clearly had not been changed in decades. The fretboard was dirty but not indented, the frets showed only minimum wear, and all of the original saddle height was intact for any needed adjustments. The top was the golden honey tone one would expect from over three decades of mellowing. Only the nut showed damage, having been chipped, but it was an easy replacement for my luthier to make. It's always gratifying to bring a classic Yamaha acoustic back to life.

As an unexpected bonus, the guitar came with a newer TKL hardshell case, worth at least a third of what I ended up paying for the guitar, and which I promptly adopted for my recent 1970 Martin D28 acquisition whose case I had had to trash due to mildew. Outstanding.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Guitar Shrubbery

In case you have a large plot of land in need of some shrubbery, here's some inspiration for your own guitar-inspired design!

7,000 Cypress and Eucalyptus trees make up this guitar design on a farm in Argentina. Read the whole story here.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

1998 Martin HD-28

I traveled a little out of my way for this 1998 Martin HD-28, enticed by its alleged great condition and a drop in asking price below Blue Book value. I pounced immediately and was not disappointed. This is another Craigslist beauty!

The Martin HD-28 is an updated version of the 1930s/1940s version of the Martin D-28 that features the herringbone purfling (hence the "H"), scalloped bracing, and the tortoise-colored pickguard of that era. Introduced in 1976, the Martin HD-28 is a dreadnought-style guitar with a solid Spruce top and Indian Rosewood body, and has featured Martin's new low-profile neck since 1987. The current Martin HD-28 model lists for $3,649, with a street value of $2,700 and a Blue Book value up to $1,850 second-hand. Models from the 1990s, 80s, and 70s, are progressively more valuable with age.

This 1998 Martin HD-28 was kept as a "house" guitar by a fellow guitar aficionado who had other guitars for use out on his occasional gigs. The guitar was ding-free and showed no signs of play wear on the neck or body. Even better, the Spruce top had started darkening to a beautiful golden hue. The set up looked to be perfect with a bone compensated saddle upgrade so I was initially puzzled to hear a mysterious buzzing as I played the guitar. When I tapped the lower bout behind the bridge, however, the tell-tale vibrations of a loose brace under the top of the guitar were unmistakeable. Without a luthier's mirror to investigate the full extent of the needed repair, I negotiated an additional discount from the asking price, and made off with my prize. My luthier will have to tell me whether the brace simply needs re-gluing or is broken and needs to be replaced. Regardless, this is a beautiful guitar that deserves to be restored to its full glory.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Martin Guitars Exhibit at the Met!

Happy New Year fellow pickers! If you will be in New York City in 2014, do not miss the Metropolitan Museum of Art's special exhibit sponsored by The Martin Guitar Company featuring Martin guitars gathered from private collections, the Martin Museum in Nazareth, PA, and the Met's own collection. This early American guitars exhibit just opened and will be up through December 7th, 2014.

Among the 35 historic Martin instruments on display are the earliest known guitar signed by C.F. Martin who came to America in 1833, the first known Martin model featuring the now preferred x-bracing construction supporting the guitar top, and Eric Clapton's 1939 Martin 000-42 featured in his Unplugged MTV concert in 1992. This last guitar sold at auction in 2004 for $791,500 to benefit Eric Clapton's Crossroads rehabilitation centre in Antigua, setting a world auction record for a Martin guitar!

Please drop a comment if you get to see these one-of-a-kind guitars before I do. Here's a preview and another!