1982 Daion "The '82" Jumbo Guitar

I always have a positive experience with the Yamaki-made Daions of any stripe. They're high-grade Japanese imports along the lines of nicer period Yairis. Some of them don't suit my needs aesthetically, but all have been alarmingly-good guitars. This is perhaps the best Daion acoustic I've played and it even suits me aesthetically, too. It's even better (sonically) than an identical "The '82" model a buddy of mine owns locally. Just this Saturday, another friend (who's extremely picky about tone), after picking-around on different guitars in the shop, got lost on this thing for a good half-hour before waltzing out of its charm. This box has it.

I think part of what I like about a lot of bigger-body Daion acoustics is that a lot of them use cedar tops with '50s-ish Martin-style bracing under the hood. This gives that direct, punchy, and loud "Martin-like" experience and adds some "instant vintage" to the sound through the use of cedar -- which tends to be warm, open, and sweet right from the get-go. Many cedar guitars age-in to almost too much warmth, but the Daions seem to age into a richer velvet on the bottom-end without much top-end sacrifice. Cedar's pretty easy to "get started," too, so it responds to the pick pretty fast.

This model was the "year's special" in the Daion line (they made a special model each year that was different in body-shape and styling from their normal catalog fare) and it specs-out per the '82 catalog as "solid cedar top with rosewood-family back and sides." That suggests ply back and sides, which would be typical for most Daions. Like most Japanese-made guitars (fancy or not) of the time, ply back and sides were often the norm -- and were made from good-quality materials. I don't see too many people knocking old Guilds for their press-arched ply backs, for instance.

The guitar is basically built along the outline and handling of a J-185 -- it has a smaller 16 3/8" lower-bout than "true" jumbo guitars like the J-200, though it still has deeper sides and a wider waist than your average "archop-shaped" mini/small-jumbo guitar. It has a Martin-ish long scale and the neck is cut like a '50s or early-'60s Martin -- medium and C-shaped and with the cool diamond "volute" at the rear of the headstock.

Repairs included: cutting and installing a replacement bridge (traced from the original split one), new bone saddle, new bridge pins and endpin, a fret level/dress, cleaning, and setup.

Setup notes: it plays perfectly with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. The neck is straight, but has ~1/64" of relief on the treble side with the truss-rod dialed "straight" overall. This is negligible but I like to be thorough. The truss-rod works and it's strung with 54w, 42w, 32w, 24w, 16, 12 gauges.

Scale length: 25 1/4"
Nut width: 1 11/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 3/8"
String spacing at bridge: 2 3/16"
Body length: 20 3/8"
Lower bout width: 16 3/8"
Waist width: 10 3/8"
Upper bout width: 12 1/8"
Side depth at endpin: 4 3/4"
Top wood: solid cedar
Back/sides wood: rosewood
Neck wood: mahogany with diamond volute
Bracing type: x-braced, tapered rectangular ('50s Martin-style)
Fretboard: rosewood with brass-dot inlay, brass nut
Bridge: new rosewood with bone saddle
Neck feel: medium C-shape, ~12" board radius

Condition notes: there are an average number of small scratches, nicks, and dings throughout the guitar, but overall it looks really nice. You don't notice them, really, until you're up close. The bridge is a replacement and so are the saddle and pins.

It comes with: an odd, cello-shaped gigbag that serves for storage or as a dust-cover.

There are a lot of wonderful details on the guitar that give it the "boutique" treatment -- most-notably the cool "moon-like" brass inlays in the fretboard and the profusion of maple binding with somewhat-reflective gold-pearloid purfling all over the body and neck.

The pickguard is a nice, deep-red tortoise. How do you like the subtle "reverse-redburst" on the top, too? It's classy.

I love the gold-pearloid purfling channels on the top and back edges. They catch the light nicely.

The Daion tuners are all in good order.

The endpin was originally drilled-out for a pickup jack. I plugged it with mahogany and then drilled it to accept the boxwood endpin.


Hi, my name is Maurizio Bettelli and I live in Italy. I own a Daion the 82, too. Are you sure that its back and sides are made of ply wood? A luthier, here in Italy, told me that the whole guitar is made of solid wood.
It's true that the specs on Daion's catalog say simply rosewood family, but also when they describe the neck material they simply say Mahogany -and rosewood for the fretboard.
I believe my luthier is right. All the guitar is made of solid wood. Don't you think so?
All the best