1970s Yamaha FG-165S Dreadnought Guitar

While Yamaha calls their dreadnoughts "jumbo" guitars because of the 16" lower bouts, they're really more of an extra-wide dreadnought shape and they sound like that, too. The S in the FG-165S moniker denotes a sunburst finish -- not a solid top like on Takamine models from the time.

This Taiwan-made Yamaha is built along the lines of the earlier Japanese ones -- thin, lightweight ply top with thin, lightweight x-bracing -- a recipe that always means these guitars sound a lot better than they have a right to. These have a full, generous, warm bottom-end and a clean middle that makes them great chord-bangers for singers to use as backup. There are plenty of people who would never need to "step-up" from a guitar like this at all if their instrument is mostly used for strummed backup.

Post-repairs this guitar plays bang-on-the-dot and has remained stable in service. These have a bigger, C-shaped neck and a generous nut width, so if you need room on your board and like a vintage neck profile, they're a good choice. They're also relatively lightweight and due to the all-ply construction, you can take them just about anywhere in all sorts of conditions and have them remain stable and true setup-wise. I always have an old Yamaha at hand for working on songs in the garden, down at the beach, wherever...

Repairs included: a neck reset, new rosewood saddle (these sound nice and warm on old Yamahas), fret level/dress, cleaning, and setup. I removed a "Bridge Doctor" device that'd been installed at the bridge, too -- hence the pearl dot at the rear of the bridge. I also added a one-sensor K&K acoustic pickup to the guitar with a jack in the 3/4 position to replace an old '70s pickup that was no longer working -- so you can jack it right in and go.

Made by: Yamaha

Model: FG-165S

Made in: Taiwan

Top wood: ply spruce

Back & sides wood: ply mahogany

Bracing type: x

Bridge: rosewood

Fretboard: rosewood

Neck wood: mahogany

Tone: big, warm, full, woody, mellow

Suitable for: folk, country, old-time, rock, fingerpicking

Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: 54w-12 (custom set: 54w, 40w, 30w, 22w, 16, 12)

Neck shape: medium-big C

Board radius: ~12"

Truss rod: adjustable

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: small-medium

Scale length: 24 7/8"

Nut width: 1 3/4"

String spacing at nut: 1 7/16"

String spacing at bridge: 1 15/16"

Body length: 19 3/4"

Body width: 16 1/8"

Body depth: 4 1/2"

Weight: 4 lb 3 oz

Condition notes: the saddle is a replacement and there's an extra pearl dot at the rear of the bridge's deck. There's a non-original strap button at the heel and a pickup jack on the treble-lower-bout-side position. I've also removed the Yamaha-label tuner covers because those tend to rattle obnoxiously. Otherwise the guitar is original throughout. There are no cracks, of course, but the finish is definitely worn-in here and there all over. At a glance it looks tidy and shows normal age but on the shoulders, at the heel, and at the lower bout where the arm makes contact it's been dulled/blemmed in the topcoat. It's all not obvious, thankfully, but I just want to be thorough. There's also a little buckle-rash on the back and minor scratches here and there all over. The back of the neck shows plenty of evidence of good use in the cowboy-chord position.


EScottG said…
How cool to have the memory of your friend and his tunes hanging on the wall. Hopefully we all have someone remember us in the same way!
Sweet Toof said…
I have the exact same guitar. Mine is a 1976. I love it, I’m replacing the (junky) tuners and bridge pins. I might get a tusq nut as well. The belly is bulging just a little, but the action is low and nice, no dead spots on the board. I bought it for $200 with beat up case. Rings like a bell, and I’ll never sell it. I’ve had lots of compliments on the old girl.
Scotty d said…
Dito .you just described my 165s perfectly
Unknown said…
Picked up the 165 s for 50 dollars, needed neck adjustment and very low saddle cutting, it is bar none the warmest guitar and would never part with, full rich sound absolute delight, , I did need a new nut and the only thing i can compare it to is fg 180 though more condensed in sound and brightness.