1960s Yamaha Red Label FG-110 Flattop Guitar

Old, Japan-made, "Red Label" Yamaha flattops have that just a little something extra over the slightly-later, '70s Taiwanese Yammies. Don't get me wrong -- both eras are stellar works of mass-produced guitar design -- but the Japan-made x-braced guitars seem to give just a little bit more. To my ears that means they're a little louder, warmer, and more responsive. This 000-size box certainly has "that sound."

I'm not sure the exact year of manufacture, but I'd guess very late '69 through '70 judging by its label and general build characteristics. I couldn't find a serial number or date-stamp on it.

While it needed a bit of work, the end result is a great-playing, classic box. The FG-110s were a pretty basic model at the time and don't have the mahogany back and sides of the fancier models. The genius of the build, however, is not the material -- ply spruce top, ply (maple-ish?) back and sides -- but the design. These are lightly x-braced, the necks are medium-heft but comfortable, and they have truss rods that work the way they were intended to. They're also tough as heck, so even a guitar like this one -- which was clearly played a bunch -- still looks a lot younger than it is. I've seen plenty of three-year-old low-end guitars which have given up the ghost while this one was simply napping.

Repairs included: a neck reset, bridge reglue, fret level/dress, fill/redrill of the bridge pin-holes, new bone saddle, cleaning, and setup.

Setup notes: the neck is straight, the truss rod works, and action is low and on-the-dot at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret. I have it strung with 52w, 38w, 28w, 22w, 16, 12 gauges -- like a set of 11s with 16/12 on top. The smaller-body old Yamahas tend to sound better with lighter strings to my ears.

Scale length: 25"
Nut width: 1 11/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 7/16"
String spacing at bridge: 2"
Body length: 19 1/2"
Lower bout width: 15"
Waist width: 9 1/8"
Upper bout width: 10 7/8"
Side depth at endpin: 4 1/8"
Top wood: ply spruce
Back/sides wood: ply maple? or similar
Bracing type: x-braced
Fretboard: rosewood
Bridge: rosewood, bone saddle
Neck feel: medium C-shape, ~14" board radius

Condition notes: while there's plenty of scratches and small nicks/bumps to the finish throughout, it looks good overall. I had to move the bridge pins a little farther aft to compensate for my new, taller saddle, too -- to keep the break angle a little less severe. It's all-original save those alterations and a long-ago strap button installed at the heel. The fretboard extension drops-away from the rest of the fretboard just a little over the body.


Warren said…
Hey Jake, Nice work. Was that a traditional dovetail neck joint? Was curious about what’s inside red label FG neck joints. Thanks for sharing! Warren
Jake Wildwood said…
Yeah, they have dovetail joints.