1969 Yamaha FG-75 Flattop Guitar

The FG-75 is the little feisty Napoleon of the Yamaha FG lineup. It's about the size of a classical guitar (with a tighter waist) or 00-size, but has a voice that feels a bit bigger. These are lightly-built and fan-braced and so they sound a bit different from their larger, x-braced cousins in the line. To my ears they're open-sounding, sweet and with good sustain, and have good volume. I like them best fingerpicked but -- as you can hear in the video clip -- they sound excellent flatpicked, too, as long as you aren't too heavy-handed with them. They compress a little if you lean into them too hard.

This one, dated via its serial number (update: a Yamaha enthusiast told me it's a '69 and not a '66 -- thank you), has the "Red Label" in the soundhole -- signifying its having been made in Japan instead of the later, Taiwan-made versions. Instruments made in both countries sound good, but the Japanese ones tend to have just that little bit extra. People say it's that the ply was just a little better. Maybe that's so, or maybe it's just slightly tighter tolerances? Either way, it's usually true. The older, Red Label Yamahas generally sound just a bit more-full. I own a couple of Taiwan Yamahas, though, and they're no slouches.

While this guy's led a bit of a rough, player's life, it's in good structural order and I've spruced it up so it plays perfectly. Action is quick and easy and it's ready to go.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, general cleaning, compensation/adjustment of the saddle, and setup.

Setup notes: action is perfect at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE string height at the 12th fret. The neck is straight and the truss rod works. The saddle is lower but these guitars really don't move much with the weather, and I saw this instrument about 6 or 7 years ago in winter and it arrived in the shop playing just as it left last time -- spot-on. Strings are 52w-11 gauges -- which is what I like best on these. I find 54w-12 is a bit too woofy/compressed in voice -- they feel like they overdrive the top unless they're slacked to a lower tuning.

Scale length: 25 3/8"
Nut width: 1 11/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 7/16"
String spacing at bridge: 2"
Body length: 19"
Lower bout width: 14 5/8"
Waist width: 9 3/8"
Upper bout width: 11"
Side depth at endpin: 4"
Top wood: ply spruce
Back & sides wood: ply Japanese maple?
Bracing type: fan
Fretboard: rosewood
Bridge: rosewood, synthetic saddle
Neck feel: medium C/soft V shape, ~10-12" board radius
Neck wood: mahogany?

Condition notes: the guitar itself is beat-up around the edges via lots of usewear, small scratches and scuffs, tiny nicks and dings, and "living of life." The label is missing at the headstock (clearly rubbed-off), the truss rod cover is a replacement, and the bridge pins may be replacements, but it's otherwise original. There's some gunky finish muck at the bass-side waist that's a touch-up over a solid (but not pretty) repair to a crunchy crack in the ply. Oh well!