This is a 1979 Yanaha SA 2000S, the top model of its time featuring a solid spruce top, factory coil split, gorgeous burgundy finish and much more. This is an incredibly difficult model to find in good condition and took me years to locate a nice one.
Some background to understand this model. In 1977 Yamaha introduced an entirely new version of their venerable SA line of acoustic electric guitars. These were the first Yamaha's to closely emulate the ES-335, which all SA's since have followed. Prior to this only two models were actually semi-hollow body, and while beautifully designed, you would never mistake one for an ES-335.
Looking at the literature from the time, Yamaha did a lot of engineering and research for these guitars, matching materials and components and then producing many prototypes which were tested by musicians of the day for feedback before the production guitars were finalized. This attention to detail shows up in many of the features of these models.
The initial models introduced were the SA 700, SA 1000 and the top of the line SA 2000. The 1980 catalog introduces two new models, the SA 1200S and SA 2000S, with the ‘S’ indicating that these models have solid spruce tops. These models also added ‘Bi-Sound’ which is coil split allowing the pickups to be played as a single coil or as a dual coil humbucker, controlled with push-push tone pots. With these upgrades, Yamaha also increased the price of this model to 160,000 Yen, from 150,000 as on the SA 2000.
Looking at the SA 2000S you can readily see the attention to detail, craftsmanship and selection of materials. The finish is Yamaha’s Burgundy and is just gorgeous on this guitar. While I found it difficult to photograph, the solid spruce top has a very fine rippling in it that runs perpendicular to the grain and gives a shimmering look under the finish.
Fretboard is jet black ebony with masterfully inlaid split block mother of pearl markers. The MOP has the iridescence you expect from using natural shell and the combination of MOP and an ebony board is one of my favorite combinations to play one as both are slick and smooth to the touch. Headstock logo and inlay are also iridescent MOP. Hardware is gold, the body has four ply binding on the body and five ply binding on the head stock. The tuners on this model allow for adjustment of the tension when turning them, which can be adjusted so they are the same on all strings.
Pickups sound fantastic, with a wide range of tones available between the neck and bridge pickups. I would describe these as a true vintage semi hollow body sound able to deliver on blues, jazz or classic rock. Another nice feature of the pickups on this model is the Yamaha tri-mount, used only on the higher grade SA's of this era, which allows you to adjust the angle of the pickup in its mounting ring to keep it parallel to the strings.
The neck profile on this generation of the 335 inspired SA models is big. Comparing to Gibson's the profile would be close to a 59. The guitar uses set neck construction, with the neck being one piece solid mahogany. The wood Yamaha used at this time, especially on its higher models, is exceptionally nice.
Construction of the body uses a solid spruce top and four ply birch and beech laminate for the back. Again, the woods selection shows this is a top model and is visibly nicer than that used in the lower models.
Center block is the same construction as found on the original ES-335's, with a hard maple center block sandwiched between spruce blocks with kerfs cut into them. The center block runs the length of the body, fitted between the top and bottom of the guitar. This semi hollow body construction, whose origin is from the original ES-335's, allows for a fuller, fatter sound than a solid body, eliminates the distortion that a full hollow body suffers from at high volume and delivers plenty of sustain with the bridge and tail piece mounted into the center block.
How do these Yamaha SA's compare to other Japanese made 335 inspired guitars? The Yamaha's play, sound and look great with the consistent level of quality construction vintage Japanese guitars are renowned for. If you spend time looking into the finer details of the Yamaha's, it becomes clear that Yamaha did much more engineering and testing compared to most other brands. This makes sense given the size of the company, and scope of what Yamaha manufactures compared to niche Japanese guitar manufacturers. While the Japanese guitars of this era all shifted to emulating the pinnacle of the American made guitars, which for the 335 is 58 to the early 60's, most makes focused on trying to produce guitars as close as possible to the originals. As you play more of these guitars it becomes clear Yamaha's approach was a little different with the SA models. Their guitars remain true to the originals in many regards, but they were not bound by trying to produce exact copies, rather they strived to produce the best guitars they could and were willing to make improvements or enhancements based upon putting guitars in the hands of musicians and incorporating their feedback.
This particular guitar is in excellent overall condition with minor nicks in the finish and the gold finish on the hardware showing aging and wear. The guitar has it’s correct original pickups that are dated December 1979, making it a very early example made in 1979, with the model first appearing in the 1980 catalog.
The guitar has been completely gone over: fretboard cleaned and oiled, frets leveled, crowned and polished, neck relief (truss rod), action, intonation, tail piece and pickup height all adjusted, nut relief checked, nut slots cleaned and greased, harness pulled and pots, jack and switch all cleaned. Yamaha push-push pots from this era are notoriously fragile so both tone pots were replaced with new Bourns push-push pots. Guitar was cleaned and polished as well. It plays and sounds fantastic with no buzzing or dead spots anywhere on the neck. Fresh set of D'addario 10-46 strings installed. The guitar needs nothing and will come with an original Yamaha case, not the one pictured in the photos.
Really amazing example of an extremely hard model to find. The guitar needs nothing.
This guitar is located in the US and will come with an original Yamaha hard case, not the one shown.
I am a serious collector of high-end Japanese guitars, with an emphasis on 335's. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions or visit my website to see my collection or learn more about vintage Japanese guitars.
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Guitars ship for $75.00 for continental United States, elsewhere at cost.
Buyer can return a guitar within three days of receipt and receive a full refund, less actual shipping costs. Buyer responsible for return shipping costs.