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Phil O'Keefe

The return of the Yamaha red labels...

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Yamaha has released a new line of "red label" acoustics. [ATTACH=JSON]{"alt":"Click image for larger version Name:\tfg5-4f81162c.jpg Views:\t1 Size:\t51.3 KB ID:\t32510891","data-align":"none","data-attachmentid":"32510891","data-size":"full","title":"fg5-4f81162c.jpg"}[/ATTACH] [URL="https://www.harmonycentral.com/news/yamaha-launches-new-fg-red-label-acoustic-guitars"]https://www.harmonycentral.com/news/...oustic-guitars[/URL] Are they any good? IDK - :idk: they look like they're a bit more upscale than the originals (solid wood tops, etc.) but I'll have to wait until the review unit loaner that I just requested arrives and I have the opportunity to check one out... stay tuned. :snax:

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Posted (edited)

I should send you my original Fg-150 for comparison. Oh, and I paid a hundred bucks for it in 1969

 

[ATTACH=JSON]{"alt":"Click image for larger version Name:\tYamaha 1970.jpg Views:\t1 Size:\t233.5 KB ID:\t32510980","data-align":"none","data-attachmentid":"32510980","data-size":"full"}[/ATTACH]

Edited by Freeman Keller
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Freeman! Get Phil to send you the new model to check out.... what the hey, loan a loaner.... or maybe Phil could drop by for a visit with the new one. Don't know where he is based, but bet you guys could have fun. Make a podcast or something so can write off for taxes... your 69 pic looks just like me then.... I bet I could fool some friends with that (but won't)

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I think it's excellent product management. They've milked most of the mystique out of the old ones, now they're putting a lid in it by re-releasing them with 2019 quality and solid tops. I'd love to try a new FG180.

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I like how they subtly acknowledge that the original FGs were under- braced which gave them that extra bottom end but caused them to belly so badly.

 

Here they're talking about the bracing refinements:

 

"With careful measurement and experimentation, we made several refinements that would enhance low-frequency response without compromising durability."

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Posted (edited)

I just hope they used glue that comes apart with a little heat and moisture this time.

Edited by Freeman Keller
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I just hope they used glue that comes apart with a little heat and moisture this time.

 

That's probably something I won't be able to test, but I can definitely ask them what type of glue they're using.

 

Have you ever had any issues with your vintage red label Yamaha Freeman?

 

 

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I've worked on at least 10 old FGs now and all of them were lightly braced and quite bellied. It's what gives them that strong bass response that made them stand out despite the laminate tops.

 

The glue reference from Freeman is about them using epoxy on them which makes it impossible to do a traditional neck reset. They're solid as tanks though.

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That's probably something I won't be able to test, but I can definitely ask them what type of glue they're using.

 

Have you ever had any issues with your vintage red label Yamaha Freeman?

 

 

 

My only issue has been that my guitar needed a neck reset and I couldn't do it. I ended up sawing the neck off and converting to bolt on (I did a thread here a long time ago). Sometimes forumite CTGull (who maintains the vintage Yamie web site) claims he can get them apart - I don't even try any more. Which really is too bad since there are quite a few of them out there that otherwise would be pretty nice guitars.

 

From reading your little review its pretty obvious that the new ones are not in the spirit of the original - solid torrefied tops, some sort of electronics with a weird name, and a price than no broke hippie college student could afford. And do the labels say Nippon Gakki?

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My only issue has been that my guitar needed a neck reset and I couldn't do it. I ended up sawing the neck off and converting to bolt on (I did a thread here a long time ago). Sometimes forumite CTGull (who maintains the vintage Yamie web site) claims he can get them apart - I don't even try any more. Which really is too bad since there are quite a few of them out there that otherwise would be pretty nice guitars.

 

I wonder what kind of glue they were using on them back then? That really sux if you can't do a neck-reset when it becomes necessary. Then again, they were never super-expensive guitars to begin with... Yamaha probably thought of them as being, or becoming disposable by the time they'd need that kind of work done on them since a new one wouldn't cost much more than the neck reset work.

 

From reading your little review its pretty obvious that the new ones are not in the spirit of the original - solid torrefied tops, some sort of electronics with a weird name, and a price than no broke hippie college student could afford. And do the labels say Nippon Gakki?

 

What you read was Yamaha's news announcement - a press release - my review will come later. I haven't even received the loaner yet, so I haven't played one or even seen one in person yet; I just learned about them myself... but based on their blurb about it, it does sound like it's a higher-end guitar than the very affordable (at the time) originals.

 

I have no idea if the labels say Nippon Gakki on them or not. That will probably depend on who is actually building the new ones, and where. :idk:

 

 

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FWIW My FG500 was made in 1972 and my FG340-II was made in 1979 and neither neck needs a reset and neither has any bellying.

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Posted (edited)

The skuttlebutt is that the glue was some kind of epoxy, CTGull says it releaseds with enough heat and steam but many of us who have worked on them haven't had much luck. I've turned down several - sawing the neck off is pretty invasive but it does work.

 

For a short time I had an old Yamie 12 string - I want to say the model number was FG-230. It needed a reset but I didn't understand that at the time, all I knew is that it was darn hard to play. Sold it and bought a Martin 12 which also needed a reset (but I understood by that time) - what a difference.

 

Old Yamies have almost a cult following - both because they actually sound pretty darn good for a plywood guitar and because it was almost an icon for those of us trying to learn guitar in the 1960's. Walk into any hippie dippie's apartment - there was a Greatful Dead poster on the wall, a half dead rubber plant in a pot and an FG-something leaning up against the wall.

 

It will be interesting to see what you think of it, Phil.

Edited by Freeman Keller

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Based on the specs and my own positive experience in recent times (both my brother and I play Yamaha LL6 acoustics in our duo) I'd expect these to be fantastic guitars. I'm tempted.

 

Every once in a while we pull out our FG180s for a bit of nostalgia, but they really lack beautiful mids and overtones. We used to think they were amazing.

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I taught myself to finger pick on my 1st guitar (FG-230) and I think I remember it priced at $135.00 with a cardboard case. That was late 72.

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The Red Labels are supposed to be in stores in June or July. Look pretty good and are all solid wood. They as will have scalloped braces That is unjusjual fr Yamaha.

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Posted (edited)

I tried out a couple of the new Red Label FGs today - one had on-board electronics and the other didn't. They both felt like the old FGs and both had nice tone and nice sustain but, frankly, neither one sounded as good as my old all-laminate FG 340 II and I can't see where they are worth $1000.00. I am a big fan of Yamaha and have owned many over the years, but these seem over-priced to me - just saying.

Edited by Nabisco

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Sounds like Yamaha is trying to capitalize on the reputation of the Nippon Gakki guitars of the past. The Yamaha name and the red label are about all that these guitars have in common with the original Nippon Gakki guitars. They may be pretty good, but at that price??? IDK. :freak:

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Sounds like Yamaha is trying to capitalize on the reputation of the Nippon Gakki guitars of the past. The Yamaha name and the red label are about all that these guitars have in common with the original Nippon Gakki guitars. They may be pretty good' date=' but at that price??? IDK. :freak:[/quote']

 

Agreed. I'd leave the red labels alone for that kind of money. The glut of used high-end stuff is beginning to play heck with values so the smart buyer will wait that out and then play it like an arcade game.

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I'm back!!!!! I've taken apart 14 vintage FG's. They've all been hide glue EXCEPT a 1977 FG-335, that was a tough one and looked to be epoxy. It's possible when the new series can out in 1977 they changed to epoxy, starting the rumors they all were built with epoxy. I've done a 12 string FG-230. It was a tough one because of the width of the fretboard. Same neck joint.

 

I know of 3 or 4 people who've used my neck reset guide and have successfully done a neck reset on a vintage FG. http://yamahavintagefg.boards.net/thread/18/vintage-yamaha-neck-reset-procedure The problem is the neck pocket isn't below the 15th fret, AND in most cases, they used too much glue and glued the face of the heel to the side of the guitar. Someplace the steam can't get to.

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