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A Brief History Of Yamaha Electric Guitars

Feb 15, 2008
With over a hundred years of experience manufacturing musical instruments, Yamaha is universally acknowledged as the producer some of the world's finest instruments. Yamaha started guitar production in the mid 1940's and from that day to this have produced a wide variety of guitars to fulfil the needs of all players, from beginner to enthusiast and on to professional.

In February of 1964 The Beatles appeared on the "Ed Sullivan Show" in the USA and at a stroke the music world was changed, the electric guitar was here to stay. In the wake of this Yamaha began producing solid body electric guitars at their Hamamatsu facility in 1965 and early models of both electric and electric bass guitars debuted in 1966.

By the mid 1970's legendary guitar artists such as Carlos Santana began to use Yamaha Guitars eschewing some of the great American brand names in favour of the unique features and superb build quality provided by these instruments. With the development of the SG2000 model in consultation with Carlos Santana, with it's through neck construction and patented "T-Cross System" and "Sustain Plate", Yamaha truly broke the mould, and in doing so the stranglehold of the two big American manufacturers. These innovations gave the instrument monumental sustain in conjunction with a powerful and warm tonality. With the ringing endorsement of legendary musicians such as Bob Marley, Steve Cropper, Phil Manzanera, and Carlos Rios, Yamaha's SG range of guitars had sealed their place amongst the elite manufacturers of electric guitars. From there on Yamaha Guitars have gone from strength to strength, not just producing the instruments we see being used by some of the worlds great guitar innovators, but also truly blazing a trail in the production of high quality, affordable instruments for beginners and intermediate players alike.

At the end of the 1980's Yamaha Guitar Development opened in North Hollywood, California. One of the first designs to come from there was the Pacifica series, this was a quantum leap for Yamaha Guitars, as it was an instrument designed and prototyped in the American custom shop with direct input from pro players. From this series there is a direct lineage to the entry level Yamaha guitars produced today. Today Yamaha provide a range of electric and bass guitars to cover all genres and to suit every pocket, so whether you aspire to the adrenaline fuelled world of hard rock, the smooth sophistication of jazz or anywhere in between there is something for you.

In the same way that the SG2000 took the electric guitar world by storm, in 1977 the release of the Yamaha "Broad Bass" or BB1200 bass guitar turned the world of bass guitarists upside down. Once again Yamaha were amongst the forerunners in the introduction of through neck construction, with it's enhanced sustain characteristics and inherent advantages in terms of stability. This coupled with peerless build quality made the BB basses an instant hit, with Paul McCartney himself playing a BB1200S in the early 1980's. To this day Yamaha's place in the world of bass has been ensured with great session players like Abraham Laboriel and Nathan East playing Yamaha Basses, alongside cutting edge artists such as Billy Sheehan, John Patitucci and John Myung. Once again the developments made with these wonderful musicians are put to good use in the instruments Yamaha make for beginners and intermediate players making for a great playing experience for all.

A brief look at some of the legendary names that have wielded Yamaha guitars and bass guitars gives you an idea of the exalted company you'll be keeping when you buy yours. Jimmy Page, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, James Taylor, John Denver, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Brian May, Carlos Santana, Bob Marley, Lee Ritenour, Martin Taylor, Nathan East, Billy Sheehan, Michael Anthony... the list goes on.
About the Author
This article was written for Chappell of Bond Street. Yamaha guitars are very close to their hearts at Chappell's Wardour Street, London store.
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