Yamaha FG-180-1
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Yamaha FG-180-1
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xbassman_K 05/26/2013

Yamaha FG-180-1 : xbassman_K's user review

« Stop! Good deal! »
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Value For Money : Excellent
The Yamaha FG-180 is a dreadnought-type Folk guitar with a slim mahogany neck with "boat" profile, almost flat rosewood fingerboard. Mine has the red-orange Nippon Gakki tag, so it's manufactured in Japan. No clue about when it was born, but it certainly has seen the best part of 40 years or so. The top is solid spruce, the bottom and sides seem to be of solid wood, too, probably mahogany or something that looks like it. Bone nut and bridge that, I think, are not the original ones. Pretty vintage open gear tuners that do their job without complaints. The nitrocellulose lacquer finish is very simple, in the D18 style, but it's nice, especially with age...
In the Japanese guitar system, the model reference number (180 in this case) is generally linked to the catalog price in dollars, so this guitar was probably sold for about $150 in stores back then, which would've corresponded to a mid-range instrument...

UTILIZATION

The neck has a somewhat disturbing profile when you are used to more recent folk guitars. It's unforgiving with approximate fingerings due to the very narrow neck with an almost flat radius. It's not a guitar for beginners, who will find it hard to play with! Nevertheless, you can get used to it pretty fast if you have a good playing level. I'd even say you can get a hold of it pretty fast, even if you'll be surprised at the efforts you make to try to play "correctly" with it, but it's very rejoicing!

SOUNDS

It's the sound that has amazed me! What power! I had never heard this sound before, and I have heard quite a few folk guitars, from the cheapest to the most expensive, but never with such power! Not only does it have a good punch, but it only sounds great, very rich in harmonics, perfectly well-balanced, with sublime lows and a terrific sustain! It's amazing! It's captivating, I simply can't stop playing it once I start! To the point that I wanted to know if I had stumbled upon an exceptional model or if they all sounded like this one. So I went to look on Google, and it's easy to tell that they are often like this. There are even some videos on Youtube that are very representative. Besides that, I also heard that Elliott Smith has one and will never part with it, and that it was Jeff Buckley's favorite guitar for composing! But that's anecdotal.
It has a very particular personality and it would be useless to try to compare it to other well-known guitars from Martin or a Gibson, but it will not shy from the comparison, far from that!

OVERALL OPINION

I bought it at a flea market in my neighborhood for $80! It was dirty, unadjusted and it lacked the original pickguard, as well as two strings, but it caught my eye with its antique "mojo," so I took it home with me and I don't regret it. Even if I had to put some work into it (new strings, a thorough cleanup, adjustment of the neck and the bridge), I'm sure it has been one of the best deals of my life when it comes to buying guitars. And I have bought more than 50 throughout my life!
Even if it is quite playable like it is, I think it will nevertheless end up at my guitar tech's workshop soon because the frets won't hold too long and the action is too high for my taste (even after adjusting it), but I'm ready to do that because it really deserves it!
It's a well-kept secret, but fans aren't tricked. It is very hard to find and it is never a bargain. In good condition its price can reach up to $700. That said, in good state it is still an excellent deal for that price, in my opinion, especially if you compare it to anything else you can find for that kind of money... Otherwise, you'll have to get lucky at your local flea market.