#1
Got this online a week ago for around $200 with OHSC, seemed like a deal. These late 80s Yamahas are amazing bang for buck. I didn't know much details, so I e-mailed Yamaha for info, giving them serial number, got call back today with lots of info. Amazing customer service for 25 year old guitar.

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Here's what Yamaha told me:
- These Pacifica 712s were made from 1989-1992. Mine is from 1989.
- They cost $699 new (list price)
- Alder body, maple neck, rosewood fingerboard
- OEM pickups / ceramic magnetic something or other (I don't know pickups, he lost me with the lingo)
- Vintage Pro II tremolo
- Compound radius fingerboard

Other details:
It's black with white fingerboard. The pickups all have visible polepieces, similar to I guess most strats I've seen? I only mention this because I have 1989 Yamaha SE612A which means it's made the exact same year, the body size, length and headstock are all identical, and both are HSS set up.

However, the SE body is a bit more curved around edges, has no pick guard, and the pickups have no exposed polepieces (have flat black covers similar to the EMG's I've seen, but with "Yamaha" printed on them). The SE is stamped "made in Japan, but the Pacifica is stamped "made in Taiwan, though I understand the Taiwan factory also had great quality control. I also am 99% sure I read somewhere that these SE's had basswood body, not alder.

The SE has different tremolo, RM Pro, but both look 90% the same, use same size trem bar. I think they are different generations / variations on same kind of Yamaha tremolo. The Yamaha guy called the Pacifica's Vintage Pro II a "Floyd Rose" copy, whereas I think I've heard the SE tremolo compared to Kahler... Not having ever seen/used Kahler, I'm not sure how it differes from Floyd Rose. Generally, I feel these both operate similarly, and similar to my friends mid-80s USA-made Fender Strat.

As they are presently set up, my SE612A has nicer trem action for my purposes. I can push or pull it about equally to raise or lower pitch. The Pacifica does not really want to pull (raise pitch) but I think maybe I can push it a bit more, get more of a dip in pitch out of it? For all I know, that's a set up choice, maybe both tremolos can be adjusted to give you more push action, less pull action or vice versa, and the SE just happenes to be at the mid-point and the Pacific is set up for more push (pitch lowering) at the cost of less pull (pitch rise)? This is speculation, I would appreciate any more knowledgeable person to chime in on this.

I do notice neither of these guitars has locking nut, and both have very different nuts (and different string trees). The SE nut has three holes that, to me, looks just like there is supposed to be a top piece / brace that screws on to complete the nut, so I'm thinking it does have a locking nut, just missing the top locking brace / screws. This is not necessarily a bad thing...though it might make the guitar go out of tune faster when you use the tremolo, I've heard locking nuts rob tone, and so if you don't use the tremolo or you don't mind tuning up after every couple songs, you might actually choose to remove the locking nut brace, which maybe is what the prior owner did which is why it is missing the locking nut brace. This, too, is just a guess, but I like the tone and it stays in tune "okay" (not great) when I tremolo. Now, this Pacifica, on the other hand, the nut is clearly not meant to lock, no way to add any top brace to make it lock. The SE string tree goes the length of the nut and all strings feed under it. The Pacifica has a small string tree for just the high E and B (and maybe G?) similar to some strats I've seen. Both have identical tuners stamped "made in Japan).

For whatever reason, the Pacifica stays in tune better when using the tremolo, surprisingly well for not having locking nut. It beats the SE on this point.

Both have 5 way selectors, in addition to which the Pacific has two knobs -- tone and volume -- and that's it. The SE612A has three knobs -- volume, tone and mid-boost (not sure how useful the latter is, I just keep it cranked myself). The SE 612A also has a coil splitter switch for the humbucker which is interesting but I'm not all that impressed with the tonal variations when I flip the switch. I guess it's handy if you figure a way to use that switch to "kick it up a notch" at the right point in your song. I am already overwhelmed with tonal options between 5 way selector, HSS set up, and the mid-boost knob on the SE, with the added coil split it's like I have more choices than I need. So it's not a bad feature at all, just not a big deal for me personally.

The Pacifica played with neck & middle pickups is pretty piercing, clean, strat-like IMO, though it seems soft/weak compared to the gritty humbucker bridge pickup. I'm used to double-humbucker guitars and I'm new to single coils, and so I think these single coils sound good for what they are, for when you want a different tonal characteristic that'll cut through some distorted rhythm guitar or something. But when I flip the switch to kick in the humbuckers -- with or without the mid -- then this Pacifica gives an amazingly strong, growly, "rock god" tone, part hard-rock, part classic rock, just really fat and warm. Granted, this is through a very nice mesa boogie tube amp with makes most guitars sound good -- but this is a cut above, I think I may prefer it to any tone from any of my guitars, including PRS McCarty in this setting for sort of harder classic rock tones. It's the humbucker settings on this Pacifica that, to me, will make it a hard guitar to part with -- though I probably will do just that (as detailed below).

The Pacifica neckboard is very playable, similar in size to my SE612 in width, fingerboard quality. I have never had such a playable neck as the SE612A, though it may be a bit thin for some. The Pacifica neck is simlar to the SE612A in playability. The Pacifica frets are shallower, meaning the action can be lower. The guitar came to me with action that is lower than any guitar I've ever seen or played -- and I'm a fan of low action. One downside of such low action, IME, is risk of fret buzz, but happily the Pacifica has no significant fret buzz, which I find amazing for having such low action.

I guess my complaint is that I actually prefer more substantial frets. My PRS, my friend's American made Strat, and my Yamaha SE612A all have nice, substantial frets, gives me more confidence I'll intonate cleanly, and for bends and such. I guess lower frets and very low action can be good if that's your thing, probably a shredder's wet dream, just not my favorite (since I have not learned to shred, more of a chord / rhythm player so far).

Lastly, I should note the OEM pickups on the Pacifica have staggered polepieces, which MIGHT be a good thing compared to flush polepieces. I read that Fender originally used staggered (all pickups did?) then they modernized to flush polepieces in mid-70s or so, but at some point Fender went back to staggered on at least some strat models (and even a few Teles) because they preferred the way it allowed more fine-tuning as to how each string would be "electrified" or whatever. I also read that this kind of staggered polepieces was rarely seen on Asian strat clones, one reason they might not have been quite as good at capturing strat tone or matching strat quality. So the fact this model Yamaha strat clone had staggered polepieces may be a good thing, meaning it's a cut above and better able to match strat tone (or carve out it's own kick-ass tonal nitch). But that's a bit of conjecture -- feel free to correct me if you know otherwise.

In case you are not aware what the "712" signifies, the second two numbers are pickups (the 1 = 1 humbucker and the 2 = 2 single coils. So some of their models end "20" like 620, which would mean 2 humbuckers and no single coils, or some and "03" like "603" meaning three single coils, and some end "21". Etc.

The first number is like a series model, and the higher the better (100 series is lowest, unless there was a zero series, then there's 300 series, 500 series, 700 series, 900 series, and I think maybe even 1200 and 1400 series, though not sure which years these were available). My SE is a 600 series, but I don't think they ever made 600 series Pacificas. I've also seen some 800 series Yamahs, which I guess is in between 700 and 900 series, but I don't know I've seen any Pacificas that were 800 series. Regardless, the bottom line is higher number, better quality. Don't ask me what was better about them, I don't have those details. But when I shop for Yamaha, I look for something at least 500 series on general principle, even though I've read some very complimentary reviews of 300 series and even 100 series Yamahas.

I have to say the SE612A feels like it is a pricier more luxurious guitar, based on the extra rounded edges of the body, I just really love those softer contours and the more substantial frets. I think maybe the Japanese factory was a bit better in late 80s than the Taiwan factory, though both definitely had high quality control standards IMO, at least as to these mid/higher end guitars.

When I think how these Pacifica 712's were $700 new and were so well-made, and can be gotten for under $300 today, and how much better quality control and fit/finish they had compared to the "new" $300 guitars today (I own two "newish" epiphones, I think made in China, in that price range that both sadly have some disappointing quality-control issues, have got to luthiers a couple times and still have issues) I just shake my head.

Ken
Bernie Sanders for President!
Last edited by krm27 at May 29, 2014,
#2
excellent
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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Et tu, br00tz?
#3
These older Yamahas are, IMO, the true "Pawn Shop" stars right now, if you can find them and look for the "higher" model numbers -- like 400 series or higher (e.g., SHB400, SBG500, Pacifica 512, SE602, etc. etc. I'd avoid 012, 112, and even 312 or other 300 series models. Actually, I should qualify that. I'm very close to pulling the trigger on a Yamaha Pac311 -- one of their Telecaster clones, made in Taiwan which I think is not quite as high quality as the made in Japan models, but still significantly better than what you'll find for the same price from imports made in Korea or China (or some cheaper imports by other manufacturers in Japan or Taiwan). Yamaha knows something about quality control that others do not grasp, has had consistently high quality control since mid to late 70s all the way to today (e.g., their new THR5 and THR10 amps are true game-changers, to me, in the world of relatively cheap bedroom / practice / home studio / portable amps).

Oh, I think my above explanation of non-locking nut on the Pacifica 712 -- despite having tremolo system -- might not have been very clear, and I did not take good photo. However, I DID find the exact same set up on a Pacifica 521 currently listed on Ebay with a great photo of the nut / headstock region, here:

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It has the same string tree placement, and the same very inconspicuous black non-locking nut...yet it still stays in tune impressively well, either because of quality tuners or maybe something about Yamaha's Vintage Pro II tremolo system.

Lastly, I should note that I paid $150 for my Pacifica 712 plus $50 shipping, with case (I think the OHSC -- stamped Yamaha). This 521 on Ebay is listed for $375. So I think I got a good deal. I will admit the one on Ebay looks in better condition than my 712, but I don't mind having a "relic'd' looking guitar that plays great -- it is 25 years old, after all. All these models of "shred-type" strat-clones -- 500's, 600s, 700's, 900's -- seem to mostly start at $300 and go up to $500 from what I've seen doing a lot of internet searching / studying the past few weeks. However, I have also found that if you go into the right second-hand shop, or are very lucky looking online, you can find one cheaper (though maybe not as minty). I found my SE612A for $270 in a second-hand shop (good deal, maybe not out-of-this world since it was missing a bit of hardware -- trem bar and the brace that locks onto the nut to complete the locking nut system -- but overall quality of neck & frets and hardware was minty fresh, so I was/am happy with it.

Everyone raves so much about the SG's and SA's, that go for $1,000 or more, these strat-type Pacifica's RGX's, SE's (particularly the SE's) seem to not be getting as much respect as they deserve. Hell, the SE models are not even listed on the Wikipedia page that supposedly lists "all" Yamaha guitar models.

Oh, one last thing (I keep remembering details to add)...The Pacifica 712 has "normal" type access to truss rod, on headstock just past nut. However, the SE has no truss rod access in the headstock. Never saw that before, I really have no idea how you access and adjust the truss rod on an SE. Fortunately, it's already got amazingly accurate intonation for such an old / low-priced guitar, and no fret buzz, so I have no reason to access it, but at some point presumably I'll have to mess with truss and that'll mean going to luthier to tell me just what the secret is for truss rod adjustment on these SE models.

Ken
Bernie Sanders for President!