#1
Be forewarned: If you buy a new Yamaha classical guitar, its stained neck may be sticky.

I bought a Yamaha CG142C solid-top classical guitar in October 2014 for 279 euros. I convinced myself that I should buy a Yamaha classical guitar because my son owns one, a CG131S. His guitar was purchased in 2009 (the years are important here). His guitar is fantastic: rich, full sound, easy to play, solid design, full lacquer finish, etc. Ticks every box. So for my birthday in October, I bought a brand-new Yamaha. My son’s model was no longer made, so I assumed that buying the next model up would give me the same, if not better, qualities of my son’s guitar.

I was wrong. Yes, the CG142C is easy to play. However, it lacks the full, rich range of sound that’s in my son’s guitar. The bass is shallow, and the guitar swallows notes, especially in chords. It is also a very quiet guitar, so you have to pluck the strings hard to get any volume out of the guitar. And the strings make a grinding noise when they rub against the frets.

The worst part about the guitar is the finish on the neck. This guitar is sold as a lacquered guitar. However, while the body is lacquered, the neck is not. The neck is only stained. There is no lacquer on the neck. And unlike my son’s guitar, the neck is sticky.

I practice the guitar for about an hour a day. When I play the CG142C guitar, my left thumb starts to stick to the neck after about a minute. As I continue to play the guitar, the neck becomes sticker, and the stickiness gets on all my left fingers and the strings. My fingers stick to the strings, and the strings ping when I lift my fingers. Pulls and slides become virtually impossible because my fingers stick to the strings and my thumb cannot slide on the neck. I have to stop playing during songs to wipe the neck and my fingers to try to remove the stickiness.

I contacted the store and Yamaha about the stickiness, and they told me to clean the guitar with window cleaner. This did not work, so I took the guitar to a store that the sells, makes and repairs guitars. The first thing that I was told was that the neck should be lacquered. The next thing I was told was that the guitar was too cheap to waste money on lacquering the neck.

The guitar was then given to the store’s other owner and guitar repairman and maker. He rubbed the neck of the guitar with his hand to make it warm, and the neck became sticky. He then examined the finish on the neck. He concluded that the finish was correct, and that there were no flaws in the neck.

He said that this type of stain finish is sticky when it is warm and fingers perspire. He also said that lacquer could not be applied to the neck because of the stain that was already on the neck. He suggested that I clean the guitar with a polish/cleaner for guitars, saying that the cleaner might reduce the stickiness.

This brings us back to the years of the two guitars in this review. My son’s guitar was purchased in 2009, and it is completely lacquered: both neck and body are lacquered. I started looking at Yamaha classical guitars for myself in May or June 2014. I looked at several models at different stores, some cheaper than mine and some more expensive than mine. One thing I noticed was that all of the Yamaha classical guitars had stained necks, not lacquered necks.

If I am correct, Yamaha has switched from lacquered necks on its classical guitars to stained necks on its classical guitars. And if my problem is from the stain, which it appears to be, it could be that anyone using a new Yamaha classical guitar may encounter the same problem.

And my next guitar will have a lacquered neck, which means I probably will not buy another Yamaha guitar.
Last edited by MarkPal at Nov 24, 2014,
#2
I find it hard to believe that it is not a satin finish on that neck. And nobody uses laquer on cheap guitars. It is always a poly finish.
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#3
I've written what happened. The CG131S has a glossy finish that I have been told is "lacquer." My conversations are in French, so whatever Yamaha used on the neck of the CG131S is very glossy and slick. The finish on the neck of the CG142C is dull and little rough. The salespeople call it "vernis," which translates into polish or stain, and one salesperson used "stain" when trying to speak English. At any rate, the guitar repairman confirmed that the finish becomes sticky. And it is a f--king pain in the ass when you are trying to play.
#4
My Yamaha A1R has the dull, slightly rough finish on the neck, as does my seagull(slightly less rough) and I love it! I like the feel much better, plus my hand and fingers stay put where I want them instead of sliding all over a smooth glossy finish. Neither of mine are sticky, just the perfect amount of friction to me. The guitars I have with glossy necks are too slippery to me.
#5
Every model of guitar is a little different by design. If this one doesn't suit you, simply trade it for one that does. Most music stores are pretty accommodating if you are pleasant and sincere. Be sure to spend some time with your guitar choice to make sure it is what you want and don't just grab one off the rack expecting it to be something it is not. Your son's guitar was a spruce top which usually has a high-gloss finish. Your guitar is a cedar top which rarely has a gloss finish. Very different instruments.

I currently have 8 guitars and each neck is a little different, and each has a different tone quality that gives them individual character much like wine. I own an older Yamaha (spruce) with high-gloss neck and a more recent Seagull (cedar) with flat finish. I personally prefer the cedar with flat finish neck. After playing for 40 years I believe this is how guitars are supposed to be.

I don't think Yamaha did anything nefarious with their finish between 2009 and now. Simply different models (spruce vs cedar) with a different finish, tone, and feel. Much like the many varieties of Cotes du Rhone.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Nov 24, 2014,
#7
I don't think the top wood has anything go do with what finish they put on the neck. My Yamaha and Seagull both have spruce tops and a dull, flat, frictiony finish on their necks. My washburn is also a spruce top with a glossy, slippery neck finish. The companies are just probably trying to keep more in tune with what most people prefer, but everyone is different.
#8
The neck of the CG142C is covered with fine scratches. When my thumb perspires, the perspiration gets into the scratches, increasing the stickiness. I've pretty much decided to get rid of this thing. The stickiness is extremely annoying. Bought in October, sold December.