#1
Honestly I was quite surprised not to see a review of these guitars already on Ultimate-Guitar. I picked mine up about a week ago for £180 ($350-ish) after having wanted one for close to a decade. They were made between 1966 and 1974, moving production from Japan to Taiwan in 1972. It sounds absolutely beautiful with a really full, almost growling bass and surprising clarity in the mid and top. Massive volume as well. Supposedly they were made to compete with the Martin D-18 and they do provide quite a similar sound for a fraction of the price. Elliott Smith played and recorded with a Taiwan FG 180 if you want to hear the kind of sound you get from such an instrument. Paul Brady also used one for a period in the late seventies, as you can hear and see in this version of Arthur McBride. Apparently John Martyn also played one for a time, but I can't confirm this.
For the price you can pick them up for you will honestly not find a better sounding guitar. You should keep an eye out for them. Mine was picked up relatively cheap, as I've seen them go for up to £500.
If you're interested I'll save you some time on the research:
The Red Label guitars include all made in Japan from 66 - 72 and then for a brief period in Taiwan too, before they were changed to black label.
To date the guitar you can do the following: Find the serial number inside the guitar at the bottom of the neck. It should be a 7 digit number. The first number is the year - eg if the first number is a 1, the guitar could be '51 '61 '71 etc (but since these guitars were only made for an 8 year period it's very simple to date). The next four numbers are the month and the day, eg 1215 would be December 15th. The last three numbers are just product numbers with no relevance. So if the serial number was 90723264 it would be from 1969, July 23rd.
Last edited by Geedo777 at Dec 22, 2014,
#2
They are great guitars indeed. I got a 1973 myself.

The only issue with them is neck resets are rather difficult on them. So once the neck angle gets too high (which happens when they are this old) their life is kinda limited. Hard to justify a neck reset on such a cheap guitar.
#3
Yeah, neck resets are a potential problem. I guess as well as age it's just down to chance, how well the guitar has been cared for and the climate it's in. A neck reset would still be cheaper than buying a new comparable guitar sound-wise but enough to put plenty of people off.
#4
Quote by Geedo777
Yeah, neck resets are a potential problem. I guess as well as age it's just down to chance, how well the guitar has been cared for and the climate it's in. A neck reset would still be cheaper than buying a new comparable guitar sound-wise but enough to put plenty of people off.


I don't think it would be possible to reset the neck by standard means, even if it were feasible (which it might not if it is epoxied), for less than the price of a comparable new(er) guiitar. Here in Oz, a standard reset costs at least $500, and I've seen quotes as high as $700 in the US. There are cheaper ways of resetting, if you can find someone to do them, but the cost would still be significant.
#6
Found this thread on a search - I inherited an FG-180 Red Label - it doesn't not state a country of origin on the label so my assumption is that it's from Taiwan. Sounds pretty amazing.
It has 2 numbers on it:
T0183942 - way down in the front of the body on a block (sorry, not familiar with terms)
20823430 - at base of neck

So my assumption on the 2nd number is that it was built in '72, Aug. 23rd?

Also, the strings in fact are quite high, but maybe a setup isn't possible? I will take it into the local guy (Sherwood Music, *******er ON) for advice.

Any other thoughts?

Thanks!
Phil