Price paid: $ 560
Purchased from: Online Seller (Taobao)
Sound — 8
This guitar blows all other guitars in its price range out of the f***ing water. I had gone to my local music store, which actually takes around 3 hours to get to, many times to try out the guitars there. I was underwhelmed by the Guild; it has a far too shallow body which translates into low volume and the mahogany tone wasn't what I was after. I used to be totally crazy about Taylor guitars until I actually spent some time with them and ended up not really enjoying their tone that much. The Epiphone was my favorite, but also far too shallow-bodied. The S. Yairi has a nice deep body, lots of volume, and the rich natural reverb tone that solid rosewood has, while still maintaining complete clarity on each string that fingerstyle guitar demands. With my old guitar, I always had to struggle to get more sustain by letting everything ring out; but with this baby, sometimes there is just too much sustain, the notes just last forever. I am replacing the factory plastic bridge nuts with bone, to better compliment my bone nut and saddle, and perhaps bring out a few more sparkling highs and a even more clarity and sustain.
Overall Impression — 9
My only regret was that someone bought the guitar I was going to get just a week after I told the guy I was going to buy it. It was a YOE-28, which is exactly the same as mine only with an ebony bridge and fingerboard, but for the same price. Maybe one day I'll hunt the guy down and take back what was rightfully mine. I hadn't played this guitar before buying it, so that was perhaps a slight risk, but I'm satisfied with it overall, and can't think of anything I'd rather trade it for, except the YOE-28. I'm a fingerstyle guy, and this guitar suits my wants (almost) perfectly. So far I haven't played a guitar whose sound I've liked more. But now if you'll excuse me, I'm getting the urge to check my neck relief once more
Reliability & Durability — 9
Since I haven't yet and don't plan to be rough with my guitar or bang it against stuff, I'm not sure what to write here. Maybe I should talk about the new thing I'm fascinated with: lego porn. Well seriously, it looks sturdy and feels very sturdy, and I don't think I'll have much trouble with it. I might have a little bit of OCD or something, because every 5 minutes I will look down the neck of the guitar to see if it's straight or not. There is nice slight amount of relief, but I can't help think that it will increase and increase over time, and my truss rod is already as tight as it can go, and I'm worried about that because it should have a backbow when tight and then I work down from there. Anyway, I'm rambling
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
When it arrived, it had a bunch of little spots of glue on the bottom and back of the guitar. I was so enthusiastic that I ended up scratching the finish off the bottom of the back of the guitar, and now there is a big area with abrasion marks, but at least it's at the back out of sight. But I wasn't too happy it arrived like that. The action was fine initially but I changed string gauge immediately anyway and fixed a slight backbow on the neck, so it didn't really make a difference. However, when I changed from the custom light (.011) that it came with to light (.012) the action was quite high even though it was supposed to be set up for .012s, and I didn't like that one bit for a new guitar. Even after sandpapering down the saddle a bit, it's still higher than I'm used to, though it's still playable. I will have to file it down further later. But what really upsets me is that the neck is not straight where the neck meets the body, around the 12-14 fret, which produces a huge amount of fret buzz when tapping these frets. This area is higher than the rest of the neck and fretboard and I don't think this is repairable, but I guess you can't expect a 560 dollar guitar to be perfect.
Features — 9
Being a pretty lazy guy, I didn't want to work even when I could have gotten lots of easy money to buy a great guitar. So I had been stuck with a second-rate Ibanez electro-Acoustic for over two years until I decided to set my sights higher. I have spent the last half year researching and finding all the options to fit my criteria which included OOO style, fully solid wood, and a price below 5000 CNY (approx. 730 USD). The choices were initially the Parkwood PW320M, Epiphone Masterbilt EF-500R, and Guild GAD-30. I personally think the S.Yairi beats all three hands down, and I'll explain why later. I had plenty of bad luck in trying to get a new guitar, such as the Parkwood PW320M that I bought having its neck snapped in transit, because the couriers were careless. But in retrospect, I'm glad that happened because I know now that I wouldn't have been happy with it, and I got a full refund anyway. Features: Guitar: S. Yairi YO-28 Year: 2008 Body Style: OOO Soundboard: Solid Sitka Spruce Back and Sides: Solid Rosewood Neck: Mahogany Fingerboard and Bridge: Indian Rosewood Soundhole Rosette: Black/White Multi Body Binding: Black/White Multi Nut and Saddle: Bone Nut Width: 1-3/4" Scale: 650mm/20f (16 inches) S.Yairi is related to K.Yairi, of Alvarez Fame. He used to make Lowden guitars before. S. Yairi guitars are usually made in Japan, but they moved one of their production centers to China in the early 2000s, and the one I own is made in China, though don't let that fool you. The quality is top notch and I only paid 3800 CNY (560 USD) for it, and it included a hard case. The total price (plus shipping and service charge to send the money) came to 3900 CNY (570 USD).