SF1000 review by Yamaha

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.5 (4 votes)
Yamaha: SF1000

Price paid: £ 600

Purchased from: eBay

Sound — 10
The two humbuckers are Yamaha's own and really are the top of their game, I've never heard a set like this on any other Yamaha. I've previously had guitars with a coil tap feature and been disappointed with the sound quality of the tapped p'ups every time, however these are outstanding either as humbuckers or single coils. Obviously there's a volume drop, but the tone is nonetheless fantastic on either setting. The wood used in the body of this guitar gives such an amazing tone, you will not be disappointed, and the sustain of the set neck is absolutely awesome. Unlike some old electric guitars, there is no unwanted noise and no feedback when you turn up the gain either, which is a relief!

Overall Impression — 10
I play modern rock inspired by blues and classic rock of the 70s/80s, and this is a great match for it. I don't really use the coil tap but I know it's a perfectly good option if I were to need that extra bit of tonal variety. This specific guitar has had a few problems with dodgy frets and a bad nut, but I have no doubt that it's only down to it's age and maybe not been taken care of to the extent it should've been, but it's nonetheless the best guitar I've ever owned, and argued by some to be the best electric guitar ever made, definitely the best that Yamaha ever made. Looks beautiful, feels amazing, and sounds incredible, what more could you want?

Reliability & Durability — 10
All the hardware is really solid on this, the bridge is anchored in really well and the strap buttons are in securely. The tuners are very accurate and hold the strings in tune brilliantly. I would definitely use this as my only guitar at a gig, it's so well built and sounds so good that I'd have literally no reason to put it down. If I were to snap a string I'd have no hesitation to put the gig on hold so I could restring it, it'd be well worth it! To be honest, the finish is so good that it would probably withstand the onslaught of bottles being thrown in response as well.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
When this arrived it was set up terribly, with an unbelievably high action and a bowing truss rod, but once I'd have a bit of a play with a screwdriver and a hex key it was fine. There are some issues with a bad nut and uneven frets but that's just a problem of age that I'm going to get professionally seen to. Beside those issues, the playability of this guitar makes it very difficult to put down as soon as you strum the first chord. It allows for almost effortless soloing and easy, flowing rhythms and great control all round. The finish is very versatile, as what was described as "buckle rash" is just a few little dents into the finish on the back but no visible scratches. Ignoring cosmetic damaging due it being a 30 year old and well played guitar, this thing can still be set up really well with the investment of a little time.

Features — 10
The top of the range Super Flighter made from 1977 to 1980, Yamaha put these together in Japan as many of the great guitars of the 70s were, and I have no idea why they ever stopped production?! The combination of alder and maple in the body give a beautifully rich sound without being too heavy, and the set neck gives it just that little bit more sustain than the SF500 (don't know about the SF700, don't have one yet). Again, 24 frets makes it brilliant for being fully expressive, and having the higher fret access like an SG is great for soloing. The ebony fretboard doesn't just look great, but also feels so nice to play on, and feels like your fingers just glide over the frets. In addition with the ebony fretboard, the dark "oil-stain" finish and gold hardware makes this guitar look just as classy as it feels and sounds.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I was recently gifted an SF 600 by a band mates father in hopes of restoring it, and I need some help in finding parts. It has the tuning knobs, but everything else has been stripped, although the body is still in amazing condition. Does anyone know where I may get ahold of some good hardware to bring this guitar back to life? So stoked to have such an amazing instrument!
    I'm a full-time player and have owned SG2000s and all manner of Gibsons and PRS guitars over the last 25+ years. I now have 2 SF1000 guitars and agree entirely with the above review. They are incredible! A truly superior guitar!
    Totally agree - I've owned my SF 1000 since 1978 and it is fantastic. One review of the time described it as "The Thinking Man's Les Paul" Just about right. The only time I saw one used professionally was by The Tubes on The Tube in about 1979/80. The coil tapped clean sound with both pickups on is actually very distinctive. Not quite stratty, but somewhere in that region. I'm never selling mine!