SF500 review by Yamaha

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 6.2 (18 votes)
Yamaha: SF500

Price paid: £ 500

Purchased from: Cars & Guitars (Bristol, Kingswood)

Sound — 9
The sustain is amazing on this guitar, even for a bolt on neck. The pickups can handle sparkly clean tones and will hold their own against powerful, high gain distortion without any unwanted feedback at high volume that old pickups will often give you. There is absolutely zero in the way of noise or interference, the wiring is sound and of a very high standard. These humbuckers (whatever they are, Yamaha's own I assume) give an amazing variety of sound, with great response to every frequency on the guitar and don't disappoint on any aspect whatsoever. It would be nice to have a coil tap but you'll have to pay a bit more for that.

Overall Impression — 9
This guitar is a brilliant match for my blues/classic rock inspired playing, both for rhythm and lead. I use a variety of overdrive pedals and simple reverb and delay through a Marshall JCM900, and I find this to be a match made in heaven. It's incredibly thick body of sound is brilliant for punchy rhythm but it'll also play fantastic lead, you can really make it sing! The sound itself is enough reason to chose this guitar, but I still cannot believe how well set up it was. The action is so nice to play that any shred is effortless and riffs just flow through, it truly is an experience to play one of these. The only downfalls are that it could benefit from a set or thru neck, and a coil tap would be a nice feature if done well. Video from YouTube:

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Reliability & Durability — 9
Having lasted 30 years and having very few marks to show for it, it's safe to say that this guitar can take quite a beating. All the hardware is very solid, apart from the caps on the back of the machine heads - there was already one missing and they appear to be quite loosely fitted but that's not too bad. I would very happily use this as my only guitar in a set, the only competition is my SF1000, so I'd use them for alternate tunings usually. If my SF1000 wasn't nearby, the only reason I'd have to put down this guitar is to give my shoulder a break as it's 5KG is quite heavy for an extensive period of time!

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
I've never played a guitar with a set up a good as this one, and that was straight off the shelf. Although the previous owner had for some reason reversed the neck pickup (wrong way round), the heights were all well adjusted, the truss rod was perfect and the action was beautifully low and with absolutely no fret buzz to be heard anywhere on the neck. After having a look at the internal wiring, you can tell that this was hand built very, very carefully by someone who definitely knew what they were doing. The build and wiring of this guitar will outdo most modern high end guitars.

Features — 9
The first in the Super Flighter series made in Japan by Yamaha from 1977 to 1980, I can fully understand why these guitars are so sought after by so many people worldwide, and cannot understand why Yamaha stopped production! The 24 fret bolt on neck into a solid mahogany body is beautifully crafted even if a little weighty. It's kitted out with two humbucker pickups each with independent volume and tone controls, however this one doesn't feature the coil-tap option like the SF1000 does. The tuners are really nice, very versatile and solid, as well as nice and accurate. The wood stain is gorgeous with a finish that'll keep it well protected for years.

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