Purchased from: Private seller
Features — 9
The SF700 is the middle-of-the-road model of Yamaha's Super Flighter series made in the Japanese Nippon Gakki factory from 1977 to 1980. With a maple and alder body, set maple neck and 24 fret rosewood fretboard, this is a huge step up from the lower model SF500. The double cutaway body and slightly extended neck (not unlike that of an SG) means total access to all 24 frets with minimal effort. The pickups are the same as those in the SF1000, so have incredible tone and are very responsive. The only difference in terms of electronics is the lack of a coil tap feature. Although the pickups are the same they are not wired to a coil tap switch, but that can be added with little effort.
This model was available in two different colours, a sunburst similar to Gibson's "Desert Burst" and also "Persimmon Red." I've got my hands on the sunburst one, in fantastic condition! I was lucky enough to get it with the original hard case, but no other little goodies from the original sale.
Sound — 9
I play mostly blues rock, with some heavier modern and classic rock thrown in as well, and I find the SF700 to be a great match. The clean tone of the neck pickup is bright and full with brilliant sustain, while the bridge pickup when distorted still maintains it's thick, biting tone. Without the coil-tap switch, this isn't quite as versatile as my SF1000s but if you mainly use one particular sound set then it's nothing that you'll particularly miss. Unlike the rest of my Super Flighters I've strung this one with 10 gauge strings, which gives quite a different sound. I find it has more sustain and generally fuller sound when it comes to both lead and rhythm work. Naturally that's to be expected, but it really feels like I'm getting the absolutely best from these pickups now I'm using thicker strings.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
When I received this guitar it was about 35 years old, so I can't comment on factory set-up. However like any vintage Japanese Yamaha, it wasn't difficult to achieve a great set-up! Fortunately for me the fret wear was perfectly even so even though the frets were a little flat, there were no dips or bumps. This meant I could drop the action right down on a straightened neck and have a guitar that plays absolutely excellently! My Super Flighter collection is almost complete, and I have to comment on how well the finish has lasted on all of them. You often find some fogging on older electric guitars, particularly on the SG2000s of the '70s and early '80s, but Yamaha must have used a different finish on the Super Flighters as I'm yet to see this on any of them!
Reliability & Durability — 10
I've never had any kind of electrical problems with my SF700, all the volume and tone controls are smooth and silent, the switch makes minimal "clicking," it's all sound really. All the hardware is well made, none of it gives me any cause for concern. With regards to durability, it's obviously been played extensively from the stories I heard from the previous owner, but there's surprisingly little fret wear for such a well played instrument. Don't get me wrong, they are worn, but not as much as I'd expect. This assures me that it's still got a long life ahead of it!
Overall Impression — 9
As a bit of an obsessive I think this whole range of guitars are fantastic, but the SF700 is growing on me! A lot of people don't value them much as the SF1000 is that much more versatile with the coil tap and ebony fretboard, but if you have a particular sound in mind and just want a simple but excellent quality guitar, the SF700 is perfect. Other than the coil tap, the only other things to gain from a 1000 model is gold hardware and ebony fretboard, which comes at an extra cost of anywhere from £100 - £300 more than the 700. If you know the sound you want, the 700 is definitely worth considering!
All round excellent tone, fantastic to play with a great feeling neck, fully accessible 24 fret neck, and looks awesome! What more can you want?