SG1500 review by Yamaha

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 8.7 (3 votes)
Yamaha: SG1500

Price paid: £ 800

Purchased from: Ebay

Sound — 10
The playability is incredible. I'm not a widdler, and can't play terribly fast, but I'm quick enough to appreciate the slickness of the neck. The neck profile feels extremely thin and the fingerboard is narrow - if that's to your taste, it's another reason for considering this axe. Another by-product of the weight factor is unbelievable sustain. Changing pickups and switching the coil taps in and out provides a tremendous Spectrum of tones, all of which are sumptuous. Tuning is totally stable, and positive. As with any guitar, fitting good strings (I use Elixir and love them), and subsequently caring for and replacing them often, makes a huge difference.

Overall Impression — 10
I primarily use this guitar in a covers band. We tackle everything from jazz through rockabilly, pop hits from the 1950's to present day. With the support of a few effects and the options on the guitar itself, I never feel like I need to swap out for another guitar. I also used this guitar in a post-punk Indie band, where I wanted to try and emulate a John McGeoch / Johnny Marr style (I know I know I should be so lucky) but the guitar was a joy to use here too. I think it could be used in practically any musical setting. I genuinely love everything about this guitar. Sound. Looks. Build quality. Versatility. The fact that these models are in my opinion a little underpriced was a bonus!

Reliability & Durability — 10
Will this guitar withstand live playing? Methinks this would be worth hiding behind in the event of a nuclear blast. The hardware, all-round robustness is amazing. Depending on the state of your health you may consider either taking out or cancelling a gym membership if you get one of these. If you are not reasonably strong, your back and shoulder muscles will be strained if you play this beautiful instrument standing. Equally if you are already a gym bunny, and you play this regularly, it's as good as a workout! I've always played heavier guitars so this wasn't an issue for me. Also, the weight is integral to this guitar. The solid through neck, lavish hardware and fittings, and the plethora of electrics each combine to make an instrument that inevitably weighs in as a super-heavyweight. Being almost 30 years old when I bought it, the guitar had a few scars here and there, but nothing that needed attention. The state of the neck and frets implied that the guitar had been played very little, there was hardly any of the kind of wear one would associate from playing. The real pain is that the gorgeous cherry top has a lot of 'fogging' - for the uninitiated, this is a condition where typically, it's been left in a case with humidity taking its' toll. A real shame, as the only way this can be fixed is a complete stripdown - not an option for me. Having kept the guitar in a good humidity and out of the case for the 3 years I've owned it has practically cured it, but the fogging gets slightly noticeable over an evening in a rehearsal room or gig. I don't mind, this is a keeper. Looks-wise this guitar, to my eyes, is just perfect. The twin cutaways, subtle binding, the deep gold / brass on the fittings ooze the quality and legendary craftsmanship of the 1980's Yamaha factory. The symmetry of the guitar is just breathtaking.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
I think it was played very little before I got hold of it the first few frets had been stoned down but not the rest of the neck, and there were completely flat spots high up the neck. I knew this when I purchased it, but assumed / hoped (correctly as it's turned out) that the instrument itself is completely sound, just not been looked after. As with any guitar I buy, when I took it to be serviced by the luthier I've used for many a year, I was in for a shock. He recommended a big overhaul, which I trusted him to do, and the result is an even better guitar, despite the expense which took the purchase price well into 4 figures! And... Following a new nut, reprofiled frets, complete setup, and replacement of ALL the electrics - pickups + selector, jack, wiring, pots, I have ended up with a magnificent instrument. The action is now really low with no flat spots at all.

Features — 10
The SG1500, logically enough, is the inbetweener of the iconic SG1000 and SG2000. It's a rarer beast, but my goodness what an instrument. By far my most serious guitar purchase to date. I bought it for around 800 sterling on eBay, and the vendor - a really nice guy - just happened to live around 5 miles from me! From toe to tail the raw materials, components, fixtures and fittings are extremely high quality. Combine this with the legendary craftsmanship from early 1980's Yamaha workshops, and you get a guitar deserving of its "Les Paul killer" epithet. The famous 'through-neck is in mahogany with an ebony 22-fret fingerboard, adorned with split-wing inlays, a beautiful headstock featuring the Yamaha logo and lettering also inlaid with superb precision. Having read up on the lineage of these guitars, the SG1500 series consisted of a 1st and 2nd generation. This, a 2nd generation 1982, made in Japan (of course), has some additional features usually only seen on the 2000 / 3000 - coil tap pickups (with push/pull pots) and the aforementioned block inlays being two examples.

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