Sound — 7
For the most part, I play noisy indie/alternative rock along the lines of My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Galaxie 500, etc... and this guitar is ideally suited for those sorts of tones. The SG-2's sounds closely resembles that of the Jaguar. It is thin and bright, even a little harsh, though the rhythm cicuit does deliver a warmer, smoother sound. I'll generally play with both pickups on, as it makes for a fuller, lusher sound. My one problem with this thing is that it's unbelievably noisy when overdriven or distorted, but I'll chalk that up to years of dust accumulating inside of it and to pickups that desperately need re-potting. While it does hiss even when it's clean, it's much more bearable. I currently play through a Fender Blues Deluxe. Through this amp, the SG-2 sounds much warmer than it did through others I've tried. All in all, I'm quite satisfied with the sound, though I may change the pickups for something fuller, if I can find anything that'll fit.
Overall Impression — 8
Almost all of my favourite guitarists play Fender Jaguars and Jazzmasters, and this is capable of naily both the abrasive, trebly rasp of bands like A Place to Bury Strangers and the warm Chapterhouse. I also own a Fender Jaguar Special which I use for the distorted tones that the SG-2 simply cannot achieve comfortably. One problem with this guitar is that it has a thin neck similar in feel to that of the Fender Stratocaster's, and that because of the size of my hands, this makes it very difficult to play barre chords. This is, however, a very minor flaw to me, as I very rarely make use of barre chords anyway. The tremolo arm is immensely superior to that of the Fender Jazzmaster & Jaguar; it stays in tune much more easily and is capable of much more radical bends (up to three half-steps!). The short scale means that it's much easier for my usually sluggish hands to accomplish much more complex riffing. I do really wish that the rhythm circuit featured some sort of volume control, and will probably look into installing one in the months to come. All in all, it is a great alternative to the rather expensive Jaguar which, in addition to being unique and looking great, is superior to the original in many ways.
Reliability & Durability — 7
This guitar has withstood eleven years of being poorly handled in a very dry home and recieved no care over that period of time, and with just a little bit of work, it already plays like a dream. I have to admit that age has taken its toll on this guitar, though. The nut fell off the neck the very day it came into my possession, the body is riddled with scratches and pockmarks, and some of the screws are on the verge of popping out of the body. The strap buttons seem fairly firm, but due to the neck button's placement (behind the neck, Gibson-style), I'll definitely get straplocks before gigging with it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
When I recieved this thing, it was already a relic (approximately 45 years old!), and it sure looked the part. The neck was scratched and dry, the strings were rusted, the volume pot wasn't properly grounded, the tone knob was non-functional, the tremolo arm was useless due to a missing lock-nut, and the tuning pegs were completely shot. I've had all the controls repaired and the missing part of the tremolo arm was replaced. I also raised the pickups; it seems the previous owner had lowered them unnecessarily close to the body which gave the sound a very anemic quality. While the guitar was in bad shape (and still is; I have yet to pot the pickups and replace the tuning peds), the workmanship is flawless. Yamaha made some really good quitars in the 60's, and this is a perfect example of their guitar-building skill. The fret job is the smoothest I've ever seen. One common complaint about the Jazzmaster is that the tremolo arm makes it difficult to keep it in tune. The SG-2, on the other hand, stays in tune even after hours of heavy bending. I have no doubt that, once fully repaired and adjusted, this guitar will be far superior to a stock Fender Jazzmaster or Jaguar.
Features — 9
There is very little on this guitar on the internet, and I am least the third person to have owned this SG-2, so there is some information I may be missing. According to what little information I could find, the Yamaha SG-2 remained in production for a short time only, either from 1965 to 1966 or else only for the duration of 1966, later to be replaced with Yamaha's 3-pick-up surf guitar, the SG-3. The shape of the guitar resembles the melted-Strat look of the Fender Jaguar and Jazzmaster, but features "horns" that recall the Mustang. The SG-2 has a 22-fret short-scale neck and a rosewood fretboard; it also has the added convience of a zero-fret. This guitar was clearly meant to compete with Fender's Jaguar and Jazzmaster, and it features a circuit almost identical to that of the latter: Two single-coil pickups, one circuit toggle switch, a Gibson-style 3-way pickup-selector switch and one tone, one volume knob in the lead circuit, as well as two rollers in the rhythm circuit. The one notable difference is that rather than having one tone and one volume roller, each roller controls the tone of one pickup. This seems to me to be an odd decision on Yamaha's part, and I suspect it may be the product of tampering by a previous owner. The tremolo system is a copy of the Fender-style Jaguar/Jazzmaster floating tremolo; the roller bridge is also styled to resemble that of Fender's surf guitars. This is a wonderfully versatile guitar, and apart from the strange controls in the rhythm circuit, I have no complaints.