Yamaki Acoustic Guitars

Updated on September 13, 2018
Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.

Rare Yamaki Acoustic Guitars

When talking about Japanese made acoustic guitars people tend to think of Yamaha, Takamine, and Alvarez as being the major brands of acoustic guitars that are made in Japan. Those three companies are the three major companies in Japan that have been and still are making acoustic guitars. But there is also a pretty rare brand of guitar out there that you might run into, and that is the Yamaki brand of acoustic guitar. If you do see one, and it's in playable or repairable condition at all, then I seriously suggest that you buy that guitar if you are financially able to.

I've seen exactly two of these guitars ever. I liked both of them very much. I became acquainted with one recently, and couldn't have possibly been more impressed with that guitar. The other one I'd seen once belonged to my grandfather, and I nearly bought it from him at one point. Basically, the two Yamaki acoustics that I've had my hands on both belong to uncles of mine, and one of those uncles at one point or another had owned both of them.

I can't speak for how truthful or accurate this next thing is, but the story that I was told was that the way that Yamaki was displayed on the headstocks of their acoustic guitars looked so similar to how Yamaha was displayed on the headstocks of their guitars that Yamaha sued, and had the Yamaki company to change things. Here's what I know for certain, I like Yamaha acoustic guitars, and I consider them to be fine guitars, and especially if you buy one of their L Series guitars. However, I'm positive that the Yamaki guitar I played recently was better than any Yamaha acoustic guitar that I've ever seen or played, in fact, it was a very comparable guitar in quality to the Alvarez acoustic guitar that I fell in love with once at the North Texas Guitar Center, but a fancier guitar.

A Very Nice Yamaki Acoustic Guitar.  It Looks Like a Martin D 18 Copy
A Very Nice Yamaki Acoustic Guitar. It Looks Like a Martin D 18 Copy

If you know guitars and you look at that picture of the Yamaki acoustic guitar up above, then it's clear that that guitar is a copy of a Martin D 18. You can't really know how good a quality that guitar is from the picture, and while it's hard to tell whether or not it's a solid wood construction guitar, I'm betting that that is exactly what it is. The thing that is most clear from that photo is that the guitar features a spruce soundboard. From the looks of the thing, I'm betting a that it's a solid spruce soundboard, a hallmark of a great acoustic guitar.

The Yamaki Deluxe Acoustic Guitar.
The Yamaki Deluxe Acoustic Guitar. | Source

The Yamaki Deluxe Acoustic Guitar

Now, looking at the fine photo above we see an example of the Yamaki acoustic guitar model called "The Yamaki Deluxe." This guitar more resembles my Uncle Tom's guitar than does the other photo, and the reason for this is that the soundboard of this guitar is clearly a different wood than the spruce soundboard in the top photo. The soundboard on the Yamaki Deluxe model is clearly Western Red Cedar, and that is what my Uncle Tom's Yamaki flat top guitar features as a soundboard.

If you recall that I mentioned something about having two uncles with Yamaki acoustic guitars, that's correct. My Uncle James owns one as well, and that would be the one that my grandfather used to own. I've not seen that guitar in years: I hope that cleared up any confusion that I might have created.

The Yamaki acoustic guitar that my Uncle Thomas owns would more be a "Super Deluxe" or something; it's a more decorated model than the Yamaki Deluxe in the photo above. The sticker that should be visible inside the soundhole of his guitar is absent, but Uncle Tom's Yamaki flat top has an abalone inlay up the fingerboard the likes of which would be seen on a Martin D-42, or a Martin D-45.

A Very Nice Yamaki Acoustic Guitar

Western Red Cedar Soundboard

I've no idea why Yamaki as a company seems to use Western Red Cedar as a soundboard on some of their best guitars. I don't have any problem with it. The very fine Yamaki flat top that my Uncle Thomas owns has what are definitely solid East Indian Rosewood back and sides, a solid Western Red Cedar top, a rosewood fingerboard, and lots of Martin style abalone inlays for fret markers up the neck. It's more than a thousand dollar guitar any way you slice it.

Here's the deal about Western Red Cedar as a soundboard and tonewood. It's outstanding for that purpose. I've always been told that cedar wasn't used so much for flat tops because people using a heavy pick attack when playing will tend to overdrive and distort the notes with cedar. So cedar, having more excellent tonal characteristics when played lightly, was most often used for guitars that a fingerstyle player would more likely use. I didn't have that problem at all though, not with the Yamaki dreadnought. I played the thing with a tortoise shell pick, and every note rang loud, clear, and true.

You may wish to dowload this image, and then blow it up to read it - further help towards identifying a Yamaki guitar's specifications
You may wish to dowload this image, and then blow it up to read it - further help towards identifying a Yamaki guitar's specifications

The History of Yamaki Acoustic Guitars

Sometime in the late '60s, Daion began exporting Yamaki guitars to America, where they were well received. By the early '80s, however, Daion felt that the Yamaki Martin-style guitars were getting lost among similar instruments from other Japanese builders like Takamine, Yasuma, and C.F. Mountain, so they redesigned the entire acoustic line and started building acoustic-electrics and solid-body electrics as well as oddities like double-neck acoustics.

They dropped the Yamaki name and rebranded their instruments as Daion guitars. Daion began an extensive advertising campaign to introduce the new line around 1982, but this was a time when musicians were more interested in the new MIDI-equipped synthesizers than in guitars. In 1984 Daion stopped importing guitars to America and soon went out of business. Yamaki, on the other hand, survived the downturn of the '80s and now makes parts for other Japanese guitar companies.

From browsing forum posts and looking at YouTube videos, the consensus among owners and players is that Yamaki acoustic guitars are top notch. I recall liking both Yamaki acoustic guitars that I've played very much. The one I played recently was a superb instrument that would be comparable to rosewood and cedar flat top steel string guitars by C.F. Martin & Co. which sell anywhere from $1,700.00 to $3,000.00 new.

The particular guitar that I played could possibly be comparable to more expensive models than the prices listed above if the backs and sides happen to actually be Brazilian Rosewood rather than East Indian Rosewood. I'm mostly certain that that guitar was East Indian, but again, several forum posts seemed to indicate that Brazilian Rosewood was most often or very often used with Yamaki guitars.

These guitars are rare, and somewhat hard to find nowadays. If you bump into one at a flea market or yard sale you should definitely grab it. It's either a keeper already, or worth repairing.

Yamaki Guitar Identification Guide - An Old Advert.
Yamaki Guitar Identification Guide - An Old Advert.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Sharjeel Ahson 

        4 weeks ago

        I own Yamaki F 118 and love it. I bought Taylor too but Yamaki is another level.

      • profile image

        JAlexander1951 

        5 months ago

        I'm happy to have my fingers together much less worry about my head too! chuckle chuckle

      • Wesman Todd Shaw profile imageAUTHOR

        Wesman Todd Shaw 

        6 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

        That absolutely works, and had I had my head together earlier, I would have thought to say just post the links from CL.

      • profile image

        JAlexander1951 

        6 months ago

        Thanks, I am wondering if this link to my ad might work.

        https://spacecoast.craigslist.org/msg/d/1972-yamak...

      • Wesman Todd Shaw profile imageAUTHOR

        Wesman Todd Shaw 

        6 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

        JAlexander1951. The two ways I know to do this are to post them on Facebook or photobucket. On either site the photos must be set to be public, so anyone can see them. From there you can copy/paste the links to here.

      • profile image

        JAlexander1951 

        6 months ago

        I put my F-225 up for sale on CL today for $300. I'll see if I get any serious bites. I wanted to post a couple of pics here but can't see how to do it. If someone can explain it to me I will. Thanks.

      • profile image

        gator 

        6 months ago

        I have a mid 70's (i think) Yamaki, I will post a pic and serial #, hopefully someone knows something about it!

      • profile image

        Doug 

        6 months ago

        Sam: the 335 is an awesome guitar. Not sure what you want

        to know about it. I have one with such a beautiful redwood

        that I am tempted to imagine it is Brazilian but probably

        isnt. Redwood comes in so many different colors and

        grains. My 335 will easily give any old Martin a run for

        it's money. I have mine on a stand, as we speak, right

        next to an old D 18

      • profile image

        Samual Brent 

        6 months ago

        I have a Yamaki AY335S I bought new back in the 70s. It is beautiful in sound and playability. Can anyone give me any info on it? I bought it at North Shore Music on Lonsdale.

      • profile image

        Murray Bowes 

        6 months ago

        Hello,

        I was wondering if you might be able to tell me the year of production of a Yamaki AY376S serial number 221106 ?

        thank you

      • profile image

        JAlexander1951 

        6 months ago

        I am certainly not crying over spilled milk. The fingers are there and movable and I can form chords but just unable to press down. Originally, the PT said the nerve sensitivity would likely diminish over the years but unfortunately for me that has not happened. I would go for a year without playing and then make an attempt for several days a week over the course of a month hoping to get some calluses, I even tried using gloves which might have worked on a 6-string but was a disaster on a 12-string. Anyway, I have my fingers so life is still OK. The 12-string is a 225 Custom, The 225 is burnt/etched in on the inside frame along with manufactured by Yamaki. The back and sides look like mahogany and the top cedar or spruce but I'm guessing spruce because the color is so light. Reinforced neck. I actually knew all that at one time, which is when I bought it because I was saving for a Martin. Saving was taking a very long time back in the early 70's for a 19 yr. old kid but I was convinced by the music shop owner to satisfy my desire earlier by getting this supposed copy of a Martin and was never disappointed

      • profile image

        Doug 

        6 months ago

        Mr Alexander:

        Sorry to hear about the bad luck. I can relate as I am now

        battling "thumb arthritis".

        re: your 12 string

        The first step is to find the model number inside.

        Then, if you know your woods, is it a mahogany back

        and sides or is it Indian Rosewood?

        Doug

        p.s.

        I have owned two different 12 strings:

        AY470S and a 225 Custom.

      • profile image

        JAlexander1951 

        6 months ago

        I have a Yamaki Custom 12 string I bought brand new in 1972 and still in good condition. I cut my fingers on my left (chord) hand for the second time several years ago. I tried many things to rehab my fingers but unfortunately the nerve endings are near the surface and pressing on Strings is simply too much so I would like to sell it to someone who knows Yamaki and wants one in their collection. I haven't decided where to sell it or what to ask. I could use some help and advice. It comes with a hard case that came with it when I bought it. A while back I put on new tuners but still have the originals. Plenty of photos available. Thanks

      • profile image

        Doug 

        7 months ago

        Dear Doug;

        Enough of the sentimentality...what we really want is for you

        to tell us (ie. addicts) about your Yamakis. What are the

        model numbers? The "addicts" are always curious to

        discover the existence of new "gems".

        Here's a story.... a longtime friend of mine told me about

        his "magic" Yamaki. Prior to that I had never heard of

        them. So I began to search them out, usually on sites

        like Craigslist and kijiji. Over the years many Yamakis

        have passed thru my hands. Many stayed. Eventually I

        came across online in California. I took a chance and had

        it shipped (ie. blind purchase). It arrived and had many

        issues. What some would call a piece of crap. It sat for a year before I had managed to set aside

        a few bucks to have it worked on.

        Then it sat again. with some intermittent humidification,

        for a few more months. Finally I restrung it with some

        EJ 16s and guess what? It really is a magic guitar.

        Especially in the early morning or late evening when

        sound seems to hang in the air. It is a smaller guitar and

        I am a big guy with big hands but man...what a guitar!

        Totally investment: roughly $400

      • Wesman Todd Shaw profile imageAUTHOR

        Wesman Todd Shaw 

        7 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

        Heck yeah, Doug. So awesome when a person purchases a thing and says, 'I'm never parting with this in my life.'

      • profile image

        Doug 

        7 months ago

        I feel so blessed to have four Yamaki guitars. Bought and still have my original 6 string from 1975. It will go to the grave with me. Over the years I've been fortunate to purchase three more. Very prized and treasured.

      • Wesman Todd Shaw profile imageAUTHOR

        Wesman Todd Shaw 

        8 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

        I guess part of the issue is Yamaki also made beginner level guitars. At the time Yamaki was sold in the US, Martin pretty much only produced top notch guitars.

        So if you only ever saw one of the beginner level Yamaki, and didn't know any better, you'd be like the nimrod.

        I've seen a cheap-y Yamaki, and a very fine one. I thought they were both terrific.

      • profile image

        Doug 

        8 months ago

        Wes: pls block this nimrod.

        This page is for guitar lovers. Especially those

        with a love or curiosity about Yamaki guitars.

        I collect old Martins and old Yamakis,

        plus one well known old Yamaha. These Japanese

        guitars hold there own very nicely up against

        the Martins. Hugh sounds like a crotchety old

        man. And that's fine. So am I. Just don't

        knock what you don't understand.

      • profile image

        Hugh SNYDER 

        8 months ago

        Did real research on this type guitar. It was mas produced to rebuild Japanese ecconomy after WW2.not Real rare at all. There are plenty around.sold at Woolworths and other stores during the late 50s and cheap..

      • profile image

        Hugh SNYDER 

        8 months ago

        Thanks for letting me post that and vent.some people think guitars are like fine wine.Ive tasted supposed fine wine.to tell you the truth it. All taste like Mad Dog 20/20 to me.just in different bottles.lol thanks again

      • profile image

        Hugh SNYDER 

        8 months ago

        My hippy Friend lost his place to live.stayed here for a while went into and has been in and out of hospital s point is he left a yamaki Guitar here at my house. Serial Number F74. It got knocked off the place I put it.and Broke like the Japanese pc of crap it was.now all I hear about us him crying over that. Guitar.i still have it. Can't tell the difference between wood of the guitar.and A balsa wood airplane you buy at a wall Mart.I think it's over rated. All guitars sound about the same to me. But different from the crying I constantly hear about that stupid guitar. Hippies and guitar nuts.Grrrrr

      • profile image

        JEROME SUTTON 

        9 months ago

        I have a Yamaki copy of a Martin D-41. It is a very well built guitar and has a good sound.

      • profile image

        Doug 

        10 months ago

        Are you sure that it says Yamaki and not Yamaha?

        The number sequence with the suffix doesn't quite

        match my experience either.

      • Wesman Todd Shaw profile imageAUTHOR

        Wesman Todd Shaw 

        10 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

        Well thank you very very much, Ansel! Making a little music is nearly always worth the doing, regardless of the kind of instrument. :)

      • Ansel Pereira profile image

        Ansel Pereira 

        10 months ago

        I loved reading the detailed information on Yamaki acoustic guitars. I haven't played one, however, I'd love to get playing a Yamaki. I used to play a lot of acoustic early on. I play the electric guitar more often nowadays. Your article has inspired me to play my acoustic more often. Thank you for the wonderful post. Cheers.

      • profile image

        Tom P 

        10 months ago

        I owned Yamaki Deluxe exactly like the one pictured and i traveled all over North America with that guitar. I would have it today but alas due to my own carelessness by leaving it out in a party it was crushed by a drunk.

      • Wesman Todd Shaw profile imageAUTHOR

        Wesman Todd Shaw 

        10 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

        Sounds like the guitar one of my uncles has. Very good quality Herringbone D-28 copy, but with the red cedar soundboard. It's a friggin' awesome guitar.

      • profile image

        Mark McDonald 

        10 months ago

        I was given a Yamaki guitar a few years ago and am astounded by the sound. It is a D-28 copy with a Western Red Cedar top and solid Indian Rosewood back and sides. The sound is deep and rich, better than any Martin I have owned or played in the past. The only problem is the action. Pretty high, maybe needs a neck reset. I am a slide player so it works great for me but not for everyone. But because of the action it may not be right for everyone. The neck is the only indication that this may be a cheaper guitar. Top, back, and sides are wonderful, with deep and rich presentation.

        mdm@sonic.net

      • Kyrre Gjerstad profile image

        Kyrre Gjerstad 

        10 months ago

        I inherited a Yamaki W140 from my father, it had probably not been used for 20 years or more when I found it in its original hard case. Although the finish was in a terrible condition the sound of it is simply amazing. I have never heard an acoustic guitar sounding like that, maybe it is because of the finish fading away leaving the wood exposed? I have attached two pictures of it.

        https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6VZwCLDmfMwNi1E...

        https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6VZwCLDmfMwU2Jl...

      • profile image

        Doug 

        13 months ago

        A note to those who have recently discovered Yamaki.

        I started playing guitar over 50 yrs ago but never took

        a close look at what I was playing. Most of those years

        were spent playing a Tele. But when I settled down I

        took to the cliche "playing an accoustic in the

        basement". Not wanting to invest too much when I

        felt my knowledge of accoustics was minimal, I started

        my "accoustic phase" with a Yamaki (recommended by

        an old friend). 25 Yamakis, and 3 vintage Martins

        later, I have concluded that there are definitely Yamakis

        "out there" that are as good or better than a Martin.

        I will be keeping about 6 or 7 Yamakis "forever" as my

        new quest is to find a vintage Martin that can "better

        them".

        down I

      • Dai Neal profile image

        Dai Neal 

        16 months ago

        Just here doing some research on a guitar I just played, a cedar topped Yamaky with mahogany back and sides. This guitar has been sitting in its case for maybe 20 years... perfectly in tune and fantastic action after all that time. What a tone and playability... fantastic acoustic guitar.

      • profile image

        S Padgett 

        19 months ago

        Fascinating reading all this about Yamaki guitars. I recently found one sort of hiding in a small 2nd hand music shop. Even though it was in the furthest and darkest place to even get to it, had no price and could see nothing on it to indicate what make it was, it stood very clearly out amongst all the other guitars in the shop. I had a look, saw the quality had a play that absolutely bowled me over, I knew it was a gem straightaway. Unique too. The guy in the shop told me it was a Yamaha, on closer inspection I discovered a faint Yamaki sign and the words Singing Sound By Yamaki Since 1954. Inside it is stamped W 300. I put a deposit on it, and after reading all this I'm off back to collect it sooner rather than later! Great price yet again. £200

      • profile image

        Randy 

        20 months ago

        Yes, it can be frustrating to not know the model, but at the end of the day if it sounds good, I don't really care. I will just enjoy playing them.

      • profile image

        TooManyGuitars 

        20 months ago

        Thanks Randy;

        I can relate to pretty much all of your guitars except

        for maybe the 386. I had a 384 once that was the

        Hummingbird copy.

        I had a 331B that I sold and never could figure out for

        sure what the "B" stood for.

        And, like you, I have a AY333S that is a longterm

        keeper as well as an AY331S that is pretty beat up

        but also a longterm keeper. And I agree about the

        12 strings also. I have big hands so I play them

        as 6 strings. And, yes, nothing more frustrating

        than having a Yamaki with a faded or missing

        sticker.

      • profile image

        Randy 

        20 months ago

        @toomanyguitars

        I have:

        AY331B

        AY370S

        AY386 Buffalo headstock

        AY331

        AY374S

        AY333

        AY333 L

        A-333

        Custom

        YW15SB

        Deluxe (faded model number)

        AY472 12 string

        Deluxe 12 string(faded model number)

        Deluxe 12 srting(faded model number)

        AY470S 12 string - has both Yamaki name and Daion symbol on the soundhole sticker.

        I usually play the AY331B but I also like the AY333. The 12 strings sound amazing too.

      • profile image

        toomanyguitars 

        21 months ago

        Randy;

        Just curious. What are your two favorites?

      • profile image

        Randy 

        21 months ago

        I now have 15 Yamaki guitars. 4 of them are 12 strings, one lefty and one Buffalo. I played a Daion once and I would love to own one. They really ring!

      • profile image

        toomanyguitars 

        23 months ago

        Yes, thought so. I have 3 guitars from the 70 series, and

        all have that feature.

        Also....to techtalk

        a solid top spruce Yamaki is quite rare.

        Maybe the B indicates simply that there is something

        unusual about the guitar..

      • profile image

        Deb Sharkey 

        23 months ago from Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

        I looked up what a V neck is and compared it to all the other styles. I am not an expert but I do believe it is a soft V neck.

      • profile image

        Deb Sharkey 

        23 months ago from Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

        What is a soft V neck?

      • profile image

        toomanyguitars 

        23 months ago

        I would be curious to know if your AY470S has a soft V

        neck. It's a theory I'm working on.

      • profile image

        Deb 

        23 months ago

        Back in 2001 I was in Vancouver and visited a Pawn Shop and bought a Yamaki 12 String AY 470S. It appears to be a solid cedar top with rosewood sides and back. It is in excellent condition and came with its original wood hard shell case. I paid $300.00 for it back then because it had a very rich full sound. That is all I know about it and can find no other information on this model.

      • profile image

        kilshark 

        23 months ago

        Back in 2001 I was in Vancouver and visited a Pawn Shop and bought a Yamaki 12 String AY 470S. It appears to be a solid cedar top with rosewood sides and back. It is in excellent condition and came with its original wood hard shell case. I paid $300.00 for it back then because it had a very rich full sound. That is all I know about it and can find no other information on this model.

      • profile image

        Techtalktoll 

        2 years ago

        Just obtained an ay333b with a solid spruce top that is paper thin - very little scratching on the pick guard so it has little use. I was surprised that there was very little bellying and fret wear. The sound is amazing. The back is Rosewood three layer laminate. Not sure what the middle layer is but an acoustic pickup was installed so I know the middle is a light colour. The 333s models appear to have a truss rod with adjustment at the tuner heads. This one is in the body. I am wondering if the b at the end stands for bone saddle and nut as these look original except for under saddle pickup rework.

      • profile image

        Glen 

        2 years ago

        I have a yamaki F115 mint condition sounds like a dream

      • profile image

        Doug 

        2 years ago

        Bang on there Chase.

        The "W" preceded this Buffalo series but I think you are

        totally right that her guitar is likely a Buffalo head with

        a laminated top, such that the laminate is targeting

        a "country sound" (at least as they perceive it) and

        that would be what they are calling a "harder"

        sound. Also, the coincidence between the previously

        used term "Western guitar" and "a country sound"

        shouldn't be overlooked.

        If you can find my email address drop my a line

        sometime. I am always adding new Yamakis to my

        stable...most recently a 303 which I am still

        assessing.

      • profile image

        chase842 

        2 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

        Re: AY374W

        If you can post a picture that would help to reveal some clues around this. The "AY" at the beginning of the model # implies that the product was built for export to North America (probably Canada). The catalogue page below (see link)would suggest that yours is a higher end Buffalo series (but that is assumption without actually seeing the style of the guitar). Model numbers in the Yamaki line are consistently higher for higher-end builds within the same style. Notwithstanding that it might be a laminate top, your model # suggests a higher quality than average. Possibly reflected in quality of materials and adornments.

        http://www.oldguitar.jp/catalog/yamaki/yamakisings...

      • profile image

        Doug 

        2 years ago

        re: "W"

        I once had a W 115.

        It was a nice guitar. laminated spruce top and mahogany I

        believe.

        Some older Yamaki guitars were labelled "Folk Guitars".

        Some of these were solid top and some were laminates.

        At the same time there were some labelled "Western".

        I believe I read somewhere that the Westerns were said to

        be laminates designed for a louder sound.

        Now there may be a correlation between Western and "W"

        but I do not know that for a fact. That is the thing with

        Yamaki. You rarely know for sure. It's all part of the

        "cult/mystique".

      • profile image

        SJeastwood 

        2 years ago

        Hello

        I have a Yamaki AY374W / 221010

        I am just starting my research and have been reading all your comments.

        What does the W mean

        It belonged to my late hubby. He just loved it!!!!

        Any info would be welcomed.

      • profile image

        Haiden S. 

        2 years ago

        I recently got a really beat up yakami w-15. The neck and fretboard was split near the body and the body itself is in cosmetic ruin. Could you perhaps yell me anything you know about a w-15 and if it would be worth it to refinish it?

      • profile image

        musichabs 

        2 years ago

        nice Mr. Mole..they are a steal sometimes!!

      • profile image

        Mr. Mole 

        2 years ago

        Just found an AY372S in a pawn shop on Vancouver island, for a friend of mine.I am a lefty, if anyone wants to sell a lefty Yamaki, let me know.

        I paid $251 , reduced from $300 because of fathers day...got original case and a free set of strings.

        An odd thing i noticed, i couldn't sing / excite a single resonant frequency out of the sound hole. It's an INCREDABLY even toned instrument, early no paper label, with super action, perfect evenly spaced grain on the top, at least 80 year old wood, cedar, perfect frets, fingerboard, low action, and just a stellar player.

        I have,a very high end luthier friend, will check on the brazilian rosewood back thing and post the results....looks like the back AND sides are bookmatched from one original piece..never seen that. The grain mirrors from the center line and wraps around the sides. It looks like a pretty early one.

        Very happy.

      • profile image

        musichabs 

        2 years ago

        I live in Alberta Canada...most of the Yamakis i see go for around $300.00..I think the people i got the deals from are not players and just wanted to get rid of them..The Daion was in pretty rough shape with no case..The AY331 has a crack on the lower side that doesnt affect the sound as far as i can tell....I love them both and they are my main players..!

      • profile image

        Doug 

        2 years ago

        re: musichabs

        Not sure where you live or hang out but Yamaki have become wellknown

        now as a "diamond in the rough" in my area. They sell fast and

        never for "peanuts". The lowest you would ever see one go for is

        $200 and at that price there will be something wrong with them.

        What I would like to see on this webpage is some comments from

        people who own both Yamakis and vintage Martins (even recent

        Martins or Taylors) and how they compare.

      • profile image

        musichabs 

        2 years ago

        I just bought a Yamaki AY331 B series Deluxe Folk guitar for $50.00 with case..I love it ! it sounds awesome with nice low action..its my main player now..i have been lucky with my Daion 78 heritage costing only $35.00 ..i had to put $100.00 into it to get it up to snuff but it plays and sounds amazing as well...apparently there are deals to be had...patience is all you need..and a little luck! ps..the Daoins site on facebook has a number of knowledgeable and interesting people with a bevy of fascinating instruments made by Yamaki and Daion!

      • profile image

        Doug 

        2 years ago

        Regarding suffixes:

        Since last posting I have come across Yamakis (as opposed to Daion)

        with "A" , "B" and "L" suffixes.

        It turns out that the "L" was a "lefty".

        I still don't know what the "A" and "B" mean. There are some obvious

        guesses one could make but anyone could do that.

        Also, despite having now owned close to 20 Yamakis, I still don't

        really know for sure what Deluxe means. Everytime I think I have

        it figured out, I come across a counter-example. One thing I am

        fairly certain of, though, is that the Deluxes were made during the

        second "group/generation" (chronologically speaking).

        Topic change: Don't "write off" the laminates. Some of them can

        be unexpectedly good.

      • profile image

        Anne A 

        2 years ago

        guys and gals , if you are on facebook , we have started a new group " daions online " you are welcome to join and speak in an open chat forum with michael c who started daions online webpage some 15+ years ago he brings a wealth of knowleedge ... michael B who for the last year or more has been logging daion and yamaki ( inc Washburn made by yamaki ) and creating a spreadsheet which is avaliable to view .... but most importantly michael is in direct contact and conversation with the founder of yamaki's son Hiro who was daions head designer ...

      • profile image

        Doug 

        2 years ago

        Chase:

        Thanks again. Is that your Heritage that is listed on kijiji? Just

        curious. For no good reason, other than simplification, I've chosen

        to stick with the original Yamakis and not venture into the Daions and

        Buffaloheads.

      • Wesman Todd Shaw profile imageAUTHOR

        Wesman Todd Shaw 

        2 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

        That's some good stuff!

        It is plain to me that some of you folks have superior skills to me in searching the web. I need to up my search game for sure. Thanks again.

      • profile image

        chase842 

        2 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

        Here’s a few additional catalogue pages that illustrate some “AY” models the are suffixed with “B” and "D" and "H" and "T". These are Daion branded guitars that were built by Yamaki. I don’t see anything obvious in the specification sheet that would imply “B”. One thing is for sure… it does not imply lesser quality.

        http://daion.client.jp/catalog/DAION_02.htm

        http://daion.client.jp/catalog/DAION_03.htm

        http://daion.client.jp/catalog/DAION_04.htm

        I own an AY078H which is shown in the 2nd link. I wrote about it in an earlier post in this blog.

      • profile image

        Doug 

        2 years ago

        Thanks Chase;

        The B 30 was, in fact one of the ones I saw.

        But I have also seen a couple of AY's listed with a

        "B" suffix. It would be tempting to jump to the conclusion

        that this might be a "B grade" guitar, but I think that

        would be a foolish jump to take.

        Doug

      • Wesman Todd Shaw profile imageAUTHOR

        Wesman Todd Shaw 

        2 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

        Thanks for the links, Chase!

      • profile image

        chase842 

        2 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

        Check out this old catalogue page...

        http://www.cats-eyes.biz/catalogue2/yamaki3/yamaki...

        The Buffalo series was also prefixed as "YB", like this...

        http://www.cats-eyes.biz/catalogue2/yamaki2/yamaki...

      • profile image

        Doug 

        2 years ago

        Hi All;

        I'm still on a mission to try to figure out what the heck "Deluxe"

        actually means.

        And, now a new mission....I have stumbled across some Yamakis

        that have the letter "B" as a suffix.

        Anyone know the meaning of that?

      • profile image

        Tom 

        3 years ago

        I apologize for being out of practice badly and for my lack of creativity but you want to hear the above guitar. Go here

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjW09I4b2bU

      • profile image

        Tom 

        3 years ago

        I guess this site isn't very active or did I offend anyone? I will be posting

        on my you tube channel what this guitar sounds and looks like soon plus other 12 string guitars.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0rch9wM1hE

      • profile image

        Tom 

        3 years ago

        I installed a JLD bridge doctor to help stabilize the bridge and to help straighten out the top then I put a new set of Elixir polyweb 10-47 strings on and tuned to D. Wow what a nice sounding guitar, I really like the sound and it is easy to play, easier than the Takamine F400s I bought recently. I am beginning to see why you people like the Yamaki guitars!

        I'm hooked, I guess I'll be on the lookout for another in nicer shape maybe?

      • profile image

        Tom 

        3 years ago

        Thank you for the replies! Mine does have a 0 fret and it is Indian rosewood back and sides. The back is interesting in that it is book matched but does not have the usual strip down the center on the back as most of the models do in the catalog reference above. It is supposed to be a 1972 model. Other than the bridge problem and top bow and concave it is a pretty solid guitar. The neck is straight and the strings are about an eighth of an inch at the 12 th fret so it is easy to play and it does have a very nice characteristic sound. I am anxious to get new strings on it to see how it really sounds. If I knew how to post picks I would. All in all I'm happy with it for $160 plus reasonable shipping.

      • profile image

        Doug 

        3 years ago

        Tony/Chase

        oops...I better wake up.

        the photos that Chase gave up disproves the second digit theory.

        sorry about that..

      • profile image

        Doug 

        3 years ago

        Tom/Chase;

        Before I put my two-bits worth in, let me make it clear that I am not

        an expert. But I have taken up Yamakis as a hobby, as mentioned in a

        previous note.

        Having said that, yes, I am familiar with the W series. In fact I

        have one currently. It is a W 115 deluxe.

        Your guitar is of interest (But, then again, I am a bit of an addict

        so they are all of interest). I will check my notes to see if I can find

        any reference to it but off the top of my head I'm guessing it has a

        zero fret, a laminate top and a mahogany back.

        Basically a higher-end lower-end guitar (if that makes sense).

        Plus, now that I think of it, I am going to bet that the second

        digit (ie. the 2) indicates it's a twelve string. In the higher models

        the first digit indicates a 12 string (ie. 4xx)

        So, thank you for posting. We may have learned something today.

        I am going to go out on a limb and say your guitar is uncommon.

      • profile image

        chase842 

        3 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

        Tom:

        I went through all the catalogue pages I have. Only saw 2 references to 'W' models. One was a maple version so I don't think it applies here. Is your guitar anything like the W120 in this link, notwithstanding 6 string?

        http://dreamworks.fc2web.com/yamaki_daion/guitar_F...

      • profile image

        Tom 

        3 years ago

        I just received a 12 string deluxe Yamaki folk deluxe 1972, model number w 128 or 6? I can't find it in the catalog here and there are no other numbers inside. Can anybody shed some light on this model?

      • profile image

        jarrod 

        3 years ago

      • profile image

        Doug 

        3 years ago

        gbt:

        Your AY379S is probably a decent guitar.

        Here's something of interest for "yamaki afficiandos":

        After a recent acquisition I now have two versions of the 335,

        one is a solid top and the other a Deluxe (ie. laminate).

        Note: after a few years of researching Yamaki I have concluded

        that "Deluxe" simply means that the guitar has a high quality laminate

        top. If anyone has evidence to the contrary please let me know.

        I have yet to figure out what "Custom" implies.

      • profile image

        gbt 

        3 years ago

        I recently inherited my father's AY-379s. It seems (to me, at least) to have developed a richer sound over the years. I believe he bought it in the mid 70's. There was a music store in a small town west of Ottawa, Ontario which sold a lot of them. He would take this instrument to parties and jam sessions and trade it around with other pickers. He said he played a lot of Martins at those gatherings and he, as well as many of the Martin owners, found the Yamaki to be every bit as good. I used to have a similar Yamaki, a somewhat lesser model, which was destroyed in an accident... I still have the parts, and a skilled luthier might be able to do something with it. By coincidence, my son had an old Yamaki, one of the ones with the funny looking head, given to him by a friend who said she never played anymore. It's in pretty nice playable condition as well.

      • profile image

        Paul 

        3 years ago

        Sorry, after looking at it again the serial number is YW30M

      • profile image

        Paul 

        3 years ago

        I'm working on a Seismic Vessel and I found a Yamaki Acoustic 6 string down stairs, not sure what type, I have the number from the inside XW30M then underneath it has 140202, it is a beautiful playing guitar, I wonder how much it would cost to buy one for myself?

      • profile image

        Doug 

        3 years ago

        David;

        re: price

        Generally speaking your guitar should be an above average

        Yamaki, depending on the condition. There are basically two factors

        for "condition": a) the obvious scratched, gouges, cracks, clouding,

        etc and b) the less obvious twisted/bent/bowed neck or top; plus

        the wear on the actual frets (usually in the first five frets).

        An average price would be $300, adjusted accordingly to a)

        and b) above. so...a range of between $100 and $400. But

        the $400 would only be for perfect shape and of special interest

        to a particular buyer. Most often $350 is the max .

        Hope that helps.

        Anyone out there that has a different experience is more than

        welcome to supplement this "analysis".

        Are you in the U.S. or Canada? That can make a difference also

        as either way it usually narrows your "customer" field.

        Doug

        yourself,

      • profile image

        Doug 

        3 years ago

        Hi Chase;

        I have read somewhere that the "A Series" preceeded the AY

        series. Now I don't recall if that was considered a fact or a theory.

        If the importers had other brands to catalogue, it might make sense

        to add the "Y" to simply indicate Yamaki.

        I know of one fellow with an A333.

        Your A339 is especially interesting/puzzling because there actually

        is an AY339S listed in the catalogue.

        And what is even more interesting is that the one in the catalogue

        looks like another Yamaki that I have. It is a 315. (ie. same head stock

        script AND the same pearlshell fretboard mosaics; and the same

        pattern (ie. nothing in the 1st fret).

        Bizarre, isn't it? These are the types of things that make

        Yamaki so intriguing.

        Doug

      • profile image

        chase842 

        3 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

        Doug,

        Always glad to talk "Yamaki".

        Yes there are many different models prefixed by many different letters, but anything other than an "AY" in North America is rare. Those would likely have been brought across the pond (from Europe or Pacific rim). This is directly linked to specific companies having distribution rights for those areas. One could basically say that "AY" means "built for shipment to North America". If you see a non "AY" model for sale on eBay, most often the seller is in Japan.

        I own a Yamaki model A339 (not AY) that is also solid Cedar top with 2-ply rosewood back & sides. I bought it second-hand from a guy in Toronto in 1985. A real D28 knock-off if ever there was. In my years of research I have only ever come across 1 other of the same, and that was a result of this blog. A woman very near to my location has one in even better condition than mine. I cannot say for certain, but I am of the opinion that both hers and my A339 were brought here as samplers to promote the Yamaki name in N.A. before the "AY" production began. In all the catalogues that I've combed through, there just isn't an "A" model anywhere.

        The reality of Yamaki quality (relative to price-point) is actually indicative of a more widespread reality of the era in which they were produced. Japanese luthiers typically were generational, having been exposed to their elder wood craftsmen through the decades. Earlier generations were extremely skilled producers of violins, and when the acoustic guitar acquired wider popularity in the 50s & 60s, younger craftsmen began focusing on guitar production. The master skills coupled with a cultural attention to detail and quality that Japan was renowned for in the 60s to 80s, has led to this upsurge in interest about Japanese produced guitars from that era. Unfortunately, the business model was not sustainable vs mass production combined with cheaper labour costs out of China.

      • profile image

        Doug 

        3 years ago

        Chase;

        Thank you for your input. Basically, like you, I have been relying on

        those old catalogue pages as well. Plus the "S" suffix on the AY models.

        But there are other non-Ay models out there. so I am hoping someday

        to have someone teach me a different method. Anyone out there

        knowledgeable on this topic?

        Doug

        p.s.

        If you have been researching for 20yrs you will be a valuable

        source of info for all of us "newbies". I've been researching Yamakis

        for about 2 yrs. A typical story whereby a friend of mine had one that

        had a surprisely good sound and volume, relative to the market value.

      • profile image

        David. 

        3 years ago

        I have a Yamaki AY 337 S. I do not play it but bought it from a customer at her garage sale. It is in phenominal shape and always wondered how much it was worth. I had a guitar player tune it and it sounds great!!

      • profile image

        chase842 

        3 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

        There no definitive answer for knowing if a Yamaki has a solid top, except if the model # starts with 'AY'. Any 'AY' model that ends with 'S' (e.g. AY476S) is a solid top. The 'AY' models were imported to North America by a now defunct import company called 'Great West Imports'. In fact, any AY model that ends with 'S' is often solid Canadian Cedar.

        But there were many models of Yamaki that never made it to N.A. Other distribution companies had exclusive distribution rights to other areas of the globe. Daion Co Ltd was the domestric distributor (they of course also had Yamaki make many guitar models as Daion). Great Music Co. Ltd held distribution rights to many other areas including Europe.

        I've researched Yamaki guitars for 20 years (basically ever since the internet became public). The best way to determine whether the top is solid is by examing all the old catalogues that are posted on the net. There are many of them. This link will give you a few:

        http://www.oldguitar.jp/catalog/yamaki.htm

        In many cases the text on the pages of these catalogues is Japanese, so that is still problematic for most. Rule of thumb: if there isn't an explicit reference to "solid" then it probably isn't. Another clue would be the relative price of the product line. All the higher end models are solid top. At the highest end of the product lines, often the models are solid top & body. Very difficult to find any of those in North America.

      • profile image

        ManyGuitars 

        3 years ago

        All:

        I have taken on "Yamakis" as a bit of a hobby. And am interested in

        unravelling all their little mysteries. Anyone else that is interested,

        please respond. For example: What does the Deluxe designation really

        actually mean, if anything? Also, can anyone teach me/us how to know

        for sure if the top is a laminate or a solid?

        thanks in advance...

      • profile image

        nixkotzen 

        3 years ago

        Hi there. Please someone let me know more about my yamaki yw-20. I'm really curious about it. It really sounds great! Can you tell me more about its age, how much it worth right now. Thanks

      • profile image

        johnnyt11 

        3 years ago

        Hi there, I have a Yamaki guitar and am trying to find out more about it. It is a Joodie (6 string) and is a lovely looking instrument with a gorgeous tone. The frets are decorated with six Mother of Pearl inlays as is the outside edge of the body and inner rim. The model number is YW40M and was made in Japan by The Yamaki Musical Instrument Co. Ltd. Can you tell me more regarding age, value etc?

      • profile image

        Omar 

        3 years ago

        Please let me know if someone has information about the YM400 is solid top or completely solid and how much does is worth now. Or just information about the YM series. Thanks a lot.

      • profile image

        Abdulla 

        4 years ago

        Hi everyone.. I own a Yamaki Model No. AY232 which I haven't seen anyone mention nor talk about. It looks like a Martin D-18.. it's a beautiful and amazing sounding guitar.. Honestly I've played on pretty much every expensive guitar you'd think of.. But this yamaki is unbelievablely comfortable.. Best guitar I've played on with the pick N' flick technique.. Played on the John Mayer OM Martins.. It's as good but old I swear.. I need more information about the guitar because I couldn't find anything about it online. There is a number on the sticker insid the guitar right above the model number of the guitar which is"00694060" . Any info would be truly appreciated.

      • profile image

        chase842 

        4 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

        Hi,

        It's possible you have a guitar made by Yamaki for DAION as part of the "Year" series. There were 2 models representing 1978: "The 78(C)" (C=Century) and "The 78(H)" (H=Heritage). These were exported to North America as "AY078" models. Check the catalogue page at this link to see if yours looks like either "The 78(C)" or "The 78(H)".

        http://daion.client.jp/catalog/THE_78.htm

        I acquired a AY078S (Heritage) a year ago. (In the "AY" model #s, the "S" indicates that it has a solid top.) It is beautiful to hear and see. Stunning solid maple binding on body, neck, and rosette. Brass (yes, brass) nut, saddle and dot inlays. The tone is incredible. Best bass response in any guitar I've played or heard. A real collectible!

      • profile image

        Jeffrey 

        4 years ago

        Just this past Saturday purchased an AY078s at a garage sale for $10!!! It is in very good condition. A few small dents and scratches, sounds simply amazing! I had no idea what this guitar was, just that it seemed to have a solid top and I was willing to pay $10 for solid top!

        It has Yamaki on the back of the headstock and no sticker inside. just the model and serial #231027 Anyone have an idea what year this would be?

      • profile image

        JohnM 

        4 years ago

        I have had a Yamaki AY377S since the 70's. ANyone know how this differsm from other AY series Yamakis? Soes anyone know where i can find the serial#?

      • profile image

        NSK 

        4 years ago

        We bought a 12 string 471S Yamaki at a flea market for $120. It was way out of tune but after a tuning it sounds great. Any idea what year it would have been built? What are some good strings to put on it? Thinking of D'Addario. Open to ideas.

      • profile image

        Jeff M 

        4 years ago

        I'm so glad I found this forum. I've had my Yamaki so long I actually forget how I acquired it! Sometime in the 80s, I think I traded another guitar for it. Anyway, it's a 12 string that to my shame had sat unstringed for quite a while until i decided to finally put strings on it last week. Wow. What a sound. I forgot how much I liked that guitar. The model is AY474S, which i have not seen posted on this forum. Any idea about that model?

      • profile image

        LH 

        4 years ago

        I have a Yamaki, bought at Gene Leis Guitar Studio,Manhattan Beach,CA., back in 1972 or 73. It is in perfect condition, as is the case. I am open to selling.

      • profile image

        Omar Ortega 

        4 years ago

        Hi man!. I was looking for information about Yamaki. Let me tell one thing... Last Sunday in Peru I was in a place called Plaza 2 de Mayo (Lima) and I found YAMAKI YM400 they was selling it but... they have removed it original finish. It has no damages, Do you know how much will it worth? Is it a tottally wood guitar?. Let me know.

      • profile image

        MDales 

        4 years ago

        Hi - I'm from Canada and am going to sell my Yamaki AY 433 12-string guitar. It is pictured on the above old advertisement poster you have posted - and it is 'not' a 433S unfortunately, but it still has in incredible sound.

        ( funny thing is I remember having a copy of that old poster when I got the guitar new in 1972) If I send you photo's can you advise me on the price I should be asking? Any advice would be appreciated - thanks.

      • profile image

        musichabs 

        4 years ago

        Im finally posting about my daion 12 sting..got the bridge reglued and the frets that were lifting set..its my main player now..! I absolutely love it...I am currently eyeballing a Yamaki ay270 ..waiting to hear back from the seller..anyone have any experience with these? thx,dave

      • Wesman Todd Shaw profile imageAUTHOR

        Wesman Todd Shaw 

        4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

        Hey Leo, you should upload some pictures of the thing to photobucket or to a public facebook album and post the links here...that always helps!

      • profile image

        Leo 

        4 years ago

        I've got a perfect 12 String Yamaki 220S Folk that I bought for my daughter 10 years ago. I just put new Elixer strings on it. I don't play it much so if someone would like it and will use it I'd be glad to deal with you.

      • profile image

        steve 

        4 years ago

        guess i'm lucky i got my yamaki six stringer for $200 and helped a guy i played with round up horses for two days. she was made in 1970 it has #140 inside, no label, some friends i play with told me it's worth around $6000, my luthier friend said "ya and a little more". then i picked up a yamaki 12 string on e-bay about 10 years ago for $199, had to send it down to my luthier and have some work done on it so it cost another $280, but well worth it. it was made in 1972. both a very sensitive to any temp or humidity change but they play and sound great. hope some of my grand kids learn to play so they stay in the family.

      working

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