Japanese acoustics - new and vintage

bluesriffdev

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I'm not normally one to take a risk in buying an acoustic online, but with the lack of good, small-bodied mahogany top guitars around (under $1.5k), and the Japanese reputation for QC, I thought I would take a dive. Two of the newer ones I am considering closely:

Anyone have any experience with VG? Appear to be made by the same folk who make Crews as part of Musicland Key's brands.


Although looking for a small-bodied mahogany-top, I have also found some beautiful old dreadnoughts from the 70s and 80s. I know that these are a huge risk when it comes to neck resets and soundhole cracks, but some of the old Yamaki and Tokai Cat's Eyes are too good to walk past.

(going to post links because I wouldn't be mad if someone here got them - would stop an unnecessary purchase from me!).

Post some nice Japanese acoustic brands, or your own. What are your experiences with the brands above? I'd love an all-mahogany smaller body guitar, but I'm open to all suggestions. Budget is about 1k USD.
 
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kakerlak

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Alvarez-Yairis are always, always, always super consistent and seem to be quite stable as they age. I'm not sure I've ever picked one up that was an absolute cannon in terms of volume/explosiveness, but they all seem really sweet and evenly voiced, expressive, etc. IMO, it's really tough to beat them from a value perspective on the used market. I've never actually come across an S. Yairi in person, so I don't know what to tell you, there.

I have a cedar top Yamaki 12 that is nicely made and extraordinarily loud. That having been said, the top is a twisted mess, but somebody reset the neck so that it plays great up to the body joint, where there's a pretty significant crease/fall-away.

Other good value acoustics are the old Levin-made Swedish Goyas, though they can often need some luthier attention. And Guilds from any era are usually a strong value for the money. They tend to be pretty stable, too, just needing the eventual neck reset that virtually any acoustic will see somewhere around the 30-40 year mark.

Happy hunting!
 

bluesriffdev

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Alvarez-Yairis are always, always, always super consistent and seem to be quite stable as they age. I'm not sure I've ever picked one up that was an absolute cannon in terms of volume/explosiveness, but they all seem really sweet and evenly voiced, expressive, etc. IMO, it's really tough to beat them from a value perspective on the used market. I've never actually come across an S. Yairi in person, so I don't know what to tell you, there.

I have a cedar top Yamaki 12 that is nicely made and extraordinarily loud. That having been said, the top is a twisted mess, but somebody reset the neck so that it plays great up to the body joint, where there's a pretty significant crease/fall-away.

Other good value acoustics are the old Levin-made Swedish Goyas, though they can often need some luthier attention. And Guilds from any era are usually a strong value for the money. They tend to be pretty stable, too, just needing the eventual neck reset that virtually any acoustic will see somewhere around the 30-40 year mark.

Happy hunting!
Thanks for the help! Yes, I would love a late 50s / early 60s Guild M-20 - the vintage ones are sometimes cheaper than the ones where I live, Australia. They're still quite pricey, but indeed my dream acoustic. I played a Guild M-120 (I assume Chinese construction?) that was beautiful sounding and feeling in every way, but poly finish was a little too sticky for my liking.

If my budget were about twice as much, maybe I could swing an M-20.
 

kakerlak

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Thanks for the help! Yes, I would love a late 50s / early 60s Guild M-20 - the vintage ones are sometimes cheaper than the ones where I live, Australia. They're still quite pricey, but indeed my dream acoustic. I played a Guild M-120 (I assume Chinese construction?) that was beautiful sounding and feeling in every way, but poly finish was a little too sticky for my liking.

If my budget were about twice as much, maybe I could swing an M-20.
For some reason, those M-20s/30s have really taken off over the last decade. They're sweet guitars, though.
 

currypowder

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Earlier this year, I took a chance on a History CT-N3, basically a traditionally configured acoustic with rosewood back & sides and spruce top. It ended up being right at $1K all in, less than half of their new price. I absolutely love it. The playability is great and it has a fantastic, loud and crisp tone. I'm very happy with it. I guess some may be turned off by the extreme cutaway, but I like the look.



 

LocoTex

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I like that cutaway better than most.
 

BKS

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Not that into acoustics. Have a Aria concert from the seventies, good enough for me:hippie:
 

bluesriffdev

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Alright, so Musicland Key won't directly sell me this beautiful LG-0/LG-2 style thing from VG / Crews:

Using stuff like Rinkya, Zenmarket etc. are you able to get the sales taxes waived or no? I figured not, as they essentially purchase the guitar on your behalf in Japan, but this was always a great benefit of buying direct - because I have to pay 10% GST in Australia anyway.
 

kakerlak

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You know, I had a MIC concert-size Yamaha for a minute (took on trade and sold immediately) that was honestly excellent. It was all solid woods, rosewood, ebony, with an Engleman top and onboard electronics. It was pretty, it played nicely and it sounded great.

Kind of wish I'd been in a position to keep it -- I think I got $350 out of it.

Right now I have the Yamaki 12, a mid-90s Peavey made by Landola in Finland, and a beater of a Martin D16-GTE with multiple repaired cracks and worn out frets that sounds amazing.
 


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