NGD: Yammie, Yammie, yummie, I got love in my tummie (SG-3 vs. SGV-300)

Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by novamax, Dec 16, 2017.

  1. novamax

    novamax Squier-Meister

    Aug 18, 2015
    No, I didn't exactly NEED another guitar. I seriously didn't. But when one's personal #1 shows up for a decent price - What should one do?

    I've been in love with the Yamaha SG-3 in Coral Red ever since I saw it. Yamaha's mean take on the Jazzmaster, just more options (additional bridge pickup to be blended with the other one), and more aggressive looking. I don't get why those didn't get re-issued! Too me, it's the best designed solidbody I have come accross (I know it's subjective, though). Their first solidbody guitar (SG) design, their second model (after the two-pickup, otherwise identical SG-2 Link Wray is known for). This baby is from 1967, so it is more than 50 years old. No definition of vintage discussion here, I guess... ;)

    Problems for acquisition were:
    • It comes in SB, Pearl White, and Coral Red (Something between Race Red and Dakota Red, I guess - really screaming in your face - I love it!). With CR being the most rare, as far as I can judge by personal observation.
    • meanwhile Vintage prices (although not comparable to Fenders, this model is usually has an asking price of around US$ 1700...2500 - When I started looking, they were quite a little less, ca. 900...1200 €)
    • It showed up in Japan or North America, adding another ca. US$ 400 for shipping and customs.
    • By 2017, it's not to be shipped to the EU at all (Indian rosewood slab board).
    So when a EU based OSG member offered one in my desired color for below a grand, I took a chance (little shipping, no customs, no CITES problems) - Even though this guitar was recovered from desaster: Someone had ripped off the zero fret and gone bonkers with an orbital sander or so, to put on a grimey black color. Tuners, knobs, and the whammy bar were missing, and the whole thing in a desolate condition. The seller is a really respected proficient specialist in Vintage Yamahas and must have had a box full of spare parts, he restored the whole thing to stock (except for a whammy bar which is a fine replica), removing the black goo color and leaving the partially sanded original finish (where the unkown rampage clown before didn't have a go at it...). He gave it its last fret-dress (not much left for next time...), and a full set-up too. I also have to thank him deeply for providing proof of the buying history, so I can register it as CITES-legit being on EU ground pre-2017... :)

    I finally came to string it up, and I shouldn't have bought it: I was pretty convinced that my Squier VM offsets were pretty good guitars. Well, they are - compared to this excellent thing more or less "pretty good". More muddy, less lively. I have Rose PUps for them lying around, will shim and improve some components. But this Vintage Beast is just noticeable more transparent and defined, the tuners are a joy, it just feels pretty natural... I will give it some time, though until the honeymoon is over to draw a conclusion there.

    While I am at it, I cleaned, set, and strung up my recently (ca. 2 years ago... I guess I was pretty busy) acquired Yamaha SGV-300. It was a pretty messy, grime- and setup-wise, and had a Mexican Fender Whammy-bar-substitute. I managed to acquire one of the last original spare Whammy bars from Yamaha/EU. As a re-issue of the SG-2a, I thought it was pretty close to the SG-3 (They even share identical PUps in identical configuration...) - except a dramatically different shape for the body (strangely revers) and the headstock ("samurai headstock" - I like the billhook headstock of the SG better). I didn't care too much for the design, but it was the closest thing to the SG-3 I could get my hands on. Well, it is in no way the same - They are two completely different guitars!

    So here is what came to my face on first look/listen (based on my models - There could be hidden modifications in the SGV, whereas I'm pretty sure the SG has been restored by a knowing hand to vintage spec). I used Thomastik Infeld Swing 10s (flatwounds with wound G) for both. Actually, I was going for 11s on the SGV, but read that the vibrato springs take a maximum of 10s, so they are identically strung.
    1. Scale:
      The SGV is short scale.
      The SG3 is Fender Standard scale. (001) P1070766.jpg
    2. Nut:
      The SG has the Zero-fret/steel-guide I expected.
      The SGV has a bone or most likely plastic nut (although it feels pretty solid like a quality TUSQ nut). (002) P1070767.jpg
    3. Vibrato/bridge:
      Quite different systems, especially the Vibrato and its consequences. SG looking similar to JM/Jag rocker. instead of a rocking bridge, it has a roller bridge with individually (!) adjustable saddle heights! The intonations screws are one-side-through with spring.
      The SGV has more of a Bigsby-turning shaft thing balancing a block through wich the strings are led completely straight-through. It is very sensitive to tension changes (tune down one string a bit, all others go up - when unstringing the grimey old strings, the high E popped after tuning down the others). It also sports a roller bridge that seems to be rocking to a degree, but has only two outer height adjustments (I have the feeling that the roller saddle heights are not perfectly matched to the fretboard, but a little heigher on the outer strings (haven't measured yet, though). The intonation screws are two-side-through with cap nut but without spring.
    4. Break-angle:
      The SG-vibrato has a flat behind-the-bridge-offset string end.
      The SGV's vibrato is angled quite steeply, probably still a bit steeper than the often criticized non-vintage-spec mexican Classic Player offset trem-placement. (004) P1070769.jpg (005) P1070770.jpg
    5. Pickups:
      The neck Pickup is slanted lightly with the SGV.
    6. Controls:
      The SG has a rhythm circuit. The third roller weel is the bridge mix blender.
      The SGV doesn't have a rhythm circuit but a third shaft pot for the mix blender. (003) P1070768.jpg
    7. Last but not least: Sound: The SG sounds like a little warmer version of the JM. The SGV too me, sounded quite piercingly with strong trebble. Not sure if I like it, I'll have to let it settle and see about PUp height etc.. although I already gave it a full setup including a cardboard neck shim (temporary, but was required to get the action down).
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2017
    Stratlover84, so1om, Shine and 8 others like this.
  2. Robb

    Robb Squier-holic

    Jan 13, 2011
    Chertsey Canada.
    Awww man Thank`s sooooo much for that post. I used to have one as a kid.
    theflow and novamax like this.
  3. Pat V.

    Pat V. Squier-holic

    Nov 21, 2014
    North America
    Those are beautiful. I have to somehow pretend I’ve never seen this thread.

    “This is a dangerous place” Adrian Belew - King Crimson
    Robb, theflow and novamax like this.
  4. radiotech

    radiotech Dr. Squier

    Apr 23, 2014
  5. Luvs2yoko

    Luvs2yoko Squier-holic

    Jan 19, 2014
    I agree, can't get those images out of my head. How did I not know these existed? Awesome!
    Robb, theflow and novamax like this.
  6. Jaymo

    Jaymo Squier-Meister

    Mar 11, 2017
    Nice Yamahas.
    A lefty version of the SG would make me very happy.
    novamax, Robb and theflow like this.
  7. theflow

    theflow Squier-holic

    Feb 16, 2017
    Wow ! Very unique ! I love Yamaha products,I have 2 acoustics and 2 amps from them .Congrats ! :D
    novamax and Robb like this.
  8. IronSchef

    IronSchef Squier-holic

    Jun 18, 2012
    Flew here on my Dragonfly
    those are super-flipping-cool!!!

    The green one looks like it came out of a Dr Seuss book! :D
    novamax likes this.
  9. novamax

    novamax Squier-Meister

    Aug 18, 2015
    Thanks all for rejoycing with me :)

    Can't edit my first post anymore, so here is a correction: I learned that the SGV 300 is a reissue of the SG-5 rather than the SG-2a.
    so1om likes this.
  10. so1om

    so1om Dr. Squier

    Feb 10, 2010
    Link Wray all the way! These have always been cool and are on my low watch list for sure.
    novamax likes this.
  11. so1om

    so1om Dr. Squier

    Feb 10, 2010
  12. so1om

    so1om Dr. Squier

    Feb 10, 2010