The history of yamaha acoustic guitars

Updated February 21, 2017

Japan's Yamaha Corporation offers products for a host of activities, from motorcycles and jet skis to home theatre and pianos. The company's musical instrument division long has been recognised for producing quality keyboards, pianos, drums, brass and woodwind instruments. In the case of its guitar offerings, Yamaha's acoustic line has garnered a loyal following among collectors, amateurs and pros alike, including notables such as rocker Avril Lavigne and singer/songwriter Edwin McCain.

The Beginning

Japanese businessman Torakusu Yamaha started his namesake company in 1887, offering reed organs to consumers. As the company grew, so did aspirations, and in the early 1960s Yamaha, already a competitive force in the marketplace, opened its California-based musical instrument division. Although the company built electric guitars and basses, its FG acoustic line was meant to be the company's acoustic flagship model.

FG Models

The FG-300 was part of Yamaha's Red Label series of entry guitars, aimed at beginners and novices alike. The FG line borrowed heavily from top-shelf competitors like Martin and Gibson, including design elements that became an instant success with players. The original FG series guitars, which also included the 200 and 100, were made from solid spruce with nato sides.

Later Models

By the early 1970s, Yamaha's quality suffered after the company moved FG production to Taiwan, resulting in slumping sales. A few years later the company moved production facilities to mainland China to address quality issues, and introduced its CPX line, which became regarded as Yamaha's best acoustic line and one of the best series produced. The CPX is still offered. The APX currently offered is an electric/acoustic version of that same CPX design.

Forward Thinking

By the 1980s, Yamaha had introduced several acoustic guitars to its lines, such as the prized AEX line that quickly became a top seller, and the F series, which is still offered today. Yamaha expanded into the custom guitar market by letting players select body woods and specs on their acoustics. By the close of the decade, the company had moved production to North Hollywood, California, for a stronger presence in the U.S. market and for visibility to prospective pros.

Today's Acoustic Guitars

By the turn of the century, Yamaha had introduced many of the acoustic models still on shelves today. A focus on acoustic/electric hybrids gave birth to improvements in its APX and Eterna lines, which offered more traditional style with modern electronic components. Yamaha also produced its Silent Series of acoustics, which utilised internal electronics and a collapsible body style that allowed players to practice in public without disturbing those around them.

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