Yamaha Guitars Celebrates 40 Years in the United States

3/20/2009 [Guitars & Basses]

Marks Milestone as the Top-Selling Acoustic and Acoustic-Electric Guitars in the U.S.A.

BUENA PARK, Calif. — In 2009, Yamaha Guitars will celebrate its 40th year selling acoustic, electric and bass guitars in the United States. Yamaha has a distinguished history in the evolution of guitar technology and quality, and in 2008, became the top-selling acoustic and acoustic-electric guitar brand in the country, determined by sales volume and number of units sold.

Yamaha Guitars
Yamaha first started manufacturing and marketing guitars in Japan during the 1940s and began selling in the United States in 1969. Established in 1990, The Custom Shop at Yamaha Guitar Development in North Hollywood—the site where many artists have crafted their dream instruments—recently underwent a renovation and is now known as Yamaha Artist Services Hollywood. Many new models have been devised and designed at the site, including signature models by bassist Billy Sheehan and guitarists Wes Borland and Troy Van Leeuwen.

"There are more Yamaha guitars on this planet than there are from any other manufacturer," says Dennis Webster, marketing manager, Yamaha Guitars. "This is a testament to the build quality across all lines—from student guitars to professional models for performance and recording. Over the next 40 years, we're confident that our market share will only increase."

Yamaha was one of the first companies to bring quality Asian construction to the worldwide market. Over the years, the company helped perfect its classical models with input from Andres Segovia and Paco de Lucia. These days, Rodrigo Y Gabriela attest to the classical line's quality and have helped develop a prototype signature model.

But it was the venerable FG acoustic, the famous Red Label guitars from the late 1960s and early 1970s, which took Yamaha from Woodstock to the woodshed. The best-selling guitar ever—worldwide and in the United States—and the first guitar for millions of players, including Liz Phair and Dave Navarro, the FG series set the bar for quality, affordable acoustics. Yamaha acoustic enthusiasts include Bob Dylan, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor and Paul Simon. In the late-1970s, John Lennon designed an acoustic guitar with an elaborate Japanese motif that became the most expensive guitar the company ever built.

The introduction of the L-Series Handcrafted line solidified Yamaha's reputation as a quality guitar manufacturer. The higher-end L Series models are still produced completely by hand at Yamaha's legendary Music Craft guitar factory in Japan. Devotees include George Lynch, Dave Navarro and Joe Bonamassa.

Yamaha made waves in the electric guitar category in the mid-1970s when it introduced the celebrated SG models (resulting in a patent for the T-Cross system), used by Carlos Santana, Bob Marley, Robben Ford, Steve Cropper and Al McKay of Earth, Wind & Fire. When domestic manufacturers faltered during the 1970s, Yamaha's reputation for quality grew. Dweezil Zappa, son of Frank, plays an SBG2000, a recent reissue of the famous 1970s models. Other musicians associated with Yamaha electric guitars over the years include Nashville session pro Kenny Greenberg, Ty Tabor, Frank Gambale, Chris Poland, Troy Van Leeuwen, George Pajon, Jr., Martin Taylor, Wes Borland and Mike Stern.

Yamaha has long been an innovator in acoustic-electric improvements. The APX line, introduced in the 1980s, won over discriminating players like Steve Lukather, Liz Phair and Richie Kotzen.

Introduced in 2001, the stunning Silent Guitar features streamlined design and advanced electronics. Devotees include Lee Ritenour, James Black of Finger Eleven and even Brian May and Paul Rodgers on the recent Queen tour.

Other 21st Century innovations include the RGX A2, which features Alternative Internal Resonance (A.I.R.) construction and the critically-acclaimed Acoustic Resonance Transducer (A.R.T.) acoustic-electric amplification system, found in the APX700, APX900, CPX700 and CPX900 models. The A.R.T. system has also been added to several L Series models and to the FG and new FJ models, as well.

Acclaimed performers Alex Skolnik, Frank Gambale and Johny Hiland favor the CPX900; Avril Lavigne and Albert Lee play the APX900.

Yamaha bass guitars have also attracted top-quality players after the introduction of the legendary BB series in the 1980s, including Paul McCartney, Abe Laboriel, Leland Sklar, Billy Sheehan, Bill Wyman, Michael Anthony, James Lomenzo, Nathan East, Justin Meldal-Johnsen and Tony Kanal. TRB devotees include John Patitucci and Mastodon's Troy Saunders. Dream Theater's John Myung favors the RBX model.

For more information, write Yamaha Corporation of America, Pro Audio & Combo Division, Guitar Products, P.O. Box 6600, Buena Park, CA 90622; telephone (714) 522-9011; or email infostation@yamaha.com.

Return to Top