Yamaha SG-2000 electric guitar
Credit: http://www.guitar-list.com/yamaha/electric-guitars/yamaha-sg2000

It would be impossible for me to recall every Yamaha guitar I've handled and spent a half hour minimum playing on. From a young age I was made aware of just how good a Yamaha six string instrument was, and at the price point any specific one is sold at? Absolutely outstanding build quality and thus, consumer value are to be had. With any Yamaha.

The Yamaha corporation of Japan makes a hell of a lot more than just guitars. I suspect they do everything as well as they do their guitars. They started in 1887 with pianos and organs. That's a long history of making musical instruments, and because of their beginnings in the endeavor, one may as well say Yamaha has music in its corporate DNA.

If you want to make a comparison to this Japanese Godzilla of the musical instrument market, then you have to compare to Gibson. Yamaha makes acoustic guitars which can rival C.F. Martin & Company offerings, but they also make lots of electric guitars. Fender excels at electrics almost as a rule. Fender acoustic models aren't the company focus. With Yamaha, however, you've got a corporation, like Gibson, that cares equally about its acoustic and electric line of guitars.

Yamaha isn't just comparable to Gibson, they're competing directly with them too. Maybe not so much in the USA, but on the international market? It's a total competition.

In the 1970s the world saw the quality standards of America's big three guitar manufacturers, Gibson, Fender, and C.F. Martin & Company, diminished. They got caught slipping. The Japanese seized the opportunity to make copies, not counterfeits, of the most prized American guitars. The age of 'lawsuit guitars' was on, and would last into the 1980s. Yamaha was at the forefront of this, their copies of Gibson's Les Paul guitar were superb, and are increasingly sought after today. But making copies wasn't enough to satisfy one of Japan's premier musical instrument manufacturers. They'd move into original models, and reap the profits.

The Yamaha SG 2000 isn't a copy of a Gibson SG in any sense other than it has a double cutaway. The shape of the double cutaway is plainly not that of Gibson's 'solid guitar,' and besides that, the SG 2000 has a carved maple top. Carved maple tops on mahogany bodies are major recipe components of a Gibson Les Paul. These SG 2000 guitars were a result of a collaboration between Carlos Santana and the Gibson guitar company.

Carlos Santana with Yamaha SG 2000
Credit: http://mycoolguitars.com/mij/famous-people-playing-japanese-vintage-mij-guitars/

The SG 2000 debuted on the guitar scene in 1976 with Carlos Santana as the number one guy, someone the whole world knew about, endorsing them. Carlos appeared holding one on the cover of a major guitar magazine soon after. Yamaha had a hit with these. They're highly collectible today.

I'm seeing SG 2000s priced over two thousand bucks, should they be in good condition, in the typical locations one buys used guitars on the web. Two grand is roughly five hundred more than one would spend for a brand spanking new Gibson SG Standard. These guitars wouldn't have that kind of value were it not for their having more than Carlos Santana memories behind them. They are out and out beauties.

The early years of SG 2000 production resulted in a product that Santana felt needed improvement. Now please keep in mind, Carlos is Carlos, and his sound is his sound. Whether or not the guitars needed improvements was something subjective to one Carlos Santana. That all stated, his complaint was the SG 2000 didn't have the sustain he wanted from it. He felt this was possibly because the guitars were too lightweight. Be certain you recognize here that in those days the Les Paul guitars could weigh twelve pounds, and after standing around for an hour playing guitar, one's shoulders may begin to ache with that sort of weight.

Alternative solutions were sought. And they'd be solutions which were rather non-traditional to something which was a Gibson style solid body electric guitar. A plate of brass on the backside of the guitar was mounted. This brass plate was connected to the tailpiece, and the connection was important because the heavy brass plate needed some continuity with the guitar's strings in order to increase the sustain offered. This sustain plate was eventually patented. I think a patent, in this case, is a clear indication the idea worked well.

The Sustain Plate of brass would not be the only patent from the SG 2000. The neck of the guitar would become three pieces consisting of two mahogany pieces covering the larger maple piece in the center. This neck would become known as the 'T Cross System. Yet another experimental success was Yamaha shipped the guitars meant for the United States market to the US to be set up there. So this was an early example of the sort of globalization we see in guitar manufacturing today. Today Schecter sends guitars to the US for set ups before retail, as does G&L's Indonesian division.

Another major thing needs mentioning here about the Yamaha SG 2000's neck. The neck of these guitars is neither set nor bolt construction. These are neck through guitars. As mentioned, the T Cross was patented, but a neck through construction is something else entirely. In a neck through constructed guitar the neck extends all the way through the body, and is essentially something protruding from the body rather than something one adds to the body. It's meant to never need any adjustment, and would be mostly impossible to ever replace, so there is a bit of a trade-off.



 Yamaha 1979 SG 2000 Translucent Red
Credit: http://www.guitarmotel.com/guitar/PO1oEd

So the SG 2000 isn't a lawsuit guitar in the traditional sense of what a lawsuit guitar is because when people talk about lawsuit guitars, they are talking about Japanese made copies of either Fender or Gibson originals. The SG 2000 is itself a totally original guitar, and yet one could somewhat consider it a lawsuit guitar of another variety, for Gibson, being a pissy bunch of persons in the administration, forced by threat of lawsuit, or by lawsuit that Yamaha stop calling these guitars 'SG' anything.

If you go shopping for guitars online or in the brick and mortar world, and you run into something which looks quite a lot like an SG 2000, but is called an SBG this, or an SBG that, well, the 'B' was added into the model number in order to satisfy the cry babies at Gibson. Yamaha still managed to reissue the SG 2000 during the 90s. The reissues are no longer in production either.

There will be debates as to whether the reissues were up to the same standards as the originals. People speculate that the quality of mahogany was superior in the days the originals were produced, the late 70s through the early 80s, to what is available now. No doubt mahogany is heading quickly to becoming an endangered or at least protected species of wood. Also, while on the subject of woods, the fingerboards of the SG 2000s were always of ebony. I'm not nearly the only person who thinks of ebony as a superior material for a fingerboard than rosewood.

The hardware on the SG 2000s is notable for its gold plating. Besides the use of Gibson's mahogany body with maple top, 24.75" length of scale, and similar sorts of fingerboard positioning marker inlay, the use of a very Tune-O-Matic style bridge and stop-bar tailpiece with these is very familiar.  Concerning the electronics, it is notable that the first several years of production with the SG 2000, the instruments lacked the capacity of coil splitting. The later years saw the coil splitting feature added to the guitars.

These guitars, even the used ones, could easily be thought superior to a brand spanking new Gibson Les Paul Standard. One could find them superior to a new Les Paul Custom. I think you get the idea here. My thoughts are a scratched up old SG 2000 in fine working order would be a terrific alternative the Gibson SG Standard. There is no doubt the SG 2000 lives up to its popular nickname of 'The Les Paul Killer.'