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Should I give up on my Yamaha FG160?

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(@mboonie)
New Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1
Topic starter  

Hi, all. I hope I can get some feedback on what I'm sure is an almost completely subjective question concerning my Yamaha FG160. It's almost as old as me: I'm 44, and I remember my dad getting it before I could play, so that would make it, umm... pretty old! (35 years?) It has many dings and scratches, but no cracks. It's been by my side since I left home for college over 25 years ago, and I'm very loyal to it. The sound is the most amazing full, sweet and rich sound of all my guitars, which I understand is a common sentiment among FG160 owners. I have a beautiful higher-end Martin (000 body style, since I already had this Yahama dreadnought) and my wife has an Ovation custom legend, too. Both have their own very beautiful tone and balance; but neither has anything like the full, rich sound of my Yamaha.

Unfortunately, now that I'm moving into trying some more serious accoustic playing, e.g. bluegrass/newgrass, I feel that the action is just too high to for the lighter touch needed (another common sentiment among FG160 owners.) I had it set up a few years ago, and the action was MUCH improved, comparitively, but it's still a bit high. The guy that set it up said that it's about as good as it would get, since it's bellying too much to get anything more out of the truss rod. So, I've been pondering whether I want to invest several hundred dollars (I presume) to address that, if it can be done at all. (Bracing? Reset neck?) I'm thinking it would still be cheaper than a new dreadnought, and I don't feel like waiting another 30+years for another guitar to sweeten the way the Yamaha has. Or should I just suck it up and get a new one anyway?

Thanks for any input or suggestions.


   
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(@slejhamer)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 3221
 

Installing a JLD Bridge System may be an affordable way to offset the bellying.

http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Special_tools_for:_Bridges/JLD_Bridge_Doctor.html

If that works to flatten the top, then you should be able to lower the saddle (if necessary) and get lower action.

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


   
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(@twistedlefty)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4113
 

bought this around 75 and it's also a bit dinged up from many hiking and camping trips.
FG165-S

it sounds great and plays great as well. if possible i would say try and fix it but i wouldn't spend much, as you can get a nice comparable solid top dred replacement for next to nothing these days.

#4491....


   
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(@johnkline)
Active Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 12
 

I had a Yamaha red label FG-110 that was about time for a neck reset, and it's just not worth it. 200-275 for a neck reset if everything goes ok. With that kind of money one can buy a nice new guitar with a solid top. Heck Yamaha's FG700S is 199.99 with a solid top and sounds sweet! And there's no guarantee that the neck reset will come out allright, especially on a all laminate guitar like almost all of the Yamaha's of old.
I think your better off selling it to someone who would do it, or keep it on the wall and get another...


   
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(@twistedlefty)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4113
 

ebay has 3 days left on this one.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=170152608655&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT&ih=007
the bidding is at $88
good way to support a good charity, get a nice little write off, and a nice replacement.

#4491....


   
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(@captain-pugwash)
New Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2
 

I have a YAmaha FG160 which I purchased in 1974. Recently my wife purchased a new guitar with a solid wooden top for quite a low price. It has better harmonics than the Yamaha and a very sweet sound. However, it does not have the volume or deep tone of my old Yamaha. I was frustrated with my Yamaha though, because the very high action made it difficult to play those lovely open chords high up the fretboard that I am discovering. I took the Yamaha to a local expert who would have done a good job for me - but I couldn't really justify the £100 it would have cost to lower the action and associated jobs. This weekend I planed down the Rosewood bridge mount that secures the strings very carefully and have managed to lower the action to about 1/3 of its previous height. The guitar is now much easier to play - and it does still have a brilliant sound. I have created a buzz if I pluck the D string really hard, but I don't do this in normal playing. I am not an expert and nearly ruined the guitar by making the slot that mounts the bridge too wide - but I have just got away with it. The result is a very nice guitar indeed. The local shop didn't advise me on paying to have the work done as they reckoned the Yamaha was just made of a plywood top and wasn't worth spending much on. Anyway - I am pleased with the result. The sound is excellent. My guitar is reborn!

Captain Pugwash
18th September 2008


   
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(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

The Truss Rod adjusts neck relief not action. If your tech said that, go find a new one.

The Bridge system will fix bellying, which will in turn lower your action. It is cheap.

If not, save it for a bottleneck slide blues guitar.


   
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(@captain-pugwash)
New Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2
 

Thank you to Nick for your advice. Planing down the rosewood bridge mount has brought the strings really close to the fretboard and the guitar is much easier to play. It sounds better too - there is more resonance. It even vibrates and echoes when someone is talking in the room! It is louder and has more resonance than our new solid top guitar.

I am a little concerned about the buzz I have on the D string, although this hardly kicks in with normal playing. I am thinking of planning down the rosewood a little more where the string holes are to get a steeper angle for the string off the bridge - if this makes sense. Does this sound like a good idea? Or maybe I should just switch to heavy guage strings.

I suppose I could rplace the whole rosewood mount in the future - funds allowing. This might solve the problem of my bridge leaning slightly in the slot that hold it which I have made a little wood wide. I don't know how to do this though. I guess heat will take the glue away and allow me to remove the mount.

Al advice gratefully accepted.

Anyway, the FG160 certainly sounds very good and thanks to the laminate construction it has survived all sorts of bashing -There is only one hole in the woodwork!

Captain Pugwash


   
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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

I still have my Alvarez "Western" guitar -- also purchased in 1975, and for $125-ish. It's an extremely durable lam-top and sounds not-too-bad. Fitted it with a good soundhole pup a few years back. Makes a great alt tuned, acoustic slide back-up.

Never let go of those early guitars. You will miss even the worst PoS ... eventually.

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

Installing a JLD Bridge System may be an affordable way to offset the bellying.

http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Special_tools_for:_Bridges/JLD_Bridge_Doctor.html

If that works to flatten the top, then you should be able to lower the saddle (if necessary) and get lower action.

I've installed one in my Guild 12 string. Works very well, though severe bellying means you will need to flatten the top carefully over a longer period of time using other methods (books while unstrung). The Bridge Doctor only corrects slight bellying, and prevents further bellying once in place and adjusted.

-=tension & release=-


   
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