King Gizzard’s Yamahas

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A duo of classic Japanese masterpieces. Hai Hai!

So how was your weekend? I hope it was pretty damn awesome. Me? Yeah, pretty good. I flew to Melbourne with my band and as soon as we landed I headed to my favourite Vietnamese bakery and bought a Vietnamese Pork Roll (the best in Australia!) then had band practice in the best rehearsal room I’ve ever seen, played a gig at the Old Bar and tore the doors off, drove to Golden Plains in Meredith the next morning, opened the festival and played to a few thousand people, drove back to Melbourne and played another gig at the Old Bar, tearing off the newly refitted doors. Yeah, it was a frikken’ awesome weekend.

Another bonus was the backstage area. Very chilled, copious amounts of refreshments and in general a really great vibe. What made it even better was spotting this beauty on the couch next to me.

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I jumped over my drummer and SPRINTED to this thing of beauty. The band was King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Their guitarist was busily stringing up his own 60′s Yamaha SGV (Samurai)  before their set, and was kind enough to let me snap some pics of their guitars. I’d read a fair bit about the SG2 & SG3 as they were played by Link Wray, who my band supported in the 90′s and are big fans of.

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Up until this point I’d seen a few SGV’s but never a SG2 or SG3. To me the SG3 was the coolest looking Japanese guitar I’d ever seen. In my opinion it’s the Japanese Maton Fyrbyrd. It has the same cool as hell design style where everything just works perfectly together to make the perfect guitar.

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Each element on this guitar is unique to Yamaha. Nothing has been used from other companies.

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The pickups on the SG3 are three single coils (hence the ’3′), though two are housed in the one pickup casing. These pickups are shared in a few Yamaha guitars and have their own sound. The roller bridge is also a Yamaha design and is quite a feat of engineering. My drummer remarked that with Yamaha owning motorbike factories and various other engineering facilities, it would be quite easy for them to design and manufacture something like this in-house.

The bridge is a Jazzmaster look-a-like, but looks a lot better made. I couldn’t test it as the arm was missing, but knowing Yamaha it would’ve been flawless.

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The headstock had a unique beak which I think compliments the pointy shape of the body. Plus the little touch of a metal Yamaha badge (probably from one of Yamaha’s many other products) really adds that classy touch. This isn’t meant to be a cheap student guitar. This is the real deal.

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The fretboard was a beautiful piece of rosewood that held some nice, not too vintage profile frets. In general the neck was a surprise. Really comfortable and a little narrow at the nut (which I love) and had a very very VERY nice V profile. I could easily play only this guitar for the rest of my days and be totally happy with that.

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After losing my mind on this guitar, I had to look at it’s little brother, the SGV.

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I’d played a heap of these over the years… but all of them had been the 90′s and 2000′s reissues. I don’t think I’ve ever played an original 60′s version…. and there is a difference. It had the same ‘V’ neck profile that the SG3 had, which straight away put this above the slightly clubby modern versions. It felt a lot slicker and faster to play in my hands.

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This guitar shared a lot of the same gear from the SG3. The tremolo looked the same (in the excitement I didn’t test it out!) as did the single coil pickups. The bridge was similar but this one had nylon saddles, which was a big thing in the 60′s… not so much now.

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The headstock on these is quite infamous and is where the guitar gets it’s ‘Samurai’ nickname. Again, it has the little Yamaha badge which is a nice touch.

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In truth, the SGV is a little weird looking for my tastes but if this is how the old ones play and feel… I’d be quite happy with one.

So yeah, I had a GREAT weekend. Played some frikken’ awesome gigs and played two of the best guitars I’ve come across in years. Thank you Melbourne… you kick ass.

yammies