1971 Yamaki Folk

yamaki_frontal1.jpgI have had this guitar since the early '70s. I think I paid £70 for it in Hickies in Reading. Several recording engineers have commented on how well it records.

The only other one I've seen was in Vancouver, Canada.

I used this guitar on the Jimmie Owens "Come Together" tour of Britain with Pat Boone in the mid '70s, in “Yesterday, Today, Forever” and extensively before the Takamine came along.

The frets are now badly worn.

For a while it was strung in "Nashville tuning" - the E and B strings as normal with the rest being the high strings of a 12 string set. (Ernie Ball Custom Gauge .010 .012 .008 .014 .018p .028) This gave it an interesting voice particularly when played with other guitars. There is a considerable sacrifice in volume however.

A Barcus-Berry Junior piezo pickup is mounted under the bridge with no controls. This guitar is fitted with the machine heads from the Les Paul Standard which I used to own.

Michael John Simmons writes:

The complex story of Yamaki guitars is entwined with the histories of a number of other Japanese music companies. In the late 1940s, brothers Yasuyuki and Kazuyuki Teradaira started working for Tatsuno Mokko, an instrument-building firm that later split into two different companies, one of which was called Hayashi Gakki. In 1954 Hayashi Gakki was bought out by Zenon, a large music distributor. In 1962 Yasuyuki left Zenon to start an instrument distributor he called Daion, which means “big sound” in Japanese. In 1967 Kazuyuki left Zenon to produce classical guitars under the name Yamaki, an auspicious Japanese word meaning “happy trees on the mountain.” By the early 1970s, Kazuyuki expanded the Yamaki line to include a large number of steel-string guitars, many of which were based on C.F. Martin and Co.’s designs and were distributed exclusively through Daion. Along with Yamaki guitars, Daion sold instruments from Shinano, Mitsura Tamura, Chaki, and Hamox, some of which were built by Yamaki at various times, and Harptone guitars, which they imported from the US.

Sometime in the late 1960s, Daion began exporting Yamaki guitars to America, where they were well received. By the early 1980s, however, Daion felt that the Yamaki Martin-style guitars were getting lost among similar instruments from other Japanese builders like Takamine, Yasuma, and C.F. Mountain, so they redesigned the entire acoustic line and started building acoustic-electrics and solid-body electrics as well as oddities like double-neck acoustics. They dropped the Yamaki name and rebranded their instruments as Daion guitars. Daion began an extensive advertising campaign to introduce the new line around 1982, but this was a time when musicians were more interested in the new MIDI-equipped synthesizers than in guitars. In 1984 Daion stopped importing guitars to America and soon went out of business. Yamaki, on the other hand, survived the downturn of the 1980s and now makes parts for other Japanese guitar companies.

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