It’s the 2016 A to Z Blog Challenge, so I thought I’d focus on one of my favourite subjects: Guitars. Care to join me?
Yamaha is, quite frankly, a humongous corporation, manufacturing everything from motorcycles, boats, outboard motors, swimming pools, pianos and keyboards, golf carts, and, oh yes, electric and acoustic guitars.
Yamaha first got started making musical instruments in the late 1880s with an organ, expanding to pianos in the early 1900s. Yamaha introduced its first acoustic guitar model in the early 1940s, and by the 1960s, they had a fairly robust offering of acoustic folk instruments and was beginning to make forays into the electric guitar market.
For the longest time, Asian guitar manufacturers had a bad reputation for substandard workmanship, sacrificing quality materials and solid construction process in favour of a lower price point. They began copying Fender Stratocasters and the Gibson line of Les Paul models and SGs, but without the quality of Fender and Gibson.
But Yamaha transcended that reputation. They carefully selected and blended the tone woods to enhance the tonal quality of the finished instrument. From the method used to join the neck to the body of the guitar, even to the varnishes used, Yamaha constantly seeks to improve the quality of their instruments. As part of that effort, they have sought collaborative relationships with guitar designers, artists, and luthiers across the world to develop their instruments. That philosophy continues to drive their design efforts.
By the 1970s, Yamaha had expanded into the realm of electric guitars and bases and have found their way into some of the most famous musicians in the world, including Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, and Carlos Santana.
My own association with Yamaha started with a plastic recorder, the kind most kids receive in the third grade as an introduction to instrumental music. I really do like playing the recorder, although I have long since given up my plastic models for wooden ones. More recently, and more pertinent to this topic, I was gifted a Yamaha 12-string guitar I affectionately call “Boomer” because of his big, rich sound.
Twelve-string guitars aren’t small. They can’t be. The necks have to be wide enough to accommodate six pairs of strings, albeit the courses (set of pairs) are set very close together, so the sound box has to be similarly large enough to handle all that energy. But for all of that, Boomer is a remarkably smooth instrument to play. I have really enjoyed relearning songs I’ve enjoyed for years, and hearing them in a deeper, more resonant voice, the trebles of the higher pairings shimmering over the top. It brings a smile to my face every single time