1970s Yamaha FG-260 12-String Guitar

This "oversized dreadnought" (16" lower bout) 12 string really is not bad at all. It's one of the Taiwan-made Yamahas with a 7-digit serial number that's essentially meaningless (many Yamahas can be dated to the day of manufacture) and despite my usual inclinations to skip over any old Asian-import 12-string... I did take this one in trade without rolling my eyes!

It was just -- rather clean! After a fret level/dress, tiny bridge shave, string ramp additions, and a new bone saddle and strings... she plays great with standard 3/32" bass and 1/16" treble action at the 12th fret. I did tune it all the way up to concert E-E pitch with the set of 10s on it (smooth sailing), but I still always suggest folks keep these tuned down a step anyway on long-scale models (like this one).

The guitar is all-laminate in build (spruce over mahogany) and the finish is rather thin, thankfully, which means that the lightweight laminate resonates well. 12-strings have the advantage of generally sounding at least decently good regardless of material as long as the underlying bracing is well-executed (which this is).

For a mid-70s guitar, I think this has held up very well and aside from some buckle rash or weird scratching on the back, it's relatively clean. It could be a 10-15 year old instrument.

If it were a little bit smaller (00 size or similar) I might be suckered into keeping this guitar for recording with. I just don't get along with dreadnought bodies these days, though, as they tire my right arm out with the way my attack has evolved after playing archtops for years.

The slotted headstock and functioning truss rod are nice to have. I'll have to measure for real but the nut width felt just a little over 1 3/4" though the neck's shape is a medium D with a good amount of heft. That's probably why it doesn't have odd twisting over time.

Radiused, rosewood board with faux-pearl dots.

Adding string ramps and switching the saddle out to bone significantly improved clarity and punch with this guitar.

The neck is one big hunk of mahogany except for the stacked heel design.

As you can see, despite many years of tension the top has remained stable.

The "appointments" are vaguely after Martin style 18 in inspiration.


Clifford Hall said...

Nice review! I have a FG-75 and FG-160 as my beater/at work guitars (both tan labels from Taiwan). I am mystified why these sound so decent for all laminate gits. What is it about the bracing that makes them sing so well?

Jake Wildwood said...

They're braced really close to 60s Martin specs and weight, for one thing, and they have very thin laminate tops for another.

I think overall top thickness, neck stability, and bracing style contribute way more to good sound than whether or not a top is solid wood.

It's also about the laminate you do use, too: some stuff is junk that warps and falls apart more easily and some stuff is just fine.

I'm -still- wanting to build a nice mandobass for myself and I'm certainly going to use lam for that... on such a big surface you're bound to just get a ton of cracks otherwise.

Derrick Dubeau said...

i just picked up this exact guitar tonight. It's nowhere as nice as yours. Quite beat up, but otherwise intact.Iits more of a project guitar to see what i can do with my woodworking skills before i try fixing my aria 12 string bought new in '84.
the bridge is intact, but it has a big tilt and bowed the body out.
i plan on using a JLD bridge doctor to repair this problem.
Would you advise against this ?
or would you suggest any other idea?

Brian McCarthy said...

I'm looking to sell my FG 260 Yamaha. It is in excellent condition. No twisting at all really is perfect. Lovely sound. How much do you reckon I should expect for this guitar in euro or dollars?

Unknown said...

Hi. Can someone tell me the price of this 12 string yamaha FG-260 is.?