Sunday, November 15, 2009
Thrift Store Find: Yamaha FG-160
This weekend I needed to put some miles on my car...I just had some work done to pass my smog test and the computer was reset, causing me to need to put about 100 miles on it before going in for the retest. So I headed out to a a smaller town about 25 miles away and wandered into a thrift store. First thing I noticed was an acoustic guitar behind the counter. It was pretty beat up, scraped up, had a tuner and some bridge pins missing, about 10 inches of binding gone, only 3 strings and enough dirt and grime on it to hide what was once a decent guitar.
It was marked at $49.95, but then I noticed that everything was on sale for 50% off. I decided to take a chance. I needed a less expensive guitar to take camping with me and thought maybe, if I could just clean it up a bit and put some new strings on it, it might work.
I took the old strings off...they must have been original to the guitar because they practically disintegrated in my hand when I took them off. There was a dustball inside the guitar about the size of a golf ball. I started to just clean it off, but then I just kept going and ended up buffing and waxing the whole thing. As beat up and dented and scraped as it was, you could tell it just wanted to try to look nice again. Like an old stray dog after it's first bath in years. It still had the scrapes and dings, but underneath it all was a really nice guitar. I found an old tuner I had and screwed it in and found a couple of old bridge pins I had saved from some other old guitar.
I put a new set of Martin SP strings on it and tuned it up and guess what? It sounded fantastic.
Definitely the best $24.95 I have ever spent on music gear.
It's a Yamaha FG-160, made it Taiwan. I hopped online and started doing some research and determined it was made in 1983 [edit update: actually made in 1973] and the internet is full of people who just go on and on about how much they love their old Yamaha FG-160. I'm telling you, this thing sounds darn good. It will definitely be the best sounding campfire guitar around. I haven't had time to take any photos yet, but the one I have put here with this story was found on some Japanese website. I will post some of mine when I get the chance.
UPDATE March 2015: I have been playing this guitar regularly since I found it in 2009. I own other very nice and much more expensive guitars and this one just stands out. When I'm recording, this is the guitar I use...just sounds fantastic on recordings. Last night I found another FG-160 on Craigslist for a cheap price and I jumped on it. Going to buy it tonight from a guy who has owned it for over 30 years. Can't wait to see if it sounds as good as this first one. Do I need another guitar? No! Can I pass this one up? Well...no. Just can't do it.