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Yamaki Acoustic Guitars

Updated on July 31, 2017
Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.

Yamaki Acoustic Guitars are Very Fine And Rare Instruments

When talking about Japanese made acoustic guitars people tend to think of Yamaha, Takamine, and Alvarez as being the major brands of acoustic guitars that are made in Japan. Those three companies are the three major companies in Japan that have been and still are making acoustic guitars. But there is also a pretty rare brand of guitar out there that you might run into, and that is the Yamaki brand of acoustic guitar. If you do see one, and it's in playable or repairable condition at all, then I seriously suggest that you buy that guitar if you are financially able to.

I've seen exactly two of these guitars ever. I very much liked both of them. I became acquainted with one just this last week, and couldn't have possibly been more impressed with that guitar. The other one I'd seen once belonged to my grandfather, and I nearly bought it from him at one point. Basically, the two Yamaki acoustics that I've had my hands on both belong to Uncles of mine, and one of those uncles at one point or another had owned both of them.

I can't speak for how truthful or accurate this next thing is, but the story that I was told was that the way that Yamaki was displayed on the head stocks of their acoustic guitars looked so similar to how Yamaha was displayed on the head stocks of their guitars that Yamaha sued, and had the Yamaki company to change things. Here's what I know for certain - I like Yamaha acoustic guitars, and I consider them to be fine guitars, and especially if you buy one of their solid tonewood construction L series guitars - but I'm positive that the Yamaki guitar that I played this past week was better than any Yamaha acoustic guitar that I've ever seen or played, in fact, it was a very comparable guitar in quality to the Alvarez acoustic guitar that I fell in love with once at the North Texas Guitar Centre - but a more expensive or fancier guitar..

A Very Nice Yamaki Acoustic Guitar.  It Looks Like a Martin D 18 Copy
A Very Nice Yamaki Acoustic Guitar. It Looks Like a Martin D 18 Copy

Yamaki Acoustic Guitars

I'm sticking to the full sized photo above - because it's such a beautiful photo. Were I unable to use that one, then I'd not be able or likely to find another photo so comparable. In time I'd like to get a good shot of my Uncle Thomas' Yamaki Acoustic guitar. Hell, if I owned a digital camera I'd certainly do that right away for this hub.

If you know guitars and you look at that picture of a Yamaki acoustic guitar up above, then it's clear that that guitar is a copy of a Martin D 18. You can't really know how good a quality that guitar is from the picture - you don't and can't know whether or not it's a solid wood construction guitar or not, but I'm betting that that is exactly what it is. The thing that is MOST clear from that photo is that the guitar features a spruce soundboard. From the looks of the thing - I'm betting a thousand to one that it's a solid spruce soundboard, a hallmark of a great acoustic guitar.

A Very Nice Yamaki Acoustic Guitar

The Yamaki Deluxe Acoustic Guitar.
The Yamaki Deluxe Acoustic Guitar. | Source

The Yamaki Deluxe Acoustic Guitar

Now - looking at the fine photo above we see an example of the Yamaki acoustic guitar model called "The Yamaki Deluxe." This guitar more resembles my Uncle Tom's guitar than does the other photo, and the reason for this is that the sound board of this guitar is clearly a different wood than is the spruce sound board in the top photo. The sound board on the Yamaki Deluxe model is clearly Western Red Cedar, and that is what my Uncle Tom's Yamaki flat top guitar features as a sound board.

If you recall that I mentioned something about having two uncles with Yamaki acoustic guitars - that's correct. My uncle James owns one as well, and that would be the one that my grandfather used to own. I've not seen that guitar in years - I hope that cleared up any confusion that I might have created.

The Yamaki acoustic guitar that my Uncle Thomas owns would more be a "super Deluxe" or something, it's a more decorated model than the Yamaki deluxe in the very fine photo above. The sticker that should be visible inside the sound hole of his guitar is absent - but Uncle Tom's Yamaki flat top has abalone inlay up the fingerboard the likes of which would be seen on a Martin D-42, or a Martin D 45.

Western Red Cedar As An Acoustic Guitar's Soundboard

I've no idea why Yamaki Acoustic Guitars as a company seems to use Western Red Cedar as a soundboard on some of their best guitars. I don't have any problem with it. The very fine Yamaki flat top that my Uncle Thomas owns has what are definitely solid East Indian Rosewood back and sides and a solid Western Red Cedar top, a rosewood fingerboard, and lots of Martin style abalone inlay for fret markers up the neck. It's more than a thousand dollar guitar any way you slice it.

Here's the deal about Western Red Cedar as a soundboard and tonewood. It's outstanding for that purpose. I've always been told that cedar wasn't used so much for flat tops because people using a heavy pick attack when playing will tend to overdrive and distort the notes with cedar - so that cedar, having more excellent tonal characteristics when played lightly, was most often used for guitars that a finger style player would more likely use. I didn't have that problem at all though, not with the Yamaki dreadnought. I played the thing with a tortoise shell pick, and every note rang loud, clear, and true.

The video says "D 35 Copy" but the D 35 is a spruce top guitar, and this guitar is western red cedar

Yamaki Buffalo Series - Notice The Unique Shape Of The Head Stock


Some History Concerning Yamaki Brand Acoustic Guitars

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.

Yamaki Acoustic Guitars, Conclusion

From browsing forum posts and looking at youtube videos, the general consensus among owners and players is that the Yamaki brand acoustic guitars are top notch. I've played two of them in my days, and one just last week. I recall liking very much both Yamaki acoustic guitars that I've had my hands on. The one I played last week was a superb instrument that would be comparable to rosewood and cedar flat top steel string guitars selling anywhere from $1,700.00 dollars to $3,000.00 new, and by C.F. Martin & Co.

The particular guitar that I played could possibly be comparable to more expensive models than the prices listed above, if the backs and sides happen to actually be Brazilian Rosewood rather than East Indian Rosewood. I'm mostly certain that that guitar was East Indian, but again, several forum posts seemed to indicate that Brazilian Rosewood was most often or very often used with Yamaki Acoustic Guitars.

These guitars are rare, and somewhat hard to find nowadays. If you bump into one at a flea market or yard sale - you should definitely grab it. It's either a keeper already, or worth repairing.

Yamaki Guitar Identification Guide - An Old Advert.
Yamaki Guitar Identification Guide - An Old Advert.
You may wish to dowload this image, and then blow it up to read it - further help towards identifying a Yamaki guitar's specifications
You may wish to dowload this image, and then blow it up to read it - further help towards identifying a Yamaki guitar's specifications
Yamaki 12 string guitars are frightfully rare.
Yamaki 12 string guitars are frightfully rare.


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    • profile image

      JAlexander1951 8 weeks ago

      I'm happy to have my fingers together much less worry about my head too! chuckle chuckle

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 8 weeks ago from Kaufman, Texas

      That absolutely works, and had I had my head together earlier, I would have thought to say just post the links from CL.

    • profile image

      JAlexander1951 8 weeks ago

      Thanks, I am wondering if this link to my ad might work.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 8 weeks ago from Kaufman, Texas

      JAlexander1951. The two ways I know to do this are to post them on Facebook or photobucket. On either site the photos must be set to be public, so anyone can see them. From there you can copy/paste the links to here.

    • profile image

      JAlexander1951 8 weeks ago

      I put my F-225 up for sale on CL today for $300. I'll see if I get any serious bites. I wanted to post a couple of pics here but can't see how to do it. If someone can explain it to me I will. Thanks.

    • profile image

      gator 2 months ago

      I have a mid 70's (i think) Yamaki, I will post a pic and serial #, hopefully someone knows something about it!

    • profile image

      Doug 2 months ago

      Sam: the 335 is an awesome guitar. Not sure what you want

      to know about it. I have one with such a beautiful redwood

      that I am tempted to imagine it is Brazilian but probably

      isnt. Redwood comes in so many different colors and

      grains. My 335 will easily give any old Martin a run for

      it's money. I have mine on a stand, as we speak, right

      next to an old D 18

    • profile image

      Samual Brent 2 months ago

      I have a Yamaki AY335S I bought new back in the 70s. It is beautiful in sound and playability. Can anyone give me any info on it? I bought it at North Shore Music on Lonsdale.

    • profile image

      Murray Bowes 2 months ago


      I was wondering if you might be able to tell me the year of production of a Yamaki AY376S serial number 221106 ?

      thank you

    • profile image

      JAlexander1951 2 months ago

      I am certainly not crying over spilled milk. The fingers are there and movable and I can form chords but just unable to press down. Originally, the PT said the nerve sensitivity would likely diminish over the years but unfortunately for me that has not happened. I would go for a year without playing and then make an attempt for several days a week over the course of a month hoping to get some calluses, I even tried using gloves which might have worked on a 6-string but was a disaster on a 12-string. Anyway, I have my fingers so life is still OK. The 12-string is a 225 Custom, The 225 is burnt/etched in on the inside frame along with manufactured by Yamaki. The back and sides look like mahogany and the top cedar or spruce but I'm guessing spruce because the color is so light. Reinforced neck. I actually knew all that at one time, which is when I bought it because I was saving for a Martin. Saving was taking a very long time back in the early 70's for a 19 yr. old kid but I was convinced by the music shop owner to satisfy my desire earlier by getting this supposed copy of a Martin and was never disappointed

    • profile image

      Doug 2 months ago

      Mr Alexander:

      Sorry to hear about the bad luck. I can relate as I am now

      battling "thumb arthritis".

      re: your 12 string

      The first step is to find the model number inside.

      Then, if you know your woods, is it a mahogany back

      and sides or is it Indian Rosewood?



      I have owned two different 12 strings:

      AY470S and a 225 Custom.

    • profile image

      JAlexander1951 2 months ago

      I have a Yamaki Custom 12 string I bought brand new in 1972 and still in good condition. I cut my fingers on my left (chord) hand for the second time several years ago. I tried many things to rehab my fingers but unfortunately the nerve endings are near the surface and pressing on Strings is simply too much so I would like to sell it to someone who knows Yamaki and wants one in their collection. I haven't decided where to sell it or what to ask. I could use some help and advice. It comes with a hard case that came with it when I bought it. A while back I put on new tuners but still have the originals. Plenty of photos available. Thanks

    • profile image

      Doug 3 months ago

      Dear Doug;

      Enough of the sentimentality...what we really want is for you

      to tell us (ie. addicts) about your Yamakis. What are the

      model numbers? The "addicts" are always curious to

      discover the existence of new "gems".

      Here's a story.... a longtime friend of mine told me about

      his "magic" Yamaki. Prior to that I had never heard of

      them. So I began to search them out, usually on sites

      like Craigslist and kijiji. Over the years many Yamakis

      have passed thru my hands. Many stayed. Eventually I

      came across online in California. I took a chance and had

      it shipped (ie. blind purchase). It arrived and had many

      issues. What some would call a piece of crap. It sat for a year before I had managed to set aside

      a few bucks to have it worked on.

      Then it sat again. with some intermittent humidification,

      for a few more months. Finally I restrung it with some

      EJ 16s and guess what? It really is a magic guitar.

      Especially in the early morning or late evening when

      sound seems to hang in the air. It is a smaller guitar and

      I am a big guy with big hands but man...what a guitar!

      Totally investment: roughly $400

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 3 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Heck yeah, Doug. So awesome when a person purchases a thing and says, 'I'm never parting with this in my life.'

    • profile image

      Doug 3 months ago

      I feel so blessed to have four Yamaki guitars. Bought and still have my original 6 string from 1975. It will go to the grave with me. Over the years I've been fortunate to purchase three more. Very prized and treasured.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 4 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I guess part of the issue is Yamaki also made beginner level guitars. At the time Yamaki was sold in the US, Martin pretty much only produced top notch guitars.

      So if you only ever saw one of the beginner level Yamaki, and didn't know any better, you'd be like the nimrod.

      I've seen a cheap-y Yamaki, and a very fine one. I thought they were both terrific.

    • profile image

      Doug 4 months ago

      Wes: pls block this nimrod.

      This page is for guitar lovers. Especially those

      with a love or curiosity about Yamaki guitars.

      I collect old Martins and old Yamakis,

      plus one well known old Yamaha. These Japanese

      guitars hold there own very nicely up against

      the Martins. Hugh sounds like a crotchety old

      man. And that's fine. So am I. Just don't

      knock what you don't understand.

    • profile image

      Hugh SNYDER 4 months ago

      Did real research on this type guitar. It was mas produced to rebuild Japanese ecconomy after WW2.not Real rare at all. There are plenty around.sold at Woolworths and other stores during the late 50s and cheap..

    • profile image

      Hugh SNYDER 4 months ago

      Thanks for letting me post that and vent.some people think guitars are like fine wine.Ive tasted supposed fine tell you the truth it. All taste like Mad Dog 20/20 to me.just in different thanks again

    • profile image

      Hugh SNYDER 4 months ago

      My hippy Friend lost his place to live.stayed here for a while went into and has been in and out of hospital s point is he left a yamaki Guitar here at my house. Serial Number F74. It got knocked off the place I put it.and Broke like the Japanese pc of crap it all I hear about us him crying over that. Guitar.i still have it. Can't tell the difference between wood of the guitar.and A balsa wood airplane you buy at a wall Mart.I think it's over rated. All guitars sound about the same to me. But different from the crying I constantly hear about that stupid guitar. Hippies and guitar nuts.Grrrrr

    • profile image

      JEROME SUTTON 4 months ago

      I have a Yamaki copy of a Martin D-41. It is a very well built guitar and has a good sound.

    • profile image

      Doug 5 months ago

      Are you sure that it says Yamaki and not Yamaha?

      The number sequence with the suffix doesn't quite

      match my experience either.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Well thank you very very much, Ansel! Making a little music is nearly always worth the doing, regardless of the kind of instrument. :)

    • Ansel Pereira profile image

      Ansel Pereira 6 months ago

      I loved reading the detailed information on Yamaki acoustic guitars. I haven't played one, however, I'd love to get playing a Yamaki. I used to play a lot of acoustic early on. I play the electric guitar more often nowadays. Your article has inspired me to play my acoustic more often. Thank you for the wonderful post. Cheers.

    • profile image

      Tom P 6 months ago

      I owned Yamaki Deluxe exactly like the one pictured and i traveled all over North America with that guitar. I would have it today but alas due to my own carelessness by leaving it out in a party it was crushed by a drunk.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Sounds like the guitar one of my uncles has. Very good quality Herringbone D-28 copy, but with the red cedar soundboard. It's a friggin' awesome guitar.

    • profile image

      Mark McDonald 6 months ago

      I was given a Yamaki guitar a few years ago and am astounded by the sound. It is a D-28 copy with a Western Red Cedar top and solid Indian Rosewood back and sides. The sound is deep and rich, better than any Martin I have owned or played in the past. The only problem is the action. Pretty high, maybe needs a neck reset. I am a slide player so it works great for me but not for everyone. But because of the action it may not be right for everyone. The neck is the only indication that this may be a cheaper guitar. Top, back, and sides are wonderful, with deep and rich presentation.

    • Kyrre Gjerstad profile image

      Kyrre Gjerstad 6 months ago

      I inherited a Yamaki W140 from my father, it had probably not been used for 20 years or more when I found it in its original hard case. Although the finish was in a terrible condition the sound of it is simply amazing. I have never heard an acoustic guitar sounding like that, maybe it is because of the finish fading away leaving the wood exposed? I have attached two pictures of it.

    • profile image

      Doug 9 months ago

      A note to those who have recently discovered Yamaki.

      I started playing guitar over 50 yrs ago but never took

      a close look at what I was playing. Most of those years

      were spent playing a Tele. But when I settled down I

      took to the cliche "playing an accoustic in the

      basement". Not wanting to invest too much when I

      felt my knowledge of accoustics was minimal, I started

      my "accoustic phase" with a Yamaki (recommended by

      an old friend). 25 Yamakis, and 3 vintage Martins

      later, I have concluded that there are definitely Yamakis

      "out there" that are as good or better than a Martin.

      I will be keeping about 6 or 7 Yamakis "forever" as my

      new quest is to find a vintage Martin that can "better


      down I

    • Dai Neal profile image

      Dai Neal 12 months ago

      Just here doing some research on a guitar I just played, a cedar topped Yamaky with mahogany back and sides. This guitar has been sitting in its case for maybe 20 years... perfectly in tune and fantastic action after all that time. What a tone and playability... fantastic acoustic guitar.

    • profile image

      S Padgett 15 months ago

      Fascinating reading all this about Yamaki guitars. I recently found one sort of hiding in a small 2nd hand music shop. Even though it was in the furthest and darkest place to even get to it, had no price and could see nothing on it to indicate what make it was, it stood very clearly out amongst all the other guitars in the shop. I had a look, saw the quality had a play that absolutely bowled me over, I knew it was a gem straightaway. Unique too. The guy in the shop told me it was a Yamaha, on closer inspection I discovered a faint Yamaki sign and the words Singing Sound By Yamaki Since 1954. Inside it is stamped W 300. I put a deposit on it, and after reading all this I'm off back to collect it sooner rather than later! Great price yet again. £200

    • profile image

      Randy 16 months ago

      Yes, it can be frustrating to not know the model, but at the end of the day if it sounds good, I don't really care. I will just enjoy playing them.

    • profile image

      TooManyGuitars 16 months ago

      Thanks Randy;

      I can relate to pretty much all of your guitars except

      for maybe the 386. I had a 384 once that was the

      Hummingbird copy.

      I had a 331B that I sold and never could figure out for

      sure what the "B" stood for.

      And, like you, I have a AY333S that is a longterm

      keeper as well as an AY331S that is pretty beat up

      but also a longterm keeper. And I agree about the

      12 strings also. I have big hands so I play them

      as 6 strings. And, yes, nothing more frustrating

      than having a Yamaki with a faded or missing


    • profile image

      Randy 16 months ago


      I have:



      AY386 Buffalo headstock




      AY333 L




      Deluxe (faded model number)

      AY472 12 string

      Deluxe 12 string(faded model number)

      Deluxe 12 srting(faded model number)

      AY470S 12 string - has both Yamaki name and Daion symbol on the soundhole sticker.

      I usually play the AY331B but I also like the AY333. The 12 strings sound amazing too.

    • profile image

      toomanyguitars 16 months ago


      Just curious. What are your two favorites?

    • profile image

      Randy 16 months ago

      I now have 15 Yamaki guitars. 4 of them are 12 strings, one lefty and one Buffalo. I played a Daion once and I would love to own one. They really ring!

    • profile image

      toomanyguitars 19 months ago

      Yes, thought so. I have 3 guitars from the 70 series, and

      all have that feature. techtalk

      a solid top spruce Yamaki is quite rare.

      Maybe the B indicates simply that there is something

      unusual about the guitar..

    • profile image

      Deb Sharkey 19 months ago from Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

      I looked up what a V neck is and compared it to all the other styles. I am not an expert but I do believe it is a soft V neck.

    • profile image

      Deb Sharkey 19 months ago from Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

      What is a soft V neck?

    • profile image

      toomanyguitars 19 months ago

      I would be curious to know if your AY470S has a soft V

      neck. It's a theory I'm working on.

    • profile image

      Deb 19 months ago

      Back in 2001 I was in Vancouver and visited a Pawn Shop and bought a Yamaki 12 String AY 470S. It appears to be a solid cedar top with rosewood sides and back. It is in excellent condition and came with its original wood hard shell case. I paid $300.00 for it back then because it had a very rich full sound. That is all I know about it and can find no other information on this model.

    • profile image

      kilshark 19 months ago

      Back in 2001 I was in Vancouver and visited a Pawn Shop and bought a Yamaki 12 String AY 470S. It appears to be a solid cedar top with rosewood sides and back. It is in excellent condition and came with its original wood hard shell case. I paid $300.00 for it back then because it had a very rich full sound. That is all I know about it and can find no other information on this model.

    • profile image

      Techtalktoll 20 months ago

      Just obtained an ay333b with a solid spruce top that is paper thin - very little scratching on the pick guard so it has little use. I was surprised that there was very little bellying and fret wear. The sound is amazing. The back is Rosewood three layer laminate. Not sure what the middle layer is but an acoustic pickup was installed so I know the middle is a light colour. The 333s models appear to have a truss rod with adjustment at the tuner heads. This one is in the body. I am wondering if the b at the end stands for bone saddle and nut as these look original except for under saddle pickup rework.

    • profile image

      Glen 20 months ago

      I have a yamaki F115 mint condition sounds like a dream

    • profile image

      Doug 20 months ago

      Bang on there Chase.

      The "W" preceded this Buffalo series but I think you are

      totally right that her guitar is likely a Buffalo head with

      a laminated top, such that the laminate is targeting

      a "country sound" (at least as they perceive it) and

      that would be what they are calling a "harder"

      sound. Also, the coincidence between the previously

      used term "Western guitar" and "a country sound"

      shouldn't be overlooked.

      If you can find my email address drop my a line

      sometime. I am always adding new Yamakis to my

      stable...most recently a 303 which I am still


    • profile image

      chase842 20 months ago from Ottawa, Ontario

      Re: AY374W

      If you can post a picture that would help to reveal some clues around this. The "AY" at the beginning of the model # implies that the product was built for export to North America (probably Canada). The catalogue page below (see link)would suggest that yours is a higher end Buffalo series (but that is assumption without actually seeing the style of the guitar). Model numbers in the Yamaki line are consistently higher for higher-end builds within the same style. Notwithstanding that it might be a laminate top, your model # suggests a higher quality than average. Possibly reflected in quality of materials and adornments.

    • profile image

      Doug 20 months ago

      re: "W"

      I once had a W 115.

      It was a nice guitar. laminated spruce top and mahogany I


      Some older Yamaki guitars were labelled "Folk Guitars".

      Some of these were solid top and some were laminates.

      At the same time there were some labelled "Western".

      I believe I read somewhere that the Westerns were said to

      be laminates designed for a louder sound.

      Now there may be a correlation between Western and "W"

      but I do not know that for a fact. That is the thing with

      Yamaki. You rarely know for sure. It's all part of the


    • profile image

      SJeastwood 21 months ago


      I have a Yamaki AY374W / 221010

      I am just starting my research and have been reading all your comments.

      What does the W mean

      It belonged to my late hubby. He just loved it!!!!

      Any info would be welcomed.

    • profile image

      Haiden S. 23 months ago

      I recently got a really beat up yakami w-15. The neck and fretboard was split near the body and the body itself is in cosmetic ruin. Could you perhaps yell me anything you know about a w-15 and if it would be worth it to refinish it?

    • profile image

      musichabs 23 months ago

      nice Mr. Mole..they are a steal sometimes!!

    • profile image

      Mr. Mole 23 months ago

      Just found an AY372S in a pawn shop on Vancouver island, for a friend of mine.I am a lefty, if anyone wants to sell a lefty Yamaki, let me know.

      I paid $251 , reduced from $300 because of fathers original case and a free set of strings.

      An odd thing i noticed, i couldn't sing / excite a single resonant frequency out of the sound hole. It's an INCREDABLY even toned instrument, early no paper label, with super action, perfect evenly spaced grain on the top, at least 80 year old wood, cedar, perfect frets, fingerboard, low action, and just a stellar player.

      I have,a very high end luthier friend, will check on the brazilian rosewood back thing and post the results....looks like the back AND sides are bookmatched from one original piece..never seen that. The grain mirrors from the center line and wraps around the sides. It looks like a pretty early one.

      Very happy.

    • profile image

      musichabs 23 months ago

      I live in Alberta Canada...most of the Yamakis i see go for around $300.00..I think the people i got the deals from are not players and just wanted to get rid of them..The Daion was in pretty rough shape with no case..The AY331 has a crack on the lower side that doesnt affect the sound as far as i can tell....I love them both and they are my main players..!

    • profile image

      Doug 23 months ago

      re: musichabs

      Not sure where you live or hang out but Yamaki have become wellknown

      now as a "diamond in the rough" in my area. They sell fast and

      never for "peanuts". The lowest you would ever see one go for is

      $200 and at that price there will be something wrong with them.

      What I would like to see on this webpage is some comments from

      people who own both Yamakis and vintage Martins (even recent

      Martins or Taylors) and how they compare.

    • profile image

      musichabs 2 years ago

      I just bought a Yamaki AY331 B series Deluxe Folk guitar for $50.00 with case..I love it ! it sounds awesome with nice low action..its my main player now..i have been lucky with my Daion 78 heritage costing only $35.00 ..i had to put $100.00 into it to get it up to snuff but it plays and sounds amazing as well...apparently there are deals to be had...patience is all you need..and a little luck! ps..the Daoins site on facebook has a number of knowledgeable and interesting people with a bevy of fascinating instruments made by Yamaki and Daion!

    • profile image

      Doug 2 years ago

      Regarding suffixes:

      Since last posting I have come across Yamakis (as opposed to Daion)

      with "A" , "B" and "L" suffixes.

      It turns out that the "L" was a "lefty".

      I still don't know what the "A" and "B" mean. There are some obvious

      guesses one could make but anyone could do that.

      Also, despite having now owned close to 20 Yamakis, I still don't

      really know for sure what Deluxe means. Everytime I think I have

      it figured out, I come across a counter-example. One thing I am

      fairly certain of, though, is that the Deluxes were made during the

      second "group/generation" (chronologically speaking).

      Topic change: Don't "write off" the laminates. Some of them can

      be unexpectedly good.

    • profile image

      Anne A 2 years ago

      guys and gals , if you are on facebook , we have started a new group " daions online " you are welcome to join and speak in an open chat forum with michael c who started daions online webpage some 15+ years ago he brings a wealth of knowleedge ... michael B who for the last year or more has been logging daion and yamaki ( inc Washburn made by yamaki ) and creating a spreadsheet which is avaliable to view .... but most importantly michael is in direct contact and conversation with the founder of yamaki's son Hiro who was daions head designer ...

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      Doug 2 years ago


      Thanks again. Is that your Heritage that is listed on kijiji? Just

      curious. For no good reason, other than simplification, I've chosen

      to stick with the original Yamakis and not venture into the Daions and


    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 2 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      That's some good stuff!

      It is plain to me that some of you folks have superior skills to me in searching the web. I need to up my search game for sure. Thanks again.

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      chase842 2 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

      Here’s a few additional catalogue pages that illustrate some “AY” models the are suffixed with “B” and "D" and "H" and "T". These are Daion branded guitars that were built by Yamaki. I don’t see anything obvious in the specification sheet that would imply “B”. One thing is for sure… it does not imply lesser quality.

      I own an AY078H which is shown in the 2nd link. I wrote about it in an earlier post in this blog.

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      Doug 2 years ago

      Thanks Chase;

      The B 30 was, in fact one of the ones I saw.

      But I have also seen a couple of AY's listed with a

      "B" suffix. It would be tempting to jump to the conclusion

      that this might be a "B grade" guitar, but I think that

      would be a foolish jump to take.


    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 2 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Thanks for the links, Chase!

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      chase842 2 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

      Check out this old catalogue page...

      The Buffalo series was also prefixed as "YB", like this...

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      Doug 2 years ago

      Hi All;

      I'm still on a mission to try to figure out what the heck "Deluxe"

      actually means.

      And, now a new mission....I have stumbled across some Yamakis

      that have the letter "B" as a suffix.

      Anyone know the meaning of that?

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      Tom 2 years ago

      I apologize for being out of practice badly and for my lack of creativity but you want to hear the above guitar. Go here

    • profile image

      Tom 2 years ago

      I guess this site isn't very active or did I offend anyone? I will be posting

      on my you tube channel what this guitar sounds and looks like soon plus other 12 string guitars.

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      Tom 2 years ago

      I installed a JLD bridge doctor to help stabilize the bridge and to help straighten out the top then I put a new set of Elixir polyweb 10-47 strings on and tuned to D. Wow what a nice sounding guitar, I really like the sound and it is easy to play, easier than the Takamine F400s I bought recently. I am beginning to see why you people like the Yamaki guitars!

      I'm hooked, I guess I'll be on the lookout for another in nicer shape maybe?

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      Tom 2 years ago

      Thank you for the replies! Mine does have a 0 fret and it is Indian rosewood back and sides. The back is interesting in that it is book matched but does not have the usual strip down the center on the back as most of the models do in the catalog reference above. It is supposed to be a 1972 model. Other than the bridge problem and top bow and concave it is a pretty solid guitar. The neck is straight and the strings are about an eighth of an inch at the 12 th fret so it is easy to play and it does have a very nice characteristic sound. I am anxious to get new strings on it to see how it really sounds. If I knew how to post picks I would. All in all I'm happy with it for $160 plus reasonable shipping.

    • profile image

      Doug 2 years ago


      oops...I better wake up.

      the photos that Chase gave up disproves the second digit theory.

      sorry about that..

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      Doug 2 years ago


      Before I put my two-bits worth in, let me make it clear that I am not

      an expert. But I have taken up Yamakis as a hobby, as mentioned in a

      previous note.

      Having said that, yes, I am familiar with the W series. In fact I

      have one currently. It is a W 115 deluxe.

      Your guitar is of interest (But, then again, I am a bit of an addict

      so they are all of interest). I will check my notes to see if I can find

      any reference to it but off the top of my head I'm guessing it has a

      zero fret, a laminate top and a mahogany back.

      Basically a higher-end lower-end guitar (if that makes sense).

      Plus, now that I think of it, I am going to bet that the second

      digit (ie. the 2) indicates it's a twelve string. In the higher models

      the first digit indicates a 12 string (ie. 4xx)

      So, thank you for posting. We may have learned something today.

      I am going to go out on a limb and say your guitar is uncommon.

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      chase842 2 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario


      I went through all the catalogue pages I have. Only saw 2 references to 'W' models. One was a maple version so I don't think it applies here. Is your guitar anything like the W120 in this link, notwithstanding 6 string?

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      Tom 2 years ago

      I just received a 12 string deluxe Yamaki folk deluxe 1972, model number w 128 or 6? I can't find it in the catalog here and there are no other numbers inside. Can anybody shed some light on this model?

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      jarrod 2 years ago

    • profile image

      Doug 2 years ago


      Your AY379S is probably a decent guitar.

      Here's something of interest for "yamaki afficiandos":

      After a recent acquisition I now have two versions of the 335,

      one is a solid top and the other a Deluxe (ie. laminate).

      Note: after a few years of researching Yamaki I have concluded

      that "Deluxe" simply means that the guitar has a high quality laminate

      top. If anyone has evidence to the contrary please let me know.

      I have yet to figure out what "Custom" implies.

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      gbt 2 years ago

      I recently inherited my father's AY-379s. It seems (to me, at least) to have developed a richer sound over the years. I believe he bought it in the mid 70's. There was a music store in a small town west of Ottawa, Ontario which sold a lot of them. He would take this instrument to parties and jam sessions and trade it around with other pickers. He said he played a lot of Martins at those gatherings and he, as well as many of the Martin owners, found the Yamaki to be every bit as good. I used to have a similar Yamaki, a somewhat lesser model, which was destroyed in an accident... I still have the parts, and a skilled luthier might be able to do something with it. By coincidence, my son had an old Yamaki, one of the ones with the funny looking head, given to him by a friend who said she never played anymore. It's in pretty nice playable condition as well.

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      Paul 2 years ago

      Sorry, after looking at it again the serial number is YW30M

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      Paul 2 years ago

      I'm working on a Seismic Vessel and I found a Yamaki Acoustic 6 string down stairs, not sure what type, I have the number from the inside XW30M then underneath it has 140202, it is a beautiful playing guitar, I wonder how much it would cost to buy one for myself?

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      Doug 3 years ago


      re: price

      Generally speaking your guitar should be an above average

      Yamaki, depending on the condition. There are basically two factors

      for "condition": a) the obvious scratched, gouges, cracks, clouding,

      etc and b) the less obvious twisted/bent/bowed neck or top; plus

      the wear on the actual frets (usually in the first five frets).

      An average price would be $300, adjusted accordingly to a)

      and b) above. so...a range of between $100 and $400. But

      the $400 would only be for perfect shape and of special interest

      to a particular buyer. Most often $350 is the max .

      Hope that helps.

      Anyone out there that has a different experience is more than

      welcome to supplement this "analysis".

      Are you in the U.S. or Canada? That can make a difference also

      as either way it usually narrows your "customer" field.



    • profile image

      Doug 3 years ago

      Hi Chase;

      I have read somewhere that the "A Series" preceeded the AY

      series. Now I don't recall if that was considered a fact or a theory.

      If the importers had other brands to catalogue, it might make sense

      to add the "Y" to simply indicate Yamaki.

      I know of one fellow with an A333.

      Your A339 is especially interesting/puzzling because there actually

      is an AY339S listed in the catalogue.

      And what is even more interesting is that the one in the catalogue

      looks like another Yamaki that I have. It is a 315. (ie. same head stock

      script AND the same pearlshell fretboard mosaics; and the same

      pattern (ie. nothing in the 1st fret).

      Bizarre, isn't it? These are the types of things that make

      Yamaki so intriguing.


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      chase842 3 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario


      Always glad to talk "Yamaki".

      Yes there are many different models prefixed by many different letters, but anything other than an "AY" in North America is rare. Those would likely have been brought across the pond (from Europe or Pacific rim). This is directly linked to specific companies having distribution rights for those areas. One could basically say that "AY" means "built for shipment to North America". If you see a non "AY" model for sale on eBay, most often the seller is in Japan.

      I own a Yamaki model A339 (not AY) that is also solid Cedar top with 2-ply rosewood back & sides. I bought it second-hand from a guy in Toronto in 1985. A real D28 knock-off if ever there was. In my years of research I have only ever come across 1 other of the same, and that was a result of this blog. A woman very near to my location has one in even better condition than mine. I cannot say for certain, but I am of the opinion that both hers and my A339 were brought here as samplers to promote the Yamaki name in N.A. before the "AY" production began. In all the catalogues that I've combed through, there just isn't an "A" model anywhere.

      The reality of Yamaki quality (relative to price-point) is actually indicative of a more widespread reality of the era in which they were produced. Japanese luthiers typically were generational, having been exposed to their elder wood craftsmen through the decades. Earlier generations were extremely skilled producers of violins, and when the acoustic guitar acquired wider popularity in the 50s & 60s, younger craftsmen began focusing on guitar production. The master skills coupled with a cultural attention to detail and quality that Japan was renowned for in the 60s to 80s, has led to this upsurge in interest about Japanese produced guitars from that era. Unfortunately, the business model was not sustainable vs mass production combined with cheaper labour costs out of China.

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      Doug 3 years ago


      Thank you for your input. Basically, like you, I have been relying on

      those old catalogue pages as well. Plus the "S" suffix on the AY models.

      But there are other non-Ay models out there. so I am hoping someday

      to have someone teach me a different method. Anyone out there

      knowledgeable on this topic?



      If you have been researching for 20yrs you will be a valuable

      source of info for all of us "newbies". I've been researching Yamakis

      for about 2 yrs. A typical story whereby a friend of mine had one that

      had a surprisely good sound and volume, relative to the market value.

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      David. 3 years ago

      I have a Yamaki AY 337 S. I do not play it but bought it from a customer at her garage sale. It is in phenominal shape and always wondered how much it was worth. I had a guitar player tune it and it sounds great!!

    • profile image

      chase842 3 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

      There no definitive answer for knowing if a Yamaki has a solid top, except if the model # starts with 'AY'. Any 'AY' model that ends with 'S' (e.g. AY476S) is a solid top. The 'AY' models were imported to North America by a now defunct import company called 'Great West Imports'. In fact, any AY model that ends with 'S' is often solid Canadian Cedar.

      But there were many models of Yamaki that never made it to N.A. Other distribution companies had exclusive distribution rights to other areas of the globe. Daion Co Ltd was the domestric distributor (they of course also had Yamaki make many guitar models as Daion). Great Music Co. Ltd held distribution rights to many other areas including Europe.

      I've researched Yamaki guitars for 20 years (basically ever since the internet became public). The best way to determine whether the top is solid is by examing all the old catalogues that are posted on the net. There are many of them. This link will give you a few:

      In many cases the text on the pages of these catalogues is Japanese, so that is still problematic for most. Rule of thumb: if there isn't an explicit reference to "solid" then it probably isn't. Another clue would be the relative price of the product line. All the higher end models are solid top. At the highest end of the product lines, often the models are solid top & body. Very difficult to find any of those in North America.

    • profile image

      ManyGuitars 3 years ago


      I have taken on "Yamakis" as a bit of a hobby. And am interested in

      unravelling all their little mysteries. Anyone else that is interested,

      please respond. For example: What does the Deluxe designation really

      actually mean, if anything? Also, can anyone teach me/us how to know

      for sure if the top is a laminate or a solid?

      thanks in advance...

    • profile image

      nixkotzen 3 years ago

      Hi there. Please someone let me know more about my yamaki yw-20. I'm really curious about it. It really sounds great! Can you tell me more about its age, how much it worth right now. Thanks

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      johnnyt11 3 years ago

      Hi there, I have a Yamaki guitar and am trying to find out more about it. It is a Joodie (6 string) and is a lovely looking instrument with a gorgeous tone. The frets are decorated with six Mother of Pearl inlays as is the outside edge of the body and inner rim. The model number is YW40M and was made in Japan by The Yamaki Musical Instrument Co. Ltd. Can you tell me more regarding age, value etc?

    • profile image

      Omar 3 years ago

      Please let me know if someone has information about the YM400 is solid top or completely solid and how much does is worth now. Or just information about the YM series. Thanks a lot.

    • profile image

      Abdulla 3 years ago

      Hi everyone.. I own a Yamaki Model No. AY232 which I haven't seen anyone mention nor talk about. It looks like a Martin D-18.. it's a beautiful and amazing sounding guitar.. Honestly I've played on pretty much every expensive guitar you'd think of.. But this yamaki is unbelievablely comfortable.. Best guitar I've played on with the pick N' flick technique.. Played on the John Mayer OM Martins.. It's as good but old I swear.. I need more information about the guitar because I couldn't find anything about it online. There is a number on the sticker insid the guitar right above the model number of the guitar which is"00694060" . Any info would be truly appreciated.

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      chase842 3 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario


      It's possible you have a guitar made by Yamaki for DAION as part of the "Year" series. There were 2 models representing 1978: "The 78(C)" (C=Century) and "The 78(H)" (H=Heritage). These were exported to North America as "AY078" models. Check the catalogue page at this link to see if yours looks like either "The 78(C)" or "The 78(H)".

      I acquired a AY078S (Heritage) a year ago. (In the "AY" model #s, the "S" indicates that it has a solid top.) It is beautiful to hear and see. Stunning solid maple binding on body, neck, and rosette. Brass (yes, brass) nut, saddle and dot inlays. The tone is incredible. Best bass response in any guitar I've played or heard. A real collectible!

    • profile image

      Jeffrey 3 years ago

      Just this past Saturday purchased an AY078s at a garage sale for $10!!! It is in very good condition. A few small dents and scratches, sounds simply amazing! I had no idea what this guitar was, just that it seemed to have a solid top and I was willing to pay $10 for solid top!

      It has Yamaki on the back of the headstock and no sticker inside. just the model and serial #231027 Anyone have an idea what year this would be?

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      JohnM 3 years ago

      I have had a Yamaki AY377S since the 70's. ANyone know how this differsm from other AY series Yamakis? Soes anyone know where i can find the serial#?

    • profile image

      NSK 3 years ago

      We bought a 12 string 471S Yamaki at a flea market for $120. It was way out of tune but after a tuning it sounds great. Any idea what year it would have been built? What are some good strings to put on it? Thinking of D'Addario. Open to ideas.

    • profile image

      Jeff M 3 years ago

      I'm so glad I found this forum. I've had my Yamaki so long I actually forget how I acquired it! Sometime in the 80s, I think I traded another guitar for it. Anyway, it's a 12 string that to my shame had sat unstringed for quite a while until i decided to finally put strings on it last week. Wow. What a sound. I forgot how much I liked that guitar. The model is AY474S, which i have not seen posted on this forum. Any idea about that model?

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      LH 3 years ago

      I have a Yamaki, bought at Gene Leis Guitar Studio,Manhattan Beach,CA., back in 1972 or 73. It is in perfect condition, as is the case. I am open to selling.

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      Omar Ortega 4 years ago

      Hi man!. I was looking for information about Yamaki. Let me tell one thing... Last Sunday in Peru I was in a place called Plaza 2 de Mayo (Lima) and I found YAMAKI YM400 they was selling it but... they have removed it original finish. It has no damages, Do you know how much will it worth? Is it a tottally wood guitar?. Let me know.

    • profile image

      MDales 4 years ago

      Hi - I'm from Canada and am going to sell my Yamaki AY 433 12-string guitar. It is pictured on the above old advertisement poster you have posted - and it is 'not' a 433S unfortunately, but it still has in incredible sound.

      ( funny thing is I remember having a copy of that old poster when I got the guitar new in 1972) If I send you photo's can you advise me on the price I should be asking? Any advice would be appreciated - thanks.

    • profile image

      musichabs 4 years ago

      Im finally posting about my daion 12 the bridge reglued and the frets that were lifting set..its my main player now..! I absolutely love it...I am currently eyeballing a Yamaki ay270 ..waiting to hear back from the seller..anyone have any experience with these? thx,dave

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Hey Leo, you should upload some pictures of the thing to photobucket or to a public facebook album and post the links here...that always helps!

    • profile image

      Leo 4 years ago

      I've got a perfect 12 String Yamaki 220S Folk that I bought for my daughter 10 years ago. I just put new Elixer strings on it. I don't play it much so if someone would like it and will use it I'd be glad to deal with you.

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      steve 4 years ago

      guess i'm lucky i got my yamaki six stringer for $200 and helped a guy i played with round up horses for two days. she was made in 1970 it has #140 inside, no label, some friends i play with told me it's worth around $6000, my luthier friend said "ya and a little more". then i picked up a yamaki 12 string on e-bay about 10 years ago for $199, had to send it down to my luthier and have some work done on it so it cost another $280, but well worth it. it was made in 1972. both a very sensitive to any temp or humidity change but they play and sound great. hope some of my grand kids learn to play so they stay in the family.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Sure does! Awesome!


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