Guitar

Bill Alston

Yamaha Sessions and SEs

 
Two beautiful guitars courtesy of Jeff Plogger on the left an SE1203a on the right an SE1220 Thanks Jeff Note the difference in the script sizes on the Headstocks

This is a developing project and needs your help to become a real resource for these guitars. Please let me have any corrections additional information and the like via my Email contact any pictures catalogue scans etc are always appreciated. These pages are being completely rewritten January 2019 with many updates. Now close to completetion

Introduction

The Sessions or SEs are an important step in the development of Yamaha's range they are the precursors to the Pacifica range first appearing in 1985 and ending at the end of that decade before the first appearance of the Pacificas in 1990. These guitars on launch were priced in the region of 60,000 yen in Japan which is about 350gbp, compare that with the cheapest SA of the time at around 110,000 yen and you can see that these are aimed at the budget market but still have that Yamaha quality. A wider range was launched in the UK with some higher quality models. Although these guitars are shown in the archives as launched in 1985 we know form owners, serial numbers etc that the 700s were available as early as January 1984.

The first models

These guitars first appeared in the 1985 catalogues. They appeared in the winter of 1985 newcomers catalogue (Japanese) three models all priced at 60,000 yen. These were the Session 503, 512 and 520. In the English catalogue for 1985 many more models are available these are SE 200, 300, 450,700E, 700M, 700 HE and the 700 HM in the last four models the M is a maple fingerboard and the E an ebony one. The Japanese however never produced a lower range model than the 500 for the domestic market, just the higher range models. There were however many lower range models available in the west.

Model Designations

This is Yamaha so rules are guides and exceptions will be found. The model designations of SEs follow the following rules. All start with SE, Session or Session ii these are broadly interchangeable and other than Session ii came after Session indicate nothing although Session tends to be used in Japan and SE in the West. All have 3 or 4 numbers and some will have some letters.
The first of the 3 numbers, or the first 2 of a four number model number indicates the grade the higher the number the better the grade.
The second number indicates the number of humbuckers sometimes, other times where the second number is 5 a letter H will be added to indicate humbucker
The third number indicates the number of single coils, sometimes it is not obvious looking at the guitar whether you are looking at a humbucker or 2 single coils in the same mounting.
The letters are:
E Indicates an Ebony Board
M Indicates a Maple Board
P Usually indicates a non locking trem type
A Indicates active pickups
H Indicates Humbucker(s) only
J No idea anyone help?
This system is similar to the system adopted on Pacificas

A word about woods

Nato also known as Eastern Mahogany and Bubinga (or Buvinga) known as African Rosewood are often used by Yamaha so where Mahogany and Rosewood appear in the specs there is a fair chance it is Nato and Bubinga.

SE models

Model Comment Go To
110 1986/7 Model full specs available 100 range
112 In 1988 Catalogue have details 100 range
150 Have some specs 1986/7 Model 100 range
200 See first models English First Models English
203 1987 Catalogue have full details 200s
203M Maple board version of 203 launched the following year 200s
211 1987 Catalogue have details 200s
250 Have some details 200s
300 see first models English First Models English
312 1987 Catalogue have details 300s
312M Maple board version launched a year later 300s
350 SSH MIT have got some specs 300s
350H Some details 300s
450 See first models English First Models English
503 Session see first models Japan First Models Japan
503p and pm Session11 non locking trem version one Rosewood one Maple 500s
512 Session see first models Japan also a session11 version First Models Japan
512p Session11 non locking trem version 1987 500s
520 Session see First Models Japan also a Session11 version First Models Japan
603 In 1987 Catalogue have details 600s
603M Maple board version launched later 600s
603MA 1988 Catalogue have details 600s
603p Session11 have some details 600s
610S and SM Archives and catalogue say 1987 Session11 60,000 yen very little other detail 600s
612 Session11 In 1987 and 88 catalogues have details 600s
612p Non locking trem version of 612? Session11 600s
612A Active pickup version 600s
620 Session11 In 1987 Catalogue have details 600s
620p Session11 non locking trem version? 600s
700 E and HE See first models English First Models English
700 HE and HM See first models English First Models English
703j session11 launched at 60,000 yen 1987 no other detail don't know what the j means 700j models
712j session11 launched at 60,000 yen 1987 no other detail don't know what the j means 700j models
812 Session11 and SE in 1987 catalogue have details 800 range
820 Session11 and SE in 1987 catalogue have details 800 range
903a I have a catalogue scan with lots of details but not sure of the year of the scan 900 range
903j Session11 launched Oct 1987 at 90,000 yen available in 1988 limited details 900 range
903p Session11 launched July 1987 at 90,000 yen discontinued same year limited details 900 range
912a I have a catalogue scan with lots of details but not sure of the year of the scan 900 range
912p Session11 launched July 1987 at 90,000 yen discontinued same year limited details 900 range
912j Session11 launched Oct 1987 at 90,000 yen available in 1988 limited details 900 range
1203a In 1988 catalogue have details 1200 range
1203 In 1987 catalogue have details 1200 range
1212 In 1987 catalogue have details 1200 range
1212a In 1988 catalogue have details 1200 range
1220 In 1987 catalogue have details 1200 range
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