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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