Guitar

Bill Alston

1973 74 range of SG Guitars



Catalogue scan

By 1973 we are beginning to get close to the guitars that become the Yamaha SG range as we know them today. Double cutaway guitars of a very similar shape but not quite the same as modern SGs. Then in 1974 we have the beginnings of the modern SGs. The last in the range of the early SGs are the SG30 SG35 SG50 SG70 the SG30A and SG35A, before the "gamechanging" SG90 and SG175.
Strangely it is quite hard to find some of these guitars these days. There are also some very good authorities that are showing wrong information, or at least information contrary to official sources particularly about the 30A and 35A. I am going to start with a comparison of the specs for the first 6 guitars above.
As you might expect all are 628mms scale 43mm nut 2 volume 2 control and a 3 way switch.



Model 30 35 50 70 30A 35A
Body Katsura Nato Katsura Nato Katsura Nato
Neck Mahogany Bolt on Mahogany Bolt on Mahogany Set Mahogany Set Mahogany Bolt on Mahogany Bolt on
Fretboard Rosewood dot markers 22 frets 12” rad Rosewood parallelogram markers 22 frets 12” rad Rosewood dot markers 22 frets 12” rad Rosewood dot markers 22 frets 12” rad Rosewood dot markers 22 frets 12” rad Rosewood parallelogram markers 22 frets 12” rad
Tuners Yamaha Luxury Pincode Yamaha Luxury Pincode Yamaha Diecast Yamaha Diecast Yamaha Luxury Pincode Yamaha Luxury Pincode
Pickups 2 Yamaha Humbuckers 2 Yamaha Humbuckers Humbucking # 1157F × 2 black covers Alnico humbucking # 2165A × 2 chrome covers 2 Yamaha Humbuckers* 2 Yamaha Humbuckers*
Bridge Tune O Matic with Stop tail Tune O Matic with Stop tail Tune O Matic with Stop tail Tune O Matic with Stop tail Tune O Matic with Stop tail Tune O Matic with Stop tail
Pickguard Black Textured Black Textured and Part White Black Textured Black Textured Black Textured Black Textured Partly White
Hardware Chrome Gold Chrome Chrome Chrome Chrome
Availabilty Dec 1973 to 1974 Dec 1973 to 1974 Nov 1974 to 1976 Nov 1974 to 1976 Nov 1974 to 1976 Nov 1974 to 1976
Weight 2.8kgs 2.8kgs 3.6kgs 3.6kgs 2.8kgs 2.8kgs
Release Price 33000y 38000y 50000y 60000y 38000y 43000y
Colours Natural or Cherry Red Mahogany or Wine Red Natural, red, brown, black, ivory white  Natural, red, brown, black, ivory white  Natural Cherry Red Mahogany Wine Red

Many sources, including Elite Vintage Guitars, Vintage Guitar Magazine and Yamaha SG Geek say that the 30A and 35A are just maple body versions of the 30 and 35. Whilst they are good authorities this isn't bourne out by the evidence. All catalogues I can find and the archives say that the 30 is Katsura and the 35 is Nato. Also whilst the pickups on all 4 models are unspecified it is obvious from looking at pictures that the 30 and 35 have different pickups to the 30A and 35A. Also a minor issue but the 35 has gold hardware the 35A doesn't.
I would love to play a 50 or a 70 I have an SG30 which is a wonderful guitar so if those are better they must be truly great.

Some comparison pictures to see the differences

SG30

SG30A with changed neck pickup it should look the same as the bridge
Controls also changed hard to find a good all original picture

SG35

35A again hard to find a decent picture

SG50

SG70

There are two different types of Tuners

This type are on the 30 30A 35 (gold) and 35A

This type appears on the 50 and the 70

There are pickguard variations

This type on the 30 and 30A

This type on the 35 and 35A

This type on the 50 and the 70

This is a pickup from an SG35 the number 49 identifies it as 1974

So to identify which model first check the tuners the neck and/or the pickguard then the look of the pickups if someone has changed these it may be difficult.

The SG90 and SG175

These are really the beginning of the modern Yamaha SG, the whole look is beginning to be like the modern ones. The 90 is a relatively plain guitar the 175 is a really good looking guitar.
It was of course the 175 that Carlos Santana first played and which formed the basis for the ultimate SG the SG2000.

SG90
A fairly short lived guitar launched December 1974 and discontinued in 1975.
Specifications
Body African Mahogany thin cream binding
Neck African Mahogany set neck no binding
Fretboard Rosewood 22 frets dot markers 12" radius
Scale 628mms
Headstock Matching thin cream binding
Tuners Sealed Diecast
Pickups Yamaha Super Humbucking 3165A x 2 
Controls 2 Vol 2 Tone 3 way switch
Nut 42mms
Hardware Chrome
Bridge Tune O Matic Stop tail
Pickguard Small elevated
Colours Natural, red, brown or black 
Weight 3.8kgs




This is the SG90

SG175
This is the guitar that Carlos Santana played and suggested improvements to. His main issues were the frets were too small and the body was too light. He felt that this reduced sustain. The improvements led to the SG2000. This makes this a very significant guitar but even without Santana it was a step forward in Yamaha's SG development.

Specifications
Body Honduras Mahogany arched thick black and white Abalone binding
Neck Honduras Mahogany set neck white binding
Fretboard Ebony 22 frets Abalone chevron inlays 12" radius
Headstock Matching white black white binding
Scale 628mms
Tuners Gold Grovers
Pickups Yamaha Alnico Humbucking M 3165 × 2 
Controls 2 Vol 2 Tone 3 way switch
Nut 42mms
Hardware heavily gold plated
Bridge Tune O Matic Stop tail gold plated
Pickguard Small elevated
Colours Natural, red, brown or black 
Weight 3.8kgs
Produced Nov 1974 to 1976

Pictures


Oh Buddha
Yamaha made a one off guitar for Carlos Santana known as the Buddha guitar. Various differences to the SG175 on which it was based are claimed:
Certainly it was heavier and had bigger frets 24 of them, sources say that the weight was increased by inclusion of a Teak top and there was a sustain plate under the bridge. It had opg 1 humbuckers. It certainly had a Buddha inlay on the body.
The picture below is a 1995 reproduction made by Yamaha in limited numbers for the domestic market only.

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