These guitars are early copies of Fender Stratocasters some have large 70s style headstocks others 60s style but with
truss rod adjustment at the headstock end.
All however have 4 bolt necks not 3 bolt. They all have typical strat specs 21 frets, 25.5" scale, body mounted jack,
1 volume and 2 tone controls.
However they have the typical Yamaha radius of 13.75" rather than the much rounder Fenders*. They first appear in 1976 and last
through to 1982, all made in Japan for the domestic market only. This seems to be a common theme among early Fender copies, maybe
they thought why would the west buy Fender copies when they can buy Fenders. You don't see many of these for sale in the UK but
to give an idea of price an SR550s in good condition sold on Ebay in 2017 for £378. You do see a few from Japan on various Ebays
recently there has been a 500 for $289 and a 700 for $471, add in costs to get it from Japan and still not expensive guitars.
*Update March 2022
It would appear that at least some of these were made with a 7.5" radius one on strat talk recently discussed definitely has that radius and some adverts that claim a 7.5" radius may very well be right.
|Release Year||Nov 76||81||Mar 82||Nov 76||81||Mar 82||April 78|
|Price when Released yen||40,000||40,000||45,000||50,000||50,000||55,000||70,000|
|Body||2 ply sen||sen||sen||sen||alder||alder||ash|
|Fretboard *||Maple or Rosewood||Rosewood||Maple||Maple||Maple||Maple||Maple|
|Pickups||3 R-11 single coils white covered on white pickguard||3 R-11 single coils white covered on white pickguard||3 Alnico V single coils white covered on white pickguard||3 R-11 single coils white covered on white pickguard||3 R-11 single coils white covered on white pickguard||3 Alnico V single coils white covered on white pickguard||3 Alnico V single coils white covered on white pickguard|
|Headstock||70s 2 square string trees||60s 1 round string tree||60s 1 round string tree||70s 2 square string trees||60s 1 round string tree||60s 1 round string tree||60s 2 square string trees|
|Tuners||Yamaha trap style||Yamaha trap style||Vintage Kluson Type||Yamaha Gotoh Style||Vintage Kluson Type||Vintage Kluson Type||Yamaha Gotoh Style|
|Colours||Natural or Sunburst||Natural or Sunburst||Natural, Black or Sunburst||Natural or Sunburst||Natural or Sunburst||Metallic Red, BrownSunburst or Yellow Sunburst||Natural or Tobacco Sunburst|
* Some sources suggest that all models were available with Maple or Rosewood Boards, the catalogues all show maple boards only,
except for the 400s which shows Rosewood only, I have seen a picture of a 400 with a Rosewood board but can't find any other models
Update April 2022
Timothy Pickering has written to me pointing out an advert for a 500 with a Rosewood board so that's another model we can be sure came with a Rosewood option
Thought it might interest some of you to read this review and info from Darien a correspondent not sure where he is from
He has an SR500
Your Yamaha web pages are a great resource. I just learned my SR500 is made of Sen Ash, for example. My SR500 was originally from Japan, as your web pages indicate it should be. Manuals in Japanese. My friend gave it to me after receiving it in a trade. He regrets that now because it seemed a jewel untouched for many years and he knew I would hack at it until it sounded right. So forgive me, but here are my complaints with the guitar: The pickups are awful. Nice the attempt to keep them quiet with the brass bass plate. The switch is three position, I need five for hum cancelling, the pickups are all same polarity. The pickup and switch spacing are smaller than standard, nothing off the shelf will fit. The bridge is MAZAK or some such. The original developed flat spots on the six pivots with me yanking on it and would not stay in tune. Fortunately the bridge is 10.5mm spacing. There is a bridge from Hong Kong, Aumsen, which I just installed. It has fulcrum pivot screws and pop in tremolo with grub screw tension, a beautifully machined brass block that just fits the cavity and is beveled for deep dive. Stays in tune well. Stainless saddles. A standard pickup can be squeezed into the stock pickguard by removing the cover. The lack of five position switch was annoying. The only solution for that is a new pickguard, or hack the original.
A correspondent Jonathan Tasakovic has pointed out another Blue SR in an Ebay sale, this one is a 500S another one in an uncatalogued colour. Thanks Jonathan pictures below.