Jononly 2008-05-28 02:11:09
Have seen this antique post in deja.com/groups.google and thought a
little clarification is necessary.
Just had my K. Yairi neck reset by the very reputable Joe Latham of
Leesburg, VA (authorized Martin and Taylor repair, and a great guy as
well). The guitar, I’m the original owner, my old friend: 1977 D74,
signed by K.Yairi yada yada. Bought it rather than a Martin as my
first real guitar; a bit cheaper, sounded as good to me then. Money
was tight back then. Mistake? Not sure. But I do love this Yairi. It
does not have the Martin sound, tho it is essentially a copy; still,
for some things, it sounds notably better. My opinion.
I saw this post about epoxy before he started and warned Joe; he did
his own research, told me this was not an epoxy join, although Yairi
did switch to epoxy later. However, it was a SOB for him to reset the
neck nonetheless. Reason: dove-tail joint was incredibly tight.
Injecting steam to melt the glue made the tight joint swell (normal),
but the joint was so much tighter than he was used to, he could only
move the neck a little bit each time before it swelled too tight to
move further. He’d have to leave it to dry out before he could inject
steam again to melt the glue and move it another tiny bit before it
swelled too tight again. Putting the joint back together was a pain
too, again because the joint was cut so closely.
Other things to note: I thought back & sides were solid when I bought
it, they are not, they are laminate (look at the grain inside and
out): BUT, not laminate to cover cheap substrate, it’s all rosewood
(observation, my research). Joe says neck is not a single solid piece
of wood. Top is a single, very tight-grain piece of spruce, darkening
up after 25 years. Nice abalone inlay, snowflake pattern. Action
originally set for light strings, need a setup to deal with mediums.
Came with a bone & brass bridge & nut; brass makes it ridiculously
loud & bright, not a very practical sound really. My bone nut has the
G-string groove cut too deap, needs a new nut. Mine is pretty beaten
up from learning power chords at 16 and drunken playing with crowded
bands in noisy bars. Or was that noisy playing with drunken bands in
crowded bars? One of those.
Neck is very thin (one reason I bought it, small hands you know).
Sound is gorgeous. Very well balanced. Sounds best I think a few frets
up the neck, where its voice really takes off (but that’s where I
often play, and good wood learns). Open chords sound great strummed or
finger-picking. Does not sound like a Martin or Gibson. Not really a
Bluegrass guitar, tho it can fake it pretty well. The bass is strong
but not Martin-chunky. But the reason I got it repaired was that you
can’t buy a Martin under $1k that sounds as good as this puppy that I
bought for $600 in 1978, and which you could probably pick up for $400
or less today. I think you really have to start moving up above 1k,
maybe much more, to beat a 25 year-old Yairi DY-74. That’s just my
opinion, from cruising guitar stores checking out my options prior to
deciding to repair her, playing with friends, etc.
But I’ll tell you, Joe won’t do a neck reset on one again without
charging a bucket of money (if at all), so look for one with a
straight neck or expect to pay as much fixing her as your did buying
her: which still might be a bargain. Guesss it all comes down to how
it sounds. But, to conclude, 1977 necks on a Yairi DY don’t use epoxy,
just a mother of a tight dovetail.
I also own a Taylor 12-string, a nice american strat, and
miscellaneous other stringed instruments. I’m always in the market for
my ideal six-string acoustic; I’m shopping slow and steady, all the
time, for years now. Someday she’ll be mine. But I’m never selling my
Thought maybe this will help someone else selling or buying a Yairi.
Don’t know much about newer or older ones, just mine. I like it, so do
most folks that play it.
Dan carey 2008-05-28 02:11:35
I’ve heard a few AY’s over the years and they’ve always impressed me.
Great value for the money. I’d probably own one now if my sweet wife didn’t
suggest that I buy the Lowden that caught her fancy a few years back.
Gotta love that girl!
Strum4u 2008-08-19 12:37:06
Jon & Dan,
Thanks for the follow up to my original post.
Having played many ?Yairi’s, and having owned a likewise early issued
one myself (1976 DY-76 12 string)–which had no structural problems
and I sold within the last year or so–I will also attest to the fact
that they are fairly well made, and are among the best Japanese
acoustics produced in the C.F. Martin tradition.
Nearly all Yairi’s ever produced, save for a couple presentation
models with “Modulus Graphite” necks (perhaps DY-99 or DY-100, not
sure?), featured laminated back and sides.
As you’ve pointed out, Yairi may have used glue for the early years,
then switched to epoxy at some point in time. My friend’s guitar was
a 1988 model, and it definately had epoxy. I played a late 80’s
herringbone DY-77 that I was tempted to buy at a close-out price of
$599.00 with hard case. Knowing the construction method, and epoxy
used, I’m glad I held off and purchased a new Martin (D-16H) about
five years later.
While you can’t purchase many vintage Martin dreadnaughts for under a
grand, don’t overlook the fact that many beautiful Guild guitars
(D-25, D-25M, D-35, and D-40)can be found from $400.00 and up. They
are underrated and priced below the Martins, but will offer the same
level of performance, while likely holding their tuning a little
better that the Martins.
A good friend of mine is selling a 1999 Martin D-1 cutaway electric,
with onboard amplification (Fishman Prefix–with K & K elements
substituting the Fishman “quack stick” for $800.00 Why? Because I
found him an amazingly clean 1972 D-35, from the original owner, for
$499.00. The Guild has an excellent neck angle, sound and projection,
and is built like a tank, the latter of which is likely the reason it
hilds its tune so well.
Therefore, in conclusion, your follow up to my initial post
illustrates that, for one reason or another (epoxy glue, extremely
tight dovetail joint), Alvarez Yairi guitars will offer the
owner/luthier nothing but trouble if a neck reset is ever needed.
Hence, I’ll just stay away from them and buy a Guild or Martin, or
perhaps a 60’s or earlier Gibson, Epiphone, etc., any of which will
facilitate a traditional neck reset procedure.
Glen Eric Sarkis
P.S. I have an ARIA cutaway acoustic that also created a nightmare for
my luthier when he tried to reset the neck. This is further proof
that these Japanese or Asian made guitars often present obstacles, due
to their variations in construction (glue, truss rod extensions, non,
or extremely tight fitting dovetail joints, etc.)
Sbtypesetter 2008-08-20 00:32:09
Did a back repair on an Alvarez. Didn’t even
attempt to remove the neck. I wasn’t thrilled
with the construction. Had respected these
in the past, but when I started working on it
I was a little underwhelmed. Certainly could
be built better. Took a look at a Seagull that
needs repair (factory defect). I really don’t
care for cheap guitars, but this one offered
a lot of bang for the buck. I would consider
a Seagull before an Alvarez.
(Caveat: I wouldn’t want either). 😉