The Flagship!! 1972 Yamaha SG80-T Electric Guitar

Yamaha SG80T 1A few times a year, I go on guitar “adventures,” visiting guitar shops, antique stores, and flea markets in search of forgotten treasures. In 2007, I found this old Yamaha in a tiny Maryland music shop. There was exactly one other used guitar there. I thought I knew all there was to know about Yamaha electrics, but I’d never seen this model before. When I left, their used-guitar inventory was down to one.Yamaha SG80T 2The Nippon Gakki Company—aka Yamaha—jumped into electric-guitar production around 1966. Its earliest 6-string designs were slightly edgy and bizarre—swooping, asymmetrical shapes, lots of knobs and switches, and a generally futuristic aesthetic. In the next decade, Yamaha guitars became a little tamer, but they remained ambitious.  Yamaha always seemed to be pushing towards high-level guitars, and I have to give the company credit for letting the designers go nuts!Yamaha SG80T 3The SG-80T was the flagship of the 1972 lineup. It features a German body carve, a slim neck with chevron inlays, a newly designed tremolo, and rather complex electronics, including a bypassable, five-position rotary “tone selector” knob. The SG-80T actually has three pickups—the bridge unit is two single-coils that can be used individually or in parallel. Combining them with the model’s then-new “tone boost” knob yields some strong sounds. The bridge pickup gets most of its tonal options from the tone selector knob, which sometimes seems to restrain tones, though there are some very usable options. If you’re into weird old guitars, this might be one of your desert-island instruments because of the sheer range of its tones.

Check out THAT control cover!
Check out THAT control cover!

These forward-thinking design features come at a price, though: The SG-80T weighs in at a robust nine pounds! Typically for the ’70s, it came in either a natural finish or a dark mahogany. The all-mahogany construction of this particular guitar provides plenty of sustain.  Of course, the brown wood grain finishes are oh so 70s (my living room furniture looked just like this when I was little!).Yamaha SG80T 5From what I can gather, this model and ones like it were only made for about a year. In 1974 Yamaha redesigned the SG line to the more symmetrical styling made popular by then-endorser Carlos Santana, and used today by artists such as John Frusciante.Yamaha SG80T 6


4 thoughts on “The Flagship!! 1972 Yamaha SG80-T Electric Guitar

  1. Joe says:

    Nice. Surprising it weighs so much must be the type of mahogany. My 74 SG70 is pretty light. That is the redesign you mentioned. I have one in nearly perfect shape… mahogany body and neck… fairly flat fret board… nice jazz or anything guitar.
    I also have a Yamaha Super Flighter 1000… with the single or double coil button switch…. some on the internet have called it the ‘thinking mans’ SG.
    Both mine are for sale… but you know where I am… S.E. Asia.
    You ever get around this way?
    I like the contours on that guitar. The Super Flighter has ridiculous quality also. Combination of Alder and Maple body for sustain. They made the Super Flighter from 1977 to 1980 and people argue that it is the most versatile electric ever made… some people say the best Yamaha ever made… and some say the best electric guitar ever made.
    That is internet talk though.
    Thanks for posting

  2. Hal says:

    I owned this guitar in the 90s, was stolen from my apartment in 97 as a starving adult student. It was the heaviest thing ever, i destroyed straps again and again. But damn, it was the most beautiful, versatile guitar..

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