Guitar players have a unique bond with their first guitar. Initially, you feel fascination and wonder coupled with the near-magical experience of actually making music on your own. Then you add the satisfaction of mini struggles and victories like learning each basic open-chord shape and successfully changing between them in time with a coordinated strum pattern. When that all comes together, you’re playing a song! It’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment, and you’ve informally joined a club; not only are you a musician, but you’re a guitar player.
Typically, these discoveries and advancements tend to happen pretty quickly, and your first guitar is the vehicle and companion that helps you get there. For a lot of us, that bond was created with Yamaha Red Label guitars.
Yamaha’s Red Label guitars were introduced to America in 1968, but the line itself goes back to October 1966. These were well-constructed, great-sounding guitars from Japan that were made in the classic tradition of steel-string, flat-top guitar design and tone, with their own innovative tweaks. They were so popular because they were affordable and widely available, and because they sounded and played great. Through the ’70s, the models changed and the red label went through some color changes, but the basic DNA was the same.
Fast-forward to the current line of Yamaha Red Label guitars, and the same aesthetic is there: well-made, great-sounding guitars that feel and play amazing. Yamaha has kept the same classic design and applied their decades of guitar-building experience to give the new Red Labels even more innovations.
One of the biggest innovations is A.R.E. (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement), which is Yamaha’s wood-aging system. Usually, a guitar has to be played for a few years for it to “open-up” and sound its best. A.R.E. uses controlled temperature, humidity, and pressure to mimic this process, and the result is a guitar that sounds incredible from day one.
Another new feature is the Atmosfeel pickup and preamp system. It uses three sound sources on the guitar: an internal mic, an under-saddle transducer, and a sheet sensor that picks up vibrations from the guitar’s top. Intuitive controls help you get the best sound for your specific use and scenario. The Mic Blend control lets you dial out the mic to control your sound in a loud band situation or dial in the mic for a more nuanced sound in an intimate setting. The Bass control is designed to cut low-end frequencies that can cause feedback or boost low end in a solo situation for a fuller sound.
My First Guitar
My own first guitar was a pre-owned Red Label that I got for my birthday. My early triumphs were all on that guitar, and when I played one of the new Red Label guitars, there was an instant connection. It made me want to keep playing — I honestly couldn’t put it down! After an hour or so my thought was, “I wish my first guitar played as well as this one does!”
On that day in my office with the new Yamaha Red Series FG3, it seemed like almost everyone that passed by stopped to comment on the fact that this looked just like their first guitar, or their dad’s guitar, or it triggered an early guitar memory. Curious, I started asking more folks around Sweetwater about their first guitar experiences, and Yamaha acoustics kept coming up consistently. Here are some stories I heard that illustrate my point:
“I bought my first Yamaha acoustic guitar when I was in high school back in 1975. I still have it — well, I gave it to my son (pictured above) a few years ago when he learned to play guitar. He loves playing it as much as I did. And I treasure hearing him play the songs he writes on that guitar.”
— Lynn Fuston, Sweetwater Manager of Written Content
“My musical journey started at 11 years old when my dad gave me his ’70s Yamaha guitar along with three chords drawn out on a piece of notebook paper. He’s been a huge inspiration, and nearly 30 years later, my guitar sounds as good as ever.”
— Arend Raby, Sweetwater Senior Director of Partner Marketing
“The first steel-string acoustic I ever bought was a Yamaha FG series dreadnought — I picked up a super-clean used one while I was in college and played it for probably 15 years. It was a sweet guitar that I used to write a lot of music and to play a ton of gigs. It sounded way more expensive than what I paid for it, and it never let me down.”
— Mitch Gallagher, Sweetwater Director of Editorial Content
Whether you’re at the beginning or any other point on your personal musical quest, having an instrument that inspires you to play is the spark in moving forward. Across decades, for so many players, Yamaha Red Label guitars have been that catalyst. Check out the new Red Label series and make your own memories, and most importantly, make your own music.
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