Photo 1 — A little bit Fender, with a six-on-a-side headstock, and a little bit Futurama, with its sweeping lower horn and offset contours, the Yamaha SG-5 was designed for the domestic market in Japan, where surf music was the rage during the mid '60s.

Up close and personal with a mint-condition 1968 Yamaha SG-5.

As most readers likely already know, there are many strange and wonderful Japan-made guitars from the 1960s lurking in the lost corners of the vintage marketplace. PG's Wizard of Odd column covers many of them. Most of these instruments were mass produced as export commodities and showed up all over the world with a dizzying variety of different make and model names. Brands like Teisco, Conrad, Norma, and others were used as stand-ins for many low-end, made-in-Japan (MIJ) instruments of this era—typically denoting a guitar or bass that looks cool, but, more often than not, is lacking in terms of playability and tone.

Per some sources, the Yamaha team consulted with surf guitarist Takeshi Terauchi in the development of the design.

Today's Vintage Vault pick is something a little different. Built and developed primarily for the surf-rock-obsessed Japanese guitar scene of the '60s, the Yamaha SG line came to include a range of guitars and basses that carried all the pizzazz of anything being built in this period, but with a bit better overall quality than your typical vintage MIJ fare. This reputation for playability and tone, combined with a unique, futuristic flair, has placed the top-shelf Yamaha SG models among the most collectible of all vintage guitars built in Japan.

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