1973/74 Yamaha SA-75

My love of Yamaha is well known around these parts. Along with a lot of other vintage Japanese guitars, Yamahas made some amazing guitars and basses, in many levels of quality and are really only now becoming recognized for their outstanding build quality and great designs, and value.

I've written about the SA model before in guitar form. I've owned a few of these and still own a beautiful late 60's SA in original see through green. It's seen some work but is an amazing guitar, and those horns, I LOVE those horns. This same shape body was sold by Guyatone (and others) and it's believed these early 70's Guyatones were made in the Nippon Gakki factory for them. These were much like the SA-5 full hollow body but with a bolt on neck.

 

I've only ever had 2 of these SA basses through in all the years I've been doing this and the other was the slightly lower spec SA-70. The SA-60 (guitar), SA-75 and SA-90 (guitar) were all introduced in '73 with the 75 and 90 being the highest end Yamaha SA bass and guitar respectively offered. These only lasted till '77 and much fewer of these models were sold due to their high price, although it's easy to see why they were so expensive at the time.

The SA-75, being the top end production model had all the features and the best quality materials put into it. These SAs are amazingly built guitars and basses to start with and even the SA-20/30/50/70 from the '67-'72 production period were amazing guitars, especially for the money. A mid 70's Yamaha catalogue shows the series as 30/50/60/90 for guitars and 70/75 for bass. The basses being offered in sunburst and red for the 70 and sunburst and natural for the 75.

This 75 is all maple construction with a large centre block running down the spine of the body like a 335. The body has 3 ply binding front and back and unbound F holes. It's a reasonably shallow body at 45mm at the edges with a beautiful arch on both top and back which moves really nicely into those wonderful horns.

 

The set neck is 2 piece maple with a nice deep tenon into a big neck block giving this bass great top end access with a really stable joint. It's a great feeling thin neck with a bound and block inlaid rosewood fretboard. The blocks on the 75 were different from the standard rectangular blocks of the 70 and were the same as the SA-90. These basses were 30 1/2" scale so while they don't pack the punch of the long Fender scale, they are very easy to play and the hollow body lends a bit more girth to the tone. 

The pickups, like all Yamahas were made in house for each specific model and these are dated 21/2/73 which is VERY early for a 75. They're surprisingly low output at under 5K but have a great round frequency response and work really well with this bass. I'd expect nothing less from Yamaha. 

 

The hardware is all Yamaha as well and it superbly designed and made. The bridge is all original and despite looking like a floating bridge, they were not. This one is missing the original mute/cover which is the only non original thing about this bass. 

  

These had a volume control for each pickup and a master tone control unlike the higher end guitar versions which had a "blend" control instead of tone. Maybe Yamaha didn't think the blend worked so well on bass?

 

The trapeze tailpiece is very sturdy and nicely finished and the tuners are very industrial and work perfectly. The headstock is bound and has the wonderful Yamaha tuning folks logo. 

The other great thing about this bass is it still has it's original hardcase with green lining and Yamaha badge. 

This is in the shop for anyone who wants to come in and play a high end vintage Japanese hollow body bass that, in my opinion, is as good as any Gibson or Guild hollow bass I've ever played, and looks SOOOOO good. 

Jan 02 2021 Written By: Tim Brennan