Yamaha Studio Lord SL550 Red Sunburst 1976
Yamaha Studio Lord SL550, made in Japan 1976 approx, red sunburst. The Studio Lord series was Yamaha's take on the Les Paul, it shows up in the catalog 1976-82. This good-looker is a little different to most other Studio Lords, suggesting it might be a very early example. Firstly, and significantly: this has the open-book headstock, akin to a Gibson; even the 1976 catalog shows the significantly more common castle-style headstock that adorns almost all of these models. Also different from the late models is the body: instead of a pancake-style join, this has the more traditional two piece body, and it's packing some lovely tightly grained mahogany underneath the red finish. The top features a superbly pretty piece of plain maple; it's wearing some subtle, even grain and is well matched along the join in the middle. It really does look brilliant; the aged pickups and surrounds really make the top pop. This model packs some push/push tone pots to split the pickups; often half of a humbucker sounds pretty lifeless, but this sounds great in every pickup combo on offer. There's a lovely warmth and body to the tone, it balanced a thick saucy midrange with tight lows and chiming, articulate highs. Most Studio Lords have a three piece maple neck; this one instead has a really sweet one piece mahogany neck; again, closer to the Gibson modus-operandi. This oozes class and playability, it's superb in the hands. It's got some non-original parts, but it's still a very interesting example of this Topshelf-favourite model. Very cool indeed.
Model: Yamaha Studio Lord SL550S
Made: Japan, 1976 (best estimate, maybe 1975; serial 300240)
Finish: red sunburst over plain maple
Body: 2-piece mahogany, non-pancake, plain maple top
Neck: mahogany, 1-piece, rosewood board
Weight: 4.7kg approx
Mods: knobs changed, pickup selector surround changed, machine heads changed, one tone pot replaced, pickguard removed
Neck pickup: original covered PAF-style humbuckers, splittable
Case: basic gig bag
Cosmetic condition notes: minor finish wear. There's a few dings around the edge of the headstock, especially along the bottom edge. The neck is fairly clean with minor dimples only. The back has some widespread minor buckle rash; there's small dents and scratches around most of the back. The edges has a few scuffs and marks; mostly concentrated near the rear strap pin and near the input jack; as well as a chip in the 'waist' area on the back. The top is pretty clean, just some minor play scratches above and below the strings from play. There's some pretty significant pitting on the chrome (all works fine) and discolouration on the plastics. Overall: very good condition (8/10)
Playing condition notes: Action is low, neck is straight, intonation is good, truss rod works. All electrics tested and working properly. Frets look recently dressed, they're very even and polished, plenty of height in them; 8/10 for life left. Wearing fresh 11/49s.