When I travel I always make it a point to check out smaller guitar shops that might carry interesting or odd instruments. In the middle of a tour in Canada I visited a great little shop in Victoria, British Columbia that had this great, old Yamaha bass! It has quickly become a favorite for it's build quality, looks and most importantly - killer tone!
Yamaha manufactured a range of great full-hollowbody guitars and basses loosely based on the Gibson ES-335 in the late 60's and early 70's. Many of these nearly identical instruments can be found re-branded under other names, but the Yamaha's seemed to be trimmed out much nicer! Build quality has always been pretty great in Japan, but these older instruments really are incredible compared to other production instruments of the time. Serial #'s of the era aren't as consistent as I'd like, but it appears this instrument was built between 1968 and 1972.
This SA70 model features two humbucking pickups, full binding (body, headstock, neck and f-holes), deluxe neck inlays and robust open gear tuning machines. A unique feature of the SA line are the f-hole inserts: The holes have an internally mounted, thin-plastic membrane which helps to reduce feedback at low volumes. It also keeps a lot of dust and debris out of the body cavity! The short scale and subtly tapered neck make it an easy player! The fully adjustable floating bridge has a metal cover perfect for holding foam for a more 'muted' tone!
This SA70 has style for days! What initially caught my eye was the sharp, Rickenbacker-esque body horns and the great pearloid inlays!
I did invert the bridge pickup to move the polepieces further from the bridge. This simple modification added noticeable 'oomph' to better match the neck pickups' broad tone. Otherwise, the only changes I made were the foam in the bridge and a set of D'Addario Chromes flatwounds!
Tonally, it covers a lot of ground from thumpy neck-pickup "old school' to hollow 'tic-tac' type tones with a pick and favoring the bridge pickup! It's also possible to manipulate the effect of the foam mute by adding pressure to the metal bridge cover.
For a bass that's over 40 years old, it really has aged well & everything still works perfectly! The 'pickup balancer' works backwards from convential pan pots, but this is consistent for Yamaha SA's from this time period.
A super fun bass to play & a great vintage 'find'! (This is one of the least expensive instrument purchases I've ever made!)
Basic sound clips! All clips direct to ProTools through nothing but an Aguilar DB900 Direct Box. No eq, compression or post processing on anything you hear.
1st Neck Pickup. Big, full and naturally wooly!
2nd Bridge Pickup. Same lick, but with the bridge pickups brighter and pointier tone.
3rd 50/50 blend of both pickups in context of a track I threw together. Bass mixed far too loud to hear the instrument better!
No longer in Production.
Strung up with D'Addario ECB81 Chromes Flatwounds at D'Addario