Yamaha GRAND CONCERT GC15S 1975 This Yamaha guitar was made in 1975 by Toshihiro Kato, the best luthier Yamaha Corporation ever had. He was one of the best luthiers Japan ever had. If Kato had his own workshop, he could easily outcompete Masaru Kohno or Sakazo Nakade (top elite Japanese luthiers of that era). Thanks to his incredible talents Yamaha’s Grand Concert guitars were so highly prized by many international players that Yamaha Co. could price them at the same level as Kohno was pricing his instruments. In fact, Yamaha guitars were often of much higher grade than similarly priced Kohno models. During early 1970s Japanese guitar makers were still trying hard to win as many international customers as possible. These were they years of significant international recognition of their, soon very highly regarded products. Yamaha was unquestioned leader among Japanese guitar exporters. Their guitars offered the highest possible level of craftsmanship with great deal of attention to even the tiniest details.Yamaha started their fight for international clients in 1967 with new lineup of classical Grand Concert guitars made according to Spanish blueprints. They were: GC3 (solid Spruce top/ solid Indian Rosewood b/s) GC5, GC7 and GC10 (all 3 models with solid Spruce tops and solid Brazilian Rosewood b/s).In 1968 Yamaha also introduced their lineup of great Grand Concert flamenco guitars. They were GC5F, GC7F and GC10F. The master luthier responsible for production of these guitars was Toshihiro Kato. He was helped by Hiroshi Harada, who was making classical models GC3 and GC5. Both these luthiers were trained by Eduardo Ferrer, a Spanish luthier from Granada, Spain who being invited (and appropriately rewarded) by Yamaha co., travelled to Japan during years 1964-1967.It is very important to explain that 1960s and 1970s were years of very rapid devaluation of Japanese yen (hence rapid inflation of prices for all products). Because during those years practically all guitar models had some numbers closely related to their prices in yen, these models were quite frequently upgraded (relabeled) to higher numbers reflecting their higher prices.For that reason, mentioned above Yamaha’s classical GC guitars lineup, was changed in 1971. New (1971-1973) lineup included models GC3D, GC6D, GC8D, GC10D (all 4 models made with solid Spruce tops & solid Indian Rosewood b/s) GC12D, GC15D and GC20D (all 3 models with solid Spruce tops & solid Brazilian Rosewood b/s). It is worth to mention that until 1974 all Yamaha classical GC models were made exclusively with Spruce tops. In 1974 Yamaha’s classical GC guitar lineup was changed yet again. In that year, for the first time in its history, Yamaha decided to make classical guitars with cedar tops. This newly introduced GC classical guitar lineup included models: GC5M(S), GC7M(S), GC10M(S), GC15M(S), (all with Indian Rosewood b/s), GC20M(S), GC30A, GC30B (all with Brazilian Rosewood b/s). M=spruce. S=cedar, A=spruce, B=cedar Yamaha GC15S was priced 150 000 yen in 1975, when starting yearly salary of Japanese college graduate was around 80 000 yen. Masaru Kohno 15 was priced the same 150 000 yen. Yamaha Co. didn’t compete with Kohno by lowering prices of their guitars. Yamaha GC guitars simply offered more for the same price. In 1975 Kohno top models were 15, 20 and 30 (all with Brazilian Rosewood b/s). Model 30 was priced 300 000 yen just like Yamaha GC30A(B). In 1977 Kohno changed his lineup adding models 40 and 50 (both with improved looks but sounding no different than his earlier model 30) and changing specifications of model 15 from Brazilian Rosewood b/s to Indian Rosewood b/s. Yamaha’s kept their lineup unchanged until 1979. In order to keep their prices at the same level, Yamaha GC guitars made in 1979 were made with somewhat lower grade woods, different finishes and less impressive ornamental extras if compared with those made in 1974. Production of GCM and GCS models ended by the end of 1979. Between years 1980-1985, Yamaha’s lineup was being changed at least few times.In 1985 top models made at Yamaha’s Hamamatsu workshop were GC60 (the same specifications as GC30A from 1979), GC40 (the same specifications as GC20M from 1979), and GC30 (the same specifications as GC15M from 1979). Correct evaluation of a real grade of vintage Yamaha guitars can’t be done just by looking at their model numbers. Yamaha GC10 from 1980 is simply no match with GC10M from 1975. Yamaha GC10D from 1973 is of equal grade with GC15M from 1975. Yamaha GC10 from 1970 is of equal grade with Yamaha GC20D from 1973 and GC40 from 1985. Among all Japanese made vintage guitars Yamahas are simply the most Spanish sounding. Although its body bears multiple shallow dents, scratches and abrasions (most of them located on the soundboard and most of them so light that they don’t show up on the pictures) guitar remains in excellent structural and functional condition. This truly magnificent guitar offers exceptional volume and response combined with very romantic tonality. Its trebles are super sweet, round, yet very crisp. Basses are deep and full of overtones, yet relatively clean. All notes are well balanced, note clarity and separation fantastic, sustain amazing.It is certainly one of those guitars with “replacement value” much higher than its retail price at any given moment in time. If you’d like to buy similar grade brand new “hand made in Spain” guitar, you will have to spend at least $10000. Similar grade brand new instruments made by top Japanese luthiers are priced no less than $6000. From current Yamaha’s classical guitar lineup only GC82 can compete with this Yamaha GC15S from 1975. SPECIFICATIONS:Year(s) Sold: 1974-1979Top: Solid US Cedar/9 braces fan/lacquerBack & sides: Solid Indian Rosewood/urethaneNeck: Honduras MahoganyFingerboard: EbonyString Length: 662mmNut width: 52 mmGuitars action is set to 3.5mm under E6 and 3.0 mm under E1 with very little extra room on the saddle.Guitar will be shipped in used original Yamaha hard shell case in still very good condition. Real Value of Japanese Vintage GuitarsThe key to understand value of vintage Japanese guitars is to acknowledge galloping devaluation of Japanese yen in 1960s & 1970s. This devaluation was somewhat slower in 1980s. The best measure of this devaluation is Starting Yearly Salary of Japanese College Graduate (SYSJCG).SYSJCG in in 1965 was 19 600 yen, in 1969 – 34 600 yen, in 1970 39 200 yen, in 1972 – 62 300 yen, in 1975 79 200 yen, in 1977 121 200 yen and in 1980 – 100 000 yen.During 1960s and most of 1970s model numbers of Japanese guitars were strictly interconnected with their prices in Japanese yen. In late 1970s and during following decades model numbers were no longer strictly associated with their prices. Many Japanese guitar makers introduced model names instead of model numbers. Others were still using model numbers with addition of letter abbreviations or other symbols. The best and only logical approach while evaluating real value (real grade) of vintage Japanese guitar is to compare its price in Japanese yen with SYSJCG during the year guitar was made.Any guitar priced 100 000 in 1970 (labelled usually as No10) would be priced 200 000 yen in 1975 (relabeled to No20 or 2000), 300 000 yen in 1977 (labelled as No3, No30 or 3000). Starting in 1977 Masaru Kohno introduced his model No50 priced at 500 000 (skipping theoretical model 40). Soon other famous Japanese luthiers did the same. By 1983 Kohno started using model names instead numbers and was raising their prices as he was pleased. Naturally soon other Master luthiers did the same.Knowing all of that, you can bet on that Masaru Kohno No50 made in 1982 is practically the same quality as Kohno No15 made in 1972, or Kohno no20 made in 1975 or Kohno No30 made in 1977. I know it for a fact.The lowest grade models currently made by Matsuoka workshop are M75 and MH75. They are commonly considered as “beginner guitars”. Matsuoka model M30 made in 1973 is simply far, far better instrument. It is naturally better than model M50 made in 1977, model 80 made in 1982 or model M100 made in 1990. At present, the highest grade Matsuoka models are M300 and MH300. They absolutely stand no chance in competition with model M150 made in 1975… or model M200 made in 1977. It is very important to mention that if modern era luthiers are using 40 years old woods to make a classical guitar, its price is at least $8000. P.s. If you’d like to check my “modest” playing skills click on the links below: