1997 Yamaha LA-8, as made famous by Gaz Coombes
One of Gaz Coombes' workhorses through the years. Hand-crafted in Yamaha's Custom Shop, this guitar punches well above its weight, with a styling and tone that goes way beyond its original price tag.
Seen off and on in the hands of Gaz Coombes through his solo years, with later adaptation to add in an acoustic pick-up jack via the back strap button, this is a beautifully hand-built guitar from Yamaha's Custom Shop in Japan. With its super-thin satin-finished neck, it's a delight to play. But it's the crystal-clear sound of this guitar that really makes it stand out. It's hard to find a guitar that plays and sounds this good for anything under £1000 - but this one does, and it can rival the depth and clarity of anything above that price-mark.
Founded in 1887, Yamaha is one of those quality design and engineering companies that have embraced seemingly endless variations & product - anything from bathtubs to golf clubs to motorbikes. Luckily, they started with a reed organ, and have continued to expand their musical roots throughout the company's life.
They produced their first guitar in 1946 and by the 1960s were producing guitars that could rival their US counterparts, at a significantly reduced price-point.
The L-series of guitars is testament to this - custom hand-built flat-top acoustic guitars, with an attention to high quality and intricate detail, and a sound that's rich and clear on the lows, and resonant and chiming on the highs.
When it comes to the build, this guitar delivers in spades: from the fully-bound Indian Rosewood fretboard, with its diverse snowflake, teardrop & arrowhead mother-of-pearl inlays; to the 12 concentric circle inlays around the soundhole; to the chevron inlay running straight up the body's back; all with the highest quality aged wood.
A lot of work has gone into making this guitar look very special, and a lot of work into making it sound very special. Work which has definitely paid off. Do a blind sound test against a higher priced brand - chances are, you'll pick the LA-8.
See & Hear It In Action
And here he is with Yamaha LA-8 in hand, at The London Palladium,
9 May 2019
Sentiment by Gareth Evans: A lovely piece by guitar tutor and YouTube denizen, Gareth Evans. Really captures the beautiful chime and depth of this guitar.
20/20 Live at 229 London 2015: Just a fantastic song, let alone the LA-8. Play this on constant loop!
The Girl Who Fell To Earth, 2014: For something more mellow, here he is performing in the BBC Music Tepee at Glastonbury 2014.
Sources & Links
Yamaha LA8 Spec: Proving you just have to seek and you will find the devotee. A great piece of work to bring together the specs for all production acoustic Yamaha guitars. Search "LA8".
LA8 Reviews: A lot of love for this guitar, enabled by the ever-helpful Harmony Central: "Given the quality of the woods used and that this guitar comes from the Handcrafted range it is an absolute steal.
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