Comparative Review of the Yamaha SG 1802, 1820 & 1820A Guitars

This is an attempt to sum up 3 reviews I have made for Guitare Live magazine : Yamaha SG 1802, SG 1820 & SG 1820A (follow the links to watch the videos).

Yamaha recently brought some novelties in the SG series of guitars with the SG 1802, 1820 et 1820A models. These 3 models range from the vintage style to the modern style in terms of aesthetic, and tone…

Same Manufacturing

Though these 3 guitars are aiming different kind of styles, they all share a lot in common in terms of lutherie, and equipment.

  • Mahogany body
  • Maple top
  • Mahogany neck
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Grover locking tuners
  • Stopbar Tone-Pro bridge

Differences Make the Character

The tone characteristics of the 3 guitars are derived from the pick-ups for the most part. The finishes account for a small part of the identity of the guitars as they remind some specific periods.

  • SG 1802 : Seymour Duncan SP90 pick-ups. The Gold Top finish is awesome, and very close to that of the original Les Paul.
  • SG 1820 : Seymour Duncan ’59 pick-ups. The Vintage White finish is very realistic. It looks actually like a real vintage white color.
  • SG 1820A : EMG 81 & EMG 85 pick-ups. The Silverburst finish is not shiny, and glossy which is cool.

Les Paul-esque Ergonomics

In terms of comfort, and playbility the 3 Yamaha SG guitars are very close to the Gibson Les Paul. They all weigh about 4,5 kg but the SG 1820A seemed to be a little bit heavier than the two others.

The neck profiles are quite thin. They are very close to the Les Paul 60s neck profile. It might seem weird that the SG 1820A has such a neck profile as it is supposed to be a modern kind of guitar. The neck profile is far from the standard modern guitars made for metal though. You have to know it.

Rock Tones

In terms of tone, my favorite Yamaha SG was the SG 1802. The Seymour Duncan SP90 have a lot of dynamics. They react pretty well to the way you attack the guitar strings. The tone isn’t as fat as you would expect it from a Les Paul though. I obtained my favorite tone on the Lead channel of my amplifier : kind of dry, and raw sound.

The SG 1820 is the most versatile of the new SG series thanks to the awesome Seymour Duncan ’59 pickups. I really digged the overdriven tone of the bridge pickup which is full of harmonics. It is an aggressive tone but the kind of nicely aggressive. The neck pickup has a much warmer tone. However, I think that Yamaha could have bring some variation there by using two different pick-ups for the bridge, and the neck.

Last but not the least, let’s finish with the SG 1820A loaded with EMG pickups. To tell you the truth, active pickups are not my favorite though I don’t dislike playing a guitar loaded with them. On the Clean channel of the amp, I couldn’t get a really clean tone. On the other hand, the overdriven sound obtained with the Drive channel was really good even at the highest gain level. I played it in drop D for a while, and I think that was the most awesome use I had with it. It’s kind of brutal, and rumbling. However, when you set a lower gain level you can play it in a more rock kind of way.

If I Could Keep One…

Well, it would be the Yamahe SG 1802 that impressed me the most either at the aesthetic level or tone speaking. It also is the less versatile model of the 3 new Yamaha SG guitars. Be sure that if I was given one of the two others, I wouldn’t say no… not at all!

Well, the “If I Could” is justified as the price points of the Yamaha SG guitars are way beyond my finances (1802 : 2449€ – 1820 : 2946€ – 1820A : 3618€)… Yep… Quality comes with a price.

About Sem

I am the founder of Muzicosphere (that also exists in a French version). In 2011, I also created Guitar Fail, the Guitar LOL place to be. And before that I created GAS a GoGo, a gear giveaways blog in French.

One comment

  1. claude blondin

    Thanks for the review..I just purchased the 1820A silver burst at Steve’s Music in Ottawa,Canada for the insane sum of $1299.97(new) Canadian.Beautiful instrument with a classy case.Couldn’t resist at that price.As for the weight,I own a 79 Les Paul Custom that weighs about 3 pounds more.A real back breaker.Will probably play it sitting down until my leg goes numb. YIKES!

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