Sunday, January 23, 2011

1980s Vintage Japanese Yamaha Lord Player Guitar 500LP

Hi there!

I am glad to be getting back to writing about guitars again. Today we are looking at a nice Les Paul lawsuit guitar.

In case you have not run into these before, the lawsuit guitars were built by Japanese companies in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They used classic guitar and bass designs from Fender, Gibson, Hofner, Martin and Rickenbacker, and made killer knock-offs. The 70s and 80s were not exactly the best years for quality for any of these companies, and consumers really ate up the good quality copies. Well, Fender and the gang caught on eventually and sued the crap out of the Japanese. Some of these very playable guitars are now collectible.

A fine specimen of these is this early 1980s Yamaha Lord Player model 500LP. In traditional Japanese manufacturing-ese, the 500 in the model name relates to the instrument’s original list price, in this case it was 50,000 yen. This was around $250 back then, if I did the math right. I have never seen another one in the US. I picked this one for a few hundred bucks on a business trip overseas.

This Lord Player is finished in a classy tobacco burst, with a little burnt orange thrown in. The body is mahogany, with an agathis back, maybe. It is not unduly heavy for a Les Paul, coming in at a bee’s dick over 10 pounds.

It has a set neck with a rosewood fretboard. The neck is nicely rounded, is between the 50s and 60s style Les Pauls as far as feel. It is straight with plenty of life left in the frets. It has a medium action and it plays like a dream. There are a few small marks on the back of the neck, but nothing that bothers me when I play it, because I am a rock star. Note that this guitar has 1959 Les Paul style headstock. My understanding is that most of these have more of an SG style headstock. Go figure.

Everything appears to be original on this guitar. The wiring is tidy and the pickups and knobs appear to be OEM. The tailpiece shows some pitting and the tuning pegs have a few signs of oxidization but those things are not a big deal. As this is a 25 to 30 year old guitar, there are some small blemishes and the typical soft markings on the rear of the guitar. But overall it is in very respectable condition.

It plays very well with a set of Ernie Ball 0.010s on it. The pickups are sweet at normal levels, and are super crunchy with an overdriven amp. The action and feel is awesome. The neck is not chubby and not thin…in between. All electronics work as they should.

If you are considering a new Gibson Les Paul, think twice. Their necks and frets are a crap shoot in a losing game. Find a lawsuit guitar from Yamaha, Tokai or Greco, and you will spend a lot less coin and get a better playing guitar.

I am glad you could stop by today!



  1. I have *never* seen one of those made by Yamaha. They had come out with their proprietary SG series by then, which were super guitars in their own right, and which sold rather well in the US.

    Do you still have this one,Rex?

  2. Those Yamaha SGs were kick-ass, but I have not seen one of those in a while either. This is the only Lord Player I have ever seen here in the US (and only one other in Japan), and got rid of it to pick up a Tokai Love Rock that was a bit nicer. I still have the Tokai, amazingly enough. Thanks for looking in on the blog, Mr. Corey!


  3. Hi,
    I am from the Netherlands and have a Lord Player LP 400 in cherry sunburst. Nice guitar, better than the 70-ies Gibson LP Custom I once had. It stays in tune very well and plays more easy. I paid about a third or a quarter of the actual prices of a 70-ies LP Standard in Europe. The neck is mahogany and the body is a pancake like afair, though it sounds nice, full and warm.
    Kind regards, Peter

  4. Hi Peter! Thank you for checking in! I think these Japanese Les Pauls are one of the greatest values out there today.

  5. I own a very similar 400 series Lord Player which I picked up in the UK a couple of years ago for £400. I think it's a fantastic guitar. Nothing has been added or altered from its original condition ( it would be nice to know exactly when it was made but I guess I'll never find out). The neck is slightly wider and thinner than my contemporary (real) Les Paul Studio, and the action a little lower, too. This makes is really easy to play. It's my guitar of choice these days, with the Gibson as my back-up for gigs.In fact, as you can see, I adopted the name of the guitar as my Google ID!

  6. I have a LP600, full Mahogany Body and Neck which is the next model up from the 500. I have quite a few Japanese LP copies (Burny, Greco, Aria, Ibanez), lots of Yamaha SG's (50, 85, 1000, 2000, 2500, 3000) and a SL500, and a '75 Gibson deluxe. The LP 600 is the best of my LP style guitars to match an old LP. SG's all have there own sound apart from the SG85 which is quite LP like.

  7. I have a Lord Player LP500 that looks almost exactly like the one pictured but with covered chrome pickups and Grover Tuners. It is a very fine guitar but I believe I am going to sell it. I have replaced it with a Studio Lord SL800 that is just a tad nicer. Maple instead of Mahogany neck, Ebony Fretboard in a word, "nice".
    Anyway the Lord Player has the open book headstock and the SL has the traditional Yamaha headstock. I may list the LP on Ebay unless someone here would be interested. Let me know. I wouldbe happy to send pics