Chris Kelly- “The Only Promise We Have is Now”
This podcast is Round Two with Chris Kelly as he was gracious enough to come back and answer the numerous questions we received after the first one.
Chris has a storied tenure with legacy guitar brands such as Robin, Ibanez, Peavey, Budda Amps, Trace Elliot, and Composite Acoustic. Much of our time focused on the Ibanez years as Chris was Director of Artist Relations and headed up the Custom Shop from 1985-1994.
There is so much goodness in this podcast and I think it is best summarized by this statement from Chris about his career, "There hasn't been a lowest low or a highest high. It's all been one beautiful ride."
Chris is full of a grateful heart and his passion, compassion, and love bleeds through our entire conversation. He shares his thoughts for emerging artists, guitar design principles, and another handful of unbelievable rock n' roll stories.
Just a couple of those nuggets include the best cure for Los Angeles sized hangover, meeting with Prince to discuss designing one of his wild guitars, and the two guitars he did for Kurt Cobain.
The takeaway for me from this podcast is the incredible life lessons and amazing nuggets of wisdom Chris shares.
Truly, his remarks and sentiments are beautiful. What a pleasure, thank you Chris!!!
Yamaha released their first solid body electric guitars in Japan in 1966, known as the SG series. They had some wild designs back then such as the Flying Samurai and Flying Banana, neither of which were exported to the U.S.
What landed stateside first was the humble SG-30, and not until 1973.
The early U.S. SG’s were very “plain Jane” models, but the body shape was the first iteration of what would quickly be made famous by Carlos Santana in 1976.
Through the course of time Yamaha released numerous versions of the SG-”whatever”, all the same body style, but not all of which were exported. To paint the picture here’s a few model numbers for the SG: 50, 70, 90, 175, 500, 700, 1000, 1300, 1500, and it keeps going.
That said, the first high-end model of those was the SG-175 and that’s what Yamaha originally offered Santana as the starting point for his custom guitar.
He suggested some improvements, mainly to improve the sustain he desired, Yamaha implemented and the neck-through SG-2000 was born. Integrating a brass Sustain Plate and T-Cross System, both of those components were patented by Yamaha and helped achieve what Santana needed. It debuted in 1976. (The T-Cross System refers to mahogany wings flanking the maple neck, and the Sustain Plate is a hunk of brass under the bridge.)
Then in 1982, higher end meets the highest end.
The pinnacle of the SG line arrived with the SG-3000. It was cataloged until 1985 and the entire SG line went away after 1988. Since then several limited edition and custom shop runs of the SG’s have emerged at various times.
SG-3000 specs: Mahogany/maple/mahogany laminated neck through, Ebony fretboard, MOP split wing fret inlays, Mahogany body, Abalone purfling adjacent to top body binding, Dual Yamaha Spinex humbuckers, Two volume, two push/pull tone controls for coil splitting each pup, 3-way switch.