Yamaha Guitar Development is a boutique custom shop in Calabasas, California, on the western edge of Los Angeles county. Inside, a small team of luthiers build one-of-a-kind acoustic, electric, and bass guitars for an exclusive roster of prestigious artists. The shop is also a research and development facility, creating and collaborating on the designs and technology that drive our production guitars.
YGD is located on the same campus as the Yamaha Guitar Group, which houses a strategic marketing team. While Yamaha is a quintessentially Japanese company, these close connections within the US are vital to understand and reflect the considerable influence of American artists on global guitar tastes and trends.
With many of Los Angeles’ iconic music venues and recording studios nearby, YGD benefits from convenient access to an expansive community of world-class players, songwriters, and producers. This enables the YGD team to easily connect with a wide range of guitarists, both to get feedback on our prototypes and to guide our product development. Since its foundation in 1990, Yamaha Guitar Development has developed or collaborated on 33 signature models and 57 regular production instruments. Every step we take towards releasing a guitar to the market is informed and validated by real-world artist experience.
As part of the world’s largest musical instrument company, the custom shop has access to resources well beyond what would commonly be available to a small facility. The state-of-the-art shop offers the latest tools, the highest quality of materials, and access to the combined research and expertise that Yamaha has cultivated across all of its divisions over more than 130 years of building instruments. In addition to expected amenities such as a CNC machine and spray booth, YGD also has an onsite recording studio and performance stage to better test and refine every instrument they build. In this setting, the luthiers are uniquely equipped to make the best possible guitars with the best available technology.
The most visible of these are the custom guitars built for our artists. In many cases, these are personalized instruments based on our production models but distinguished with custom cosmetics and electronics. Recent examples include Revstar guitars built for Chris Buck, Matteo Mancuso, and Jade Puget of AFI. Some builds might take an existing series in a dramatically new direction, such as a Pacifica built for Jeff Schroeder of The Smashing Pumpkins – equipped with a 24-fret neck, Floyd Rose bridge, Sustainiac pickup, and bright neon finish – or the hollowbody Revstar® designed for Scott Holiday of Rival Sons. In some cases, these will be completely new designs, such as the 6-string hollowbody bass built for John Patitucci, or the singular 6-string headless bass created for Nathan East.
These unique artist builds appear with our artists around the world, but the majority of the work performed at Yamaha Guitar Development isn’t seen or heard outside of the shop until new features are incorporated into our production instruments. The constant process of experimenting, prototyping, and refining – all validated through extensive artist evaluations and feedback – directly contributes to the design and specifications of guitars that are available to all players.
Yamaha strives to balance traditional Japanese craft with leading-edge technology, and to balance both eastern and western design influences. The Yamaha Guitar Development custom shop lets us balance Yamaha’s expertise in large-scale manufacturing with the intimate attention to detail afforded by a small team of master luthiers, working closely with leading artists to refine every element of our guitars. With our US custom shop playing such an important role in our development process, our hope is that every Yamaha guitar will exceed your expectations, provide a lifetime of inspiration, and feel like it was built just for you.