Finding the Right Yamaha Guitar
Are Yamaha Acoustic Guitars any Good?
Neck, Body, Sides and Top
Many of Yamaha’s guitars are made in the Western body shape, which is very similar to a dreadnaught guitar. However, some models like the APX600 use a shallow, thinline body shape that’s ideal for players looking for a more compact guitar. Most bodies are made with X-bracing, although Yamaha uses techniques like scalloping to enhance tone, resonance, and sustain, even in relatively affordable models. Good Yamaha acoustic guitars come at all price points.
Even student Yamahas are packed with playability features. If you’re shopping for a child, entry-level instruments like the JR2 have slim-profile necks and shorter scale lengths to make playing easier for those with small hands. More advanced players might appreciate the satin-finished neck of the FG-TA and other higher-end models.
If you like to play up and down the guitar neck, you might want to consider a guitar with a cutaway. Cutaways make fret access significantly easier, and they have almost no negative impact on the sound of a guitar.
Most players notice that even cheaper Yamaha guitars hold their tuning well. This is because the brand tends to use high-quality components. If you’re looking for a guitar with a comfortable fingerboard, you’ll be pleased to see that most of these instruments come with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. Since these features are typically found on more expensive guitars, they give even entry-level models a high-end look and feel.
An entry-level Yamaha will usually come with plastic nuts and saddles. While plastic doesn’t offer the same tone-enhancing properties as bone or composite materials, this shouldn’t be an issue for beginners. Higher-end acoustic guitars will often have nuts and saddles made of Tusq or a similar composite.
Yamaha also offers acoustic-electric guitars at almost every price point. Affordable options like the APX600 come equipped with a natural-sounding piezo pickup. Higher-end models come with the SRT Zero Impact or the SRT2 system. And for players seeking a solid midrange acoustic-electric, the FGX Series offers acoustic-electric versions of the famous FG Series.
For players looking for something a little different, TransAcoustic Yamahas are a good choice. These include optional onboard chorus and reverb effects that work even when the guitar isn’t plugged in. While these effects aren’t absolutely necessary to have, they can add variety to your practice routines and performances.
Sound & Tone
Thanks to thoughtful engineering, even an entry-level Yamaha will tend to sound relatively good. Most more affordable models are made with laminated wood, which doesn’t have the same resonance or tonal complexity as solid woods. In some cases, the back and sides will be made of “locally-sourced tonewoods,” which just means that the manufacturer substitutes different woods based on availability. In beginner instruments, this shouldn’t pose a problem, and it helps keep costs down.
For intermediate players, it’s wise to choose a guitar with a solid top. Solid top acoustics are more responsive, and the difference between these and laminate top guitars becomes more apparent as playing develops.
Nearly all of these guitars are made with traditional X bracing. However, guitars for intermediate and advanced players often also include bracing innovations to enhance tone. For instance, the FG Series of acoustic guitars incorporates scalloped bracing to produce a more noticeable bass response. Some higher-end models are made with all solid wood, which creates a detailed, more resonant tone. It isn’t necessary for many players to purchase an all-solid guitar, but advanced players with a trained ear will likely appreciate the nuance.
Action, Fit & Finish – A Yamaha Speciality
All of these guitars come with low action out of the box. This is important to a successful learning experience – high action can cause finger pain and discourage new players from continuing. Much of the brand’s focus is on playability, and this shows at each level.
Similarly, the fit and finish of these guitars are very good. You aren’t likely to encounter issues with exposed glue, loose-fitting tuners, or poorly-secured neck joints. On less-expensive models, you may occasionally see unevenly applied finish or other small defects, but quality control doesn’t tend to be much of an issue.
If you prefer an instrument that’s more eye-catching, higher-end guitars may be worth looking at, with their more intricate fingerboard inlays and rosettes.
Reliability & Durability –
Yamaha has been making quality, value-rich guitars for over 50 years. Even at low price points, they are built to last. Higher-end Yamahas are typically made in Japan, while lower-end models are often made in China. Chinese-made models may be prone to more quality control issues, but these tend to be minor things like runs in the finish, etc.
An Entry-level Yamaha guitar will be especially durable, as they’re made with all laminated woods. For classical players, the Yamaha School line offers nylon-string guitars that are tough enough for use in school music programs. For students who prefer steel strings, the 3/4-size JR models (modeled after the Yamaha FG Series) offer great playability at an entry-level price.
Value – The main reason to buy a Yamaha
Yamaha’s acoustic guitars are often less expensive than comparable models made by competitors, and they excel at producing mid-range guitars that offer excellent value. Their most famous value-rich line is the FG Series, where FG stands for “folk guitar.” This line of all solid top guitars offers outstanding playability and tone, and the whole lineup is surprisingly affordable.
Yamaha’s high-end guitars are also known for value – the AC5M is a prime example. This guitar’s all-solid build, torrefied top, and innovative electronics are features usually found on guitars costing twice as much.
Which is the Best Yamaha Acoustic Guitar?
While all of the above guitars are fairly high-quality, the AC5M is the best Yamaha acoustic guitar on the list. It’s made with all solid wood for unparalleled, nuanced tone, and the top-notch electronics make it a professional-grade performance machine. Plus, a comfortably playable build makes it a great guitar for beginners and experienced players alike.
Last update on 2023-01-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API