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When it comes to acoustic guitars, Yamaha is an obvious go-to.
Yamaha is known, not just for their acoustic guitars, but for also for their electric guitars, digital pianos, keyboards, synths, drums, and a great deal more. That means they’re a true powerhouse when it comes to the manufacturing of quality musical gear.
Yamaha acoustic guitars, though, have been seen in the hands of Billy Corgan, John Denver, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon, among many others.
So, there must be something to these Japanese made acoustic guitars, and in this guide, we’ll look at the best ones money can buy.
Yamaha A-Series A3R Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Quick side note before we start, I’ve had some readers ask about the easiest way to learn guitar. I’ve shared that here for those that are interested.
Ok, back to the article.
The Yamaha A-Series A3R acoustic-electric guitar is a mid- to upper-tier acoustic-electric guitar, and the most expensive on this list.
As with most Yamaha guitars, the A3R’s outer appearance is unassuming. You wouldn’t look at it and guess, at first glance, that this must be the greatest guitar known to mankind! If anything, it looks like a rather ordinary acoustic guitar (though it does have a cutaway).
In addition to the natural finish seen here, you can also get this axe in tobacco sunburst, but even with a different finish, you might not see it as anything other than an ordinary guitar.
So, let’s dig a little. First, this guitar features a solid sitka spruce top with scalloped bracing, Yamaha’s SRT2 electronics (with a microphone and piezo pickup, as well as the ability to blend between them), satin mahogany neck, and a dreadnought cutaway body with solid back and sides. Those factors are worth writing home about!
Also included is a soft case, but personally, I think you’d be crazy not to invest in a solid shell case too (it would be wise to protect an instrument in this price range).
Obviously, spruce top guitars aren’t rare by any means, and generally I’m not a fan of the “round” tone you tend to get from them. But having listened to the A3R, I can honestly say I’m impressed. You get plenty of percussive attack without brashness, tight highs, and rich lows.
Most customers loved the look, sound, and playability of the instrument, as well as its overall bang for buck.
Less enthusiastic reviewers had issues with buzz. If you do run into any issues, though, you might want to take your axe to a guitar tech for some serious adjustments (in attitude – just kidding!).
Item weight: 6.8 lbs.
Package dimensions: 42.5 x 21.7 x 6.1 inches
Yamaha AC5R ARE Concert Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Now, if you can afford either of the last two guitars (“afford” being the keyword), you may have already found a match made in heaven. The A3R is great for rhythm and leads, the LL16 is a rhythm pattern machine.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t great guitars a little lower down the totem pole. Take the Yamaha AC5R ARE concert acoustic-electric guitar as example.
Its concert body is hip, young, and “sporty” if you will. Makes you think of Taylor guitars in a similar price range. And the body finish is quite beautiful besides.
The concert cutaway AC5R comes with an A.R.E.-treated solid sitka spruce top, solid rosewood back and sides, scalloped bracing, mahogany neck, ebony fretboard with hand-rolled edges, SRT2 electronics with two-band EQ, auto feedback reduction blend control, ebony bridge, Gotoh open-geared tuners, hard-shell case, soundhole cover, and hex wrench.
Let me be perfectly honest with you – you’re going to be hard pressed finding a deal this good in the mid-tier range.
But first, how does its sound stack up?
Well… Look, there’s no way it would sound as good as the previous two axes, right? I hear a bit of frequency bunching, and it’s nowhere near as rich or full as the other guitars already highlighted.
But don’t get me wrong – this is still an excellent guitar overall. I think it sounds much better picked than strummed, though. So, picking and leads is where this axe tends to come alive.
Item weight: 25 lbs.
Package dimensions: 20 x 8 x 50 inches
Yamaha CP700II-12 12-String Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Yamaha has plenty of excellent mid-tier guitars for the money, and the CPX700II-12 12-string cutaway is one of those deals that’s kind of hard to overlook.
At the outset, I should point out that this is a 12-string. Obvious, yes. But if you missed that detail, you’ll either be pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised to find this axe arriving at your door. But we do think it’s worth highlighting at least one 12-string, as they have been favored (for certain songs) by the likes of Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, John Lennon, Tom Petty, and many other legends.
This curvy axe features a voluptuous medium-jumbo body with a solid spruce top (relatively obvious from the finish), rosewood fingerboard and bridge, and System64 one-way ART pickup system.
As 12-string guitars do, this one comes with a rich, full tone overall. The double-course strings obviously help. It would sound far thinner if it only had six strings. But it very much sounds like a typical spruce guitar.
This is also a highly playable 12-string. That’s not a statement I can make about every 12-string axe out there – so that’s saying something. Playability is a big deal, and that factors heavily into our opinion of this instrument.
In summary, this is a great mid-tier 12-string with a nice tone. It’s got great action out of the box, making it easy to play. The electronics add some versatility to the guitar too.
And overall, buyers seem to love it too. We couldn’t find any negative reviews.
Item weight: 5.07 lbs.
Package dimensions: 36.93 x 16.57 x 4.57 inches
Yamaha L-Series LL16 Acoustic-Electric Guitar
The Yamaha L-Series LL16 acoustic-electric guitar is another excellent mid- to high-tier Yamaha acoustic with a slightly classier appearance (compared to the A3R), and an original jumbo body (no cutaway).
This axe comes with a newly designed bracing pattern with A.R.E. treatment, solid Engelmann spruced top, solid rosewood back and sides, five-ply neck, and SRT Zero Impact passive pickup.
So, as with the A3R, you get an all-solid guitar in a similar price range. If you love being able to access higher frets to play rhythm or leads, you might go with that one instead, but for robust rhythms, you’ve got yourself a serious powerhouse in the L-Series LL16.
Pictured here is the brown sunburst, but you can also get this guitar in a natural, dark tint, and black finish. My favorites are brown sunburst and dark tinted. You also get a gig back with this guitar, but hard-shell protection (and humidification) is recommended for all-solid instruments.
This is a rich and full sounding guitar with plenty of high-end crunch (but not too harsh at all). Again, while I’m not usually a fan of spruce tops, this guitar sounds quite usable to me! Must have something to do with that A.R.E. treatment.
Most acoustic guitars are either good for strumming or picking (not both), though I find both works quite nicely on this rounded baby.
Again, most buyers thought this axe was excellent value for the money, and loved the quality, sustain, tone, and electronics.
Some weren’t crazy about the frets or neck. Best case scenario, you will have tried the guitar before purchase to assess fit.
Item weight: Unknown
Package dimensions: 47 x 23.5 x 8 inches
Yamaha FS850 Small Body Acoustic Guitar
So, maybe the 12-string is in the right price range, but not the right style of guitar for you. Totally understandable.
Here’s a guitar that might be of greater interest to you – especially if you find the size of some of the other guitars a little intimidating – the Yamaha FS850 small body acoustic guitar.
This is a concert body acoustic guitar, though you can get it as a dreadnought as well. The guitar is made almost entirely of mahogany, and it comes with a guitar accessory kit and hard-shell case as well (a little odd that higher priced guitars don’t come with hard-shell cases, and mid-tier ones do).
If you search YouTube, you will probably see that this axe is often compared alongside the FSX830C, and it seems like an apt comparison overall – the two guitars do sound quite a bit alike!
But the mahogany does give this axe a slightly darker character, and I rather prefer it. It also has an even tone that’s ideally suited to picking. It doesn’t sound bad strummed, but that doesn’t seem to be its strong suit, especially because of its midrange boost. The FSX830C has nowhere near as much midrange and can better handle different rhythm playing styles.
Overall, buyers liked the price point, sound, and quality of the guitar.
Item weight: Unknown
Package dimensions: Unknown
Yamaha FSX830C Small Body Solid Top Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar
And now we have the perfect FS850 alternative (referenced in the previous section), the FSX830C small body solid top cutaway acoustic-electric guitar.
In this case, the brown burst is quite nice, but you can also get this axe in dark sun red, natural, tobacco sunburst, autumn burst, and black. I do think brown burst is my personal favorite though.
So, here we have a nice, attractive guitar with a classic profile. The cutaway gives you easy access to higher frets, and the smaller body sizes makes it easy to carry around and strap on for live performance.
As you would expect, it comes with a solid sitka top, rosewood back and sides, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, diecast tuners, System 66 (under-saddle piezo pickup with three-band EQ, adjustable mid-range frequency control, chromatic tuner), as well as an adjustable truss rod (we like how they’ve thrown this into the product description, but ultimately, it’s not a feature).
If you’ve read the previous section, then you already have a sense of what to expect sound wise. Yes, this is a nice sounding guitar. It has a relatively balanced sound, and no frequencies stand out. But that’s also what can make it sound a little thin.
It’s those same characteristics that make it versatile too, though – you can use this guitar for strumming and picking.
The midrange frequency control on the pickup is a smart addition. This guitar could use a little help in that regard.
That said, its crisp tone can cut through nicely in a band situation, and that could be an attractive quality depending on what you’re looking for. I find it complementary to fingerpicking.
Reviewers loved the sound, quality, design, and detail of this instrument. Some even said you would be hard pressed to find a comparable guitar in this price range.
Some found it to be a bit of a fixer upper, though, and noted some issues with sloppy binding, action, and even the saddle and nut. If you don’t mind putting a little work into it, though, you could still end up with a real decent guitar.
Item weight: 6.95 lbs.
Package dimensions: 41.6 x 19.1 x 6 inches
Yamaha L-Series LL6 Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Not to be confused with the LL16 we looked at earlier (I almost did myself), here we have the humbler littler brother, the L-Series LL6 acoustic-electric guitar. I say “humbler,” but the L in the L-Series stands for “luxury,” so a luxury guitar at this price is kind of a steal.
Its guts are surprisingly robust too – hand-selected premium Engelmann spruce top treated with A.R.E., mahogany back and sides, five-ply neck, and a SRT Zero Impact passive pickup.
Although pictured here is the dreadnought body model, in this instance, Yamaha’s dreadnought design almost resembles a jumbo because of the heavier bottom end.
This is an axe with some serious, crisp attitude. It projects nicely and has a rich low end too. For some, its crisp attack might be too much. Have a listen to a few demos before settling on this instrument. Personally, I like it.
Reviewers were quite happy with the amount of guitar they got for the price, citing the binding, tone, and design as characteristics they favored.
Some apparently had some issues with the neck and frets though.
Item weight: 7.5 lbs.
Package dimensions: 43.5 x 22.3 x 6.4 inches
Yamaha FGX820C Solid Top Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Here’s another dreadnought that could be a worthy addition to your collection. The Yamaha FGX820C solid top cutaway acoustic-electric guitar is a real bottom-heavy instrument with some player-focused features.
Even with its slightly lower price point, it comes with a solid sitka spruce top. Below the hood, it’s also got mahogany back and sides, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, diecast tuners, System 66 under-saddle piezo pickup (three-band EQ, adjustable midrange frequency control, chromatic tuner), and an adjustable truss rod (again, not really a feature).
The instrument shares quite a bit in common with the previously introduced FS series, and the feature set just described should strike you as at least somewhat familiar by now too.
But again, let’s look at what counts. How does this guitar measure up against the stellar lineup we’ve already considered?
In total, it seems to have a relatively balanced tone. “Round,” just as you would expect from spruce, but there is some added warmth in the midrange, and it projects quite nicely too. Also, it doesn’t sound half bad strummed or picked.
Most customers were quite pleased with this guitar, citing its finish, sound, and quality as positive attributes.
Others said your new axe will probably require setup. Not the worst thing in the world, but it’s always good to know when there might be a more extensive financial outlay than originally expected.
Item weight: 7.23 lbs.
Package dimensions: 42.5 x 20.7 x 6.1 inches
Yamaha Storia III Acoustic Guitar
The Yamaha Storia III acoustic guitar has a decidedly rustic and earthy appearance, suggesting that it might be just the workhorse you’ve been hunting for.
This guitar comes with a solid mahogany top, mahogany back and sides, inlays (black, wine red, and ivory), as well as a gloss finish.
The Storia series is geared towards younger players and beginners who are interested in the guitar and want to discover the magic of playing an instrument specifically and music in general. The design of the guitar reflects this, with a durable design, and of course, a smaller body.
The axe sounds quite warm overall, though not full-bodied. It’s got that laminated, Mini acoustic guitar vibe to it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! That said, this is still quite a bit of guitar for a beginner, and what’s on offer makes the price worthwhile.
Most reviewers liked the craftsmanship of the guitar, as well as its sound and projection.
Some said the guitar sounded too bright and didn’t like the strings. Of course, the string problem is easily solved, as you can swap out your old strings for a new set at any time. It’s not the least bit cost prohibitive at about $8 to $12 per pack.
Item weight: Unknown
Package dimensions: 40.19 x 14.94 x 4.41 inches
Yamaha FG830 Solid Top Folk Guitar
We are decidedly moving into beginner and student level guitars now. Which isn’t to say the Yamaha FG830 solid top folk guitar doesn’t have something to offer. It still features a beautiful, no-frills, classic dreadnought design seen on some of the higher end Yamahas, and it’s got a solid top too.
In addition to a natural finish, you can find this guitar in tobacco sunburst, brown sunburst, autumn burst, and black configurations.
Under the hood, you get a solid sitka spruce top, nato back and sides, rosewood fingerboard, rosewood bridge, diecast tuners, and abalone soundhole inlay work.
Though not as luxurious as an all-solid body guitar, I still wouldn’t call this a humble setup. It’s quite good for the money.
And the guitar sounds reasonably balanced with quite a bit of projection across the frequency spectrum. It’s got a bit of crispness as well, which doesn’t hurt one bit. It doesn’t sound like a top-of-the-line guitar, and probably wouldn’t with the best engineer at the mixer, but it could still prove a solid all-around workhorse for practice, rehearsal, and even the occasional performance.
Happy customers said this guitar was “too good to be true,” and loved the overall quality, detail, and design of the axe.
Less enthusiastic reviewers didn’t like the thin neck, and some found the binding and inlay a little sloppy. Although Yamaha seems to have better QA than some brands, there might be the occasional stinker in the bunch. It’s just how it is.
Item weight: 6.57 lbs.
Package dimensions: 42.5 x 20.7 x 6.1 inches
Yamaha APX600 NA Thin Body Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Now for something a little different. The bold, S-curved Yamaha APX600 NA think body acoustic-electric is a rather “smart” looking guitar with a design that immediately stands out from the bunch.
It’s available in black, natural, vintage white, old violin sunburst, and oriental blue burst, just to up the “fun” factor.
Its thin-line cutaway body might not be for everyone but could become a fast favorite for certain players. Even pros like Nuno Bettencourt can be seen playing thin bodied acoustic guitars to devastating effect. It’s basically like holding an electric guitar, except that it’s acoustic, which some people like.
Its features include a 25” scale length, narrower string spacing, scalloped bracing, rosewood fingerboard, abalone soundhole rosette, spruce top, and a stage-focused pickup system.
Translation – this is basically a “fast” acoustic guitar that would handle blistering leads and complex licks quite well. Great for electric players who aren’t as comfortable on acoustic guitars.
Given its design, the pickup system is really a must. With a thin body, it doesn’t have the same richness you would expect from a more full-bodied guitar. It doesn’t sound bad by any means, but in many ways, it sounds as it looks. The electronics, though, allow you to tweak the “plugged in” sound to your heart’s content, and you can dial in tones that would be perfect for live performance.
Customers thought it was a great guitar for the price, found it easy to play, and felt it was comfortable too.
Some reviewers said the guitar fell out of tune too easily. That’s where some setup work could make a difference.
Item weight: 6.51 lbs.
Package dimensions: 42.2 x 5. 19.7 inches
What Should I Look For In A Yamaha Acoustic Guitar?
Yamaha has some excellent offers for every acoustic guitar player. But you may not be looking for what others are look for, and vice versa.
So, in this section, we’ll offer a buyer’s checklist to help you identify your ideal axe.
Here are the main factors considered here:
- Your skill and experience level
- The sound of the guitar
- How playable the guitar is
- How you’re planning to use the guitar
- How much the guitar costs
Let’s go a little deeper into each.
Pro, Intermediate, Beginner
What level do you play at?
Although this is likely a factor you would consider alongside price point, it can help to buy based on your overall skill and experience level.
Buyers seem the least happy when they end up with a guitar that wasn’t matched to their skill level. As a more advanced player, you can only expect so much from guitars in the $200 to $500 level, even though Yamaha does have some solid offers in that price range.
If you’re planning to spend less, then recognize that you’re not going to get as much guitar. It’s just the way it works.
For beginners, a low maintenance guitar can be quite nice. An all-laminate or solid top guitar at the $200 to $500 price point should suffice.
The longer you play the guitar, and the more you perform and record, the more important the sound of the instrument becomes. An axe with a superb tone gives you confidence that you can be and play at your best in every setting.
Sound is also subjective. You like what you like. Others like what they like. I’ve shared some thoughts on tone throughout, but don’t use my ears as the ultimate test. Go and watch some videos or listen to sound demos yourself to get a better sense of what works for you.
Playability is predicated on factors like action, frets, neck size and shape, strings, and so on. Some of these variables can be adjusted to better suit the individual. About the only thing you can’t change is the size and shape of the neck.
A playable guitar, overall, is generally more desirable than one that’s not. And while some guitars arrive ready out of the box, others sometimes require a bit of setup work.
Either way, the best way to know whether a guitar is right for you is to play it for yourself and see.
How are you planning to use the guitar? Will you be using it to practice, write songs, rehearse, record, or perform? A combination of these, or all the above?
A beginner would do well to purchase a durable guitar (generally laminate) at a lower price point. Meanwhile, a more advanced player who requires top-notch tone would probably go for a more expensive guitar.
There are a few different types of guitars listed above, including 12-strings, thin body guitars, acoustic-electrics, and so on.
These are generally matched to different playing styles and applications. Be clear on how you’re planning to use the guitar, and that should give you a better sense of which to choose.
Guitars on this list are somewhere in the $300 to $2,200 price range. These would generally be considered beginner to intermediate level guitars, though there are two or three guitars listed here that would be quite capable for professional use.
Budget, however, is an important consideration no matter what level you play guitar at. We recommend against overextending yourself and going into debt to buy musical gear. So, either buy as much guitar as you can afford right now or save up for more.
What Is A.R.E.?
You may have seen this acronym above and wondered what it meant.
A.R.E. stands for Acoustic Resonance Enhancement and it’s a chemical-free wood reforming technology that allows Yamaha to mature new wood quickly. Matured wood tends to produce a richness of tone that can only be reproduced with age.
Whether Yamaha is successful is a matter of consumer opinion, but overall, most reviewers and experts are quite sanguine about this development.
Top Yamaha Acoustic Guitars, Final Thoughts
Yamaha is obviously not the only acoustic guitar maker out there, and there are numerous others that produce amazing axes – Gibson, Epiphone, Taylor, Takamine, Ibanez, Ovation, and Martin, to name a few.
Normally, we would say if Yamaha were what you’re going for, no substitute would do. That might not be the case here.
That said, Yamaha’s $2,000 guitars are quite nice, and in most cases, you would be hard pressed to find comparable guitars via other brands in the same price range.
So, Yamaha does have something to offer, and their reputation is quite strong. We think the above guitars are totally worth a look.
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Last Updated on August 17, 2021.