In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: December 13, 2020
Prime Sound is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
For musical instruments many artists know not to look farther than the very successful Yamaha brand, especially when choosing a new acoustic guitar. For beginners, mid-level learners, and intermediate musicians, the Yamaha company offers some of the highest quality instruments at a lower price for better the value than you’d get walking into your local guitar store – it’s safe to say, Yamaha acoustic guitars rank in the all-time favorites. In fact, some of the names of musicians who’ve played these guitars might rank in your personal all-time favorites, names like Peter Hayes, Chris Henderson, Michael O’Neal, the Osbornes, Glenn Pearce, and many others. Although each of these artists used different Yamaha guitars, it’s our hope you’ll have no trouble choosing the best Yamaha acoustic guitar.
Our review covers the best of these guitars pulled right out of the Yamaha collection; we’ve taken a hard look at their features including wood type, scale length, and overall sound so that you don’t have to. Some very important features included body type and how that design/shape works to influence each musicians sound, the number of frets, and even overall price for you starving musicians on a budget.
In researching these guitars, we reached out to Yamaha’s guitar designers as well as many of the verified customers for these instruments, asking what design aspects influenced certain sounds or which guitars had the capability to play certain songs where other instruments didn’t. Our findings are organized below in a comprehensive chart listing product details, as well as a buying guide included at the end to provide further insight into these wonderful instruments. It’s our hope that armed with this information your buying process will be greatly simplified and just as fun as making the music you love.
This TransAcoustic Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar is just a beauty, there’s nothing else that it can be called but a gorgeous instrument. Made from mahogany wood with that burnished coloration around the back and sides, as well as that dark wood spruce top integrated into the body for that Dreadnought shape, it’s hard to look at any other guitars without feeling disappointed.
Not to mention, this is fully acoustic with electronic capabilities, meaning on its own it has a great sound that can fill a bar or a street corner with excellent pop noise, folk cords, or plain old backwoods old timey jazz – however, with hookups this guitar has a solid bridge and included SRT Piezo pickup. Electronics even include a SYSTEM70 trans acoustic preamp so that you can be heard wherever you go with three simple knobs on the pickups allowing you to adjust the amount of volume and the effects which sound through.
The sound alone is breathtaking, whether you’re playing over preamp or disconnected, because this guitar offers amazing sound reverb and chorus without the need for external amplification. If that’s not enough it includes a 25.5-inch scale length capable of playing any tune along with 20 frets and a solid fingerboard made from rosewood with a gloss finish; nut width comes in at 1.69 inches.
What we liked:
High quality SYSTEM70 trans acoustic preamp.
Actuator included within the guitar for advanced vibration pickup.
Limited Lifetime Warranty for Top, Back, Neck, and Sides.
What could be better:
1-Year warranty for all electronics.
Doesn’t come with a case or gig bag.
The action is shipped a tad high and it really takes an experts’ help to lower it perfectly.
Yamaha’s FS800 Series was designed with a body that wouldn’t sacrifice tone and volume while also providing a comfortable experience, and this was done by creating a new scalloped bracing pattern for the guitar interior which also allowed for many Yamaha guitars in this series to project naturally with that pleasing warm mahogany tone.
This is why it should come as no surprise that this FS850 guitar featuring a full mahogany body top, back, and sides offers one of the warmest tones with excellent reverberation. The finish is rather glossy, but it compliments the darker tones of the rosewood bridge and fretboard nicely; a fretboard which includes 20 frets for a 25-inch scale length. Nut adjustments should be minimum and easy with your hands or adjuster tool as the nut width is only 1.69 inches and the neck is c-shaped and bends naturally toward the musician. Body type overall is the standard ‘concert’ shape, and overall orientation of the body lends itself to a right-handed player.
This specific model is an awesome acoustic guitar for blues music in particular. Mind that it is not equipped with a preamp or pickups, and for those players who’ve never wanted it any other way except pure unalter acoustic, this is the instrument for your hands.
What we liked:
Warmest sounding mahogany guitar.
Comes with a protective case and a music stand. Or can be chosen with ‘guitar only’ option.
Design offers great and natural projection.
What could be better:
Poorly made pickguard which customers have complained ‘peels off’.
The action on Yamaha guitars is too high for many musicians.
For the best height some buyers have sanded the saddle down.
For this Yamaha guitar, craftsmanship has been placed above everything else. It’s design has been handcrafted by some of the finest expert Japanese luthiers, and in constructing this dreadnaught design they included some of the finest materials – surprising considering how affordable this acoustic legend guitar is.
Handcrafted into this design is a solid Engelmann spruce top, multilayered reinforced neck, and ebony fretboard. The full body itself is solid rosewood for a darker sound and a lower longer reverb in store for each song you play, not to say that you won’t be able to hit those higher notes on that 20-fret fretboard; after all this guitar comes with an extended 25.5-inch scale length. Additionally, it includes electronic components for even more noise potential, such as an SRT Zero impact passive pickup, and an ebony bridge to provide greater vibrations for the preamp to translate. Other guitar features include die-cast tuners with a 1.73-inch nut width, and a neck block to reinforce the neck joint for this impressively long neck and immediately makes your guitar stand out as the dreadnaught it is.
All frets are hand sanded to perfection, the final product is coated in a thin gorgeous gloss, and when it really comes down to just sound this guitar offers a balanced tone and response with the bass and treble complementing each other.
What we liked:
Blended woods ensure sustained highs and maximum control over note texture.
Lifetime body warranty.
What could be better:
Doesn’t come with a guitar case or gig bag.
Some customers think the passive pickup sounds ‘tinny and harsh’.
If you’re looking for an entry-level guitar, you’ve come to the best. This acoustic guitar with a dreadnaught style body is crafted from warm materials that offers more of a poppy or even light-hearted jazz sound, but are also considered cheaper than other wood types.
The body wood incorporates a solid spruce top into a blend of nato and okume back and sides along with some additional nato wood blended into the lower parts of the neck; additionally, the fingerboard with 20 frets is rosewood. The entire body is designed with that interior scalloped bracing for a warmer sound that has better control and sounds louder without the need for external hookups. With nato and okume woods this is also one of the lightest weight guitars and will be an easy instrument to carry around while busking or moving from gig to gig – though purchase does not include a gig bag.
The casting around the guitar is sold black and white binding with a thin layer of glaze for that shine and added texture; last but not least the tuners are die-cast with a 1.69-inch nut width and control over a 25-inch scale length. This is a fantastic and affordable guitar for those of you just starting out, and it offers a great balanced sound with light tones.
What we liked:
Reinforced scalloped bracing for a sturdy long-lasting guitar.
Cheaper woods that equal a lighter and more affordable instrument.
This guitar is more than just a pretty face. It’s designed to command the powerful voice and balanced sound of heritage Yamahas – and that’s already a wide collection of very different guitars to design one instrument to match. However, as a part of the classic FG line, this FG740SFM combines quality, dependability, playability and value.
It also includes many of the same features as the FG730S, but with a stunning cosmetic upgrade that includes a flamed maple back and sides. Complete with a solid spruce top for tone and look, durable chrome hardware, and rosewood finger board and bridge, this guitar is a superior instrument for an affordable price. It offers 20 frets and a 25.5-inch scale length with chrome tuners. For a guitar which survives against aging and the natural wear and tear of outside gigs or busking in the rain/moist climates, you can’t ask for better than chrome hardware.
This guitar won’t corrode or tarnish with time, the chrome is corrosion resistant, and it stays shiny, bright, and easy to clean for years to come. For just the sound, it’s the spruce wood top which will give the most difference by ensuring excellent projection with a bright clear sound that offers a dynamic range to whatever style of music you’re playing.
What we liked:
Corrosion resistant and age-defying chrome hardware.
Full lifetime warranty on the top, back, sides, and neck.
Stylish flamed maple back and sides.
What could be better:
Gig kit or guitar case not included in purchase.
As with most Yamaha guitars, the action was set too high upon arrival.
JR models are essentially compact versions of Yamaha’s famed FG series. These junior FG guitars deliver authentic acoustic sound anytime and anywhere you want – in fact, they even come with an exceptional gig bag for travel ease. That’s why this guitar in particular is the best instrument for a kid, especially if you’re kid has only just started playing for the first time.
The JR2TBS features a spruce top that offers added control over the guitar’s projection as well as a dynamic range for any song, additionally this instrument comes with a nato neck and mahogany back and sides – meaning this guitar will be lighter weight because of the nato wood, but it’s tone won’t suffer because the mahogany will pick up the sound as your son or daughter is learning to play. The instrument features a 21-inch scale length with 20 frets along a rosewood fingerboard with a light rosewood bridge that creates a subtle hum rather than those too deep vibrations you get with some ebony fingerboards.
To stave off age from constant play, moist environments, or mistreatment, this guitar comes with complete chrome hardware as well as a standard zippered gig-bag.
What we liked:
This is the best beginner guitar for your kid!
Comes with a standard gig bag for all occasions and traveling to and from school/guitar lessons.
Very affordable instrument for a beginner.
What could be better:
It’s smaller than the promised ¾ scale size Yamaha lists.
The guitar has a slight ‘tinny’ sound according to some customers.
Things to Сonsider
The remainder of this buying guide is provided to give you advice on changing your music with a Yamaha guitar among other things like advice on maintenance, proper finger placement, and specifications of the features which are listed with the Yamaha collection. These features are detailed below and we’ve even listed many of the top instruments which best exhibit certain feature attributes.
Change your music for good – play Yamaha
One of the reasons artists are swayed toward Yamaha acoustic guitars is because this brand is probably one of the most well-known names out there, meaning it reliable and consistent with the quality of the instruments it produces. Yamaha is an experienced name with an amazing understanding of the pulse and rhythm of their customers and what it takes therefore to make a market an excellent guitar.
Not to mention, this also includes a wide range of guitars; Yamaha perhaps has the largest guitar collection of any musical instrument brand, and this means that when they say they have something for everyone – medium player, beginners, intermediate musicians, and even kids – they really do have a massive offering with all kinds of guitar designs and styles.
Overall the value of their guitars can’t be beat and they end up beating out all other competitors in their market. These acoustic guitars are highly affordable without sacrificing parts or design to be that way, making the guitar itself the most valuable part. Each instrument goes through rigorous custom handling and shaping for a great sound that equals an even greater field of performance – not to mention the added accessories that Yamaha offers for all their instruments.
Acoustic guitar cleaning tips
First off you’re going to want a soft cleaning cloth; there are specialty cleaning clothes, but these are fairly expensive and not actually always that good for a particular guitar. Your local music stores will typically offer cleaning cloths or ‘polishing cloths’ for free, otherwise you can use any scrap of cloth made of 100% old cotton tissue – do not use paper towels as many can actually scratch a delicate finish.
Remember to wipe down your guitar using circular motions at the end of every practice or playing session – you do this every time because it greatly limits the amount of dirt buildup and therefore makes it unlikely that you’ll need to do deeper cleanings in the future. You can simply wipe most areas of the cloth, but since dust tends to collect most under the strings and near the bridge of the guitar this should be the major focus of your cleaning. Light smudges and fingerprints are best cleaned with a barely moist cloth – even just a puff of your breath or one spray of water on a cloth should be enough to get the job done.
As little moisture as possible is best for a guitar, because on the off chance your instrument has tiny cracks, getting moisture into those breaks will cause swelling and therefore change or otherwise effect the sound. This is why you don’t want to directly spray your guitar with water or Windex cleaner; but once you’re done dusting it never hurts to use a light wood polish.
The Yamaha brand is known for its affordability, you really won’t find other competitors on the market which can compare. For their guitars, Yamaha has an excellent price point which rarely rises or falls below its sell-by value, and for the materials and hardware used the price is often a steal you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.
Consider following features to choose your ideal Yamaha acoustic guitar
Many of the following features you’ll have seen listed in the product reviews above. In this section we further elaborate on these features and how they change the dynamics of an instrument.
Inspecting the body
Obviously, you won’t be able to inspect the guitar body of an instrument purchased offline, but for when you do or if you’re able to somewhat with images, here is some information which will help make that good start. The body of an acoustic guitar is composed of the top – usually called the soundboard – and the top is typically supported by internal bracing which honestly makes one of the largest differences when it comes to sound. For instance, the unique internal bracing used in the Yamaha FS850 gives it that excellent bluesy sound.
Next, it’s the sides and back of the guitar forming together which creates the hollow chamber, where the body curves help create a part of the instrument known as the upper and lower bout. The bout greatly influences the shape or waist of the guitar and likewise both the sound and playability of an instrument – the dreadnaught shape is a clear favorite for this reason. Guitars like the Yamaha FG-TA and Yamaha FG800 greatly illustrate how guitar body can affect sound. Finally, the sound hole through which sound projects, should be aligned with the waist at the base of the fretboard; the sound hole is often fitted with a protective pickguard made of plastic or other materials.
Choose the shape and size
The size of a guitar and the shape of its neck varies by manufacturer, so it makes sense to search for an instrument that you find easy to play. There are many types of guitars, from classical guitars that have been around for many years, to electric guitars used to play rock and jazz. Each type has its own unique way of expressing sound based on a variety of features, the foremost being the neck length/shape and the second being the wood type used throughout the guitar.
Look at the tonewood
Spruce wood sets the standard wood use for tops because its high rigidity combined with lightweight feel make for a natural high velocity sound; it has direct tone capable of retaining clarity – meaning its ideal for sustained notes. Cedar, when used, creates a balanced warm sound and it’s a wood particularly favored by fingerstyle players for its quick and rich response.
Mahogany actually has one of the lowest response rates due to its considerable density, however its often mahogany guitars which offers than strong ‘punchy’ tone we associate with blue music. Likewise, Maple is very similar to mahogany, except as it ages it tends to be less predictable (sound-wise) and create unique tonal characteristics. Finally, Rosewood is known for its high response rate – this is why you so often see rosewood parts in addition to full mahogany bodies – rosewood offers a wide range of overtones and overall has one of the darkest tone sounds.
Frets and scale length
A guitar neck contains something called the ‘truss rod’, typically made of metal. It’s this rod that prevents your instrument from bowing and twisting against string tension and environmental factors. As you adjust a truss rod you correct any intonation issues; this can be done either at the headstock itself or just inside the guitar at the base of the neck. The fretboard runs along the top side of the neck (also called the fingerboard) and is usually a separate piece of wood glued into place and constructed most commonly from ebony or rosewood.
Thin strips of metal, called frets, are embedded in the wood along half-step increments across the 12-tone scale to show where different notes are played. Most guitar fretboards have inlaid dots or symbols on the odd-numbered frets, starting with the third – excluding the 11th and 13th in favor of the 12th, or the octave. Thus, the longer the scale, often the longer the fretboard. The shorter the neck, the shorter the scale as in the case of the Yamaha JR2TBS. As for the fretboard width, it’s pretty standard on all models, though might be a little wider on more advanced instruments, like twelve-string guitars.
Should you opt for an acoustic-electric?
For beginners wondering the main difference or which type of guitar is better to start with, you should know that an acoustic-electric guitar is not a cross between an electric and an acoustic guitar, instead it’s just an acoustic guitar with the addition of electronics that make it easier to amplify your sound. So that’s pretty much your answer: if you want a louder sound for street performances, concerts, etcetera, an acoustic-electric will allow for that and can even often be connected to an external amp (you can get a high-quality guitar amp for under 200 dollars only) for even more sound. It all depends on your needs. For beginner needs, we suggest the very affordable Yamaha LL16-12ARE.
Put simply, the bridge is a piece of wood placed below the soundhole, it’s the thing which anchors the strings and transfers what you play on them through vibrations to the hollow body of the guitar. Bridge pins connect into the holes on the bridge to anchor the strings in place.
Some great accessories which will add to your guitar and your playing experience include: gold-colored bronze bass strings (preferably 80/20 rating, meaning 80% copper and 20% bronze) because they offer a bright timbre and louder volume. You might need to restring your guitar if you’re a leftie, or simply get a special left-hand acoustic guitar in that case. Clip on tuners are a must because they make tuning more exact and faster while you’re on the go. Capotastos to fit over the head of your guitar when changing the sound – though make sure the one you purchase is sized for your specific instrument. And if your guitar doesn’t come with one, then definitely consider getting a protective hard case or a gig-bag for protecting and carrying your guitar everywhere you go.
Yamaha offers a limited warranty on their hardware and electronics for up to a year’s time since the date of purchase, however they offer a full lifetime warranty for all parts of the body includes sides, back, top, front, fretboard, and neck.
Because of the wide range of guitar types in the Yamaha collection there really is a guitar for every player based on that musician’s aptitude and ability to play; this includes musicians who are just starting out and even kids!
Guitar strings can be quite unstable. For instance, their pitch will decrease in hot or humid environments. Brand new strings also take some time to be broken in. A guitar that is out of tune will not be able to play chords cleanly. Therefore, once a guitarist picks up a guitar, the first thing he or she does is tune it. Basic tuning methods include using a tuner – which means you look at the electronic meter to tune the pitch of all six open strings. Or you can tune all by hand using a tuning fork for the correct pitches, for instance: First sound the tuning fork and then tune open string 5 to the note of A. Then tune the note sounded when string 5 fret 5 is pressed and open string 4, the note sounded when string 4 fret 5 is pressed and open string 3, the note sounded when string 3 fret 4 is pressed and open string 2, and so on and so forth. Move to the next string.
The only way to learn is through practice because for playing an instrument there really are no shortcuts. If you can, make sure you are taking lessons from a trained professional, because if you want to learn chords quickly working one-on-one with a trained musician is probably the best method. If you can’t afford a teacher, at least start somewhere and look up online training videos – there are thousands on YouTube – and these will help jumpstart your learning process. Practice, practice, practice!
In closing we always prefer to leave our readers with our top three nominations for what our research and advice from expert opinions shows to be the best Yamaha acoustic guitar.
Yamaha FG-TA. This acoustic-electric guitar is truly a one-of-a-kind original and offers one of the most unique sounds of any Yamaha guitar with high quality materials – including high quality hardware – as well as dials which can pump up the volume or change the sound for whatever song you’re playing in whatever venue.
Yamaha FS850. With a mahogany body and rosewood fretboard along with unique scalloped bracing, there is no better guitar for playing the blues. The mahogany adds to the punchy notes of blues music while the rosewood helps the musician maintain control and better sustain all those sultry notes.
Yamaha FG740SFM. For the musician on a budget or the student just picking up guitar, there is no better solution than the FG740SFM. This guitar is excellently crafted with long-lasting chrome hardware and smooth wood blends for a unique sound. Not to mention the crisp look with the flamed maple back and sides.