Yamaha guitar history
At the end of the 19th century, Yamaha took its first steps in the world of music with the manufacture of pianos and harmoniums. In its beginnings, this family dedicated itself to the manufacture of musical instruments and infused this dream into its logo, which is the union of three intertwined tuning forks.
In 1930, this company created the first acoustic research center in the world. During the same decade, the company took advantage of its experience in wood processing to collaborate in the manufacture of parts for Japanese aircraft that would be used during World War II.
At the end of the war, the company's director, Genichi Kawakami, did not waste the experience and machinery he had acquired. Thus, the production line was maintained, but dedicated to the manufacture of motorcycles.
The second step in its development
The manufacture of guitars by this company began in the sixties. The first Yamaha acoustic guitar was the Folk FG 180, which survives today as one of the best acoustic guitars.
Third step in its evolution
In the eighties, Yamaha started the production of percussion instruments, among them the most emblematic: the Yamaha Custom drum set. This instrument is, to date, one of the best-selling drum kit on the market and is the benchmark for standard measurements.
Evolution of the Yamaha guitar
Many Yamaha guitars were made. We will mention the most important ones:
- FG-180: this is a folk guitar with a relatively small soundboard. It was the first to have a tilting saddle.
- Yamaha SG: was the first Yamaha electric guitar series. Three versions were created: SG-2 and SG-3, as well as SG-5 and SG-7 in 1966. The SG series had an unconventional body and paddle shape, as well as two and three single microphones.
- Bass Guitar SB-2: 1966 also saw the release of their first electric bass, which retained certain features in the same form as the SG series. But it differed in the electronics, as it had two single microphones and no selectors.
- GC classical guitars: this was the first series of “Grand Concert” classical guitars manufactured in 1967 by Yamaha. They had a top quality construction and nowadays their price can be more than 600€.
- Flamenca GC-F: these are some of the most desirable flamenco guitars in this Japanese house and both their construction and design follow the traditional form of Spanish luthiers.
- SA-50: the first series of hollow guitars manufactured by Yamaha. It had ten guitars that by then were very popular in Japan and the United States.
- 1971 Folk FG: The FG series was well received by Japanese musicians and anniversary versions of these guitars continue to be produced.
- FG 350E: this was the first Yamaha electro-acoustic guitar. It had two potentiometers located on the electric guitar-type soundboard. Its design bears a close resemblance to Takamine and some Epiphone guitars.
- 1974 L31: it was the first high-end acoustic guitar and to date is one of the best rated by users.
- GC-A, B and C series: this series was the first to come on the market to offer custom guitars.
- SG 175: it is the first SG type guitar manufactured by Yamaha and it is still in production today.
- CJ Acoustics: it was the first Yamaha Jumbo guitar series and its design has a great resemblance to the current Epiphone Jumbo.
- SF 700 and SF1000 series: the SF 700 was a mild variant of the SG, while the SF 1000 were the first super strato electric guitars manufactured by Yamaha and are still active today.
- SA 2000 Series: these are the first semi-hollow guitars and continue to be very popular among Yamaha users and collectors.
- AE 2000: the ultimate hollow guitar made by Yamaha.
- 1983 CWE: the predecessor of the APX series, had a thin neck like electric guitars, while having a small soundboard. In our experience, the CWE series was better than the APX because it had better sound quality.
- 1985 Session New: the first electric guitar with bolt-on neck and H – S – S microphone configuration, as well as a five-way selector.
- SFX: this series consisted of the first high-end Yamaha electric guitars with licensed floyd rose.
- RGX: represented the beginning of a new era for Yamaha and was launched in 1986 to meet the needs of shred guitarists.
- APX Series: it was offered to the market under the premise of being the electroacoustic guitar with the most robust construction. Although this resistance is absolutely true, for us it does not have the best sound and it is even a bit hard ergonomically.
- YEG 100-A: it is Yamaha's centennial guitar and it is a total blast. It has an exceptional aesthetic finish and the sound is a marvel. But it had almost no market acceptance.
Later on, many other Yamaha electric guitar models emerged. But the best known of all is the Pacifica series, on which we will focus in this review.
Yamaha Guitarist Ambassadors
- Andy Mckee: is one of the greatest references in fingerstyle. His videos have millions of views on YouTube and he has toured with the progressive rock band Dream Theater.
- Jack Thammarat: he is a Guitar Idol 2009 winner and since then, a reference in shred guitar. His style approaches the technique and musicality of the best guitarists in the world.
- Jason Mraz: is one of today's most prolific songwriters and is a great ambassador for the Yamaha guitar.
- Lee Ritenour: considered one of the great composers and interpreters of the guitar. He has been nominated for almost twenty Grammys for his excellent compositions and collaborations with musicians in the jazz world.
- Mike Stern: a living legend of contemporary jazz guitar who has shared the stage with Miles Davis' band, Jaco Pastorius and many more.
- Oz Noy: is considered a virtuoso of jazz fusion thanks to his wit, personality, expressiveness and technique on the guitar.
- Steve Lukather: virtuoso songwriter and contemporary guitarist, as well as guitarist of the band Toto. He is one of the great ambassadors of the Yamaha family.
- Billy Corgan: is best known for his work with the band The Smashing Pumpkins. His virtuosity as a guitarist and composer has consecrated him as a reference in the world of music.
- Javier Vargas: this guitarist from Madrid is a reference in the blues guitar thanks to his interpretative capacity and exceptional technique.
The best Yamaha electric guitars:
The best Yamaha acoustic guitars:
The best Yamaha electric guitars
Yamaha Pacifica 112V OVS
Excellent build quality and sound for a beginner guitar. Very good ergonomics.
Heavy. It does not have the best sustain.
- Materials: alder, maple, rosewood, alpaca, iron.
- Sound: 8/10.
- Size: 121.5 x 45.5 x 10.5 cm.
- Scale: 64.8 cm.
- Weight: approximately 4.5 kg.
This company has created many types of guitars but few are as popular as the Yamaha Pacifica electric guitar. Its quality has been praised by many good guitarists who even qualify it, perhaps exaggeratedly, as a better option than the Fender Squier. Let's analyze its characteristics below.
Three types of wood have been used in this Yamaha guitar: alder for the body, maple for the neck and rosewood for the fingerboard. These woods are quite common in beginner guitars not because they are cheap, but because they are easy to find on the market.
The alder provides excellent durability and, judging by the weight of the guitar, we consider it to be Class AA alder. This is a rare class and generates great confidence in the quality because it also improves the acoustic performance of the instrument. Likewise, maple and rosewood are among the best alternatives for their high hardness and stable vibrations.
For the frets, nickel silver has been used, which is also common in instruments for beginners. But this should not be interpreted as low quality. Nickel silver has one of the best corrosion resistance and this factor is important. Remember that our hands generate sweat and the pH is usually saline, which tends to accelerate the oxidation process in high-carbon metals. In the case of alpaca, this will not be a problem.
Iron has been used in the bridge, tremolo and tuning keys. It's important to say that these parts of the Yamaha Pacifica guitar do tend to suffer from rapid wear and rust when not regularly maintained.
In terms of shape, this is a guitar that is considered a super strat, as it's not quite the shape of a Fender Stratocaster. But it does maintain the principle of the two-cutaway shape, although the body is more linear and smaller in size than the Strato.
The scale is 64.8 cm, while its total length is 121.5 cm. Its weight is considerable, at approximately 4.5 kg. This is quite a lot considering it's a small-bodied Yamaha guitar.
As far as pickup configuration is concerned, it's humbucker-single-single. They have an alnico 3 core and an impedance of approximately 6.5 ohm for the single and 11.4 ohm for the humbucker. However, this tends to vary slightly among the cheaper Yamaha Pacifica guitars.
The tremolo is vintage style and the neck finish is satin. The color of this model is in antique violin tobacco.
Ergonomically, it's one of the smoothest guitars available thanks to its excellent scale ratio with a height of 3.8 mm at the 12th fret. That is why it's so popular and many professional guitarists recommend it.
The only thing that does seem excessive is its weight of 4.5 kg, because it can be a bit uncomfortable when you play standing up. This discomfort can last for several weeks, according to the practice regimen.
The electronic system seems quite successful to us, because it incorporates a five-way selector and three microphones. This allows you to explore with melodic lines or gain -rich solos when you set the selector to the first position. While the second and third positions are excellent for rasgueados, as they offer warm tones.
In this sense, the position we like the most for the selector is the fourth one because the tone is the most stable. This is partly because it creates a humbucker between the center microphone and the neck. But the distance between them is also decisive, as they offer an exceptional sound ratio in the mid frequencies for licks accompanied by strumming.
However, it does leave something to be desired, as the sustain is not the best and we like the sustain of the Fender Squier better. But thanks to the solidity in the woods of this guitar, the overtone response is a marvel considering it has such an affordable price.
Without a doubt we can say that the Yamaha Pacifica 112v is one of the best guitars on the market for beginners. The quality of its construction, materials, finishes and the final result in sound, are sufficient to satisfy the needs of guitarists who are just starting out in the fascinating world of plucked strings. Now, if you want other options of this Yamaha guitar for beginners, you can also find the following ones:
- Yamaha Pacifica 112V BL: it's the same described but in a black color.
- Pacifica 112V YNS: has a natural color finish.
- Yamaha Pacifica 311H RM Guitar: it's deep red in color, with a single P-90 pickup and a humbucker, as well as a three-way selector, so it offers a warmer and more traditional sound compared to the Pacifica 112v. It's also more expensive than the Yamaha guitar described.
- Yamaha Pacifica 311H YNS Guitar: it's the same as the previous 311H but with a natural finish.
- Yamaha Pacifica 311H VW: it has a pearl white color and is our favorite of the 311H series.
Yamaha Guitar Pacifica 611 V FM TBS
The sound is amazing.
- Materials: alder, flamed maple, stained maple, rosewood, stainless steel.
- Sound: 10/10.
- Size: 121.5 x 45.5 x 10.5 cm.
- Scale: 64.8 cm.
- Weight: approximately 3.5 kg.
The Yamaha Pacifica 611 electric guitar is something out of the ordinary in its price range. This is due to the excellent features it has, which we will examine in this review.
The body on this guitar is made of alder wood but with a maple part to differentiate it from the affordable Yamaha Pacifica. The top is flamed maple and the neck is stained maple, with an Indian rosewood fingerboard.
The combination of maple and alder in the body produces greater solidity and elasticity. This means that the vibrations are more stable than if it were only alder or maple. On the other hand, flamed maple is a AAA wood used to add greater resonance and richer harmonics. However, the stained maple is only for aesthetics and adds nothing in terms of the instrument's durability.
As far as the hardware is concerned, everything is in stainless steel. This is a luxury detail because, with all that is incorporated in the quality of the woods, you will have an instrument that you can pass on to your grandchildren. Another element that stands out is the TUSQ-XL seal made of PTFE or polytetrafluoroethylene. It's the most slippery polymer in the world and allows the vibration of the strings to be completely natural.
In terms of aesthetics, we must say that the finish is excellent. It's not possible to find any detail that could be seen as a drawback in the quality of the paint or the polyurethane. Also, the dark tobacco color is excellent and gives it a high-end guitar feel.
Regarding the hardware, it incorporates Grover tuning pegs that maintain the tuning of your instrument very well. Likewise, the designers have added a Wilkinson vibrato that is currently very popular for its easy adjustment system and precision in the harmonization of the Yamaha electric guitar.
The electronics of this guitar are amazing. It features a Seymour Duncan SP 90 pickup and a Seymour Duncan Custom 5 humbucker. These microphones are some of the most versatile on the market and have excellent sonic performance.
Finally, the electronics are complemented by a three-way selector and two 500k potentiometers. A linear one for the master volume and a logarithmic one for the tones.
If there is one thing we should highlight in this Yamaha Pacifica guitar, it would be the feel. Just forget that it weighs about 3.5 kg and rest assured that it has an excellent feel. Its scale is standard, with 64.8 cm. The string height is 3.8 mm on the E bass note of the 12th fret and 3.7 mm on the E treble note of the 12th fret.
This Yamaha electric guitar has a shred feel that sets it apart from the competition in its price range. This is due to the “D” shaped neck radius which offers more pleasant dynamics. Likewise, the finish of the edges is rounded and the filing of the frets is excellent.
In this sense, the action of the strings, combined with the quality of the neck, make it possible to execute fast lines without inconveniences. Techniques such as bending and tapping will only have limitations depending on your mastery of the instrument. The ergonomic quality of the Yamaha 611 guitar will never be a problem for you.
The sound is the best thing about the Yamaha electric guitar and that's why we give it a 10/10 within its price range. The quality of its electronics provides tones free of any noise that are quite common in guitars of other brands. The performance of the Seymour Duncan microphones is exceptional at any frequency and the gain provided by the Custom 5 for solos is a marvel.
Despite having only a three-way selector, this guitar is versatile. In the first position you can find quite country sounds and in the second position the sound is great for jazz phrases. While the third position is reminiscent of traditional soul and funk sounds. The sound quality of the tappings also stands out , as it offers harmonics that are appreciated. You can listen to it HERE.
If you're looking for a guitar that offers sounds ideal for a fusion band, then the Yamaha Pacifica 611 is the instrument you need in your life. Therefore we recommend it for musicians who want to explore more than just rock and heavy metal, to achieve clean sounds but also with good crunch.
There are other options in this same series, such as the Yamaha Pacifica 611HFM RTB. This one offers the same performance as the 611 VFM, except for the flamed maple top, so it has less overtones and no Wilkinson tremolo. There is also the Yamaha Pacifica 612V II FM TBL Guitar in translucent black color and with different features in the pickups that come in HSS configuration, while the volume potentiometer is push pull and the tone is PU-Split.
The best Yamaha acoustic guitars
The sound is great. The construction materials are traditional and of high quality. The ergonomics are very smooth.
It does not have a protective finish to prevent scratches.
- Materials: solid spruce wood, nato, walnut, nickel silver, chrome.
- Sound: 9 out of 10.
- Size: 109.2 x 53.3 x 12 cm.
- Scale: 65 cm
- Weight: 3.2 kg
Few acoustic guitars for beginners surprise professional musicians. But one of them is this Yamaha FG800MII guitar because the end result is just what you'd expect for young guitarists to develop their musicality with no limitations other than themselves.
The woods used in this Yamaha acoustic guitar are as traditional as they come. The top, sides, back and neck are made of spruce, while the fingerboard is made of walnut.
What stands out about this wood configuration is that the top is solid wood and this is only reserved for mid-range guitars and up. So we are amazed at Yamaha's dedication to using a wood of this quality in a guitar for beginners.
Regarding the hardware, its frets are made of nickel silver, which is one of the best materials to prevent oxidation of this part of the instrument. The tuning keys are made of chrome, a material of good quality and high resistance to wear.
This is a dreadnought guitar with estimated body dimensions of 51 x 10 x 29 x 39 cm. It has a scale of 65 cm and weighs approximately 3.2 kg. It also has 20 frets, a pearl red pickguard and no cutaway. The neck capo is 43 mm long.
Finally, the finish is in natural matte wood, so it has no protective layer to avoid unwanted scratches.
We love the ergonomics of this Yamaha acoustic guitar because the string height on the 12 gauge is 3.8 mm. This makes it similar to the feel of an electric guitar, i.e. extremely soft. The weight is not uncomfortable because it's an acoustic, and it's easy to get used to it.
The pulsation in any of its treatments is gentle but improves from treat 7 to 20. This makes the lines for solos comfortable to achieve. Capo chords will also be no problem for the beginner and can be developed with ease.
What is most surprising about this Yamaha guitar is the sound, because it's not at all common to find this quality in guitars for beginners. For us, three things are the most valuable when evaluating the sound of a guitar: 1. a rich sustain, 2. precise tuning and 3. stable and audible harmonics. The Yamaha FG800MII guitar has all of this, the sustain is long, while the reverb is enveloping.
Now, the harmonics are the best we have found in guitars of this level. With this you can practice fingerstyle without any problems, as the tapping is fully audible and gives off beautiful harmonics.
Our conclusion is : don't think twice and go for this Yamaha FG800MII guitar, whether you are a beginner or a professional musician. This is the affordable guitar you've been looking for to get the most out of your instrument and express yourself freely.
However, there are also other options for the FG800 that vary only in color, these are;
- Yamaha FG800 BL: has a beautiful black color that makes it produce a warmer sound with less reverb.
- Yamaha FG800 Sand Burst Guitar: it's the traditional tobacco color and will make you feel like you're Johnny Cash. In addition, the sound is warm and with better reverb than the black one.
- Yamaha FG800 BS: has a darker tobacco color, with a warm sound and little reverb.
But if you're looking for an even cheaper Yamaha acoustic guitar with close to the same quality, the Yamaha F310 might be for you.
Ideal for children.
This is a guitalele and not a guitar. The sound is not the best.
- Materials: spruce wood, meranti, sonokeling wood, alpaca.
- Sound: 6 out of 10.
- Size: 8,5 x 23 x 70 cm
- Scale: 43.18 cm
- Weight: 1.6 kg
It has always been difficult to find a plucked string instrument that would fit the needs of children. Even more so considering that large guitars have a hard touch and require greater strength. This ergonomics factor has been eliminated with this Yamaha guitalele. Let's see how good it's for little ones.
This is an instrument made of spruce wood on the top with a meranti tembaga body and fingerboard in sonokeling wood (Dalbergia latifolia). These woods are laminated on the top and body, so they are considered inexpensive, although they offer strength and durability.
The frets and tuning keys are made of nickel silver, a fairly common material in plucked stringed instruments that provides good resistance to corrosion and allows the keys to move smoothly for tuning. It also comes with a canvas and padded case to keep the instrument a little safer.
As mentioned above, the Yamaha GL1 is not a guitar per se. It's a guitalele, that is, a hybrid between a guitar and a ukulele. It has six strings just like a guitar. However, it differs in the tuning in D-D-G-D-E-E-E, i.e., per fourth. This means that when the C major chord is played, it will actually sound like an F major.
This guitalele has 18 frets and a scale of 43.18 cm, making it an ideal instrument for children. This is because the extension of the frets is quite similar to a guitar and it also has six strings. With this guitalele the little guitarist will be able to learn his first compositions and perform them later on the guitar.
For a child, this guitalele has a wonderful feel. Thanks to its small scale, the plucking of the strings is gentle and does not require much force. In addition, the 47.5 mm capo width allows you to play capo chords comfortably.
Its size is only 8.5 x 23 x 70 cm, so it can be taken anywhere without any problems. But don't let its small size confuse you, because the little musician will be able to play without any problems and then transfer all the acquired knowledge to a full-size guitar.
Its sound is of good quality, although it does have shortcomings in several areas, such as volume. This is limited and will not be of great help in large rooms. The sustain is also a bit weak, although the reverb is good and so are the harmonics.
As far as tuning is concerned, this is a guitalele of which the notes sound pretty good. Although some users have reported that it seems as if some notes are a little bit out of tune. Otherwise, despite its slight deficiencies in sound, this instrument will fulfill its purpose of serving as a first step for the child learner towards the guitar.
This Yamaha guitalele is a musical instrument that delivers and is therefore ideal for children. We recommend it because ergonomically, it's a great option to start learning classical or flamenco guitar. If you are a guitar teacher, this guitalele will be a great choice for your students.
There are other options, such as the Yamaha GL1 Tobacco Brown Sunburst guitalele in tobacco color and with a slight variation in length, with 73 cm. Another good option is the Yamaha GL1 PB in red, while the Yamaha GL1 Black comes in black.
If you are looking for a full-size Yamaha Spanish guitar, the Yamaha C40 is one of the best choices for beginners or people on a budget.
Yamaha Guitars Technical Characteristics
|Yamaha Pacifica 112V OVS||4.5 kg||alder, maple, rosewood, nickel silver, iron||64,8 cm||121,5 x 45,5 x 10,5 cm|
|Yamaha Pacifica 611 V FM TBS||3.5 kg||Alder, flame maple, stained maple, rosewood, stainless steel||64,8 cm||121,5 x 45,5 x 10,5 cm|
|Yamaha FG800MII||3.2 kg||Cedar or spruce, Indian rosewood, mahogany and ebony||65 cm||109,2 x 53,3 x 12 cm|
|Yamaha GL1||1.6 kg||spruce, meranti, sonokeling wood, nickel silver||43.18 cm||8,5 x 23 x 70 cm|