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Yamaha Guitars in general

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9 Reviews

Brand: Yamaha

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      14.08.2010 21:25

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      Given the choice between a squire Strat and a Yamaha ?Then go with the Yamaha, as it is a better instrument. You get a reasonable instrument that will not disappoint and which will be useful for a couple of years at the very least. The pacfica really only has one major flaw and that is the labeling which looks cheap. These guitar ring very well and long, the action is gallant and they hold tuning (unless you over do the whammy bar). The sound is maybe a little lacking in mid-range but who is really to say. I really like my Yam, and am considering which yam bass to buy. Secound hand these can be a killer bargain. I have seen a pacifica in perfect condition being sold for less than £100.00, at such a price they are a steal.

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      16.08.2009 09:31
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      Nowadays; Great Guitars - Brilliant To Play - But Lack A Little Bit Of Soul Maybe?

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      My review of Yamaha Guitars - (In General)
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      Introduction
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      Most people know the Japanese brand name Yamaha; some folks associate the name with motorbikes, some with pianos, but what I'm interested in is of course Yamaha Guitars (unless Yamaha want to combine all 3 items - which would make for a very fast, novel and musical form of transport -lol!).

      Most guitarists have always lusted after American made instruments like Fender, Gibson or Martin etc. Some English, German and Italian guitars also made it onto the 'must have' list... but in their early days many Japanese guitars were (quite rightly) sneered at.

      I remember bumping (not literally) into Gordon Giltrap once in a music shop circa the early 90's (Giltrap was quite a famous guitarist in the 70's) while he was researching a book on early Yamaha guitars (I have no idea if he published it or not -lol!).

      Gordon was drawn to this (horrible) Rickenbacker copy made by Yamaha (a Rickenbacker is instantly recognisable as the type of guitar played by John Lennon in the early Beatles years, or Paul Weller from the Jam) . This early 70's Yamaha did look a little like a proper 'Ricki' with it's all black paint job and white scratch plate... The controls were all more or less in the right place/proportion too...


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      Early 70's Yamaha Guitars; No Thanks I'd Rather Eat My Own Feet -lol!
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      To be honest the 70's Yamaha guitar sounded great when Giltrap played it, but there was no getting around the terrible build/design... It had an action (height of the strings above the fretboard -generally higher action = harder to play guitar and bad intonation) you could drive a bus under.

      (As most guitarists know 'action' can be adjusted by any combination of; dropping the saddles/bridge, deepening the nut slots, adjusting the truss rod... or even re-aligning the neck if you really know your stuff). Trust me; as one who used to set up and repair guitars for money -the Yamaha was a no-hoper -lol!! By the time you'd fixed what was wrong with it, you may as well have bought a new guitar -for all the time and effort involved...

      This wasn't the only rubbish 'early' Yamaha guitar I've seen either... so although they can be collectable, can sound very nice and look sort of cool -unless you're a specialist collector, or doing research on a book like Giltrap was -I'd steer well clear of most 70's models (unless you really drop lucky and find one that's not a nightmare to play/set up).


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      Early 1980's Onwards -Yamaha & Japanese Guitars; Yep I Want One -lol!
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      ...But fear not because in the early 80's something breathtaking happened to Japanese guitars... for a little while they were perhaps some of the finest in the world would you believe? This is where Yamaha guitars (and other makes) really got their act together -and it's only from the 80's onwards that I take Yamaha guitars seriously...

      It started with companies like Fender taking their expertise over to Japan, in order to produce their own cheap copy of the Fender brand (this is the origin of the Fender Squier brand...pity Fender can't spell 'squire' properly though :-), so they could compete with all the rival companies making cheap copies.

      A funny thing happened though; Fender and the Japanese did the job too well... far from being inferior entry level instruments for young aspiring musicians who couldn't afford the American made Fender...The early 80's Japanese copies were actually superior to most (some would argue all) the USA Fender guitars. (Even now early 80's Fender Squier guitars are highly sought after by discerning players).

      Finally, Japanese guitars had come of age -they were quickly developing world class expertise in guitar design and manufacture... often with the help of American guitar designers, as more and more 'big' guitar brand names got involved in Japanese manufacture.


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      Clash Of The Axes; Yamaha Take On Gibson!
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      Yamaha really 'upped their game' and set to work on raising standards... To compete with Gibson's legendary Les Paul electric guitar directly in the market place, Yamaha had their SG range (not to be confused with a Gibson SG), which (much like Gibson do) came in a range of options -from the workman like, no frills SG500 to the 'oh don't I look pretty' SG2000.

      The Yamaha SG range are beautiful, well crafted guitars; with set necks (for better sustain) and hum-bucking pickups... and can hold their own against a Les Paul. If you see one going cheap second hand then I recommend it...

      I don't in all honesty think that the Yamaha SG (any model) quite eclipses the Les Paul in sound however -there's just something more 'alive' about the Gibson that's hard to explain... The SG can often be more comfortable to play though... so it's swings and roundabouts. But what a fine instrument!


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      Climb Mount Guitara... Err I mean Niitaka; Yamaha Take On Fender!
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      As you probably know; there's a more popular electric guitar than the Gibson Les Paul though -the Fender Stratocaster. In fairness the Stratocaster is probably only more popular than the Les Paul because it's a damn site easier/ cheaper to build and hence costs a lot less to buy. (Stratocasters have bolt on necks and other quick and easy to manufacture features). I love strats (short for Stratocaster) but people often forget that Leo Fender designed them to be cheap(er) mass produced instruments - that's one of their great strengths (cheaper price, easy to repair etc).

      Yamaha couldn't resist trying to take a chunk of the Stratocaster market -and so they turned a great deal of effort into making a sellable strat like instrument... and it was guitar making genius; the stuff of legends.

      Rather than compete with Fender at the high end of the market - Yamaha took on the lessons learned from the first Squier guitars of the early 80's; to make something cheap that everyone can afford, but make it really good so everyone will want one. Enter the Pacifica 112.


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      If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body; Pacifica Versus The Stratocaster...
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      Yamaha's success with the Pacifica must have surprised even them!! In no time at all it was the best selling budget guitar, and pretty much wiped the floor with everything in it's class (and often above it's class).

      While advertising played a part in the success of the Pacifica 112, what really sold it was the excellent design. Rather than just making yet another Fender Stratocaster copy (like every other manufacturer had done) in an already flooded market -Yamaha made a useful (if very 'safe') variant.

      The single coil pickup which would normally have occupied the bridge position in a Stratocaster, was replaced by a big fat Hum-bucker (a twin coiled powerful pickup that cancels out stray RF noise and hum from lights etc -hence the name hum bucker), which really suited many modern players better than the single coil (I still slightly prefer the single coil better but that's just me -lol!).

      The Pacifica's fretboard was of a flatter radius than traditional Fender designs (flatter radius = lower action, although it's not quite as comfortable for chord playing), and it had an extra high fret (22 to the traditional Stratocaster's 21 frets).

      The natural wood finish was really striking! One of the great fears of guitarists buying cheap guitars was that the 'body' was made of very poor quality wood or plywood etc (and sometimes they were right!!). Yamaha cleverly displayed their guitar's wood by using a natural finish; so you knew it was good quality timber!

      The traditional 3 spring tremolo unit (tremolo arm included) was still there, the machine heads and chrome hardware were all excellent quality, the only place Yamaha skimped was on the tone controls. The Pacifica had 1 tone control, where a Stratocaster has 2.


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      Two Tone Is Dead; Yamaha Improve On Fender's Tone Wiring 'Mistake'
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      However there's a design quirk (a mistake in my opinion) to Stratocasters that means that even though you have 2 tone controls, neither of them works on the bridge pick up (unless you modify the wiring slightly - but of course not everyone knows how)... But the Yamaha's solitary, single tone control does work on all pickups (including the bridge one), so arguably Yamaha improved the on the Stratocaster design with their Pacifica, while saving money (because you don't need a second tone potentiometer, plastic knob and extra wiring).

      The Pacifica 112 was so popular that it's appeal went well beyond that of the budget/beginner guitarist -it was a pro quality instrument, and many seasoned guitar players bought one as a second guitar for on stage (for alternate tunings, or if a string broke on their main guitar etc)... indeed that's why I owned one for a while too.

      For the price the Pacifica was faultless in terms of design and playability.... However, (just like the Yamaha SG range competing with the Gibson Les Paul)... the Pacifica couldn't quite compete with a (really good) Fender Stratocaster - A good Strat bridge pickup was the sonic equivalent of a razor blade, where as the Pacifica's Humbucker was more of a Stanley knife -if you see what I mean... (I really must try to think up better analogies -lol!)

      But still; what an amazing instrument the Pacifica 112 was and is... It single handedly (or is that single 'tone...edly? :-) put Yamaha on the musicians map like no other guitar before it...


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      A Successful Pain In The Neck? The Yamaha F310 Acoustic...
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      As well as electric guitars, Yamaha have increasingly moved into the acoustic and electro-acoustic market too. The F310 (I think it was called) was one of their most popular acoustics -it was a budget guitar with a laminated top (laminated tops are cheaper to make than solid wood ones, but they don't usually sound as good).

      It was a good sound for the price (which used to be £79 in the mid 90's when I owned one) but you had to be very careful to select a well made one. There was no fear of the 310 falling apart it was built like a tank, but often the neck was glued in at the 'wrong' angle ('wrong' if you want to set up the guitar with a really great action) during manufacture.

      Yamaha used to have adverts in guitar magazines about the critical tolerances applied to their guitars (including the F310)... I have to say I think it was all marketing hype -I rarely saw a model that meet the spec. I'm guessing that Yamaha's real hope was that the local music shop you bought the F310 from would set the guitar up to Yamaha's promised specifications ... (hence saving Yamaha a fortune in employing guitar techs to check all the guitars once they were imported into the UK; before being delivered to shops).


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      Believable As Politician's Expenses? The Legend Of Yamaha's Promised Spec.
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      The problem of course was that if Yamaha didn't make the guitars properly in the first place (neck angle during the glued in neck body join) then you'd need a magician not a luthier to meet Yamaha's promised spec.

      (In fairness you can fix most guitar problems if money and time are no object -but no shop is going to want to spend £100's of man hours tying up their best repair guys just to fix a £79 guitar -and you'd have to be insane to want to pay for the work yourself, when you could buy a perfectly set up guitar from a different manufacturer for just a little more money).

      ... So what it boiled down to was that the F310 Yamaha acoustic was good value if you made sure you got one of the good ones -but beginners wouldn't realise they'd got a 'dud' until their playing skills improved...


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      More Yamaha Guitars Than You Can Shake A (Ahem...) Pick At!
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      Though I've concentrated on what are possibly the most popular or ground breaking Yamaha guitars, there are many other models available; from Basses to Electro Acoustic Guitars, loads of Electric Guitars (including many Pacifica variations ), 12 String Acoustics, 12 String Electrics (I own one of these and it's great, though I've changed the pick ups to Kent Armstrong ones)... But I think that by concentrating on a few models only, and in great detail, it's possibly to get a good overview of Yamaha guitars in general and draw my conclusions which I'll set out below...


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      In The Key Of 'A' Or 'F'? My Verdict on Yamaha Guitars
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      In terms of quality; Yamaha guitars are generally (with the exception of some acoustics I've seen) very well put together, well designed and capable of standing up to sustained professional use (if the mood takes you to quit your day job -lol!!).

      In terms of 'looks' and playability - Yamaha guitars excel, they put a lot of effort into the finish and materials - and the end product is visually pleasing and very comfortable to play.

      In terms of 'sound' and 'feel' - this is a tricky one; because although I should be singing Yamaha's praises, my heart, fingers and ears all draw me back to my Fenders and Gibsons etc -they're often not as nice to play, or as well balanced, and the action leaves a lot to be desired (much like the early 70's Yamaha's which were worse than anything I've ever seen -lol!)... but still there's an intangible something that makes the Yamaha guitars seem just a fraction cold or soulless in comparison... Can't help the way I feel -lol!

      But despite the above... would I buy a Yamaha guitar - the simple answer is; Yes. I've bought them in the past, and I still own a 12 string Yamaha electric to this day... and if the money was right I'd probably buy a Yamaha guitar again...


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      PS: Sorry Mr Giltrapp Sir -lol!
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      ... (Unless it was an early 70's model; though I might consider one if I was planning on a bonfire - I hope Gordon Giltrap never reads this - lol! Sorry Gordon I wouldn't really burn one as I know how collectable they are... now on a totally unrelated matter where are my matches and kerosene? :-)


      Hope you found my review of Yamaha Guitars helpful and interesting!!!

      Best wishes,
      Caveat-Emptor

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        10.07.2009 01:03
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        Excellent guitars wheather it be their budget range or the top of the line

        I quite simply can't understand the low review score of Yamaha guitars on here, when the likes of Gibson and Fender are getting 5 stars for what they put out at a premium price Yam are being slated.

        For as many years as I can remember the Yamaha 112 has been voted the best entry level guitar, and I am talking 15 or more years here. For £150 this guitar gives you more value than a Fender at £400.

        the fret work in these guitars is always spot on, as is the action (straight out of the box). This is the thing with Yamaha, they treat every guitar like it's their flag ship model.

        They have always had this attitude look back at the SG2000, this guitar in every single department is better than a Gibson Les Paul. It's build quality, it's materials and it's sounds equal or better the Les Paul in every department, and at half the price.

        These guitars won't be beaten at the price bracket, the electrics are top notch, there is simply nothing to be lost when it comes to a Yam.

        In 10 years time when your Mexican Fender is poor and lifeless, your Yamaha would still be going strong and they are the ideal place to start upgrades too.

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        18.02.2008 19:13

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        A suitable guitar for starting up with

        I have never really been a huge fan of Yamaha guitars, though I always though that their keyboards were quite good. The one Yamaha guitar I did quite like and enjoy was the Yamaha Pacifica. This is basically a strat copy; that's a replica of a Fender Stratocaster guitar for any of you not up on the musical jargon!

        The Yamaha Pacifica tends to be quite a sturdy well built instrument which is not heavy duty but is still pretty tough. They are well designed and I do find that the nuts and bolts don't tend to loosen up over time as they do with most other cheap guitars. The action (the gap between the frets and the strings) also tends to be quite low which is easier on your fingers, especially when playing lead guitar.

        The one thing that has always appealed to me about Yamaha guitars is that they are cheap, but are still suitable as either a beginners guitars or to play gigs in small venues. There is a big difference between walking on stage with an Encore, in which case everyone would laugh at you, and a Yamaha.

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        21.06.2003 17:42
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        i started out playing a yamaha electric guitar (yamaha pacifica pac412), and I am very satisfied with my purchase. I have been quite rough on this guitar and it still holds up nicely. Although some of the components could use an upgrade, as i have done to mine, it is still quite a good guitar as it is sold. The only complaint i have with it is that the pickup is weak. I prefer a hotter pickup such as the Seymour Duncan Invader, though, the pickup is merely just preference. I like to play mostly punk and metal music, and sometimes softer acoustic sounding songs. With the combination of the With the proper amp, this guitar works very well for my type of music, even before i changed my pickup. The pickup it comes with sounds somewhat....bluesy, but you can make it work well with the proper adjustments. Although "your sound" depends on many things, (mainly guitar, pickup, amp), i think this guitar would work quite well for anyone in any skill level, especially someone without a lot of money.

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          08.01.2002 18:53
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          I have a Yamaha electric guitar and i think its the best guitar i have played and its really good quality. I always play it and i havnt broke a string yet so they must have good quality strings because i play them quite hard as well. They are great for the money and if you are getting started with playing the guitar i recommend a Yamaha guitar definately. They have lots of different guitars made by Yamaha and i really recomend it. A guitar is the best musical instrument for modern day music so i suggest you buy one and make it a Yamaha.

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            05.06.2001 04:16
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            I am an experienced guitar player, as I have been playing for about ten years. During my experience as a guitar player, I have used a wide variety of guitaers, such as Sanchis, Yamaha, the Greek Panagi brand and a few others. In my opinion, Yamaha guitars were rather disappointing. Although I expected a quality equal to the brand, I came across a guitar that was not too satisfactory. Although the guitar itself was nicely shaped and fitted me perfectly, the fret bar was rather too soft, allowing my fingers to glide a lot and make weird noises. In addition, there must have been something wrong with the box of the guitar, as the sound was rather dumb and did not allow me to vibrate the string as long as I could. From my point of view, if you want a good guitar that is not way too expensive, choose Sanchis. Not only do all the models have a fantastic sound, they also come in a great variety of prices and models. I am currently using model 37 which is quite soft, and I must admit that it is very satisfactory. Although it is a bit on the cheap size, it is a great guitar to begin with, and progress.

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              16.01.2001 22:21

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              I play a Yamaha APX-7C. While I'm sure this guitar is great if you just need a steady trebly strummer to cut through a band, if you're at all interested in solo work or folk/acoustic playing, then this range really isn't the guitar for you. My ideal guitar is an all-solid-wood, so perhaps I'm not the best person to be rating this, but the narrow plastic back is a bit of a giveaway about the kind of sound you'll be getting. The electronics are sound, with good on-board preamp and EQ, but what comes out needs considerable modification -- there's extremely little natural tone, and to my ears it sounds harsh and manufactured. If you're going to be spending £400, then I'd suggest you take a close look at the Takemine or Tanglewood first.

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              09.10.2000 03:27
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              Buying a guitar is a task bound by many limitations. a) Amount of money to spend. The APX range of guitars is not cheap, but it is possible to find narrow bodied ones for about £400. The range extends to prices in excess of £1,000 for those who can afford them. Many cheaper guitars suffer with bad intonation (i.e. they are in tune for open chords but just sound out of tune when cappo'd or when playing bar chords up the fingerboard.) I can honestly say I've never heard an APX with this problem. b) Expected use for the guitar! The APX range are electro-acoustic. Not really suited to heavy metal work! The narrow bodied guitars do tend to sound (like other narrow bodied guitars) rather like a cardboard box when played any distance up the fretboard. But when they are plugged into an amplifier they produce some of the sweetest 'round' sounds I've ever heard. For amplified work the narrow bodied guitars are a good choice but for unplugged work the deeper bodied (& more expensive) guitars are needed. These sound good unplugged& plugged! Some of the guitars are fitted with two pick-ups. The output can be mixed between the two pickups, which when added to the bas and treble lift /cut controls gives a very useful sound range. c) Level of expertise of the buyer. As a bigginer I found it hard to judge the differences between guitars. Also due to my limited knowledge I used to feel over-awed by the actual buying experience. You really must try several guitars before you find the one you want. Sending the extra money on a quality instrument is I'm sure the best way forward. I had played the guitar for over 10 years before buying my first APX. My playing improved noticably mainly due to the fact I enjoyed the sound the guitar made. The only APX guitar I personally do not like is the 'travelling' one. So if you are looking for a great guitar try any YAMAHA APX excep
              t that one!

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