I'm always surprised by how solid and reliable Yamaha acoustic guitars are, considering Yamaha - as a brand - is involved in such a wide range of products. And under normal circumstances, I would shy away from recommending a guitar from a company that also makes jet skis.
But in this case, I'll make an exception.
Not only does Yamaha hold their own in the acoustic guitar market, but they actually produce some of the best and most popular acoustic guitars available.
Take the Yamaha FG800, for example.
It's consistently one of the most popular and best-selling acoustic guitars, and for good reason.
Read the full review: Yamaha FG800 acoustic
So in this roundup, we're looking at a short list of the best Yamaha acoustic guitars, with a fairly wide price range. We'll include the bargain that is the FG800, but we'll also touch on some of the more expensive, mid-range acoustics, and even get into Yamaha's respected nylon string acoustic lineup.
If you have questions, feel free to get in touch via the comments section below. I'll jump in and help out as much as possible.
Best Yamaha Acoustic Guitars (top 4 picks)
Yamaha FG800 (dreadnought)
Yamaha NTX1 (nylon string)
Yamaha LL16D ARE
Watch the Article
Watch a summary of our article that gives you just the bullet point highlights and a simple list of the Yamaha acoustic guitars we recommend.
1. Yamaha FG800 Dreadnought
At $220 retail (at the time of publishing this piece) the Yamaha FG800 is one of the single cheapest acoustic guitars that still ships with a solid Spruce top. Most guitars in this price range use entirely laminate construction, even for that top piece. Getting the solid tonewood here helps significantly with projection, natural resonance, and tone quality.
It's a feature you don't typically see until you get to higher price ranges.
Also note that there are multiple versions of this guitar with different features. We've seen all of the following depending on where and when you're looking:
- With electronics (can plug into an amp or PA system)
- Without electronics (acoustic only)
- Dreadnought body shape (pictured)
- Concert body shape
The most popular model is the simple dreadnought body design without any electronics. Versions with electronics (a pickup and preamp system) are a little more expensive, so take the time to figure out which version of the FG800 suits you best, if that's the direction you decide to go in.
IDEAL FOR: Living room strumming, beginners, taking lessons, and first acoustic guitars
- Solid Spruce top is a treat in this price range
- Well-balanced warm and brisk tone
- Sounds good as a simple strumming acoustic
- Great price point
- Multiple versions available
- Nato tonewood is usually a cost-cutting measure
- Electronics version is decently more expensive
2. Yamaha NTX1 Nylon String Acoustic
The same tonewood recipe used in the FG800 is reprised for the NTX1. You get a solid Sitka Spruce top and the Nato back/sides construction. However, the NTX1 goes in a slightly different direction by adding a cutaway, slimmed-down concert body design, and an oval-shaped soundhole.
All of this, plus, it's a classical nylon-string acoustic.
Were it not for the nylon strings, the concert body shape and cutaway would add a lot of brightness to this guitar, similar to the Taylor 114ce.
But these competing factors give you a well-rounded, balanced tone profile that's warm and subtle, but also brisk enough to add some grit to your fingerpicking movements.
At it's price it's one of the most affordable classical/acoustic guitars that we could recommend for professional recording or performing, especially given the included preamp and under-saddle pickup. While these electronics are in-house (no LR Baggs or Fishman), they do a decent job of capturing and projecting the guitar's natural tone.
If you're in the market for a budget-friendly classical guitar, the NTX1 is one of our top recommendations.
IDEAL FOR: Classical styles, fingerpicking, recording, and performing
- Solid Sitka Spruce top
- Yamaha's in-house preamp sounds decent and has plenty of control
- Onboard tuner is a big plus
- Nylon string warmth plus brisk body design go well together
- Would rather have Mahogany than Nato
3. Yamaha AC5R ARE Acoustic
Getting into the higher price ranges, we really like the ARE series from Yamaha, specifically the AC5R. It has an in-house Yamaha electronics system called the SRT2 which allows you to blend between a microphone and a piezo pickup, making this acoustic a uniquely good option for recording or situations where you need onboard tone flexibility.
Nearing $1500 you get an entirely solid tonewood profile, with Sitka Spruce on the top and Rosewood for the back and sides.
Getting a solid top on an acoustic guitar is decent, but you don't typically see a solid back and sides until these higher price ranges. This combination of solid tonewood takes you more firmly into what we would consider a professional-grade acoustic guitar.
These guitars also get a heat treatment that helps to age and stabilize them.
It's also responsible for the darker tone of the body.
And while the $1500 is going to be cost-prohibitive for some people, Yamaha gives you a ton of value for what you pay.
If you're in the market for a high-end acoustic and you want to stay within the Yamaha brand, this would be our first stop.
IDEAL FOR: Recording, performing, lead acoustic styles, pro recording scenarios
- Solid tonewood for top, back, and sides
- Rosewood is a nice upgrade
- Onboard preamp has a mic and pickup and let's you blend between the two
- Great for recording
- Aged tonewood looks fantastic
- It's pricey, but that's hard to complain about given the caliber of guitar you get in return
4. Yamaha LL16D ARE Original
We like the LL16D - also from the ARE series for many of the same reasons we like the AC5R. Here's a quick rundown of the features they have in common:
- Spruce top (Englemann)
- Rosewood back and sides
- ARE aging process
- In-house Yamaha electronics (SRT Zero Impact)
In the LL16D you have Englemann Spruce instead of Sitka, though the two produce a similar tone quality.
You also have the SRT Zero Impact pickup system, which is a completely passive setup. This means you'll need an external preamp - like an acoustic guitar preamp pedal - to use this system.
The body design is also different than the AC5R, with a large, almost jumbo body design that's closer to a dreadnought shape, with only slight narrowing in the lower bout.
For those wanting a strumming acoustic with some more body to its sound, this is a great option.
Stock goes up further if you already have your own external preamp.
IDEAL FOR: Those who already have an external preamp, warm tones, chord progressions, and recording
- Price drops further than the AC5R
- Better for deeper tones and strumming
- Pickup doesn't require any cutting into the body
- All solid tonewood
- Neck is thin and plays fast
- Pickup onboard, but you've got to bring your own preamp
What about the Yamaha APX600?
While the APX600 is a fairly popular acoustic guitar in the Yamaha lineup, we left it out of this list because it does not have a solid top. It's list as having a "Sitka Spruce" top, but does not identify whether it's solid or not.
Given common acoustic guitar marketing practices, not specifying solid or laminate is essentially a written confession that laminate is being used.
The APX600 is a decent guitar, but we'd rather have the FG800 with a solid Spruce top for less money.
Disagree? Let us know in the comments section.
How do Yamaha acoustics compare with other major acoustic brands?
There are a lot of similarities between Yamaha acoustic guitars and their competitors. For example, Yamaha often employs Sitka Spruce for their acoustic's top pieces, which we also see in Taylor acoustic guitars.
They also offer the same variety of sizes and body shapes (concert, dreadnought, 3/4, jumbo, etc.).
They're somewhat unique in the way they approach their electronics, in that they make their preamps and pickups mostly in-house.
Most acoustic guitar company's use third party electronics like LR Baggs or Fishman.
Which Yamaha acoustic guitar is the best?
Of course the answer to this question depends on your price range and what you're looking for.
On the lower end, the FG800 is easily the most popular option.
But purely from a value argument (lowest possible price for most possible quality), our vote would go to the AC5R in the ARE series (the "A series"). Regardless of brand, it's typically the $1000 to $1500 price range where you get the most value.
While there are certainly other Yamaha acoustics worthy of consideration, this is the direction I would go, based on my own knowledge of the market.
Questions and Comments
If you have questions about the best Yamaha acoustic guitars, leave them in the comments section below and I'll help out as much as possible. We've also linked to some additional articles below that you might find helpful or interesting in your acoustic guitar search.