This particular guitar is one that holds a special place in our hearts. So, before we dive into our Yamaha FGX800C Review, a little bit of history.
The Yamaha FG range first arrived in our consciousness in 1966. We can remember it very clearly. Sitting in a certain music shop in Hanwell, West London. One that was renowned for some rather noisy amps, when a Yamaha acoustic arrived.
We all tried it out. The sound was nice, full, and rich… but the action!
It needed some work on it to get it playable.
Just two years later…
I can remember the next time we saw one. It was 1968 in another Hanwell music shop, Tempo Music. Guitar genius Geoff Baker said, “try this.” We shied away after the last experience. So he played it instead.
Yep, they’d fixed it. The sound was still good, but now it played like a dream. Within a couple of months, you couldn’t buy one anywhere. Yamaha had most definitely arrived.
Yamaha had been making guitars since 1942, but it was only in the mid-60s they arrived in Western shops. They made a very big impact. The Yamaha FG range had arrived with no fanfare. It almost crept in the back door without anyone really noticing.
They were out to prove a point. Proving as Yamaha are want to do, that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get something very good indeed.
They ignored the performance of two other well-known guitar manufacturers who shall remain nameless. Yamaha did something they didn’t. They learned from their mistakes. And they weren’t so immersed in their own importance to admit their mistakes and get it right.
Still a leader…
Fifty and a few years later, the FG series is still around. We are not surprised. It might surprise you to know that at the moment, the FG and FS series are the top-selling guitars in the world.
Today Yamaha makes guitars for every level of player. From absolute beginners to the pros. And the top of their range compares favorably with the Martins and the Taylors of this world. The Yamaha FGX800C is just one from a slightly lower range. Nonetheless, a range with a big reputation.
With all the said, let’s get this in-depth review of the Yamaha FGX800c started…
The Yamaha FGX800C is a natural extension to the FG range. The ‘FG’ stands quite simply for ‘Folk Guitar’ and carries with it a heritage as well as an expectancy. That expectancy is that you will get a great guitar at a very affordable price. And so you do.
It has a mixture of selected tonewoods, a high build quality. As a result, it has a great sound. Furthermore, the Dreadnought body gives you real depth and resonance.
Yamaha would call this an entry-level instrument. But its quality puts to shame similar instruments by so-called ‘name’ manufacturers at the same level.
A guitar for everyone…
This is a good guitar for a seasoned player. Yet, its price point opens up possibilities for those beginning their musical journey. Something Yamaha is better at than most. What they give you is a very good sounding acoustic guitar. But then, they take it a step further by adding some electronics.
If you are an experienced player, then you are going to appreciate this instrument. Likewise, if you are a beginner, there are few better places to start your journey. This is not one of the top range Yamaha’s. Let’s make that very clear from the outset. It is designed for a range of players but at entry-level prices.
The top is made from Sitka Spruce. For this particular model, it is solid wood and not laminated. This is a 60-meter tall tree that produces very hard wood. It is certainly harder than most other woods used as tonewoods.
All-important top wood…
Being a very hard wood is good, but it isn’t all that is needed to produce a great sound. Besides, it needs to be able to move slightly with the energy created by the vibration of the strings. Response to the strings and subsequent resonance increase the sound level and quality.
Furthermore, the wood selection is critical since wood that is too hard and will not vibrate would be useless. Therefore, Sitka Spruce is a great tonewood, which is why you see it so often in guitar manufacture.
And because it is a solid piece of wood, it will improve with age and maturity, as will the sound.
Better bracing, better sound…
Carrying on with the quality of the build. There is another design issue that will help to create a great sound. That is the bracing. One of the most impressive features of this guitar is the scalloped bracing. Located on the back of the Spruce top, it acts as a soundboard.
The scalloped design of the struts will dissipate the energy created by the strings. This works to reduce distortion from the top wood’s resonance. It results in creating a pure and clean sound.
Bracing has a major impact on the tone of the instrument. Consequently, you usually only see scalloped bracing on higher-end guitars. It brings out a warmth in the sound at the bottom end and encourages rich mids.
As time has gone on, and true to Yamaha design ethics, they continued to improve the FG series. The bracing now allows a little more movement than it did originally. Thus providing better projection and a deeper bottom end.
Rounding it out…
The back and sides have Nato wood, or as it is sometimes known, Eastern Mahogany. Likewise, the character of the tone is very similar to Mahogany, which is why it is used. It gives a rich and warm sound that is very ‘woody’ in texture.
Additionally, it’s a strong wood that offers the guitar stability and makes it very durable.
Whilst the real benefits come in the mid-frequency section; it also adds some clarity to the top end. That makes it a great guitar for strumming. Combined with the Spruce top, the Nato body creates a sound that is very impressive for what some call an entry-level guitar.
As we have mentioned, the body is a Dreadnought style and has a single-cutaway. This means extra range on the fingerboard to reach the higher frets. The depth of the body is four and a half inches. Something to think about if you are buying for a young player.
Along with the traditional Yamaha scratchplate, it features a nicely designed rosette around the soundhole. Also, a dark binding on both the top and bottom edges of the body.
The body looks good with its natural Spruce top and polished Nato wood body. A classic design, built with great precision.
As per the body, the neck is also made from Nato wood. It has twenty frets with all but the last row easily playable, courtesy of the cutaway. The neck has a thin, rather slim design. Therefore it has a certain ease and comfort when playing.
Subsequently, it is one of the reasons this guitar is so suitable for beginners. Chord playing or single note-picking are both comfortable and easy to produce.
Craftsmanship from top to bottom…
There is a Rosewood fingerboard with a nut width of 1.675 inches. As well as inlay dot markers on the fingerboard and on the top edge. Always a nice touch in our view.
Finally, there is an adjustable truss rod. This is sometimes included as an afterthought in some reviews. But you cannot over-emphasize its importance. Because without it, the neck could bend under the tension of the strings. The truss rod will hold the neck shape.
But more than that, it allows you to adjust it. You can set it up exactly straight or maybe with just a small amount of forward bend. Making adjustments to the neck to suit how you play is an important part of the function of the truss rod. To top it off, the neck is given a nice matte finish.
This we have said in many of our reviews. The hardware is often where guitar makers cut a few corners to save a few pennies. Sometimes they cut just a little too much in the hope we don’t notice. FYI, we notice.
We wouldn’t say that the Yamaha FG series or this FGX800C guitar, in particular, is perfect. It cannot have the same quality of hardware as the very high-end Yamaha’s. That really would be expecting too much. However, the quality is still good, efficient, and it does its job.
Up at the headstock are six die-cast chrome tuners with closed backs. As a result, they are strong and accurate with their tuning. Surprisingly, they’re the sort of machine heads you might expect to see on guitars costing much more. But most importantly, they make tuning the guitar easy.
The nut is made from a Urea polymer. Possibly not the best that they could have included in the build. But, let’s remember the price point.
Down at the body, end a simple Rosewood hardtail bridge with dotted pins and Urea polymer saddle.
This is an area that can often be a bone of contention with some people. We read people complaining that the sound amplified is not as good as when it is played acoustically. Well, just to set the record straight, it never will be.
Likewise, some say that the higher the price, the better the amplification is. There is some truth in that. However, the higher the price, the better, also applies acoustically.
Let’s be realistic…
The hard truth is the electric sound will never reach the level of the acoustic sound. In fact, if you want the very best sound in amplifying an acoustic, you are better off using a high-quality mic through a PA system.
Having said that, some guitars perform quite well with the electrics if you treat them carefully. This particular guitar doesn’t do bad at all.
Amplification comes from the Yamaha System 66 pickup and preamp system, which includes a piezo, under-saddle pickup. It has a basic three-band EQ with a chromatic tuner.
Also, there is a nice tonal option with a mid-range control. This will help a little bit in reducing any potential feedback at an early stage. But keep in mind, it is not going to cut it out completely. Although it will add some nice tone changes.
Acoustic guitars are rather prone to feedback. But as we said, if you treat the amplified version carefully, it will be fine. The controls are located on the upper body. As well as a well-placed battery compartment for easy access. It takes two AA batteries.
How does it play?
It plays extremely well. Playing it confirms our belief that this guitar will not only suit the beginner it may have been designed for. But, will also be welcomed by the experienced musician.
The neck is slim and plays easily, almost like an electric guitar neck. There’s a nice balance to it as well. So, it is easy to play when seated. However, it is a Dreadnought size guitar. This means it might not suit very young children or smaller adults. It weighs a fraction over seven pounds.
There is one other thing to be aware of. New Yamaha guitars might be set up a little high for some people. Thankfully, this is easily rectifiable. Get a tech to set it up how you want it if you can’t do it yourself. That will be money well spent.
How does it Sound?
Given the price point of this guitar, the sound is exceptionally good. That is one of the reasons the FG Series has become the world’s top-selling guitar. Also, why it is still going strong since its introduction in 1966 is because it is flat-out, a good guitar.
People can go on about this is good, or that is good. But at the end of the day, how does it sound? That is what the majority of people want to know. It won’t disappoint at all. And we can assure you that it will only get better with age.
How can we say that assuredly?
Because I am sitting looking at one right now. A vintage FG model from way back. It is a shame you can’t hear how it has matured and the sound it gives you.
This is not a guitar for buying for a few years. This one is a keeper. Even though you might invest in a higher level of guitar, later on, you will keep this one with you.
Yamaha FGX800C Review Pros And Cons
- Solid Sitka Spruce top.
- Nato back and sides.
- Slim and comfortable neck profile.
- Yamaha System 66 preamp and piezo pickup.
- The sound improves with age.
- Durable and well-crafted.
- Scalloped bracing.
- Big, bold, and beautiful sound.
- Attractive price point.
- A bit too big for beginners or small adults.
Are you a fan of Yamaha acoustic guitars?
If so, check out our in-depth reviews of the Yamaha APX600 NA Thin Body, our Yamaha FG800 Solid Top review, our Yamaha APXT2 review, the Yamaha FSX730SC Small Acoustic Electric, our Yamaha 6 String Series A1M review, and our Yamaha F335 review.
And of course, you can find a selection of affordable acoustic guitar in our review of the Best Acoustic Guitars Under 300 Dollars you can buy in 2020.
Yamaha FGX800C Review Final Thoughts
You’ve guessed it; we think it is great. In fact, for the money, we doubt you can even go close to get anything as good. And it is Yamaha. You might say so what?
They produce one of the world’s best pianos. Plus, they produce excellent quality drums and incredible electronic musical instruments. And they make awesome guitars. When Yamaha does something, they do it well. This is a very good example. That is what they have done with the FGX800C.
Worth every penny, this is simply a great guitar.
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