The Best Yamaha Acoustic Guitar for All Skill Levels and Playing Styles in 2022

For Budget
FS800
FS800
  • It has a balanced, articulate, and intimate tone
  • It's a pleasant playing experience, especially for those with tiny hands
  • This guitar is an excellent value for the money
  • It's one of the most beginner-friendly acoustic guitars available from any brand
Editor's Choice
AC5R
AC5R
  • Has an open, rich vintage tone from artificially aged wood that usually takes decades to achieve
  • Build quality is excellent and utilizes classic tonewood materials
  • Superb on-stage or in-studio acoustic guitar
  • Hand-built in Yamaha's Japanese facility
For Recording
FS850
FS850
  • This mahogany guitar will sound more balanced, warm, and consistent
  • This concert-sized body leads to an intimate sound that will shine
  • Affordable price
  • You'll feel proud of the final recording

Did you know that Yamaha makes high-quality, versatile Acoustic Guitars?

Do you want to find the best Yamaha acoustic guitar for your playing style and skill level? If so, then you’ve come to the right place.

From my 25+ years of experience playing guitar, I’ve concluded that for the price, construction, versatility, and tone, the AC5R is the best acoustic guitar Yamaha offers.

However, I understand that not every player is looking for the “swiss-army knife” guitar. Some might be looking for the best beginner guitar. So in this article, we will discuss the different acoustic guitars that Yamaha offers and which one might be the best fit for you.

So whether you’re a beginner just starting out or an experienced player looking for a new guitar, keep reading to learn more.

The Best Yamaha Acoustic Guitars in 2022 at a Glance

Editors Choice: AC5R

Editor's Choice
AC5R
  • Excellent, hand-crafted guitar from Japan
  • All solid wood design has a rich, open sound
  • Extraordinarily versatile and can be used in studio or on-stage by all genres
  • Yamaha's Acoustic Resonance Enhancement gives the guitar a vintage look and tone

The Yamaha AC5R acoustic guitar has a lot to offer. It’s an all-solid-wood, hand-crafted Japanese instrument that sounds wonderful. It also costs about $1,000 less than comparable guitars of this quality from US-based guitar manufacturers.

This concert acoustic-electric guitar is light in your arms and produces a warm, rich sound. It’s very versatile and may be used by fingerstylists and strummers from all types of musical genres.

The artificially aged solid Sitka spruce top provides the guitar a rich, open sound that usually takes decades to achieve.

The build quality is excellent, utilizing classic tonewood materials. The back and sides are made of solid Indian Rosewood, the neck is African Mahogany, and has a rosewood fingerboard.

The AC5R is also ready for the stage. It comes equipped with Yamaha’s distinctive SRT2 pickup system, which includes an under-saddle piezo pickup and two varieties of high-end microphone modeling you can blend between.

If you’re looking for the best Yamaha acoustic guitar for money, quality, and tone, then the AC5R is a great buy!

Best for Budget: FS800

Best for Budget
FS800
  • It's one of the best acoustic guitars for beginners out of any brand
  • It's a comfortable playing experience, especially for those with small hands
  • The tone is articulate and intimate
  • This guitar is an outstanding value for money

If you’re looking for the best acoustic guitar for beginners, then the FS800 should be on your shortlist.

The scalloped bracing and the solid spruce top provide a pleasant resonant, balanced sound that opens up over time. This is a highly comfortable playing guitar for all sorts of players, especially those with small hands, thanks to the tiny body, short-scale length, and slim neck design.

The concert body of the FS800 will create a more articulate and intimate tone. At the same time, the dreadnought version FG800 may be more to your liking if you’re searching for something with a louder, more projecting sound.

The drawbacks of this guitar are that it does not include any electronics, although the FSX800C model has them for a little more money.

All things considered, this is one of the most fantastic low-cost guitars available from any guitar brand today.

Best for Recording: FS850

Best for Recording
FS850
  • Mahogany guitars will allow you to capture a more consistent and balanced recording
  • It has a warm, rich vintage tone that sounds great in the studio
  • Concert body shape has a comfortable feeling while playing
  • The dark Mahogany wood is stunning and elegant

Lots of the guitars on this list will get you a good recording. However, specific guitars will make your life way easier for quickly getting “radio-ready” guitar tracks.

I’ve discovered that an all Mahogany body records better than other tonewoods due to the naturally compressed sound of mahogany. This will help you record a more consistent and balanced track, which results in better headroom than a more dynamic tonewood like spruce.

For this reason, I believe the Yamaha FS850 is the best Yamaha acoustic guitar for recording. It features an all Mahogany design, as well as a concert-sized body. This leads to a more focused, articulate, and intimate sound that will shine regardless of what microphone you use in front of it.

If you’re looking for a great affordable guitar that sounds great for your next recording, the FS850 should be on your shortlist!

Best for Gigging: APX1200II

Best for Gigging
APX1200II
  • Lightweight design is perfect for long performances
  • The SRT pickup technology brings classic studio microphone sounds to your live performance
  • It sounds just as good unplugged as it does plugged in
  • The solid wood construction ensures that your guitar will only get better with time

There are three challenges guitar players face when playing acoustic guitar live:

  1. Recreating the natural sound of the guitar through amplification
  2. Playing an acoustic that doesn’t lose playability from weather changes during traveling
  3. Having a comfortable playing experience, especially when switching from playing an electric guitar

What makes the Yamaha APX1200II stand out is that its build is more like an electric guitar with a shallow, Thinline body style. It’s also incredibly lightweight and comes equipped with Yamaha’s SRT pickup technology and electronics that include a built-in tuner.

The SRT preamp allows you to blend in two different classic microphone signals to bring a studio-recorded sound to your live performances.

The solid spruce top, solid rosewood back and sides, ebony fingerboard, and mahogany neck is a classic, high-end tonewood combination. This will ensure your guitar sounds just as good unplugged as it does plugged in.

If you’re looking for a great stage guitar, then the Yamaha APX1200II won’t disappoint.

Best for Fingerstyle: CSF3M

Best for Fingerstyle
CSF3M
  • Has a gorgeous tone that is perfect for intimate performances
  • A high-quality instrument for a great price
  • The shorter scale makes it easier to play fingerstyle music
  • Ideal for taking to the beach or camping

This parlor-sized guitar is a fantastic instrument for fingerstyle musicians with its solid Sitka spruce top with scalloped x-bracing and solid mahogany back and sides.

The small body responds quickly to a light touch, and the shortened scale length (23.5″) provides a very “slinky” playability. This makes this steel-string acoustic have a more classical guitar feel.

This little guitar is also ideal for playing on the couch or playing around a bonfire. But this doesn’t mean the CSF3M’s can be great for performing at gigs. This guitar has Yamaha SRT pickup technology built-in, allowing you to take this wonderfully warm and intimate instrument to the stage without losing its charm.

If you’re searching for the best Yamaha acoustic guitar for intimate, fingerstyle playing, the CSF3M is an excellent option!

This Yamaha guitar is a great choice for Fingerstyle. However, if you are looking to purchase a guitar specifically for fingerstyle, you should first read my article “The Best Fingerstyle Guitars for Acoustic Players and Songwriters”

Best for Flatpicking and Strumming: LL16D ARE Original Jumbo

Best for Flatpicking and Strumming
LL16D Original Jumbo
  • The spruce is torrified and makes the guitar sound like it's decades-old
  • Comes with a hardshell case
  • Your chords will be more powerful with great articulation
  • High quality, all solid wood construction 

The dreadnought-style acoustic guitar is often the best for loudness and projecting. While this is true, dreadnoughts often have a muddy mid-range. Switching between chords and lead-picking sections can result in a loss of clarity and note articulation.

This is where a Jumbo-bodied guitar shines. The larger body of a Jumbo guitar keeps the excellent projection of a dreadnought. Still, the more pinched-in waist results in a more focused and articulate sound that allows each note in a chord to sing.

The LL16D is a well-made, all-solid wood Jumbo-sized guitar from Yamaha that will appeal to any player seeking to fill a space with their music.

This acoustic guitar has a solid Engleman spruce top, solid rosewood back and sides, and a 5-ply Mahogany/Rosewood slim neck for great tone and excellent playability.

It also has a Yamaha SRT Zero Impact pickup system, allowing you to quickly bring the beautiful acoustic sound to the stage.

Best for Kids: APXT2 3/4 Sized Guitar

Best for Kids
APXT2
  • Makes a great gift for small children
  • The guitar is lightweight, small, and easy to play
  • It's affordable and versatile
  • Comes with electronics, so you can plug it into an amp

If you’re searching for a beginner guitar for a child, the Yamaha APXT2 is an excellent choice. This guitar is smaller than a regular guitar and makes it very simple to play for little kids.

Yamaha’s APX body is slightly different from other acoustic-electric guitars on the market. Its design and features were made to appeal to musicians who want an on-stage acoustic guitar that feels similar to their electric guitar. For this reason, I recommend the APXT2 for youngsters since it will assist them in making the transition to an electric instrument when they are ready.

This miniature guitar is incredibly affordable, versatile, and well-made. It also looks great, and your kiddo will undoubtedly fall in love with it at first sight!

Best for Travel: JR Travel Guitar

Best for Travel
JR
  • Great for small spaces and traveling
  • Classic dreadnought style in a small package
  • Great for traveling nomads
  • Affordable guitar with good sound quality

The Yamaha JR mini acoustic is excellent for the traveling nomad looking to save space while not sacrificing the vintage look of a dreadnought-style acoustic guitar.

This guitar is a miniature version of Yamaha’s classic FG (Folk Guitar) guitars. It’s a highly affordable guitar that plays and sounds good but won’t be the best guitar on this list.

This guitar comes with a gig bag and is ideal for stowing in the back of your car or throwing into your luggage.

Have you ever wondered what the best guitar brands on the market are today? Well, I created an ultimate acoustic guitar brand guide and buyer’s guide to help you choose your perfect guitar. Check it out today!

The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide for the Best Yamaha Acoustic Guitar

Yamaha is a brand to take seriously whether you’re looking to buy your first acoustic guitar or a premium guitar you’ll play for years to come.

They have a highly diverse lineup of guitars, and this following buyer’s guide will help you find the best Yamaha acoustic guitar for your needs.

Body Shape

To help narrow your search for the best Yamaha acoustic guitar for you, first, consider what body style you want.

Yamaha guitars make this easy for you by not having lots of variety to choose from. They essentially give you two options per series, the Dreadnought, and Concert. The following section will help you learn what body type is right for you and all of the options you will come across.

Dreadnought

The dreadnought body type is the most iconic acoustic guitar shape. It was created by Martin Guitars in 1916 and named after a British battleship.

Like the name implies, a dreadnought guitar has a big and bold tone. A perfect body shape for bluegrass, country, and blues music.

A dreadnought acoustic guitar has a deeper low end than the Yamaha Concert body type, but the mid-range can get muddy. This isn’t an issue when performing live, but if you want to use this sort of acoustic guitar for recording, you’ll need to use an EQ to get a more balanced tone.

Concert

A concert-style guitar will have the most balanced sound of all the body shapes. It’s a smaller guitar with a pinched waist that helps with enhanced articulation and more intimacy in the playability.

A concert body makes a great couch guitar and solo instrument for singer-songwriters.

Jumbo

The Jumbo-sized acoustic guitar is an excellent mix between the dreadnought and concert. A Jumbo gives you the projection and loudness of a Dreadnought, with the more articulate sound quality of a concert body.

The pinched waist gives the sound more focus which helps big cowboy chords sound rich and balanced.

On the other hand, Jumbos are big guitars that might be tough to play for beginners or those with smaller frames.

Tonewoods

Tonewood is simply the wood an acoustic instrument is made out of.

The tonewoods used in the construction of acoustic guitars will have an enormous impact on the tone and dynamic range of the instrument.

Yamaha keeps it simple and classic for the tonewoods they use for their acoustic guitars. They often use classic combinations like a solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany or rosewood back and sides, and an ebony or rosewood fingerboard.

These tonewoods and combinations will change depending on the series and model. Still, you will not find many exotic tonewoods in Yamaha’s lineup.

Here is a quick breakdown of tonewoods and their general characteristics:

The Soundboard (Top Wood)

The Acoustic guitar’s soundboard is the most crucial tonewood of the guitar’s construction.

Yamaha has three main kinds of wood they will use when building a guitar:

Spruce Tonewood

A solid spruce top: A solid spruce top on an acoustic guitar will have a great dynamic range and project a crisp, bright and clean sound. This allows the guitar to open up as you play louder while not losing articulation when playing softly.

Mahogany Tonewood

Mahogany: Mahogany is a harder wood with a warmer tone. Mahogany also has a natural compression ideal for recording artists and players who have an uneven strumming hand.

Laminated/Layered Wood: Acoustic guitars constructed of laminate don’t typically resonate as well as a solid top guitar. They are primarily found in low-end acoustic guitars. Laminate has the advantage of not cracking or warping due to changes in weather conditions.

If you’re wondering if the Yamaha acoustic guitar you’re considering is made of laminated wood, it won’t have the word “solid” in front of the wood name on the specs sheet.

Body and Sides

The tonewood on the body and sides acts as an EQ for the guitar’s tone. Yamaha acoustic guitars generally use laminated mahogany or rosewood for budget-friendly guitars and solid Mahogany, Maple, Rosewood, or Nato for premium. Although some limited addition guitars use Koa, it isn’t typical for a Yamaha guitar.

The general sound of these tonewoods are as follows:

Mahogany: Mahogany is a popular choice for a guitar body. It is a strong material, has a warm midrange, and has a smooth vintage resonance.

Mahogany naturally compresses sound, making the dynamics of the guitar more controlled. This makes it a great body wood for recording artists and guitarists who haven’t yet mastered their strumming hand.

Rosewood Tonewood

Rosewood: Rosewood is one of the most popular woods used in acoustic guitar building. However, rosewood is becoming increasingly difficult in guitar-making due to over-harvesting, and certain species are now endangered.

High-end acoustics still use solid rosewood, although it is becoming less common. It’s famous for having a scooped midrange that helps singer/songwriters who want their voice to sit above the guitar. Rosewood has rich overtones with a smooth high end and is commonly matched with a solid spruce top guitar.

Maple Tonewood

Maple: Maple wood is beautiful and guitarists frequently select a guitar based on its looks alone. It’s commonly regarded to have a brilliant and piercing sound. However, it’s actually a tonally transparent wood with outstanding projection.

Because it features few overtones, Maple makes a great guitar body for loud strummers. Each chord note has clear articulation and very balanced voicing.

Nato: Nato is a more cost-effective alternative to mahogany. It shares the same dark appearance and mid-range tone.

Laminated Wood: For more budget-friendly Yamaha acoustic guitars, they will use laminated wood for the guitar’s body. If you look at the specs sheet of a guitar you’re considering buying, it will say “solid” in front of the wood if it is a solid wood instrument. Otherwise, it’s made of laminate.

Yamaha’s A.R.E.

Acoustic Resonance Enhancement (ARE) is a chemical-free wood transformation technique that allows Yamaha to make a guitar sound like it was built decades ago.

The guitar “opens up” and becomes more resonant and rich in tone as tonewood ages. This is one of the features that make vintage guitars so desirable.

This process is also known as Torrefaction and is becoming increasingly popular amongst guitar manufacturers.

Not all of Yamaha’s guitars include ARE technology. However, the L-Series, some A-Series guitars, and FG Red Label series have Acoustic Resonance Enhancement.

Scale Length

To determine a guitar’s scale length, measure the distance between the nut and the 12th fret, then double it.

A full-scale guitar has a scale length of around 25.4 inches. On the other hand, a shorter-scale guitar has a scale length of about 24.7 inches.

Shorter-scale guitars have less string tension, creating a more “slinky” playing feel. This often leads to a more comfortable and easy-to-play acoustic guitar, especially for beginners.

However, the full-scale has its perks. The frets will be farther apart, making it more suited for those with bigger hands. Full-scale guitars tend to retain their tuning better when played in alternative dropped and open tunings.

Do you need an acoustic-electric guitar?

When looking to purchase a new acoustic guitar, carefully consider whether you’ll need an electronics and pickup system.

For musicians who frequently play shows, having an acoustic-electric guitar is critical. The preamps aid in amplifying your sound using a PA or Amp while eliminating feedback.

On the other hand, a preamp may considerably raise the cost of your acoustic guitar. Also, some of Yamaha’s top-of-the-line acoustics do not include electronics, which is a bit surprising for how much money you’re investing.

When shopping for the best Yamaha acoustic guitar to meet your demands, consider if it’s an acoustic-electric guitar or just an acoustic.

Yamaha Acoustic Guitar Series

The great thing about Yamaha acoustic guitars is they have an incredibly diverse lineup that will fit any playing ability, style, and budget.

Once you understand the series of guitars used to categorize the Yamaha acoustic lineup, you’ll be able to find your perfect guitar effortlessly.

Yamaha Storia

Storia

A unique series in the Yamaha acoustic-electric guitar lineup. It’s a mid-range guitar that is aimed at beginner players. The most notable features of the Storia lineup are the solid spruce or mahogany top, the shortened scale, and design aesthetics.

It’s a uniquely “in-vogue” looking guitar that looks like it jumped out of a fashion catalog, and the marketing fits this vibe as well. The most unique design feature is the coloration within the soundhole. It does give it a modern, sleek look that is very decorative.

So while Yamaha has created a beautifully minimalistic instrument with good playability, it almost seems like it was designed to be more for decorating your home.

I would suggest checking out the Taylor Guitars Academy lineup for this price point.

Yamaha FS850

FG/FS

The Folk Guitar (FG) series of guitars is the OG in Yamaha’s lineup. The FG/FS series comes as a no-frills, quality budget guitar built to last.

It comes in either their Dreadnought or Concert body size, as well as a solid mahogany or spruce top.

If you’re a beginner looking for the perfect first acoustic guitar, then an FG is a great place to start.

Yamaha Red Label FSX5

FG/FS Red Label

Suppose you’re an intermediate to advanced player looking for a guitar that punches way above its weight. In that case, the Red Label is something to pay attention to.

All Red Label guitars come with a solid Sitka spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides. The spruce top is torrified with the ARE technology giving these guitars vintage playability and sound out the factory doors.

This series comes in either the Dreadnought or Concert body shape, and either is expertly crafted in Japan (F5 model) or China (F3 Model).

The “X” models of the Red Label series come equipped with Yamaha’s Atmosphere 3-way pickup system.

Yamaha GigMaker

GigMaker

The GigMaker is the beginner’s acoustic guitar all-in-one kit. It makes a great Christmas or Birthday gift because it comes neatly packaged in a box with everything a beginner needs.

The GigMaker comes with an acoustic guitar, strap, picks, gig bag, strings, and clip-on tuner.

TransAcoustic Guitars

A Yamaha TransAcoustic Guitar comes with a built-in reverb and chorus effect. It’s an “other-worldly” sound that is both creative and gimmicky.

On the one hand, it offers some genuinely unusual effects and tones that you can take with you anywhere without needing to connect to anything. On the other hand, it provides sounds that I don’t believe an acoustic guitar player is actually looking for. I guess, at the end of the day, this is for you to decide for yourself.

TransAcoustic is built into a Yamaha acoustic guitar from various other series and is designated with a “-TA” in the model number.

Yamaha A-Series AC5R

A Series

An A-Series Yamaha acoustic-electric guitar is a forward-thinking guitar built for the performance artist in mind.

All guitars in this series come with electronics and a solid spruce top. The higher-end models come with an all-solid wood design of either Rosewood or Mahogany back and sides.

The higher-end models also have the ARE treated wood for a resonant, vintage tone and the proprietary SRT2 pickup system.

Yamaha L-Series LS6M

L Series

The L stands for “Luxury.”

Every L Series guitar features a solid Engelmann spruce top torrified via the ARE process. This makes the guitar more resonant and open in sound that usually takes years to accomplish with normal aging.

This line of guitars also includes solid rosewood or mahogany back and sides, as well as a 5-ply neck and ebony or rosewood fingerboard.

The guitar has a modern feel while retaining a classic, balanced, warm sound.

Yamaha CSF3M

CSF

This series from Yamaha acoustic guitars is their lineup of parlor-sized guitars. These guitars are for the player looking for a small guitar that plays easy, has a full sound, and travels well.

The CSF makes great bonfire guitars, couch guitars, and intimate acoustic recordings.

Yamaha APX600FM

APX

The APX is an excellent cross-over into the acoustic world for electric guitar players.

The APX series is a shallow-bodied, short-scale, cutaway design built for stage performers who need to change regularly between electric and acoustic guitars.

Equipped with an under-saddle piezo pickup that includes Yamaha’s proprietary SRT transducer found in the A-Series guitars. This design helps preserve a natural tone while eliminating feedback.

Yamaha CPX600

CPX

The CPX is for the guitarist who wants the on-stage playability of the APX series but in a more traditional acoustic guitar body.

Yamaha JR

Travel/Mini

There are two models in the 3/4 sized travel guitar series from Yamaha. The APXT2 is a minified version of the APX, and the JR is a mini FG dreadnought.

These small guitars have the same solid construction as their full-sized guitars. They can also be easily packed away for the nomadic musician.

FAQ

The most common questions around Yamaha acoustic guitars answered.

What is the top-of-the-line Yamaha guitar?

The L-Series Customs are the premium guitars in the Yamaha lineup. The “L” stands for Luxury. The custom models in this series are built by a single Master Luthier in the Yamaha facility in Japan.

They are meticulously crafted with a traditional acoustic look with modern playability.

Are Yamaha guitars any good?

Yes. Yamaha is often thought of as an acoustic guitar for beginners; however, they have great guitars that satisfy beginners, intermediate, and pro musicians alike.

The build quality on Yamaha’s is consistent no matter the model. As you get up into the higher-end acoustic guitars, you will find a value-for-money that you won’t get in some of the more popular acoustic brands.

Which model Yamaha guitar is best for beginners?

The GigMaker series is an acoustic bundle pack. It comes with a guitar, strap, picks, chromatic clip-on tuner, and gig bag. Everything you will need to get started on your guitar-playing journey!

To Recap

Whether a beginner or a skilled player, the AC5R has something for everyone. With so many great features and a great tone, it is hard to find anything wrong with this guitar.

I hope that my reviews and buying guide helps with your decision-making process when looking for a new Yamaha acoustic guitar.

Editor's Choice
AC5R
  • Excellent, hand-crafted guitar from Japan
  • All solid wood design has a rich, open sound
  • Extraordinarily versatile and can be used in studio or on-stage by all genres
  • Yamaha's Acoustic Resonance Enhancement gives the guitar a vintage look and tone