Perhaps the biggest dilemma when choosing an entry-level guitar is whether to invest in a solid wood top or settle for a laminate. This Yamaha FG800 review will show you that you don’t always have to choose between a good price and a real guitar sound. Beginner-friendly prices and beginner-friendly playability aren’t mutually exclusive either.
Yamaha is famous for affordable guitars that both feel and sound better than most budget options. Their FG guitars have placed among the most popular acoustic guitars in the world for decades. The Yamaha FG800 is a fairly recent shining example. Let’s examine what makes it one of the best acoustic guitars under $300.
What stands out most is the solid Sitka spruce top, something you only tend to find in higher price ranges. Compared to standard laminates, this solid wood gives you a warmer, fuller sound. The sides, back, and neck consist of laminated nato. A rosewood fretboard completes the classic look and feel and allows for smooth sliding.
A new scalloping bracing pattern strengthens the top and improves bass frequencies and sound projection. In other words, the sound travels further. Other than this and the somewhat slimmed neck, the Yamaha FG800 is a traditional dreadnought.
The material choices are impressive for a budget-friendly guitar. Other than the plastic saddle and nut and the laminated body, the Yamaha FG800’s specs are more akin to higher-end guitars. It’s best to replace the strings right away, though.
I’d say this is an excellent first guitar. It’s not one of those rickety toys you’ll sack for something better after a year. This thing will last and accommodate your growing skills.
The Yamaha FG800 has a sleek, natural look with black bindings and a glossy finish. A dark red pickguard completes the look. You can find older models with different finishes like sunburst.
How the Yamaha FG800 Plays
Like most budget-friendly guitars, it has a pretty high string action. This can make it harder for beginners to play smoothly until they develop more finger strength and calluses. Since you can’t access the truss rod without a special tool, it’s best to let a professional adjust it if you want optimal playability. Other than that, you’ll find that it plays fine. From simple strumming to advanced fingerstyle, the Yamaha FG800 lets you play with ease.
The 43mm nut width means you won’t have to stretch as much for complicated chords. That’s a big benefit for women and young guitarists, in particular. It’s a fast neck due to the moderate satin finish which has less friction than a typical glossy varnish.
The Yamaha FG800 has a pretty impressive tone for such a cheap guitar. It’s warm and round and lends itself well to rough strumming. Whether you want to rock out at the local bar or just learn some popular songs, it’ll give you the confidence for it.
While Yamaha produces great budget guitars in general, the Yamaha FG800 stands out with its loud, consistent, thick tone. It’s neither too bright nor too booming. You could even bring it for a decent unplugged gig, which isn’t the case with most cheap guitars.
What People Say
Buyers say the Yamaha FG800 is easy to play with a great sound and ideal for beginners. The only common complaint is about the somewhat high action. They give it 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
You’ll find the Yamaha FG800 for around $200. That’s an impressive price for a solid-top acoustic that’s built to last. And if you want something better down the road, replacing the nut and saddle will make it equal to a more expensive guitar at a fraction of the cost. I recommend that you get a complete starter pack for the best value.
Yamaha FG800 VS Fender CD-60S
Comparing the Yamaha FG800 to a similar competitor will give you a better idea of its quality. The Fender CD60-S also has a solid spruce top with scalloped bracing. It has a very similar general build as the Yamaha FG800 but uses mahogany laminates for the back and sides. The scale length is a little shorter, and it has a thinner but rounder, glossy neck.
They play about the same, but the Fender sounds a little thinner and less warm. It’s a lower-quality option that costs less. Take a closer look here.
Pros & Cons
Let’s round up this Yamaha FG800 review. Here are the strengths and weaknesses of the Yamaha FG800.
- Hard-to-beat value
- Warm solid-top tone
- So affordable
It’s worth repeating that there aren’t many guitars of this quality for such a low price. The Yamaha FG800 stands out and makes an ideal first guitar.
- Some find the action too high
- Cheap materials
Nato laminates and plastic details don’t resonate like proper wood. The Yamaha FG800 is a budget guitar after all, but it does an excellent job for the price.
Is Yamaha FG800 Right for You?
If you’re looking for something really affordable that’s still a real guitar, a Yamaha FG800 is an ideal choice. As always with this brand, you get top value for the price. Since it’s an upgrade of a guitar model that’s been popular for decades, you know it’s not just a cheap money-grab. It’s a good build and suits most skill levels, so you’ll get many years of play out of this affordable guitar. If you’ve decided on a Yamaha FG800, you can get it here.
Yamaha FG800 John Holloway Rating: 4 out of 5