An extraordinary guitar that has an interesting pickup system, Yamaha A3M captures the heart of every musician. Its release in 2017 brought comfort, power and great tonality in every performance — whether live or in-studio. So, I’m going to make a detailed review of the guitar, and whether, it’s still loved by many.
There’s a unique approach to the construction of this guitar and I will also unravel it. This means I’m going to tackle the playability, performance and the kind of sound it produces.
The following review is based on my opinion, simply take this with a grain of salt.
Photos from Yamaha USA, Yandas Music
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- Narrower neck is great for flatpickers
- Gives great value for the money, given its quality and features
- Deliver full and rich sound
- Nut width is narrower for fingerstylists, but great for strummers
- Some players don’t want the slim neck because the low E could slip over the edge
- May take some time to learn and use all the controls
Design & Construction
Judging from the looks and design, it’s like the most common acoustic guitar. Specifically, it has a solid Sitka Spruce top with solid Mahogany for the back and sides.
Nothing seems fancy, but the top, sides, and back undergone Yamaha’s Acoustic Resonance Enhancement (A.R.E.) technology. This means, that the woods are heat-treated to pre-age them to achieve a unique and beautiful tone. With the Vintage Natural color, it gives the vibe of a vintage acoustic guitar, but with hidden capacity underneath.
This guitar comes with a dreadnought cutaway body, giving the comfort you need to play the guitar for hours. It has a distinctive pickguard that looks like that of Gibson’s acoustics.
The three-piece mahogany neck joins flawlessly to the body and concealed with a gloss finish. The Rosewood fretboard has 23.65-inch scale length, 20 frets with dot inlays that give a nice understated aesthetic. This guitar is pretty lightweight because it only has 6.8lbs weight.
The headstock is decorated with die-cast chrome tuning heads. You don’t see any inlay, but only the Yamaha logo on the head. It has an ebony bridge. Then, there’s urea nut and saddle with the ever-reliable Elixir NANOWEB 80/20 strings.
Like the Yamaha AC3R, it also has the new SRT2 system that helps you stay stage-ready and produce natural acoustic plugged-in tone. You’ll have various options provided by this very interesting pickup/preamp system. This will not only challenge yourself, but you can achieve tonal capacities you never imagined achievable before.
Though the SRT2 pickup system seems to be quite complicated, it has a small dashboard with three microphone models (Neumann U67, Neumann KM56, and Royer R-122), Focus/Wide switch, three-band EQ, Blend Knob and Resonance knob.
Among the two functions that I appreciated the most is the built-in tuner and the feedback-control system. All these help you achieve rich and natural tone mixed with amplified tones.
Playability & Performance
Playing the guitar is amazing, fun and fast. I can credit comfort when playing the guitar to its mahogany neck. It has a slim profile with a satin finish that gives a natural fit to the player’s hand. The neck is straight and flawless with hand-rolled fretboard edges.
While the string spacing is wider, the nut width could be narrower for fingerpicking, but good for strumming and flatpicking. The Sitka wood is stiff, but elastic. This ensures you are supported if you’re an aggressive player like me. Fingerpicking, flatpicking, strumming, you name it, and the top wood accommodates your style well.
This guitar is versatile and it makes the player versatile too. In fact, this guitar can take on different playing styles — simple and slow, fast and rapid transitions. This is all thanks to the super low action and outstanding finish it has.
The action is comparable to electric guitars, in which you can do barre chords at the upper frets effortlessly. With this, going up and down the fretboard will just be naturally comfortable.
Yamaha A3M is strung with Elixir NANOWEB 80/20 strings, in which the chrome tuners are doing great in keeping the strings in tune. The ebony bridge, urea nut, and saddle and the strings are perfect to give you a guitar with great tonal possibilities.
You can play all day, all night, without worrying about the guitar going out of tune. And, in case it will, what’s the problem when there’s an onboard tuner? With a guitar this comfortable, it’s really a loss to keep it at the corners.
I’ll just add the controls onboard — the three-band EQ (treble, middle and bass) and master volume control that are located on the body’s side. At least, this is a great improvement from the cumbersome control panel. These controls are easily accessible — a great advantage to players who like to experiment on their performance.
The sound of the Yamaha A3M is unarguably amazing. Whether it’s plugged or unplugged, the sound is well-balanced. It has punchy lows with clear highs. The S.R.T. pickup system molds different tone options you’ve never imagined before.
There’s a transformation happening when the guitar is plugged in. The solid mahogany and solid Spruce top offer a balanced tone, rich, full and with great warmth. The bracing pattern also gives that powerful acoustic tone.
I’ll quickly go through the pickup mechanism and what benefits can you get in terms of the sounds and playability, too. The purpose of the pickup system is simply to amplify the sound, but retaining its natural characteristics. In short, a blender system that combines the piezo pickup and the microphone.
The new SRT 2 pickup system, plus the reliable strings help you become stage-ready. Designed to bring about stronger and louder low-mid ranges, this guitar is one of the best in terms of amplified tones. Since there are a lot of controls, including the feedback reducer and onboard tuner, you’ll have full control of your performance.
Value for Money
Now, I would like to be very clear to you. If you only like an acoustic guitar, there are tons of cheaper options you can choose from. Even Yamaha has more affordable acoustic-electric guitars like Yamaha APX600.
This guitar is reserved for those who like both the acoustic and the electric side of the guitar, but more specifically, on the pickup system on the guitar. You cannot fully appreciate the beauty and functionality of the Yamaha A3M unless you’ll plug it in and explore the pickup system onboard.
So, for the price, slightly cheaper than Yamaha AC3R, this acoustic-electric guitar is already a fair deal. Given that you’ll maximize all its features, you can tell that this guitar gives more value to your money.
A simple look on the outside, but sophisticated inside. This is how I’ll describe Yamaha A3M. It’s a guitar with common body shape, style, and natural finish, yet, surprise you with its sound department. The top wood, the sides, and the back are treated with Yamaha’s very own Yamaha’s Acoustic Resonance Enhancement (A.R.E.) technology.
The looks is pretty simple with few controls. At first glance, it seems like an ordinary acoustic-electric guitar, but inside is a complex, yet powerful and dynamic pickup system. Capable of producing amplified natural acoustic sound, this guitar is indeed endowed with tons of tonal capabilities.