Yamaha isn’t the type of manufacturer that produces an entirely new series of acoustic guitars. If you are a Yamaha fan, you would have noticed this. What Yamaha did with its newly released guitars is that it simply revises and upgrades the original FG, APX and L series.
The Yamaha AC3R is a member of the A-Series cutaway body offering a vintage look and more volume at low-mid ranges. It has new bracing that brings about the natural resonance of the guitar. It’s my pleasure to share with you everything I discovered about the guitar and my review about it.
- Versatile and reliable for different tones
- Has very useful electronics onboard
- Incredible built with great tuning stability
- Not easily learnable, especially for beginners
- The pickup system and controls need time to familiarize
- Produce some buzzing, but not that prominent
Design & Construction
Designed to be road-ready, it has a solid Sitka Spruce top with solid Rosewood to the back and sides. It features the new scalloped bracing to the top and shorter bracing on the back. These allow the top and back to resonate more naturally, giving more volume to the low-mid frequency range.
With Yamaha’s very own A.R.E. (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement) wood torrefaction technology, top wood is treated for more stability, giving it an aged, vintage hue. The traditional western body single-cutaway and the concert body shape complement to the vintage look of the guitar. What I have is the Vintage Natural variant with A.R.E. treated top.
The neck is made of three-piece Mahogany, while the fretboard is of ebony. The fretboard boasts the 20 frets with dot inlays and a scale length of 25.5-inch. What I especially liked about this guitar is the hand-rolled fretboard edges that provide additional comfort when playing it.
Yamaha AC3R also has an ebony bridge with compensated saddle and plastic nut with the width of 1.692-inch. At the head, you have die-cast chrome tuning machines, configured like the most common acoustic guitar. You can start playing it right away with the Elixir 80/20 Bronze light strings (0.12-0.53) with NANOWEB coating strung perfectly from the manufacturer.
As an acoustic-electric guitar, it has a few exciting features to keep it stage-ready. It has the SRT2 pickup system, a mic-imaging blender system that allows you to blend microphone models and the piezo pickup to achieve the tone you want.
The SRT pickup is placed under the saddle, then six individual piezo elements are integrated on the wide ribbon strip. There are three different microphone models, which can be balanced using the Blend control. The microphone will pick the natural vibration of the tonewood and the body style, rather than the strings.
Also, you’ll get volume, tone and bass controls with auto feedback reduction. There’s the Focus/Wide switch, too, that helps you adjust the distance between the mic models and the Resonance knob to get optimize low-end. The SRT pickup system and all the controls onboard help you to play around with different tones at your fingertips.
Discussing the pickup system of the Yamaha AC3R is complicated that I thought. Yes, it’s a complicated system that even I, as a seasoned player, also find it quite challenging. However, if you play the guitar often, it’ll open doors to new learning, opportunities, and gigs.
Playability & Performance
The first thing I’ve noticed when holding the guitar for the first time is the softness of the neck. The thinner neck makes it easier for a smaller person to play. However, for beginners, this isn’t just any acoustic-electric guitar that’s easily playable — it takes time, especially when playing the barre chords.
The straight taper neck and the hand-rolled fretboard edges provide comfort to any player. If you’ve been playing dreadnought, you can realize that the neck, finish and the string spacing feel like it’s a dreadnought.
Sitka Spruce top is not there for no reason. In fact, it’s a stiff, yet elastic softwood to accommodate aggressive playing, flatpicking, and fingerpicking. Since the top has undergone a high-heat treatment to remove the moisture of the material, it offers great stability and enhanced aged color.
The ebony fretboard plus the beautiful single-cutaway shape help me play different chords — complex chords — especially on the upper frets. The action is just right and it needs no initial setup — nothing. You can simply strum the strings and enjoy what you’re doing.
I find the strings pretty reliable, so, I decided not to replace them, as they are already impressive. The tuners, too, are good at keeping the guitar achieve its perfect voice. I had played the entire night without stopping to correct the tuning.
While the guitar stays in tune day and night, it’s also playable and lightweight. Whether you play fast or slow, surfing up and down the fretboard will just be a breeze.
From the tonewood, fretboard, and electronics, everything contributes to the tons of brilliant sounds coming from this concert-sized guitar. Yamaha has designed the A-series to sound louder and stronger, especially in the low-mid ranges. The Spruce tonewood which is A.R.E.-treated is capable of producing louder and richer acoustic sound.
The solid rosewood back and side can produce a warm and balanced tone in all frequencies. Its acoustic sound stands out, though it’s only a concert-sized guitar; doesn’t have the full volume of dreadnought guitars. Yamaha is an expert in bringing out more vintage sound than modern ones, and I appreciate it.
I’ll try to explain Yamaha’s SRT2 system and how it impacts the sound quality of the guitar. Again, it’s complicated, which needs more time to practice — but, offers you a wide variety of tonal possibilities.
The guitar has a blender system that allows a combine the natural acoustic sound of the guitar and the loudness or “gain” of the piezo pickup. The onboard microphone has three models with two of them used studio mic. This means, it optimizes the sound output to adjust the ideal playing environment — producing loud sounds, but still with natural acoustic touch.
There’s an automatic feedback reduction (A.F.R.) that helps identify the resonating frequency of the feedback and notches it out of the output sound. This means that the natural sound of the guitar is still preserved even in a diverse playing environment.
Value for Money
At a price of less than $1000, I don’t think this is a deal to pass. There are tons of acoustic-electric guitars out there that are cheaper than this, but it seems, it’s also a waste to let go this amazing guitar.
I like the guitar because it’s minimalist and helps you focus on playing. The fretboard and the neck are playable and very comfortable with the hand-rolled fret edges. The tuners are pretty reliable too.
However, the challenge would be on the pickup system and the controls onboard. If you aren’t willing to learn and if you give up easily, you’ll never fully appreciate the greatness of the Yamaha AC3R. So, only those who are really willing can appreciate the guitar’s value for their money.
An acoustic guitar with endless possibilities, Yamaha AC3R is a great guitar to try. First, it’s a Yamaha and Yamaha guitars hold to their promise of quality and excellence.
From the looks and design, nothing seems extraordinary, until you explore the pickups onboard in this guitar. It features the SRT pickup system that ensures the natural acoustic sound is preserved. You’ll also enjoy features like the three-band EQ, built-in tuner, automatic feedback reduction, and more.
Unfortunately, this isn’t among the easy-to-play instruments, especially if you’ll explore its fullest potential. This is a feature-packed guitar offered at an unbelievably low price.