This Yamaha FG800 Review will show you that you don’t have to choose between a great price and a guitar that sounds awesome and plays fantastic when buying a budget guitar.
Yamaha has made a considerable reputation over decades for creating beautiful, sought-after acoustic guitars. Yamaha has also been able to put itself at the forefront of making budget guitars that play and sound better than most other budget guitars.
As someone who works in the industry, I would say the Yamaha FG800 is in my opinion, the best affordable guitar on the market. When customers come and ask me for a budget guitar I never hesitate to point them to it.
In this Yamaha FG800 review, we will go over some of the features that set this instrument apart from the rest.
Yamaha FG800 Review: Overview
Over 50 years ago Yamaha released the first in the FG series. These guitars were really popular and over the years there have been over 200 models in the FG line. The FG800 was released as Yamaha’s answer to the budget guitar customers. However, the FG800 has features that make it much more than an entry-level guitar.
Yamaha has always focused on playability and sound. The Yamaha FG800 delivers on both these points and while it doesn’t have a lot of cosmetic features, it makes up for it by being a fabulous-sounding instrument.
One of the biggest features in guitar design is the tonewood used to resonate with the sound made by the strings. This tonewood is the main determining factor as to how a guitar will sound. Generally, there are 2 ways of creating the body of the guitar. This is either by using solid wood or by using laminates.
Laminates are a great way for guitar makers to lower the price of the production by using inexpensive woods that are “sandwiched” between more high-quality tonewoods. These layers are glued together and the final product looks like it is made of quality tonewood.
Solid tops are different as they are made from a single piece of tonewood like spruce or cedar. Solid tops are usually found in more expensive guitars because they produce a more consistent and balanced sound.
In the case of the FG800, Yamaha uses a solid spruce top. This is generally unheard of in the entry-level acoustic guitars and one reason the FG800 stands above the rest. Let’s take a look at some of the innovative features Yamaha has included.
1. Body and Design
The Yamaha FG800 has a dreadnought body style that, as mentioned earlier, has a solid Sitka Spruce top with scalloped bracing. The sides and back are made of laminated Nato which adds to the durability and lower price point. The dreadnought body style is the most common acoustic guitar body as it gives a warm sound with lots of attack.
Scalloped bracing is a form of bracing the body to control the guitar’s vibrations. Scalloping is the name for the way the braces are shaped. This scalloping is designed to control the vibrations with more precision resulting in a warmer and more balanced tone. Scalloped bracing really opens up the tone and is something not normally found in entry-level guitars.
When it comes to the neck, the Yamaha FG800 has a long scale length of 25 and 9/16 inches. This is the measurement from the nut to the saddle. This long-scale length gives the guitar a fuller and brighter tone. The drawback for beginners is that there is more tension on the strings and the frets are a little bit farther apart.
The neck is made of Nato/ Okoume wood that is finished in a satin finish. It has a great feel in your hands. The satin finish makes sliding down the neck easy. The fingerboard is made of walnut and is finished with oil, which is very traditional.
The Yamaha FG800 comes in only one finish option and that is the natural finish. The top and the sides are finished in a clear gloss to accentuate the natural look of the woods. As stated earlier, the neck is finished with a satin finish and this decision was made for greater playability.
The next model up in the FG series has some more finishes if you are inclined to spend a little more money.
In this Yamaha FG800 review, we have talked about some of the different features that set this guitar apart from the rest but the real feature that makes this a great guitar is the sound. The FG800 has a really well-balanced sound. It is also a loud guitar. Great for strumming, sliding, and fingerpicking.
Because it has a solid top with scalloped bracing, the sound is warm but not booming. It is also bright and articulate but not tinny sounding.
For the beginner, this guitar has the kind of response that makes you want to keep playing and practicing. For the more seasoned player, it is surprising the dynamics that you can bring out of this guitar.
I think the sound of this guitar will definitely win you over and make you want to have this guitar for a long time.
All the design choices that Yamaha made in this guitar have definitely enhanced the playability. The size of the neck and the satin finish makes it easy to navigate around the fretboard.
The action is a bit higher when the guitar is first out of the factory. This makes strumming chords sound great but the higher action can be difficult for beginners who haven’t developed their finger strength and callouses. However, if you take it into a guitar tech and get the action set up to be lower, you will find it easier to play.
- Solid Sitka Spruce Top
- Scalloped Bracing
- Laminated Nato/Okoume back and sides
- Nato/ Okoume Neck with Satin Finish
- Walnut Fingerboard
- Die-Cast Tuners
- Plastic 43mm Nut
Pros and Cons
To finish off this Yamaha FG800 review, let’s look at the strengths and the weaknesses.
- Inexpensive quality acoustic guitar
- Solid Spruce top
- Scalloped Bracing
- Fantastic Sound
- Higher action makes it tough on beginners
- Only one color option
- No electronics
There are a few others in the budget guitar category that are competing with the Yamaha FG800. Here are a few to consider.
Shortly after Yamaha rolled out their FG800, Fender rolled out the CD-60S. Fender’s model also boasts a solid Spruce top and scalloped bracing to rival the FG800.
The CD-60S however, chose to go with a shorter scale length and a rounder radius on the frets. They made these choices to suit the beginner player and make it easier to play.
Takamine makes great guitars…period. Their entry-level offering in the GD51-NAT is an exceptional guitar as well at a price point for the budget-minded consumer.
The GD51-NAT also has a solid Spruce top with laminated black walnut back and sides. This guitar has a lot more cosmetic upgrades like gold die-cast tuners, an abalone rosette and mother of pearl dot inlays.
One other cool feature is the split saddle design of the bridge. This is to provide better intonation across the fretboard. Like the fender, it is a rounder radius on the frets with a slimmer nut for easier playing. Another great choice.
After only a few minutes of strumming the Yamaha FG800, you will know that you made the right decision. The sound is fantastic. The response is there. You can power through a heavy chord progression or dial in a very dynamic finger-picking riff. Whether you are just starting out or you are a seasoned player, you are going to love this guitar. For the price, you get a lot more than you paid.
Not a guitar player? That’s OK. Check out our article on the best keyboard for music production.