Yamaha A-Series Guitars - Complete Comparisons and Reviews

The Yamaha A-Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars
(complete series review - updated with new SRT 2 and SRT 1 comparisons)

"Easily the best of both worlds for under $1000"

(Complete Comparison table of all A series models below - (A1R, A1M,  AC1R,  AC1M, A3R, A3M, AC3R, AC3M)

After researching this guitar thoroughly, much of the online information surrounding this guitar is incomplete or incorrect, even on the Yamaha USA website - so I called them to get the straight facts - Yamaha USA.  

I called in and had an extensive discussion (with Ed- one of Yamaha's USA guitar technical experts) about the new SRT technologies as well as the 8 different A-series models that Yamaha offers to get the real scoop on these great guitars.  

*There are even some errors on the Official Yamaha guitar site that are cleared up (below) in this review.

The Yamaha A-Series of guitars is the first "American Made" Yamaha series designed with the United States engineering team, and the collaboration between the Japanese and American teams has created a combination of the highest acoustic guitar craftsmanship with the un-matched S.R.T. (Studio Response Technology).

The SRT Technology, for the A-Series only appears in the A3 and AC3 models and not in the A1 or AC1 models, and this is a big deal if you plan on plugging your guitar into an amp or any system.

Most acoustic electric guitars lose their acoustic beauty when plugged in, because they use only a transducer (piezo) technology or an inferior piezo / mic blender, but not the Yamaha A3 and AC3 -Series with S.R.T. (Studio Response Technology)

I honestly wish I had this kind of pickup system bundled with solid tonewoods for under $1,000 when I was purchasing my last guitar. 

This SRT technology is like having a professional microphone and studio built in. . . 

(Listen to Josh Gooch play some Amazing blues riffs and a detailed description of the SRT system)

We'll get to the differencese between Yamaha A-series models below, but first we have to discuss why the SRT pickup system blows the other pickup systems out of the water for guitars in this "under $1000" crowd (and even most in the "above $1000" crowd).

Many acoustic guitar pickups are a simple piezo pickup, located under the saddle, picking up the vibrations of the strings and converting them to an electrical signal.   When you play on a "piezo-only" system, you lose all of the "air and wood" quality of the tonewoods and body style of the acoustic guitar (100% lost), ending up with a disappointing, electric and tinny sound that barely resembles the beautiful tones and overtones one would desire when playing an acoustic guitar or amping with just a studio microphone.

The magic of the SRT pickup system starts with the built in microphone blender. . .

Not only does the SRT have both an onboard microphone for picking up the natural acoustic sound of the guitar, but it has a blender to balance between the loudness or "gain" from the piezo pickup without sacrificing that true acoustic sound you would expect from an acoustic guitar.  

The microphone also has different modeling capabilities for replicating a close microphone or wide microphone setup.

The Professional SRT (Studio Response Technology) combines. . .

  • Advanced Digital Signal Processing
  • Real-world insight into professional audio technology (from recording professionals and engineers)
  • Real professional studio recording modeling techniques at the flip of a switch


  • Three different high-end mic types
  • Two mic positions that let you use professional recording studio techniques
  • A total of 6 setting patterns 
  • A blender knob between the piezo and microphone
  • Complete control of body resonance sound for authentic, rich acoustic tonewood sound (reverb of tones and overtones)
  • AFR - Automatic Feedback Reduction at the push of a button
  • 3-Band Equalizer (Eq) for projection any sound profile you need
  • On-board tuner for ease of string tuning, reliability and accuracy

"Sounds that were only attainable by professional recording engineers using old-world vintage microphone set ups in world-class recording studios are now available with this built in SRT system, whether playing live or in your home studio."

The SRT starts with 3 world class studio microphones modeled in 1. . . 

The SRT preamp and pick up offers 3 different microphone modeling types at the flip of a switch to match any playing style (each microphone would cost several thousand dollars to gain this kind of sound in a professional recording studio)


  1. The Neumann U67 - great for wide EQ and any playing style, giving the player a large diaphragm condenser studio mic sound
  2. The Neumann KM56 - great for crisp, high end where detailed playing must stand out- including crisp lead guitar, scales, finger style picking, and flat-picking where clarity and distinction are needed.
  3. The Royer R-122 - a ribbon style microphone is great for rounding out and smoothing the tones for Jazz and Blues playing - this microphone model gives a warmer, wider and smooth tone response for the more mellow acoustic sweetness

Regardless of your playing style, you can switch between 3 professional, built-in microphone settings which allow you to amp the true sound of the acoustic guitar through an on-board microphone.  

A regular "piezo-only" pickup cannot capture the true acoustic guitar sound like this SRT.

And, other leading blenders on the market, boasting a blend between on-board microphone and piezo pickups do not carry this kind of studio realism.

3 Microphones with 2 Professional Studio Settings: "Focus" and "Wide"


The on-board microphone has 3 different professional microphone models with the 2 most commonly used studio mic settings for professional studio recording and live play realism.  

Using the "Focus" setting, one can hone in on the close and crisp sound of the acoustic guitar tonewoods and strings as thought the guitar were miced right near the soundhole for direct, up front, real acoustic sound.  

Switch to the "wide" setting and instantly gain the advantage of being miced both close and wide for more room resonance and "airyness", adding distance, depth, and reverb while picking up subtle nuances of the overtones of the tonewoods of the guitar body.  

Complete Control of the Sound with Body Resonance and Microphone Piezo blending


Complete Resonance Control allows the player to gain body resonance, tones and overtone vibration from the acoustic guitar body for a richer tone and experience.  However, if too much feedback occurs at any time, simply dialing down the resonance to the left will reduce the resonance / reverberation pickup for a cleaner, more straight-forward acoustic sound.  This setting gives the player a fine-tuning on the perceived "distance" of the microphone settings between "focus" and "wide", opening up an endless fine-tuning capability of the perceived studio microphone set up.

The On-Board Microphone and Piezo Blender allows you to hone in on the perfect amount of microphone and piezo gain you want for the perfectly blended acoustic or electric sound depending on your project, sound, playing style or performance needs.  While the microphone preserves the true tonewood quality captured only by studio microphones, the piezo can add more gain or volume without picking up feedback or muddling the sound.  The complete control is at the "blend" dial for any desired microphone / piezo pickup blend combination.

A.F.R. - Automatic Feeback Reduction


For sensitive environments, recording, and live play, the AFR (Automatic Feedback Reduction) is another great feature that is like having a live sound operator knocking out feedback at the push of a button.  In the old days, feedback from an instrument, including an acoustic guitar could wreak havoc on a performance or recording, sending a building and annoying squeal of sound through the audience.  With 1 push of the A.F.R. button, the pickup system instantly identifies the resonating frequency of the feedback that is occuring and notches it out of the output frequencies (Eq) for instant cancelling of any annoying or sudden feedback caused by ambience or environmental cues and feedbacks.  This is a great feature for keeping the sound going in diverse playing environments without destroying or interrupting the natural acoustic amplified sound of the guitar.

On-board tuner for string tuning accuracy


Not only does the SRT have an on-board tuner, but it is engineered to match the subtleties of each acoustic guitar model for the most accurate string tuner.  Even if you have a great ear for tuninng, this feature is great for re-assurance or for quick and accurate re-tuning between gigs or songs to keep the playing going and sounding great.  If you have ever been in the middle of a performance and began to lose tuning of a string or two, you may have had the annoying or even embarassing realization that your music was beginning to go sour beyond your ability to quickly fix it.  With the accuracy of the on-board tuner, you can tune each string with ease and precision even in the middle of a performance.

The tuner also has a distinct alternating lighting signal which will notify the player 1 hour before the batteries of the pickup lose their power, giving plenty of warning to change the internal power suppply without interrupting or distorting the output sound or performance.

Topped with a 3-Band EQ - for fine tuning


Although all acoustic guitars have a set sound profile, EQ range and projection qualities based on the body size, tonewoods and bracing patterns, this built-in 3-Band EQ is like icing on the cake.  Having fine tuned control of the bass, mid, and treble outputs of the guitar frequencies give the more advanced player the ability to emmulate different frequencies to suit any plying style or gig.  If you need the punchiness of a bluegrass, Mahogany sound, you can accentuate the mid and treble ranges and back the bass off a bit.  If you are looking for a more mellow, bassy and warm sound, you can back the mid and high ranges off while accentuating the bass a bit.  Or, simply leave the EQ settings in the middle somewhere to resonate the true natural beauty of the tones and overtones which come naturally from the air moving in and around the guitar body.

The final secret touch (the power supply)


Most internal pickups carry a 9V battery (called a PP3 systems=)which reduced voltage during play and over time.  The actual average playing voltage of a 9V (PP3) system is around 7.5 V.  While playing with a slightly weakened 9V battery, one can experience distortion and interruption of the sound as the voltage begins to drop, well before the battery is dead.  

On the flip-side, the SRT uses 2 "AA" batteries with an on-board circuitry that literally "ramps" the voltage up to 11V, giving not only a better and more consistent performance, but giving a more stable battery life and reliability up until the batteries are nearly dead.  Coupled with the built in visual signal, the player will know at least 1 hour in advance when the "AA" batteries need to be changed before performance is interrupted.


THE NEW SRT 2 Preamp vs. The Original SRT Preamp:

The differences between the SRT and SRT2 - Full Details:
The biggest 3 differences between the SRT1 (original SRT preamp &pickup) and the SRT2 are:
1- There is 1 less microphone model option in the SRT 2 - the mic models depend on whether you choose Rosewood or Mahogany - detailed below.
2- There is no onboard tuner in the SRT2
3- The aesthetics of the SRT2 are simplified with 4 smoth knobs versus the big preamp & digital display body showing on the SRT original.
4- There does not appear to be a "doubled" mic location option in the SRT2 for picking up a near and wide mic to alter the virtual placement of the microphones and resonant sound.  In other words, the SRT1 allowed you to model 2 mic setups- a focus setup meaning 1 close mic vs. a wide setup which means a close mic and a distant mic giving more studio resonance.
The SRT 2 has these features below- taken directly from the Yamaha website.
My comments will be embedded here to show the contrast between the 2 systems in parentheses and afterward.
From the Yamaha website:
You can select two different mic types to choose the optimal sound for your playing style and for the song you are performing. 
Knob (A): Volume Control Controls output volume. (ALSO in the original SRT pickup)
Knob (B): Treble Control Level adjustments for the high frequency (treble) range. (ALSO in the original SRT pickup)
Knob (C): Bass Control / AFR(Auto Feedback Reduction) (ALSO in the original SRT pickup) [PUSH] Level adjustments for the low frequency (bass) range. Push this button to activate the AFR. The system automatically detects the frequency causing feedback and applies a -12dB notch filter. 
Knob (D): Blend control / mic type switch [PUSH] Controls the mix level of signals received from the pickup and the microphone sources. Rotate fully to the left for 100% pickup signal and fully to the right for 100% simulated mic signal. Press this switch to select the mic type used in the SRT function. (ALSO in the original SRT pickup)
Aaron's comments:
The Detailed differences are:
The SRT 2 has 2 modeled mic options available depending on whether you choose Mahogany or Rosewood, and the SRT original has all 3.
The SRT 2 is a sleeker design, showing only 4 modest knobs instead of the rectangular preamp in the side of the guitar body.
The SRT 2 does not appear to have an onboard digital tuner available- the SRT original does.
The SRT2 does not appear to have a "doubled" mic location option for picking up either a focused (single near mic) and wide setup (both single near mic and distant second mic)
Where the SRT original has these 3 microphone models available in every preamp, the SRT 2 has only 2 of the 3 mic models depending on whether you purchase the Rosewood or the Mahogany.  
The Rosewood versions (labeled with the letter "R" in the model number) have the Neumann U67 and the Royer R122 and not the Neumann KM56 as shown below.
MODELS [A5R/AC5R/A3R/AC3R] - "R" meaning "Rosewood"
Mic Type 1: Neumann U67 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Mic Type 2: Royer R122 Active Ribbon Microphone
The Mahogany versions (labeled with the letter "M" in the model number) have the Neumann KM56 and the Royer 122 and not the Neuman U67 as shown below
MODELS [A5M/AC5M/A3M/AC3M] - "M" meaning "Mahogany"
Mic Type 1: Neumann KM56 Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Mic Type 2: Royer R122 Active Ribbon Microphone
1-The Neumann U67 (AVAILABLE IN THE SRT and THE SRT2 Rosewood Models) - great for wide EQ and any playing style, giving the player a large diaphragm condenser studio mic sound
2-The Neumann KM56 (AVAILABLE IN THE SRT and the SRT2 Mahogany Models) - great for crisp, high end where detailed playing must stand out- including crisp lead guitar, scales, finger style picking, and flat-picking where clarity and distinction are needed.
3-The Royer R-122 (AVAILABLE IN BOTH SRT and SRT2)- a ribbon style microphone is great for rounding out and smoothing the tones for Jazz and Blues playing - this microphone model gives a warmer, wider and smooth tone response for the more mellow acoustic sweetness
Essentially, Rosewood is a deeper, more bassy, richer sounding wood and they modeled the mics to match the wood's natural tone and overtones.
Mahogany is essentially a more mid and treble range tonewood, expressing much less in the bass EQ than Rosewood, so they matched the mics more suitable to the Mahogany overtones.  However, the Neumann KM56 has a more punchy sound for bluegrass and flat-picking.
Ultimately, it will come down to whether you like Rosewood vs. Mahogany, and whether you can deal without having a digital tuner onboard.  I believe with 2 mic simulation options, you will still be able to get a complete range of dynamic tones and overtone combinations from either the SRT or the SRT2.
Also- the aesthetics of the SRT2 are 4 simple, sleek knobs that are not as much of an eye-sore to some.  The SRT original reveals the entire preamp body installed on the side of the guitar, showing all of the electronics.

The SRT - Studio Response Technology - is the best on the market for under $1000, but the quality doesn't stop there. . .

It will be hard to find an equal match to this kind of microphone and piezo pickup quality on any acoustic electric guitar, even on guitars costing several thousands of dollars.  However, Yamaha also offers several different models of quality acoustic bodies to provide the best in tonewoods and playability.

Understanding the Yamaha A-Series Naming System 

There are currently 8 Yamaha A-Series acoustic models on the market as follows:

A-3 Series- (4 models)


A-1 Series- (4 models)


Distinction # 1:

The A3 Series has 2 distinct advantages:

  1. The A-3 Series includes solid tonewoods for the sides and back of the acoustic guitar body whereas the A-1 Series uses cheaper laminated versions of the sides and back which means the A-1 Series will not improve with age though they may be a bit more resilient to humidity and temperature changes (not an advantage if you take proper care of your guitar).
  2. The A-3 Series offers the SRT professional preamp and mic onboard electronics where the A-1 series does not.  *** This is incorrect on the Yamaha USA website at the time of this post (they said they were working on clearing up the info on their site).  Getting an A-1 series and expecting a studio quality mic blender pickup like the SRT, one will be greatly disappointed.

     *** Note *** The A-1 Series does not include the SRT pickup detailed above, but a simple piezo A66 Analog Pickup.  If you are looking to preserve the true acoustic sound of the gutiar when pluggin in or recording through the on-board pickup, you will be disappointed with any of the A1 series (A1M, A1R, AC1M, or AC1R) because of this distinct diffference.

On average, there is about a $200 difference between the A-1 Series and the A-3 Series, but the A-3 Series is well worth the extra $200 if you have the money.

Distinction # 2:

The "C" in the naming system does not mean "cutaway", as all of the A Series are currently cutaways (sometimes call Venetian Cutaway).  It does, however, mean a smaller, "Concert" model which may be a bit easier to hold and play for mid to small size players.  However, the C models will not put forth as much of a "bass end" because of this size difference when the guitar is unplugged.

The "non-C" models are the standard "Dreadnought" size which is the most popular and universal size for acoustic guitars, which may prove to be a bit more difficult to hold and play for smaller players.  The "non-C" models will definitely give more of a bass response than the "C" models because of this "Dreadnought size and design.  Unplugged, the Dreadnought size is more universal in sound, and the "C" models are better for people who need a slightly smaller guitar with a bit more favor for fingerstyle playing.

Distinction # 3:

The "R" stands for Rosewood and the "M" Stands for Mahogany, but look closely.  

The A1 Series offers laminated sides and back whereas the A3 series offers solid tonewood sides and back, so the difference between "R" and "M" in this series will be more significant if you are looking to buy an A-3 Series.

Differences between Lamintated and Solid Sides and Back

With lamintated sides and back (cheaper A-1 series), the tonewood difference is not as noticeable in the sound, and affects the color and visual appeal moreso than the sound.

If you prefer the reddish brown, lighter color, then the "M" or Mahogany might be for you.

If you prefer the richer, darker brown color, then the "R" or Rosewood might be for you.

However, if you are leaning toward the slightly more expensive A-3 Series, not only do you get a far superior onboard studio with the SRT, but you get solid tonewoods whether you choose Mahogany or Rosewood.

With the A-3 Series, or any solid tonewood acoustic guitar, Mahogany and Rosewood sound distinctly different:

  • Mahogany sounds more punchy in the mid-range and treble or higher ranges, lacking a bit in the bass projection
  • Rosewood sounds more full and balanced in all ranges, offering the best eq response and projection (also being a favorite of many world class luthiers or guitar makers).  

It is this guitar player's choice to prefer Rosewood over Mahogany as well, whenever I have the choice between two guitars of equal craftsmanship, size and model.  Rosewood is simply the most robust and supportive tonewood for projecting a full EQ response and giving the fullest "wood and steel" sound that one would expect from a genuine, quality acoustic guitar.

Additionally, the final disctinction between the A-1 and A-3 Series is the fingerboard (fretboard) wood used. 

The A-3 Series features ebony fingerboards which are dark black, distinct, and a bit more resilient to the wear and tear of fingering chords over the life of the guitar.  Ebony is a bit more expensive than Rosewood as well.

The A-1 Series features Rosewood fingerboards which is a bit lighter in color, a bit cheaper than ebony and a bit less resistant to wear and tear.  The tonality differences between fingerboard woods is negligible, and often completely un-noticeable by even the most discerning and professional ear.

In all, the fingerboard difference is more of a visual distinction to 99 % of guitar players.  Some professional guitar players may actually prefer one wood over the other, but for most players, it does not have an affect other than color preference.

A Simple Summary Table of all Yamaha A-Series acoustic electric guitars

ModelSRT PickupAnalog 66 PickupSolid TonewoodLaminated MahoganyRosewoodDreadnoughtConcert
A1R x x xx 
A1M x xx x 
AC1R x x x x
AC1M x xx  x
A3Rx x  xx 
A3Mx x x x 
AC3Rx x  x x
AC3Mx x x  x

Having reviews all of the SRT technologies and the 8 different model choices, our top 2 picks of all 8 Yamaha A-Series are

#1 Pick - The A3R because it has . . . 

  • The Professional SRT pickup technology
  • Solid (non-laminated) Rosewood back and sides
  • Dreadnought Body Size (most universal, full size acousic body)

#2 Pick - The AC3R because it has . . .

  • The Professional SRT pickup technology
  • Solid (non-laminated) Rosewood back and sides
  • Concert Body Size (not as large as the Dreadnought, but a full size guitar that can carry any gig as well)

Some closing thoughts, summary and comparison to other leading brands

The reason I choose Rosewood over Mahogany is a personal preference that is also backed by the creators of many high-end professional guitars.  Rosewood is simply unmatched in its ability to project well in all 3 basic Eq registers (Bass, Mid and Treble) and this gives the guitar a wider Eq, more bass projection, better balance, and more overall volume and projection over it's Mahogany competitors.

Additionally, if I were budgeting to buy a guitar in this price range, I would opt for the extra $200 and pick the A3R over the A1R because the SRT technology is worth far more than the $200 difference.  There is simply no comparison between the studio mic capabilities of the SRT pickup system and the inferior piezo only pickups installed in the A1 series.

This A3R is also better (in my opinion) than any model that Taylor, Martin, Takamine, or any of the other leading guitar manufacturers are currently producing in the "Under $1000" line because the others are using lamintated tonewoods and inferior onboard electronics.

Though both Taylor and Martin make some fine higher-end guitars, they cut costs with their "below $1000" line by using inferior laminated woods for the sides and back so you lose a bit on the age-ability of the guitars and the richness and complexity of tones and overtones you can only get from solid tonewoods.  Laminated just simply cannot compete in this sound quality category.

The A3 series will easily give more quality in craftsmanship as well as amplified technology than any of the other leading brands currently producing guitars in this "Under $1000" crowd.

Because of this, I would not hesitate to buy or promote the Yamaha A3R as our #1 pick in acoustic or acoustic electric guitars in the "under $1000" range. 

Where to buy this guitar online - some suggestions

All online marketplaces seem to project the same retail pricing for a new A3R acoustic electric guitar at about $899.00 USD.

However, the product bundle only costs a mere $1 more and you get a lot of accessories with it (about $80 worth).

The MSRP (Yamaha's suggested retail price) is $1,360, and would still be an unbeatable deal at the inflated MSRP.

If you buy this guitar here through Amazon, it will go through a 3rd Party Music Supply Vendor with an A+ BBB rating and for just $1 extra dollar you can buy the bundle which includes over $80 worth of guitar accessories including

  • Hardshell case (comes standard with all of them)
  • Beginning Guitar DVD
  • 2 sets of strings
  • On Stage XCG4 Guitar Stand
  • Guitar Strap (for shoulder)
  • Ernie Ball polish
  • 1 Dozen Guitar picks
  • String Winder
  • Free inspection before shipping
  • Free Shipping

The best deal, getting the guitar bundle with all of the extra accessories for an extra $1 is at Amazon.com here

Warranty Information:

Yamaha Inc. already has a lifetime limited warranty over the entire guitar wood features, including craftsmanship on the neck, top, back and sides for any manufacturing defect that might show up later.  

Yamaha Inc. also has a built-in 1 year warranty on the on-board electronics and the attached hardware.

Their exact warranty language taken from their website is this:

Some guitar retailers online offer a 1, 2 or 3 year warranty.  The warranty insurance providers must be the same or similar online because the pricing seems to be about the same at $130 extra for 3 years of coverage, but you have to be sure to purchase the extra coverage if you want it.

However, if you take care of your guitar, you Yamaha's MFG warranty should be sufficient and you should have not problems getting the warranty covered by the online vendor through Amazon.



Dear Aaron.

This has been the most in-detail review on the latest Yamaha range and it helped me a great deal to make the right purchase decision. I actually bought the Yamaha A3CR and love it!


Thanks again.

Greets from Germany 

Thanks for sending this note to me Peter through the site contact form. Thousands of people read these reviews and very few send a thank you note for all the research I put into these. I don't pay people to write for this site because I am extremely picky when it comes to sharing the best acoustic guitar reviews and I want to share from personal experience.

I decided to publish your comment below this review because your feedback is much appreciated. When I discovered this line from Yamaha, I jumped into it because of 3 great things

1)price range,
2)quality of construction and the Rosewood option
3)and the on-board microphone blender in the SRT (studio response technology)

I usually keep comments turned off for most reviews because of the amount of spam I deal with, but your simple note of gratitude deserves a post.

Thank you for taking the time to write to me!

Read more about the Yamaha A-Series here.

Hello Aaron, you have made an excellent review, it was the deciding factor on the purchase of my A3R, I have had it since Christmas 2012, its a very nice sounding guitar, and the action is low, perfect.

John, very glad this helped! It is an amazing deal for the investment. I wish they had this kind of SRT pickup technology back when I was recording and writing music in college. . .

John - Just purchased this guitar last week. I too purchased this terrific instrument based on your incredibly detailed review. Now, to enjoy the full benefits of the AC3R I am looking for an amp with a budget of about $200 so any thoughts on an amp that would compliment my new AC3R would be greatly appreciated!

Aaron, thanks for this detailed and incredibly comprehensive review. I have been trying to decide for weeks which guitar to choose - I am returning to solo gigging after almost 20 years - and do not want to take my Martin D28 out. I have tested the A3M in a music store and was recently leaning towards a Tanglewood TW59 (a UK company) as it was somewhat cheaper. Your review has convinced me to go the Yamaha route for the SRT benefits. Thanks Aaron and happy St Patrick's Day (almost!)

Thanks for the response Dromadamusic - Stop back some time and let us all know how it goes after some time on the road. I'll bet that will be a great test outside of a controlled studio setting, although I know it will perform greatly! Also- if you or anyone buys one of these models, please hop over to Amazon.com too an post a great review with some details because it helps others make a confident decision. I looked at Amazon.com for this great model and they have no reviews over there to help give people a more rounded view of the guitar from other perspectives. Keep Strummin!

I played the A3R about a month ago and went in yesterday thinking I was playing it again to find out I was playing the A1R. He sold the A3. I ordered the A3R Vintage today and should get it a week from Friday. I'm not a very patient person. But I guess good things come to... I know that when I played the A3R, I liked the neck because I play fingerstyle. It sounded really nice and it never quacked, not even once. I put it through a great tryout. Everyone around me came over to listen. So a week and 3 days. Hmmm. Maybe I could sleep it away.

Mike D.- sounds like a kid a week before Christmas! Thanks for sharing.

This is the only review with detailed information that I have yet found. Yamaha are missing a trick or two on their marketing! I have played the AC3M and loved it, but wanted to know more about the AC3R. Thanks very much for taking the time to publish this.

I've just purchased a AC3R and I'm touching the heaven.. it's simply perfect. My rate is 10 over 10. Just try one of these guitars and you will not play anything else.

Hi Aaron, I, too own the A3R and am very happy with everything about the guitar. I would suggest, though that you clarify one thing - in your review the A3R is referred to as "American Made", but in actuality, it is manufactured in China. That being said, let me also say that this is the best acoustic I have played for under $1000, and probably under $1500. Thanks for the excellent review! Cheers, Aaron Pico - Chico, CA

Thanks Aaron- about the Chinese made vs. American made. . .the main spokesperson in the release videos that Yamaha release stated it was one of the Yamaha engineered and made in the USA. So I am not sure if some of it is made in China and assembled in the USA or if it was simply engineered here, but he did make a statement about the US division of Yamaha working on the design and manufacturing. Will have to look more into this and to see if I can get a statement from Yamaha if possible because there is a little mixed information out there. Regardless, it is a great buy and a great performer for the price range! -Aaron from Strumviews

Thanks a lot for this detailed review. It help me a lot in my decision to buy this guitar. I got the AC3M because I already have two rosewood in my house. I really love this guitar. Both the sound and the looks are terrific. An all solid with wood bibding at this price? It feels like Im stealing from Yamaha. I been watching it for a while but I was hesitant because of the 43mm nut width as I mostly play on 1 3/4 necks . However it feels so comfortable that I can easily make the transition from my Guild to the Yamaha without problem. The pickup system puts my Guild and my Eastman to shame and now it is my main gigging guitar. Im a yamaha fan anyway so my advice to anyone who Is thinking about getting one is gett off the forums and go and get it!

Thanks Jose for your honesty. The pickup system is one of the specs that takes these models way beyond the others in this price range. You really can get studio quality "true acoustic" sound from this just by plugging in. Aaron from Strumviews. *** Remember that it is only the A3 Series that have this advanced SRT pickup system, NOT the A1 series (which is just a standard piezo). So if you want the real deal, fork out the extra $200 or so and get an A1. . . it's that good! You can find more information on the Yamaha A3 Series here.

How would you compare the neck width and thickness compared to your Eastman? I have never played Yamaha's before, but I did like an Eastman SS dread that I tried a couple years ago. Also, how does the tone compare to the Eastman? I currently play a Taylor 422R that has a 1 3/4 nut width, and I guess I've gotten used to it, but I've always wanted a second instrument with a slightly more compressed neck to play some of the more crazy chord techniques that I experiment with. Compressed meaning either less width or possibly flatter or tapered in thickness. 43mm would be slightly narrower than what I have now, so I guess I'll have to go down to the local Yamaha dealer and try one out.

Thanks John F- I really do not know. I think when it comes to this kind of fine comparison for finer technical playability and feel- measurements might give a clue to begin your comparison, but the only way to know would be to personally play and touch them side by side. Of course, your opinion at that point might be different than mine so when it comes to comparing side-by-side- easier to do for the tech aspects of guitars but the final personal feel and preference I guess must be done in person. The focus of this site (for me) is to really help people find sound, and quality guitars in different budget ranges. It all started years ago when a friend of mine was going to invest $1200 in an acoustic and he almost bought an poorly crafted guitar simply because it had the Gibson name on it. When he and I sat down and I pointed out the cheap tuners and flimsy craftsmanship when compared to a Larrivee in the same store- his jaw about hit the floor- and nonetheless he did not go with the mass produced Gibson. I was floored too at how much Gibson was asking for that Jumbo model I think. . . they should not have been allowed to charge more than $350 or $400 but it was listed at like $1,100- it was junk. Thanks for asking here, but this review is more or less to give people a great overview of the Yamaha A series so they have real confidence when laying down that much money.  Like I said in the review- had they made this model when I was in college, I would have bought one hands down!!  It's that good for the money.

Thanks for clearing up the confusion; between salespeople, websites & You Tube all contradicting each other, I thought I was the crazy one. Stores in Chicago Area don't have these in stock, hate buying sight and sound unseen, but I'll take your word for it!

Keen- thanks for the feedback. I am glad this helped and believe me, it was a LOT of work to put this together. On the other hand. . . always buy from a reputable source like Amazon.com or another music store where the return policy is clear and in your favor. That reduces your personal risk to virtually zero! Thanks for chiming in here- Aaron

I bought an AC3R but it didn't come with a case. No one I've talked to seems to know the model number of the case I should get for my guitar. One salesman recommended I try a Yorkville arched top classical case, that it should work. I think there must be a Yamaha case made specifically for the AC3R. Can anyone enlighten me & steer me the right way?

Hi Rick,

I am not sure about the case, but see Steve's comment below. I am sure more than one case could suffice.

I got a case with mine that fits well ..... Stagg model GC3A. It's not a real high end case, but it wasn't expensive and it's a safe place for the guitar until I can source a real good gigging case.

Thanks Phil. I could not find that exact model - the Stagg GC3A - so I looked up a little more info and think it might be best to step up just above an economy case to protect your $800 Yamaha A3R with a little more ridgid / padded / durable case such as this Case actually made by Yamaha here for under $60- It's the Yamaha HC-AG Acoustic Guitar Hardshell Case found here and is made for their Dreadnought size so it should fit the A Series Perfectly.

It is a hiscox case with yamaha written on it

Thank you Steve for providing this information. I do not review cases so much, but really got my education in the design and the tonewoods for acoustics, because I had so much trouble in the early days finding consistent quality between manufacturers, but the Yamaha A Series is one of the very best guitars for the buck!

Fantastic review

Thanks for the kind comment Mark. It was a lot of work but I really like the quality of the Yamaha A Series guitars for the money and wanted other people to know about it!

Aaron, you're the man! Few have explained the intricacies of the pickup system nor the and subtleties of tone woods as we as you have. I've only been playing for 2 months, but have to agree that Yamaha acoustics deserve serious consideration. My FG730S has deft action not to mention its subtle balance between high and low end tones. I had a set of Elixirs installed before leaving the store so that might account for some difference in its sound. Gotta take the AC3R for a swing now. Thanks and rock on!

Hey Chronoslomo - Thanks for the kind words! The Yamaha FG730S is great for beginner and intermediate and not so much set up for recording and performance, in my humble opinion, and costs around $300, but for the pickup system and the Rosewood sides and back, it's really hard to beat the performance and sound of the Yamaha A Series with just about any other brand or model out there. Best bang for the buck for what has come out in the last several years! Thanks for posting!

Hi! I bought Yamaha A3R a couple of years ago and I am still impressed with the plugged sound. I wonder if its possible to buy The SRT System without the guitar and if there is a nylon guitar with the SRT pickup system. Greetings from Malaga - Spain.

Hi Miguel, Great question, and thanks for sharing your personal confidence and opinion on the SRT pickup system and the Yamaha A3R acoustic series! From what I understand, the SRT pickup system is still only available in 4 models, A3R, A3M, A3CR, and A3CM. To my knowledge there are no classical models with this pickup system. If you find out differently, please drop a comment here on this page so we can update it! Thanks again for sharing- Aaron

Enjoyed the review. One thing I have noticed is no mention of the Neck setup or truss rod. Is it a set neck? Thanks Ontario Canada

Thanks Howe Thomas, Yes- the Yamaha A3 Series series has a truss rod for adjusting the set of the neck & strings. It is most likely a 5mm allen wrench according to the Yamaha website.

Great question! One thing I have also done in the past is take out the saddle and sanded the bottom side of the saddle down to adjust string height if I wanted the action a bit lower, but you have to be careful not to sand it too much for string buzz issues too.

I have read so many, many reviews on guitars. Just when I get excited about my
choice for a better guitar (want to upgrade)... it is beyond my reach!!
Very few guitar reviews ever mention if this guitar comes in a LEFT HAND VERSION.
So few companies make more than one model that is fitted for a left hand person.
Does this yamaha A3 series come in a "lefty" version?
We, that are left handed, will probably always be Left handed in a Right handed
For us, Lefties, this is not a personal choice but a birth right (pun).
Could you mention in your reviews if the guitar is also made in left handed?
Also would you ever consider making a review of left hand guitars?
I absolutely loved your informative and educational review.
Please continue your great work.
Keep the Faith, Spread the Peace, x-man

Sorry X-man... wish I had better news for you, but I searched Yamaha's site and I also called their tech support for guitars (waited for a while) but found out they only have 2 acoustic series for left-handed players.

The Yamaha LL Series which is a bit more pricey- but very high quality (no electronic pickup no SRT)


The Yamaha FG720 SL (which is a cheaper version without pickup as well) .

Also, the support specialist said that he does not know before the public if they plan to come out with a left-handed version of this guitar or any version for that matter, so I was unable to get any inside scoop on Yamaha's plans.

What I would recommend is having a similar "blender" type pickup installed in a superior sounding acoustic guitar with the rich tonewoods you desire.  

I really prefer Rosewood because of it's wider EQ response than Mahogany which tends to project more in the id range, whereas Rosewood's natural resonance amplifies more bass sound, giving the guitar a richer, fuller sound.  Heowever, any time you have a pickup installed, it can affect the sound profile a bit, but as long as you do not have a pre-amp installed in the side of the guitar, but have them place a blender (microphone in the soundhole) with an under-the-saddle style piezo type pickup, then they usually have a dial (like the old Fishman blender) where you can adjust the gain blend from the 2 pickups to get your desired sound profile.

The most reasonable mixer type pickup out there right now is made by LR Baggs, which has been in business for years as many pros use LR Baggs Pickups for professional gigs etc.  When I was in college, I could not afford this thing, but for only $199 you can buy one and have it professionally installed.

You can read more technical aspects about the LR Baggs Antem-SL here or

the LR Baggs Anthem pickup here.  

Both have a blender with an element pickup and a condenser microphone, and I have heard these things live.  LR Baggs are top quality pickups for sure.  So this might be a good solution for the left-handed player! 

Dear Aaron,
I am 60-years old and from Singapore.
I have read your reviews on acoustic electric guitars and was impressed by your review on the Yamaha A3R with the SRT preamp system.
I am planning to purchase another acoustic electric guitar with good built-in preamp system and have narrowed down to Yamaha brand.
I have been to the Yamaha Singapore dealer and was told that Yamaha's latest ranges are the "LL" series and was recommended LL16 ARE with SRT Zero Impact Passive Pickup (selling price S$1,500) and was told that all "LL" series come with this passive pickup.
Although I like the fullest sound of the LL16 ARE guitar, I don't like the SRT Zero Impact Passive Pickup. I have read from other websites where people who bought this LL series have also mentioned that if Yamaha could have incorporate an active preamp system into the "LL" series. 
As I performed and sing with my acoustic electric guitar on stage and in churches, I need a guitar with a good active preamp system so that I would be able to set the sound on the guitar. 
I was also shown model LLX16 with the latest A.R.T. 3-Way Pickup System 60 (selling price S$1,500) and was told that the LLX series including this LLX16 model have been discontinued (which means that they are obsolete models).
I was then recommended model A3R which you have written a comprehensive review of it. 
Although I like System 63 SRT Pickup system on this guitar very much as it has plenty of personal preference settings, I found that the overall sound of the guitar is not as full especially the bass as compared with the LLX16 (both unplugged and plugged into the amplifier). Furthermore, the A3R and other A3 series have been selling in Singapore since either Year 2010 or 2011. 
All the Yamaha models that I mentioned above are with solid Spruce top and solid Rosewood back and sides.
I enquired with them as to whether Yamaha would be coming up with new models incorporating a good active preamp system like the System 63 SRT pickup and was told that they have no information from Yamaha head office.
I have also asked them if they could provide me with Yamaha Japan head office email address as I want to write to them but was told that they do not have any.
If Yamaha do have upcoming new acoustic electric guitar models, it is pointless for me to spend over S$1,000 buying an old or obsolete Yamaha model.
As you are living in the US, I wonder whether Yamaha has introduced new models in the US which might not be available in Singapore yet and do you or dealers in the US who sells Yamaha guitars, have any email address of Yamaha Japan head office that I could write to. 
I look forward to your reply. Thank you.
Best Regards.

Hi Michael,  

I am not currently familiar with the Yamaha models you suggested.

Also, whenever I try to ask Yamaha corporate or customer service, their public facing service techs seem to be in the dark as to what models are coming out and when.

I called them recently (above conversation) and inquired about more informatoin for left-handed models of the A series, and they could not tell me anything.

As for new models coming out in the USA, I am also not sure.

If you are going to spend over $1,000, however, I would also look at some other brands, such as Larrivee, Taylor etc. and do a lot of personal testing.

I am not sure what you have available in Singapore, but there are a lot of great guitars in the $1,000 to $2500 range, and the purpose of this website is to focus more on guitars in the $200 to $1500 range, because once you get into the professional lines above $1500, you really get into some very fine preferences that mostly appeal to more accomplished players.

I can tell the difference when I play those top-end guitars, but usually people who are purchasing in that range of cost are a bit more accomplished and kind of already know what they want.

Sorry about the Yamaha answer here, or lack of it, but Yamaha customer service does not know, nor do they reveal things essentially until the public knows, which does not help us!

That being said, the Yamaha A series and the A3R are really excellent for playing, recording etc. whether plugged in or unplugged, and for the price range around $800, it is really hard to beat.

Thanks again-



After playing many, many guitars at local music stores I played the A3R (after reading all of the reviews). Let me say this, "I love this guitar!". They did not have it at Guitar Center so I ordered one. Played it at home for a few days and then took it back to Guitar Center to compare the sound to some much more expensive Martins and Taylors. Unplugged, the Yamaha sounded at least as good if not better (just imagine the comparison plugged in). There was a young man who come to the store looking for a Taylor, but after playing my A3R he's now a believer. By the way, it's also one beautiful guitar.

Michael, thanks for sharing your personal experience on this guitar! There are many more satisfied Yamaha A3R players out there just like you that really appreciate this guitar both plugged in and unplugged. There really are not a lot of other guitars at this quality level for the price that sound beautiful both plugged in and unplugged!  There will always be a few nay-sayers for just about any guitar, but 99% of people who play this and have purchased it are able to recognize what a great value it is as well.

Hello, I am left handed . would this guitar work for me?

HI Jeannie, great question and I answered that thoroughly above if you check this post here- http://www.strumviews.com/comment/201#comment-201 - thanks for asking and reading! Aaron


Greg, Thanks for your enthusiasm and I am glad this really helped you. A lot of people have enjoyed this guitar and have purchased it after reading this review. The Yamaha A3R won't let you down, I am sure! Thanks again for your comment.  The Yamaha A Series can be reviewed further and purchased at Amazon.com without risk here.

Thank you so much for your excellent article. I have had my eye on this guitar for quite some time and recently purchased one. Let me begin by saying this guitar is hand's down the best value A/E under $1000. But having said that, this guitar "is what it is" .... which is a mid-level instrument. I happen to know a lot about "mid-level" A/E guitars as I have been using them personally and professionally for many (many) years. I currently play Babicz & Breedlove A/E's ...... which come equipped with very nice Fishman and L.R. Baggs Electronics. But these guitars, including the Yamaha AC3R, are simply not in the same league as a good quality Martin , Gibson or even Taylor. I long for the day when I can actually afford a really high-end guitar like a Martin (and someday I will), but for now I tend to beat the crap out of my instruments thru gigging and recording. I needed a good quality/good value guitar for recording and occasional live gigging (to take some of the load off the Babicz/Breedlove setup I have now). The Yamaha fit the bill very nicely ..... thank you. The electronics are superb for recording (I use Apogee /Macbook Pro/Logic/Garageband) and the playability is way above it's pay scale. It sounds great plugged into a PA and over time we'll see just how durable it is. However I do have a few "concerns" about the quality of construction. I purchased this guitar without even seeing it as the vintage sunburst AC3Rs are very scarce in Canada right now (apparently these models are currently back-ordered until May/Jun 2015). I happened to fluke into the one as the only decent music store on my road trip home happened to have only one AC3R in stock and it happened to be a vintage sunburst. I committed to the purchase and picked it up on the way thru. Despite my criticism I still believe I received excellent value for this purchase. Yet I have the following observations about the construction of the guitar. I see the occasional glue splatter on the binding. The back and side bracing is NOT a model of neatness ..... a lot of it looks haphazard, with small pieces of wood about to fall off into the body. The mahogany neck is fast and slippery, with a wonderful feel, but the neck joint on mine looks like the sanding process stopped a little short. Where the neck meets the body is not entirely smooth. It's not really an issue for me as I don't play up there very often, but it definitely makes the guitar look like exactly what it is ...... a "mid-level" guitar. Like I said, I tend to beat the crap out of my guitars, so mid-level is fine by me for now. But eventually I'd like to lay down some serious coin on a fine Martin - Eric Clapton model (or something to that effect). Thanks for reading.

Phil, thanks for taking the time. I would agree that occasionally, one could pick up a guitar from a manufacturer and have some minor glue issues or a little sloppiness on a spot in the binding or the internal bracings, as not all guitars even from the same manufacturer are created equally. I have a $3500 Larivee in my stock, and if one looks close enough, it has some very minor blemishes as well. I would recommend that if anyone did buy a guitar of this price range and found some noticeable manufacturing blemishes that were obviously in the craftsmanship, send it back and get a refund. Being patient on the purchase, especially of this size investment, pays off and though you wanted the sunburst which are apparently more rare, I would still expect to find some inconsistencies in guitars from different releases of the same model. Thanks for taking the time to give us your thoughts on the Yamaha A3R series and other guitars.

I have this narrowed down between the A3R and the Takamine ES341SC, which although normally more expensive than the Yamaha is on sale for the same price now. I'm drawn to the Tak, but even though it gets stellar reviews, it seems that most of them are as a "stage" guitar, i.e. amplified, and played with a full band. Between these two guitars which would you say would sound better unplugged?

Hi Brian, Thanks for sharing your question. I would not steer you away from a guitar that you have been really desiring and have now found affordable for your specific budget. That being said, the Takamine ES341SC is going to give more output on the pickup and amp, but it will not give a completely natural, acoustic tone with the ambience of the microphone blender found in the Yamaha A3R. Although the Palathetic Pickup in the Takamine is excellent for gigs and touring pros, it will not suffice for pure acoustic sound, as no pure transducer will because it cannot pick up the subtle overtones and ambiance you can achieve with a condenser mic / transducer combination. This will be all personal preference, and I doubt you will be disappointed with your Takamine purchase. The differences unplugged will be mostly in the tonewoods. The Takamine has a cedar top and maple sides and back, which will give you a unique combination of mellow, lush response from the cedar top with more projection in the mid to high EQ range for a guitar. Maple is a harder brighter wood in the Takamine and the Rosewood in the Yamaha A3R will certainly give you more bass response unplugged, and therefore a bigger sound as the EQ response from the tonewoods is "wider". So, the Yamaha A3R has a more purely natural sound from the pickup when the condenser (mic) is engaged, but the gain on it's pre-amp signal is not as strong as the pickup on the Takamine. If you want a deeper, better projection unplugged, I would personally go with the Yamaha A3R (because of the Rosewood). However, since you already have a "heart" for the Takamine, I would not want to steer you away from it as you will not be disappointed in that decision at the lower price point. Hope this helps! Thanks for sharing.

Great info, thanks for clarifying the differences between the two, and I know that I can't really go wrong with either one. That said, although I've played piano and keyboards for decades I'm newer to the guitar so "ease to play" is the second most important criteria. I've read that some people think the Tak is almost like an electric in terms of how the neck, string set up and fretboard is, so in theory easier to play. If you have played both, how would you compare them in that regard? BTW, although I do like the "look" of the Tak better, I would not hesitate to buy the A3R if the sound and playability (especially unplugged) has an edge.

Hi Brian, playability will probably come with the action set a little lower on the Takamine EF341SC, but since I do not have them side-by-side, I do not know. You can easily adjust the action on the Yamaha A3R by taking out the saddle and sanding the bottom side down, or have it adjusted at a local guitar shop until you like the string set / height. The nut width (width of the neck at the nut near the head) is within 0.5 of a mm of each other, so the width of the fretboard will feel virtually the same. From the factory, sometimes, it is possible that either guitar will need to be adjusted slightly to suit your specific preference on the string set (height from the fingerboard). I have not bought a guitar to date that I have not fiddled a little with the truss rod or the saddle in order to get the exact feel I want. Fortunately, both guitars have adjustable truss rods and you can sand the saddle if desired. Hope this helps!

There are so many conflicting stories concerning the saddle on this guitar. Does the bottom have a slight concave or not? My action is a bit high on the saddle end and I want to sand the saddle down a bit but I have read that there is a problem with the string loudness if you sand the saddle flat, do you or anyone have the facts on this?

Hi Dan, I have not heard about the saddle being concave. I also cannot find the information on any Yamaha Site as to whether it is concave or flat. Regardless, sanding it down a bit should not affect the string loudness, however, it is best to have a professional adjust this for you in a local shop if you are not sure. What happens is if a person sands the saddle down too low, they cannot strum the strings as hard without string buzz, and therefore the strings cannot be strummed as hard. This is why I do it a little at a time when I do adjust a saddle by sanding. If the string action is too high for you, it can be adjusted slightly and in increments until you are comfortable. Hope this helps and I hope I understood your question accurately. If you do decide to buy the Yamaha AC3R (concert size) you will not be disappointed. Let us know what you decide if you get a chance to come back to the site.


the saddle in my AC3R is slightly concave. It is no problem to sand it down and form it like it is meant to be by sanding it only in the middle region on the edge of a table for example.

But, to my confusion, the review about the srt-system is wrong.
There is no built-in microphone in the SRT-system. The Blender blends between piezo and microphone-SIMULATION. Otherwise it would be impossible to switch between the different microphone-characteristics. Also, there is no feedback-problem when using the microphone-simulation.
This can clearly be seen in the paperwork that comes with the guitars (in fact: chinese-made, not USA) and also if you pull out the electronics (was necessary for a repair in my guitar).

Nevertheless, the electronics are pretty good, and the unplugged-sound of the guitar is much better than you would exspect for the price.


Thank you Michi, After reviewing, I was aware of the modeling, but was sure there was a condenser. The fact that there is never any feedback from the condenser might be a clue. However, condensers can also be processed and have modeling processed after the signal and before the output, but I am sure you are correct on the Yamaha A3R.

The Epiphone Masterbilt DR 500MCE - Solid top,side and back; bone nut and saddle,Grover 18-1 tuners,built-in stereo pups and tuner.Very good value for ca.$600 U.S.Worth a listen,folks.

I had a chance to check out the Epiphone Masterbilt DR 500MCE and it is a solid guitar for the price- great pickup and craftsmanship.  I'll post your comment on this, although I would like to keep this conversation limited to the Yamaha A Series so readers don't get overwhelmed.  Sometimes, these comments also come from marketers from a rival company, but I cannot verify this and the guitar you mention is a solid model, though I have not played or reviewed it yet.  
Thanks for stopping by and your comment, Martin.

Hi Aaron, where can I buy Yamaha A3R made in USA? In Europa I can find onley made in China and I`m not belive in Quality of China guitars.


Thanks for stopping by.

Originally, I thought they were American crafted. However, after more thorough review and also phone calls to Yamaha corporation, I believe the entire guitar was designed and engineered in the USA, but they teamed up with their manufacturing team in China to produce them. What I would recommend is buying one off of Amazon.com here, and then if you have issues, just return it and get another. Sometimes they suffer through shipping as do all instruments, but once you get one of these Yamaha A3Rs that are set up with decent string height, it will sound great for sure!

Thanks again,


Thank you for the amazing review!

Thank you Svetlin for your kind comment! A lot went into this review and I am glad you appreciate it!

This was absolutely the most comprehensive review I have seen concerning the "A Series" Yamaha guitars. I had already learned the differences between the "1" and "3" models, but it took several articles and reviews to get the particulars of each guitar straight. What I found most informative in your article was the in depth description of the SRT system. You did a far better job than even the Yamaha website. Thanks for your efforts!

Thank you Dave! I am glad this helped you. It was a lot of work, believe me! Part of the reward is having people like you read and reply and actually get some help and clarity on any guitar I review. That is why I started this years ago, because I had friends who were going to pay too much for a guitar just because of the name. I led him to another guitar in the same price range that was at least 3 times better quality! Thanks for sharing, Dave.

hi im from st louis and did demo the a3r and liked it how does it compare to the yamaha LL16 tonally cant find a LL16 anywhere in st louis to compare.also the a3r I like is the trans black usually dont care for colored guitar but it looked classy has anyone seen one in person any help would be appreciated

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your question!  It looks like Yamaha is discontinuing the LL16 from their website, but you can still find a few to import from some other sellers through Amazon.com here.  The tonality is going to be very similar, but with the A3R you will pay less and get a great pickup as well.  Both have solid spruce tops, very similar tone woods, but the Yamaha LL16 is a Jumbo design, meaning that the guitar will most likely give more output in the bassy side of an acoustic guitar.  I believe the Yamaha A3R would have a more well balanced tone because of the Dreadnought size, plus it is still in production.  Both use the same solid Rosewood for back and sides, so the overtones will be similar except for the more bassy projection with the LL16 based on the jumbo body shape and size.  What I would recommend is ordering either one from Amazon.com and then testing your first choice.  If it does not meet your desire, I would return it for a refund and order the other one.  I doubt you will be disappointed in either one, but it appears from most sellers you will pay more for the LL16, when you are essentially getting the same craftsmanship, just a little different body size and EQ balance. Let us know if you have a chance to buy one and compare!  

Thanks again for asking.


Not being a musician, but wanting to buy a good quality guitar that would allow me to grow into it, I had to do a lot of research by reading reviews, talking with lots of musicians, and watching YouTube videos.  I went to several Guitar Center stores in the Houston area to learn what I could before buying anything.
I decided to call a popular muisic store, in Milwaukee.  His recommendation was the Yamaha A3R for the EXACT same reasons that you listed. I couldn't find any "A3" in Houston, to hold, or play. I ordered the Yamaha A3R in the Limited Edition Translucent Black (Bundle), and the Yamaha THR5A (Bundle) Acoustic Amp
I borrowed a Yamaha APX500iii, and a Kona from two friends for practice while I waited for my Yamaha A3R to arrive. I am new to guitar, and was having difficulty with my finger positioning for basic chords. I was able to stumble through them, but it wasn't natural.
When I unboxed my A3R it was gorgeous!
I couldn't believe how much of a difference the solid wood made. There was a huge difference in sound and feel between the cheaper laminate guitars. I love the porous mahogany neck on the A3R. I was able to hit all of the basic chords that I struggled with on the borrowed guitars.
I encourage everyone to try this guitar, you will be impressed! ...
Thanks for an awesome review of this guitar to confirm my decision to buy the "Right" guitar.


Thank you Ricco. You're right on!  If you like the mid-range sound you want to go with the AC3M - the M stands for Mahogany, and the AC3R for a deeper, richer sound - the R stands for Rosewood.

Thanks for the comment!


Thanks. The most complete report on the Yamaha A series guitar. Helped me a lot in choosing the AC3R over other brands.

Victor, Thanks for your comment! It was a lot of work but I am glad so many people are being helped in their decision about this guitar, whether they decide to purchase it or not! Aaron

Hi Aaron, I just found your fabulous assessment of best acoustic guitars under $1000. Wow, what a great review. I was so impressed that I am trying to get a local dealer to get a Yamaha A3R in so that I can actually put my hands on it. I am not telling the dealer but I am almost certain to buy it. I was wondering if you would also make a recommendation on an amp to use with the A3R. My budget for the guitar and amp would be roughly $1500 so if I get the A3R I would be looking at amps around $600 or less. I do not play in public very much so this would be primarily for in-home use. I am a finger style picker that plays mostly to accompany my singing. Neither my picking or singing is very good but I love doing it. Thanks for the great detailed review of the Yamaha A series and thanks in advance for any recommendations you might have for an amp. Don

Hi Don.

That's a great question - for that price point you're going to get the most options from a solid state amp.

Please read through my 2 part article on "how to choose a guitar amp part 1" and "how to choose a guitar amp part 2".

These 2 articles go into some depth on explaining different kinds of amp technology, cabinets, etc. and then there are some solid recommendations for different price ranges that I believe you will find very helpful!  Hope these help!


Aaron, Thank you so much for all the helpful information. My dealer is getting the A3R in tomorrow. I can't wait to get my hands on it. I read both parts of your article on "How to choose a guitar amp". and just like your review on the A3R the information was so helpful. From your review it sounds like the Fender Acoustasonic 90 or the Marshall Acoustic AS50D would be great fits for my needs and budget. I will be trying both of those amps if my dealer has them and will definitely post back here with my experiences.

Thanks again for the great info.


Don that's awesome and I'm excited for you! Please, when you pick your amp, please come back and post on the comments on one of the amp pages so that conversation and your feedback stays with the amp pages (that will help people more who are looking for the right amp)!

Thanks again Don,

Thanks so much for the review! I just ordered a quality used A3R for my son based on this review. I hope my son loves it! I spent all day reading other reviews of it and listening to youtube demos. Kevin Garner, NC

Kevin- that's great to hear. I am sure he'll love this guitar! If you get a chance, come on back and let us know how he is enjoying it! Thanks again for posting - Aaron

Excellent review!

I had every intention of buying an A3R around this time last year. The local store(small town) had several A series on hand so I played all of them for 5 mins each. I picked the one the sounded the best of course which happened to be an A3M. They all sounded great but there's always that one just for you. Wonderfully constructed guitar and very hard to beat for well under $1000. I loved the series so much I was able to get my hands on a A6R so now I have the best of both tone worlds.

Hi Actionman!

Thanks for sharing your feedback. I have never played a Yamaha A6R but these are more in the $1500 range (MSRP around $2500 from Yamaha Co.) Yes- I find that the A3M (M is for Mahogany) is great for a punchy guitar sound with more emphasis in the mid-range where as having the A3R (R is for Rosewood) gives it a bigger sound because more bass resonates from the overtones of the Rosewood. I totally agree that there is one that is right for each player and I might add each playing condition! Take care and thanks for the comments again.

- Aaron

Wonderful write up and evaluation!
I have been playing for 55+ years and have always played Fenders and Gibsons - and collected many of their Classic Models.
Unfortunately, I had a Business fail 3 years ago and in the process of paying all Manufacturers and Distributors who had faith in me to provide me considerable lines of Credit, I sold off many years of all types of "Toys" - including many of my beloved Guitars.
Recently My Wife and I started to recover financially.  I doubt at my age that I'll ever have a Collection again but I am playing again.  I no longer had any acoustics left so I started researching some Mid-Lines, ie, MIM Fenders, MIM Used Martins and Yamahas (of which I had absolutely no knowledge!)  I was close to buying a Yamaha FGX Series when I accidently came across your article/Blog.
My mind is made up EXCEPT ONE SMALL ISSUE! The A3 vs. the AC3.  Understand the tonal difference you explained but I do play high up on the neck about as much as I play in the lower register.  Sooo, guess it just comes down to THAT!  Dreadnaught with a little more Bass Resonance vs. being able to comfortably reach the higher frets!
Thanks again for so much unbiased information!


Sorry to hear about the financial crisis. I think everyone at some point goes through one (or more) of those in their life if they live long enough. We've certainly had our ups and downs in our family.  

Anyway, just to clarify, the Yamaha A-Series are ALL Venetian Cutaways, as the "C" stands for Concert in the model naming system. Essentially, the AC3M (M for Mahogany) or AC3R (R for Rosewood) are Concert Cutaway Body Style, and the A3M or A3R are the Dreadnought Cutaway Mahogany or Rosewood.

It's a lot of information so it is easy to mix them up, especially when many companies use a "C" or "CE" in the model to express "Cutaway" or "Cutaway Electric".

Hello Aaron...I have reviewed thehttp://amzn.to/1RR9jP4http://amzn.to/1RR9jP4 extensively and must say that your assessment is the most comprehensive that I have come across. Thanks very much! After considerable reviews of multiple acoustic guitars in the <$1,000 price range I couldn't agree with you more and have settled on purchasing an A series in mahogany. (Personal choice). The irony is that I haven't been able to physically hold or play a Yamaha A series guitar as all of the vendors in my area do not stock them regularly, although they can special order it within 5 days or I can order it online on my own. Of all the material that I have reviewed (including Yamaha's site) I could not find anything on the physical size difference between the dreadnought vs. concert. Do you or anyone out there know the dimensions (i.e. upper bout/waist/lower bout) between the two models?

Rick - great question! These are a bit trick to find so I'll post what I found here:

The body Depth (front to back) of all the full dreadnought models (without the "C") slope from 100 to 118 MM

Whereas the Concert Models (with the "C") slope from 110 to 120 MM - so the difference is negligible at 2MM difference.

The nut width on all are 43 MM  |  The string length is 650 MM -

Since they are nowhere to be found on their site for bout and shoulder width- I will write or call Yamaha and post it here later.  Thanks for seeing the missing info, Rick!


Read more other reviews about the Yamaha A-Series Acoustic Electric Guitar here.

Rick (and others) - 
Here is a cool graphic I found from one of Yamaha's A Series Guitar brochures depicting some of the dimension, but it only shows body depth, nut width and string length (as these affect playability and how easy or difficult it is to wield the guitar body - usually more sensitive to smaller framed players).   I'll get the other dimensions posted here once I hear back.  Although guitar dimensions won't mean as much to most players above actually holding, playing and experiencing the guitars to actually compare which one feels better for you, these specs will help the more advanced, discerning or picky players who know what they are looking for in terms of dimensions.  Hope it helps!

I purchased this model a couple weeks ago. I was looking for a cutaway and a good plugged in sound.
Over all I am happy with the sound plugged in. There are a good variety of settings for different tones. Good volume without feedback. The body sound is responsive to to hard playing which I like.
The fit and finish is very good. I have a couple issues. The battery box started rattling. Some tape and tissue on the batteries themselves seems to have quelled that. The way the ease the sides of the fret board and frets seems to reduce the neck width. My Low e was to close to the edge and would slip off the fret board often. ( I found a similar complaint on another site). I moved the nut over about 1/16 to better center the strings and re glued it. Gave the truss rod a tweak for more bow. Used some fine sandpaper on the back of the neck for a slicker baby smooth feel. I like the way it plays now. Like I said the fit and finish was great. Happy for the price but wish the neck was slightly wider.

Brad, thanks for the feedback!

As many of these guitars that are distributed, there's always going to be a few that are slightly in need of adjustment. After all, these Yamaha A Series guitars get nearly 5 stars from hundreds of other reviews so they are bound to have a 1 to 2% margin for products that need slight adjustment. Sounds like you have some specific customizations but obviously you are very pleased with the final value!

Thanks for sharing- Aaron

I have an A3R and get a bit of fret buzz from strings 5 and 6. I'm curious as to the string height others have their A series guitars set at. Mine is approximately 0.091 inches (2.3 mm) at the 12th fret. I'm using 12-54 strings.

Chase- string buzz can be eliminated with some of the slightest changes. If you filed or sanded the saddle or nut, you might want to try getting a new one or putting a thin shim under the nut on the 5th and 6th string end (kind of tapered). If that doesn't fix it, you might want to try taking it to a luthier as there are very minor inconsistencies in even the most expensive guitars and it might also require light sanding of 1 or more fret wires (which I would not mess with but give to a professional). Let us know if you resolve it! Thanks for sharing. Aaron

Hi. I have an A3R

There is no mic in it. It is just very sharp modelling of the sound of a miked guitar using the piezo as a basis.

Pretty sure of this although I've not opened it up.

Awesome guitar as you say

Hi Martin. You are correct. When I first wrote this post, it was unclear to me and the more research I have done, the more I realized that each model in the A-series has been professionally recorded. When you blend over to the mic, and choose the different mic modeling, it is, indeed, a micro-processor that has all of the authentic sounds modeled and stored digitally within the pickup. So although there is no direct condenser, it will blend based on the studio modeling and the model of the body style of each A series guitar, giving you more than 1 mic - but essentially 3 professional mics in multiple positions.

I agree with your evaluation of the A3R. I just purchased it online (as my local store didn't carry it) and am as pleased as can be with it. It's brighter than my Martin 17M (but not as bright as a Taylor), and more condusive to singing along with (because I understand that it's not competing with your voice at the same frequencies). It also sounds great plugged in! I just put some D'Addario EXP17 Phosphor Bronze Medium strings on it, and it's not quite as brilliant bright as with the original strings (which is what I like, as I'm a strummer, not a finger picker). The SRT pickup system is great, as you can dial it to the sound that you like the best.

Hi Aaron Schulman thanks for your webpage clear explaination

Kelvin- You are welcome! Thanks for reading and your appreciation!

Hi Aaron,
I´m Roberto, from Argentina, I really appreciate your detailed comments and descriptions of this guitar. Some months ago I bought a Yamaha APX 1000 guitar, (I really don´t know at these moment about the AC3 model), I saw that the electronics is the same (SRT 63 system), but I have checked same diferences, the main one is that the APX 1000 has side and back of laminated Flamed Maple. The guitar sounds amazing plugged, and un-plugged, it has a lot of middle range sound in my opinion, and little bass sound (cause in part by the thin body of the Apx), my question in your experience is, is there a lot of diference of sound between a roosewood solid back and sides and laminated flamed maple, specially in bass sounds? and another one, is there a lot of quality difference between AC3 and APX series?
Thanks in advance for your answer.
Best Regards from Argentina.

Hi Roberto,
Thanks for sharing your experience and your questions!  I have played a Yamaha APX 1000 or very similar Yamaha thinline model years ago, but I am not sure if it was the APX1000.
That being said, they are going to be similar in quality at a similar price point.  I thought the APX 1000 was discontinued but there is conflicting info on the Yamaha website.
Anyways -there will be a big difference between Rosewood and Flame Maple to an experienced player, and anyone who has a decent ear.  
The rigidity of the maple and the hardness of it, as well as the "oval" shaped sound hole in the APX1000 series will definitely give a punchy mid-range tone, so you will not get as wide of an EQ response from the body as you would with a thicker body and from Rosewood because it does not have as much bass expression for a tonewood.  
The difference is significant!  
Years ago a friend of mine had a Larrivee that had a solid flame maple back and sides, and the biggest difference I could hear and feel when playing was how little bass projection comes from flame maple, and how much more warmth and boomy bass comes from a solid Rosewood guitar body.   His guitar was very vibrant and responsive, but definitely dominated in the mid range.
My preference is Rosewood because, in my opinion, it is always easier to compress the natural sound from an acoustic guitar than it is to try to get more expression that is not there naturally from the tonewoods.  Rosewood is the choice of a lot of pros, but not across the board.  A lot of bluegrass players and some rock players will tend toward Mahogany or flame maple because it punches through and does not express much in the low or bass end because of the tonewood.  Punchiness with flame maple and Mahogany are great when you are playing with a group acoustically because the sound is more compressed and brighter.  
The sound from Rosewood will definitely sound warmer, bigger and have more "boom" to it simply because of the tonewood, all else being equal (body size, style, strings, same bracing etc).
The APX 1000 should be great for performance and the thinner body depth will make it perhaps a bit easier to wield for some.  In addition, the concert style contour, slimmer waist will tend to give the guitar more "bell-like" tonality when finger-picked.
My preference will always be Rosewood and I prefer the deeper body of the full dreadnought.  So if I were to purchase one from the Yamaha A-Series, it would be the Yamaha A3R model.  The Yamaha AC3R would be similar in feel to the APX1000 except for the tonality differences listed above between Maple and Rosewood.   Both the AC3R and the APX1000 have the concert style body with the slimmer waist which some people find easier to hold, especially when seated.

Hope this helps!

Hi Aaron, thank you very much for your answer, I really appreciated, Now I have clear the differences between sounds from roosewood and flamed maple, but, as I understand they exists when the guitar is un-plugged. When it is plugged, I assume that there´s no (or little) difference because the enterely sound is digitally procesed by the piezo pickup and it electronic proccesor that simulates the guitar ambient sound, Are you agree? Thanks in advance!!

Correct!  In these models that would be mostly correct because the option switch for mic sounds of the pickup are studio samples (not a true mic of your performance - but pre-recorded and stored in the pickup). However, there might be some slight differences in the brightness of the piezo. However, if you mic these in a studio, you should pick up the same differences you would with your ear, or when the guitar is unplugged / acoustic. In other words, a quality studio condenser microphone will definitely pick up the differences when recording in a studio or using a mic live (through the air) versus the pickup, just like your ear would. Many people cannot hear the difference, but most guitar players with any experience can definitely hear the difference. It all depends on how you plan to use it. Hope this helps.

After your awesome review of the Yamaha A3 series, I went on-line to Amazon and found the A3M on sale for $599.99...waiting for delivery. The SRT 63 system with simulated microphone options sounds similar to the Fishman Aura system used in Zager guitars, do you know anything about Zager guitars? I am re-learning guitars from the ground up (I have a 35 year old Ovation balladeer) and a few others I have bought in the last 60 days to work on and with. Thanks for any info on ZAD's and the great review on Yamaha. Jim

Hi Jim! Thanks for your kind words. It was a lot of work testing and researching and writing about these guitars. Having the right pickup is everything in my opinion. I went through some bad ones in college and wasted money on pickups that didn't hack it, before I knew anything about pickup technology. While I do not know much about Zager guitars, I am always looking to get my hands on something new to be able to write about it. If you have a review or experience with a great guitar, feel free to share it with me and I will see where I can post it on the site! Thanks again- Aaron

Thanks man, I wish more reviewers would get into the specifics as you have in this article. Well done.
As a gigging musician for many decades now I am always on the look out for an instrument that not only sounds and plays great but will also take the rigors of the road. It isn't worth the time, effort or money to go out and buy a high end guitar that you know is going to take some knocks and also there is the threat of theft. It happens more than you think. Besides living in Canada it is hard for me to justify the cost of a solid wood Taylor. Martin or Gibson. I've tried a few Larrivees but they don't suit my hand. In Canada in order to get solid back and sides you looking at 2300.00 cdn. and up for any of the 3 major brands. That's unrealistic especially when in my case I use 2 dreadnoughts, a 12 string and a Yamaha silent on stage.
My go to guitars have been Takamine's for years now but I have to tell you the Yamaha silent is awesome for full band live work. Maybe you could do a review on the new series. hint hint Anyways I happened on the A3 series at a local vendor and was really blown away with the quality of workmanship, the way it played like butter, and the overall tone. I have purchased one and it now stands proudly in the spot where my recently retired from gigging Tak. EN-10c stood for years. For what it's worth in my humble opinion the A3 series is the deal of the decade in flat top all solid wood guitars. Right from the first strum my A3R played like butter and sounded like it had been played in smokey clubs for years.
On another note the A3R takes well to being tuned in other keys like open a and f.
Now if they'd just make a 12 string silent I'd be completely set.
Once again thanks

Hi Bill,

Thanks for taking the time to share this much detail!  I agree on the Yamaha A3R and A Series guitars - as I stated, I wish they had this model and pickup technology when I was in College back in the early 1990s, because I would have grabbed it right away!  As for the Yamaha Silent, I actually did already write up a review, but it is on the same page as 4 other travel guitar reviews that I did a while back.  I did not go into as much depth, but there's enough there to help steer people in the right direction.  Agreed that they Yamaha Silent guitars are pretty awesome too, but being that they are not true acoustic guitars, that might steer a few people away, those who want the sound and feel of real tonewoods.  That being said, the Yamaha Silent guitars are pretty awesome for the price and the ability to play silent, plugged in for performance or recording, or for travel!  Thanks again for sharing your experience.  Aaron

I came across you impeccable review of the SRT system and your heroic follow up on all the comments! I cannot decide between the AC5R and the CPX1500wa (guy down the road is selling). Part of my indecision is I can't get my hands on an AC5R to actually test out. Basically I love the body depth of a CPX series and that it actually has an adjustable mic on the CPX1500 with the old version of the SRT. But it's the old electronics. Now through your review I have learned that the new SRT system is actually mic simulation and not an actual mic in conjunction with the piezo pickup. My dream has always been to have a guitar that apart from a piezo pickup has some mic system to pic up the actual wood and air vibration. I think the CPX series is a lighter guitar on the whole than the A series which I find favourable. I guess what I am asking is, do you have any experience with the CPX 1500 or 1200 in terms of their sound as solid bodies, size, playability and electronics in comparison to the AC5R? Have you ever come across another guitar that has a built in actual mic and piezo system like the CPX1500?

Hi Henrik,
Thanks for posting and sharing your question. I have a few questions concerning your purchase.
1- Under what circumstances are you going to do most of your playing (private, recording studio, live performance)?
2 - Which guitar actually feels better and sounds better to you while unplugged?
You brought up the fact that the SRT system (Studio Response Technology) in the Yamaha A series guitars is a modeled, recorded sound, which was hard to figure out during my research. The sound you will get from an A-Series guitar plugged in will be authentic, acoustic tone, although it is modeled with different mic settings, and not an actual microphone sound coming from your guitar. The sound is authentic and from some people's opinions, a bit lacking in the "gain" or loudness. The CPX series that use the ART pickup technologies do not have microphone modeling or condenser mics in their pickup at all. They use a 2 pickup system, one that is an under-the-saddle piezo and one that is a layered vibration sensing pickup that is supposed to transfer the tonewood vibrations and replicate the acoustic sound from the wood. The short-coming of this is that, while it may pick up the vibration differences between models, the subtle overtones created by tonewoods will not be heard, as they are detected through the air when using a condenser microphone.
I think your answer will come down to which guitar feels better to you, and which one sound better for your most common use scenario. I hope this helps! Thanks for sharing.

Hi! Aaron! I am from India. I have been researching like crazy to zero on an electro acoustic guitar but to no avail.
Your article was like mana from heaven. I really appreciate the trouble you have gone through to write such a comprehensive,clear cut article on Yamaha 'A' series for folks like us. Thanks a million!
One cobweb still lingers in my mind after reading all the confusing articles in 'You tube' prior to reading your excellent article.
The new 2017 'A' series has the new upgraded SRT2 system. Are both the SRT and the SRT 2 system the same. Yamaha have introduced the SRT2 in A3R ARE model.
I notice that the SRT2 does not have some of the controls like on board tuner, AFR switch etc. which the SRT preamp system has.
Therefore which is a better buy? The model with the SRT with preamp or the SRT2? I am planning to get one of them from the US for Christmas.
Thanking you in advance.

Jerry, thank you for bringing this up. As you can probably believe, it is difficult to keep up with all the advancements these companies are continuing to push in their guitars. I am not sure if I can do the research and get to play an SRT2 before Christmas, but will try. Thanks again for bringing this up. It's readers like you that point out new things as well as find small errors that help me to refine the reviews for everyone to make informed purchase decisions! I will look in to it asap.

i purchased a yamaha a3r 2017 model...what do you think of the srt2 system in this version? you wrote a good article on the a series a few years ago.....email me at (removed to protect user's email) if you can,,,my names is paul b...thanks.

Hi Paul and Jerry- It looks like they are phasing the old SRT blender out in the Yamaha A3, and calling the new SRT in the Yamaha A1 series simply the SRT piezo. I have updated the review above to show the complete details of the SRT original preamp with mic modeling and the SRT 2 system (4 knobs). The other difference is that this review covers the older Yamaha A3 series, whereas the SRT 2 systems are in the newer Yamaha A3 series, and the new Yamaha A5 series, which I have yet to review. So in order to get the old SRT with mic model blenders, you have to purchase an older A3 model. If you are satisfied with the differences in the new SRT2 sleek designs and a few things they took out, the new A3 and A5 series will serve you very well! I hope to tackle that in the next month or 2. Thanks for reading and asking!

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