|Body And Neck:|
Whether a high-end dreadnought or an affordable travel guitar, you can always rely on Yamaha to have a model to offer – and the parlor guitar market is no different. Part of the newly released CSF Series, the CSF1M is an affordable electro-acoustic parlor guitar that is well on its way to becoming one of the most popular parlors on the market. Let’s see why.
There is nothing particularly flashy about the CSF1M, yet it’s a very good-looking instrument with classic Yamaha style and a few appointments that suggest it’s a step above some of the more budget parlors.
It comes in either a natural glossy finish or the more interesting Tobacco Brown Sunburst for a little extra vintage vibe. Either finish is completed with attractive black and white body binding along with a simple abalone rosette.
The build is also classic Yamaha. The brand uses their own parlor design, with slightly fuller sides to offer a more full-bodied sound. They make use of a quality solid Sitka spruce on the top, featuring scalloped X-bracing, along with a laminated mahogany on the sides and back of the guitar. The reduced parlor size and 23.6” scale length makes it comfortable for smaller players and those wanting a more compact playing experience (beginners, we’re looking at you).
Moving up to the neck and you’ll find this is made from solid nato, with a 20-fret rosewood fretboard. For what is still a very affordable guitar, this neck is delightful to hold and play, with a comfortable C-shaped profile and a semi-gloss finish. The playability could benefit from a good setup, but it’s not too bad straight from the box.
For an affordable midrange parlor guitar, the hardware on the CSF1M is standard, yet it does deliver a few nice surprises. One thing that’s not immediately apparent when you pick up the instrument is that it’s an electro-acoustic. With no preamp panel on the side bout, it’s understandable to completely miss the electronics, which are tucked away in the soundhole. This is a passive SRT Zero-Impact piezo pickup, which is a fine addition, although no preamp means all sound shaping must be done from the amp.
Elsewhere, there’s a solid rosewood bridge with a unique offset design, with a urea saddle and a matching urea nut. Meanwhile, the closed gear diecast chrome tuning machines are reliable and precise, as we’d expect from a Yamaha in this price range. Finally, it comes fitted with a good set of Elixir NANOWEB 80/20 Bronze Light strings – so a string change won’t be necessary for some time – as well as its own hard case, which is another welcome addition.
For a midrange parlor, the CSF1M sounds lovely. The combination of solid spruce and laminated mahogany makes for a warm and well-balanced tone with surprisingly good low-end for a small guitar. This is partly due to the slightly bigger waist, which also helps with the unplugged projection. The sound through an amp is pretty good too, although, as it’s a passive pickup, the output isn’t as punchy or loud as you may expect.
Even though it’s not been around long, it’s easy to see why the CSF1M has become a go-to parlor guitar for so many players – there is little to dislike. Striking the right balance between price, quality and extras, it is a great option for everyone from beginners and players on the move, to full-sized singer-songwriters who just want the classic sound of old America at a price that doesn’t take much consideration.