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Yamaha boasts an unrivaled history in the affordable acoustic guitar market. Their steel-string and classical guitar models have become the global standard for students and beginners thanks to their outstanding quality at bargain prices.
If you’re a new player looking to learn on a well-built starter instrument or a more seasoned guitarist who needs an inexpensive acoustic to throw around, the Yamaha FG335 is an intriguing option to consider. With a retail price that sits well below $200, it’s an affordable guitar no matter your price range. Let’s take a close look at the details on this model and explain what makes it one of the best acoustic guitars for beginners on the market.
The FG335 incorporates a classic dreadnought body shape to maximize tone and volume; it’s a vintage style that’s well-suited to beginner strummers yet can also handle delicate fingerpicking and hybrid players. In this case, the top is made of laminated spruce with laminated meranti for the back and sides. Meranti is an Asian mahogany replacement that offers some of mahogany’s color and tonal properties for a much lower cost.
The all-laminate construction isn’t exactly conducive to creating outstanding tone — solid wood resonates better than laminates and tends to project greater volume. However, solid wood is expensive and incredibly rare in guitars under $200. Thankfully, the laminates in this guitar sound much closer to solid wood than most of its competitors.
The neck uses inexpensive nato wood, but it’s topped with a genuine rosewood fretboard. It offers a smooth feel and provides a bit of warmth and depth for the FG335’s sound.
Yamaha’s distinctive pointed headstock houses a set of gold die-cast tuners. The closed-back design lends a modern touch to this guitar. They do a good job keeping tuning stable and don’t provoke any major complaints. Moving down the neck, you’ll find a plastic nut and 20 frets with the body joining the neck at the 14th fret.
Speaking of the body, it’s finished in a high-gloss urethane finish. The bridge behind the soundhole is made from rosewood to match the neck, while the saddle that sits within it is plastic like the nut.
However, it’s necessary to make sacrifices on any sub-$200 acoustic. There simply isn’t enough room to do everything perfectly at this price point. Though it may be unassuming, the hardware on this Yamaha gets the job done well. The guitar still manages to function and sound great without any problems.
In the guitar world today, pretty much every beginner axe around “sounds better than its price range.” The term has become incredibly common to describe starter guitars and convince new players that they’re getting a good bargain. And while it’s true that manufacturing standards have risen considerably in the past few decades, there still are plenty of overhyped budget guitars.
With all of that being said, the Yamaha FG335 sounds much better than its price range might imply. Yamaha’s wizardry with low-cost designs that sound fantastic is already well-documented, but the FG335 takes it to another level. It’s rich, resonant, and full-bodied without becoming tinny or overpowering.
It’s certainly not a perfect acoustic guitar; single-note lines sound decent but rather unspectacular while the tone lacks some of the sustain you’ll find on top-shelf acoustic guitars. Notwithstanding these comments, however, the sound of the FG335 is nearly unbelievable considering its bargain price. It’s well-balanced and holds plenty of projection and strength.
Whether you’re new to the guitar or just new to playing acoustic, it’s hard to go wrong with a Yamaha. The FG335 offers great performance for a price that anyone can afford. It’s a testament to the Japanese company’s considerable history and expertise.