The Yamaha FG series of guitars has something to offer for players of most skill levels. We are looking at the Yamaha FG850, potentially the best of the FG series so far. Will we find unbeatable value for money, or are there better acoustic guitars under $500? Let's see.
The Yamaha FG850 is a folk guitar with a traditional dreadnought body shape.
Despite sitting close to the budget guitar price range, the FG series from Yamaha has received a lot of praise for its build quality. The FG850 appears to be no different, with its all-mahogany solid top, back, and sides.
Mahogany is a naturally resonant tonewood, and it looks great with the cream binding that Yamaha has used. An important feature of the FG850's body is the scalloped bracing design, which adds to the natural resonance and volume by increasing airflow and strengthens the guitar's body.
The guitar has a nato neck with a 20-fret rosewood fingerboard that is designed to be comfortable. The neck should even suit players with small hands, and it's capped off with the standard Yamaha acoustic headstock.
There isn't too much to say regarding hardware on the FG850 acoustic guitar. The hardware is just as you'd expect from a Yamaha guitar in the under $500 price range. The nut, saddle, and bridge pins are a synthetic urea material, which is common among Yamaha guitars. Synthetic urea is a mix of synthetic ammonia and carbon dioxide.
The machine heads are die-cast and more robust than the rest of the hardware. They feel stable enough and do stay in tune very well for this price range. There are a few subtle design touches on the FG850 that add to the overall appeal of the guitar. One of those touches is the tortoise pattern pickguard that wraps around the decorative abalone soundhole inlay.
Performers generally love dreadnought acoustic guitars for their sound and versatility. As good as the FG850 looks, it has to measure up in the sound department, too.
The combination of mahogany and the newly designed scalloped bracing plays a leading role. A dreadnought guitar has to project sound well, and thanks to the new bracing design, the FG850 does that very well.
The mahogany creates a warm, resonant tone with fantastic low- to mid-range tones. It's a guitar that can drive a tune because the bottom end feels and sounds substantial. The good thing is that it also comes with some impressive high-end clarity that is more articulate than expected.
Overall, the sound quality is very good, and it ticks all the boxes that a dreadnought acoustic should. It's great for folksy singer-songwriters, pop, and rock music, it's loud when you want, and it's subtle and articulate when it has to be.
If you are looking for a reasonably budget-friendly guitar with some pedigree, you can't go far wrong with the Yamaha FG series. As we suggested earlier, the FG850 could be the best of the bunch.
While there are other guitars with a lot to offer, it might be hard to find a guitar at this price that offers the same mix of build quality (longevity), sound quality, and a reputable brand name. We would never compare a guitar like this to something like a high-end Gibson dreadnought acoustic, but the underlying similarities are certainly there.
So, if you want that kind of dreadnought sound at a lower price, the FG850 looks like a winner. It will suit beginners because it's a playable guitar that will only get better as the player develops. It will also suit more advanced players, either on stage or in the studio. Whatever your reason for buying it, we suspect there will be no complaints regarding value for money here.
For more info about the Yamaha FG850 acoustic guitar, click here.
For more acoustic guitars under $500, click here.