|Body And Neck:|
Yamaha’s long-running L Series (the L standing for ‘luxury) had something of a makeover in 2014, with all new models showing off innovative features that enhance the tone and overall feel of the instrument. The LS6 is the smaller-bodied model of the series, with a mix of solid and laminate woods to keep things affordable – which is why it features in our chart on the best sub-$500 acoustics. It has a great reputation, so let’s take a closer look.
On the face of it, this is a seriously good-looking acoustic with a traditional design brought to life with some luxurious appointments, such as gold hardware and abalone soundhole rosette. The guitar itself sports a small 25.56” scale length concert sized body, which is crafted with solid Engelmann spruce on the top, with a rosewood laminate back and sides (note that a laminate mahogany version is also available). The top features Yamaha’s ‘Acoustic Resonance Enhancement’ (A.R.E) treatment, which essentially emulates the aging process of solid wood, while it also sports advanced bracing. More on the benefits of this below.
As for the playability, this is just wonderful for a guitar in this price range, and feels ready for performance out of the box. The LS6 features a 5-ply rosewood/mahogany neck which is sleek, stable, thin and tapered for an excellent hand-feel. Joined at the 14th fret, the neck sports an ebony fretboard with a total of 20 frets.
On first glance, you wouldn’t expect the LS6 to have electronics, as there is no preamp visible. However, this acoustic does feature Yamaha’s SRT Zero Impact pickup, which remains hidden, allowing you to plug into an amp should you wish, although there’s no onboard controls.
Elsewhere, the LS6 offers good value for money, with an ebony bridge and a set of reliable gold die-cast tuners. It’s strung with Elixir’s coated strings (meaning no string change will be necessary for some time), while it also arrives in its own quality hardshell case – although check the marketplace, as every store differs.
One of the best things about an acoustic featuring solid wood is that they open up beautifully over the years, and, maybe a decade down the line, they can sound like completely different instruments – warmer, louder and richer. Yamaha’s A.R.E treatment on this LS6 basically pre-ages this guitar, delivering a decade of tone right out of the box. For that, it’s incredibly full and sweet in sound thanks to the spruce and rosewood combo, with a very powerful projection. Through the pickup, even though there are no onboard controls, the tone sounds quite natural, and overall it feels like a good addition. Fantastic.
The LS6 is undoubtedly a modern classic. It has everything going for it – great looks, a fast and comfortable feel, enough bling, solid hardware, and one of the best sounds in this price category. While its price, electronics and premium feel all make it perfect for the experienced player or casual performer, it’s also a good choice for beginners, who would seriously benefit from the playability.