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We love to celebrate some of the biggest and boldest guitars on GuitarFella and there are few bolder in the under $500 electric guitar market than the mid-range Yamaha RevStar RS420. Yamaha took inspiration from the 1960s stripped-down street-racing motorbikes of London and Tokyo when designing the RevStar series, and the retro character instantly hits you. Let’s take a closer look at this version before it speeds off into the sunset…
The RS420 really is a delight to admire, with that sixties vibe oozing through. In addition to that unique bulbous shape, there’s the big palette of cool vintage finishes including Factory Blue, Fire Red and Black Steel. However, there’s more to this RevStar than simply aesthetics. It’s ergonomically sound and very comfortable to hold and play, with a deep belly cut and a hidden forearm contour.
The materials also stand up to scrutiny in this mid-range price category, with the 24.75” scale length body made from solid nato featuring a maple top, while the neck also makes use of nato. This slim set neck is incredibly accessible – none of the rosewood fretboard’s 22 frets have a place to hide! It’s easy to play, and the overall feeling is one of quality. While the RS420 is not one of Yamaha’s premium RevStars, nothing has been skimped on in terms of craftsmanship.
There’s plenty to get excited about in the hardware department too. Starting with electronics, the RS420 features two passive, specially-wound VH3 humbuckers with Alnico V magnets for a strong but distinctively vintage output. These are controlled by the standard controls you’d expect – master tone and master volume, with a three-way selector switch – as well as a Dry Switch. Accessed via a push/pull function on the tone control, the innovative Dry Switch offers the option of turning the humbuckers into hum-free single-coils, for huge versatility.
Tuning stability is also a focus, with a tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece combining with some decent chrome diecast tuners at the other end, along with a resin nut and a set of D’Addario EXL110 strings. A very good haul for the sub-$500 price.
Just like the design, there’s something very vintage about the tone of this RevStar. You can certainly find some powerful heavy rock tones if you want, but it’s mellow vintage where the RS420 really excels. There’s great warmth through the humbuckers, with a cutting sparkle when the Dry Switch is engaged. In fact, these are some of the best split-coil pickups we’ve heard in this price range for quite some time. Note that sustain is very good too, with notes lingering nicely.
The Yamaha RevStar RS420 is just one of those guitars you pick up and don’t want to put back down. It’s comfortable, very playable, sounds great and has jealously-provoking looks. With such versatility, it’s a model that deserves to be played on stage. It’s also one of those models we can’t imagine will stay under $500 for very long!
For more info about the Yamaha RevStar RS420, click here.
For more electric guitars under $500 you might like, click here.
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