|Body And Neck:|
The beauty of Yamaha is that the brand is always present in whatever category you are browsing – whether that’s budget beginner models or higher-end acoustic guitars. And it’s the latter we’re interested in today, as the A3M electro-acoustic – part of the brand’s performance-focused A Series – instantly caught our eye. Released in 2017, it promises comfort, power and partnership for the gigging guitarist on the road. Let’s see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be.
Perhaps the A3M isn’t extraordinary guitar when it comes to design – there’s nothing groundbreaking in the style department. But it still sports an elegant and attractive design that would look great in any collection. The body itself has a dreadnought size (although the AC3M is the concert size model if that’s more your taste), with a 23.65” scale length and a deep cutaway on the treble side.
It’s an all-solid-wood model, with solid Sitka spruce on the top, and solid mahogany used on the back and sides – all featuring Yamaha’s Acoustic Resonance Enhancement (A.R.E.) treatment, which essentially pre-ages the wood for a beautiful tone.
The mahogany neck is incredibly comfortable, with a straight taper and hand-rolled edges on the rosewood fretboard. Featuring a matte finish and 19 frets, it’s fast and fun to play, with the body cutaway offering great access to the higher frets. Yamaha guitars in this price range aren’t made in America (China, in fact), but it feels like a quality product, and comes ready to play from the box. Very few complaints in this department.
As we’ve mentioned, the A3M is an electro-acoustic, and therefore features something to amplify the sound. In this case, it’s Yamaha’s own S.R.T. (Studio Response Technology) system, which is a fantastic system, blending a combination of both piezo pickup and microphone. The preamp is controlled with a master volume and 3-band EQ (bass, middle and treble), all via subtle dials on the side of the body – a breath of fresh air compared to some of the more cumbersome control panels, and helps retain the guitar’s naturally elegant look.
Electronics aside, the A3M is equipped with a robust set of sealed die-cast chrome tuners, an ebony bridge, a urea nut and saddle, and a quality set of Elixir coated strings, for a great playability from the moment you open the box.
From acoustic projection to plugged-in tone, the A3M sounds amazing – it needs to be heard to be understood. The combination of solid spruce and solid mahogany lends itself to a beautifully balanced tone, which is already ‘broken in’ in terms of aging. It’s therefore full and rich, with great warmth. Acoustically, it projects loudly with no help from the electronics, but through the S.R.T system the A3M sports a pro sound – it’s natural and dynamic, and worthy of both stage performances and recording. Pretty flawless, especially for this price.
Yamaha – consider us impressed. The brand is very modest when it comes to boasting about their technology and innovation, but the A3M is well worth shouting about. For well under $1,000 you’re getting solid ‘pre-aged’ wood, an incredible neck, quality electronics, and a beautiful overall sound. For experienced guitarists with stage aspirations, this is an excellent choice.