on September 21, 2009
I got this guitar about a year ago as a birthday present from my girlfriend. Because ears are so subjective, we went to Guitar Center to try out a whole slew of makes and models. Pretty much anything they had in the sub-$500 range. I tried Martins, Fenders, Epiphones, Gibsons, Taylors, Ovations, Yamahas-- you name it, I tried it. Most sounded pretty good, but you could tell they were budget guitars. Just no balance. Some had great deep tone but no treble. Others were very bright but had no bottom end. I was about ready to settle on a $350 Yamaha (which looked BEAUTIFUL) and had a decent balance, but then my girlfriend found this FG700S hiding behind some boxes. I played it and...WOW. Rich lows and bright highs. Needless to say, that's the one I picked. My fingers hurt at first from playing it so much, but I got used to it pretty quick. I kept the same strings Yamaha had originally put on it for about 6 months before they started to turn dark with corrosion. I don't know how long the guitar sat in their showroom for, but my guess is about 6 months based on the build date (I got from calling Yamaha). Get one of these brand new and I bet the strings will last you a year. I played and still play my FG700 more than my $500 Epiphone Les Paul, even when practicing. I just like the sound that much.
Then after doing some research in March I had a guitar shop put in a bone saddle (the white part that the strings bend over right before they go into the body) and I couldn't believe my ears! What was already a great sounding guitar now sounds as good as anything up into the $800 range, easily. All for roughly $270 ($180 guitar + $90 saddle).
To me, this thing is an investment. They say that guitars age kind of like wine. You take good care of it and it will just sound better and better the older it gets. My father's got an FG110 from the 70's and it sounds amazing now. I figure that give this thing 20 years and it will sound as good as anything out there.
Pro's: Great sound especially for $200, nice finish, easy playability, very good factory strings.
Con's: Action can be a little high if you play a lot at the higher frets (you can have that adjusted), it's a jumbo acoustic: so for smaller people the body can be a little oversized.
on December 31, 2011
This Yamaha guitar is a great bargain: no, it's not as good as a Martin or Taylor, which cost substantially more. But in the budget price range, this guitar looks good and for the most part sounds great. Those are subjective matters, to be sure, but to my ears, this guitar beats a lot of other comparably priced acoustic guitars from other manufacturers I've tried. Note that this guitar lacks electronics for playing directly through an amp--an important concern for anyone who wants to perform.
-- Stays in tune extremely well
-- Good intonation overall
-- Good projection and tone
-- Quality fit and finish
-- Durable: mine has served me well for a number of years now. (But bear in mind: like any stringed instrument, this guitar requires moderately careful handling and proper storage. Use it, don't abuse it.)
-- Action a bit high on the upper frets
-- Bass tone a bit weak once you leave first-position cowboy-chord country
-- Truss rod doesn't turn smoothly
Certainly, any beginner* should be delighted with this guitar, and more experienced guitarists on a budget should be quite happy with it.
* If this is your first guitar, you should also consider purchasing a guitar stand, case, chromatic tuner, picks, extra strings, string winder w/ bridge pin puller, capo, and a polishing cloth.
on January 9, 2014
I would say my circumstances are unusual and allow me an opportunity to give yet another perspective that mirrors the positive review so many others have provided.
The unusual circumstance is that through no fault of Amazon, I received three of these guitars when I ordered one as a Christmas present for me using a gift card. This allowed me to literally inspect, set up, assess, play and listen to each guitar back to back to back.
I'd like to first commend Yamaha for what I would call impeccable quality control. Now let's discuss the guitars:
FINISH: Okay, most everyone reading this knows this guitar is made with a Sitka Spruce top, or sound board as it's technically called. All three guitar tops looked perfect and the finish polished to a nice smooth finish. Two of the guitars were exactly the same color, or shade if you will, while the third was about 10% lighter. Obviously this relates to the actual tree used as it is a clear urethane used by Yamaha that doesn't shade or tint the color at all. This is normal and for those who order via Amazon, you'll get whatever color you get, but trust me, they all looked good due to the use of the Sitka Spruce which is typically reserved for guitars costing way more than this one which is classified as more of a beginners guitar (likely because the wood used for the sides and back of the body and tuner hardware are not "high end" like professional or less "beginner" guitars than this one). That said, the wood is beautiful on all three and just because of my personal preference, I kept the guitar with the more blonde color than the other two. Plus it looks identical to an Ovation 12 string I used for years and always loved the color of. As for the sides and body, the finish is buffed to an amazing gloss and the grain and color on all three guitars is as close to being identical as possible. Close examination around the sound hole and rosette around it on all three shows that Yamaha cares about how they finish a guitar as there were no issues whatsoever. Similarly, the binding used between the sides and top is the same high quality on all three. The black of the binding on the sides is buffed perfectly and the binding material on the top is a combination of black and white stripes and being under the urethane is buffed perfectly. This has to be the hardest part of buffing a guitar as any slight variation of pressure, angle, etc. can quickly ruin the edge in several ways. Close examination of all three is again consistently perfect. One guitar had a very, very slight imperfection in the urethane coated edge on the bottom where it rests on your leg when playing in a sitting down position. You almost need a magnifying glass to see it. Yamaha uses a satin finish on the back of the neck to aid in sliding your hand up and down the neck as you play and the finish was again, perfect on all three. One guitar had a slightly two-toned color where the neck joins the body where you could clearly make out the two pieces of wood used to build that particular neck. No big deal, but you couldn't see this on the other two so I thought I'd mention it. The fret board is natural rosewood and the consistency in color and grain between the all three was the same and the transition between top and back of the neck was perfect on all. The headstock is also a high gloss finish and impeccable on all three and likely gets a couple more coats of urethane for increased shine. The inlays, both on the fret board and the headstock are fitted and finished consistently across all three. The Yamaha wording on the headstock is about perfect with a nice pearl look. The fret board markers are smaller than I would have liked (from a looks perspective) but serve their purpose, again a nice pearl look and again consistently applied with no edges or gaps and perfectly flush. I'll end the discussion about finish by saying that the plastic pick guard looks the same on all three and although plastic, looks pretty exotic and could be brown tortoise for real.
HARDWARE: The tuning pegs (machine heads) may not be the priciest but are better quality than most any guitar at this price. They are chromed metal and utilize an internal spring that can be manually tensioned and are designed to keep the pressure consistent as the internal gearing wears over time. Having tuned all three guitars, I can say I can find no difference and looking closely can say the chroming, finish and installation is as good as it can be. The bridge is also rosewood, and like the fret board does not have a finish over it and is left natural. Here, the color and grain as well as the application is consistent between all three, no issues whatsoever and very closely matching the fret board. The frets themselves were the same on all three with no buzzing or other issues, everything aligned and installed perfectly. I can't speak of what the fret metal material is, but it seems the same to me on these guitars as guitars costing several thousand dollars. There may be more exotic material available and used, but I have no issue with what Yamaha used and can't think of why a different material than this would have any effect on play-ability. The strings are Yamaha FS50BT and brass wound, no rust and light 012 - .052 gauge. Out of 18 strings, not one showed any sign of an imperfection and in playing, no real difference. I'll likely upgrade to my brand of choice but not until I use these up, they're pretty good for stock strings. The nut, saddle and bridge pins are, as expected, plastic. Many report that changing these out for bone (cow, buffalo, ivory for example) improves the sound of this guitar. I would expect the sound to be affected by this, or even different plastic types that could be used stock, but can't say since I've not played or heard one with a bone or tusk upgrade or even better strings. I'll likely upgrade to bone at the first string change since it isn't cost prohibitive even for this class of guitar if you can do it yourself (less than $30 on eBay).
SETUP: As expected, the strings are detuned by several octaves for shipping, but still have enough pressure to keep the neck from warping while it goes through its' storage, packaging and shipping process. Tuning each, I found the strings are pretty well pre-stretched and only took a few re-tunings to get them to stay in tune. The truss rod on other guitars I've bought were loose by design, with the expectation by the factory that the end user or guitar shop will snug them up and/or adjust the neck once delivered. In looking through Yamaha's owner's manual, there is a short blurb about how to correct a convex or concave condition by adjusting the truss rod, but no mention of having to do anything for first setup if the neck is straight, implying it is already snug and/or adjusted by Yamaha before shipping. I checked all three guitars and not one had a convex or concave condition to correct so I've yet to put an allen wrench to the truss rod to check. That's a good thing. To be correct, there should be a slight convex shape (forward bow) and checking all three guitars, they were correct as delivered with only a few thousandths of an inch difference between the three. I'll check the truss rod on the guitar I'm keeping but suspect it's already been set by the factory.
PLAYABILITY/SOUND: You can read many of the other reviews on here and determine that this "beginner" guitar doesn't really sound or play like one. Although the sides and back are made of plywood to keep the cost down, the most important part, the sound board, or top, is made of the preferred Sitka Spruce wood. So with the unique opportunity to have three of the exact same guitar in my house to play with gave me a chance to pick the cream of the crop, so to speak. Well, I'm happy to report, if not a tiny bit surprised, there is no discernible difference in sound between the three guitars. I had three people sit across the room (one a far more advanced player than I) while I played the same chord sequence, switching as quickly as I could between the three, and my listeners couldn't hear a difference! So much for my picking a "best sounding" one as each sounded excellent as well as the same. I too can report that I was quite surprised by how good these guitars sound overall. I don't have access to numerous multi-thousand dollar guitars to compare this Yamaha against but have a good enough ear to know they really do sound significantly better than the price would imply. Tone is very nice, high, mid and low tones are above average although sustain is a tad less than on some very expensive guitars I've tried. I do have a Johnson beginner's guitar in the house and can say there is no comparison; the Yamaha is so pointedly better sounding, the two are not even in the same class if you ask me. As for the action, it is a tad high for my preferences but not too high, even for beginners; I will adjust that when I replace the saddle and bring it as low as possible before any string buzz occurs. Having said that, these all played the same which is to say, nice and easy. If I didn't know the price on these, I'd probably pick one just based on how easy they are on the fingers along with their great sound. I guess that's why so many praise this guitar and call it the "best beginner's guitar out there". My many times more expensive Ovation doesn't have better action than these Yamaha's. I consider that important and amazing.
CONCLUSION: If you are a beginner, get this guitar! If you are a seasoned pro looking for an affordable guitar to use where you might not want to use your high priced guitar, get this guitar! If you are looking to buy a guitar and get a chance to test one at your local guitar shop, please do. And while there, try any other guitar in the same price range and even several at three times the price and see what you think. I think you'll buy this one. In closing and what made me take the initiative to write this, Yamaha's quality control is again, beyond reproach. Not one of the three guitars had anything wrong that would give me a reason not to keep it. All three were keepers and my decision on which one to keep came down to one of the three having a lighter shade of spruce. You may have preferred one of the other two, it's really only my personal preference as to why chose the lighter shade. I should say all three are light, just one was a bit lighter than the other two. Other than that, the sides, back, neck and headstock were all about the same color/shade and the minor difference on one, as I stated, was the two wood shades on the neck where it joins the body. Hardly a concern, just wanted to point it out. In case you couldn't tell, I'm so happy I did my homework, watched numerous YouTube reviews and chose this Yamaha. Buy it; you'll be happy you did! Search YouTube for the FG700S and you'll get good, honest critique and input (along with praise) on this guitar and can also hear it in action.
on July 23, 2010
I've been wanting a guitar for a while but the thought of walking into a guitar shop having no prior knowledge or experience of playing was really daunting for me. I looked up some different guitars online and after looking at all the reviews and weighing pros and cons, I decided to shell out a bit more money for this one and take a leap of faith. And I'm very glad I did.
I was surprised at how shiny it was when I pulled it out. Everything was in tip-top shape and after tuning the strings to the right pitches, got straight away to playing with it. The sound is rich, full, and resonant even just by lightly finger-plucking the strings. I was a pianist for 14 years and a violinist for 5 so I can tell when sound quality is good or not and this guitar certainly didn't disappoint. I'm an absolute beginner on the guitar and this is a fine instrument for beginners who aspire to hopefully play more advanced stuff in the future. In reviews of other guitars, I read stuff like 'the action was too high' or 'the strings kept buzzing' or 'the alignment of the guitar was all wrong' so I was a little afraid I'd have to make adjustments but based on my own experience, I thought everything was just fine the way the guitar came out of the box.
At first, the guitar felt bigger and bulkier than I had expected and I felt like my fingers were too small to hold all the right chords. But after a few weeks, my body learned to adjust to a new playing position (which was a bit more difficult for me, having sat upright with my arms out in front to play piano for so long). It's hard at first but with a little practice, you'll get the hang of it. I leave my guitar out where I can see it so anytime I get bored, I'll sit down and practice a few chords. All in all, a beautiful instrument with great sound! I love it. :)
on September 4, 2012
I read all these glowing reviews, and I feel a reality check is needed here: This is a cheap guitar made with a mahogany-like (nato) plywood body. When you tap the sides with your fingernail it gives that click that you associate with the cheapest guitars in the store. This is NOT a replacement for a really good acoustic, it just is what it is.
What it is is probably the best dreadnaught you can buy for $200. The spruce top and its grain looks surprisingly good, close and straight. But the finish on the guitar is too thick. While that will certainly make it more durable, it deadens the highs very noticeably. If you got to have an acoustic with ringing high strings to make you happy, this is not the guitar you'll want.
What it does well... The bass is very decent and even puts out a passable pro sound when you palm the strings with your pick hand. No mahogany (or nato) guitar puts out the rich bass of rosewood, but for what it's made of, it's quite good and could even do some jobs on stage.
My overall impression is that this is a well-manufactured guitar made of the cheapest possible materials. The dreadnaught shape and the quality manufacture get the most that is possible out of it. If your budget is tiny, or you're a beginner who wants a steel-string guitar that isn't junk, this one will do you well.
Oh, and as others have mentioned... The playing action is high straight out of the box, it would be murder on a beginner's fingers. What it needs is the bridge saddle sanded down. The fingerboard (on mine) was already good so far as the truss-rod adjustment does, it's just the saddle the factory uses lifts the strings too high for anything but cowboy chords. If you don't know how to sand it yourself, take the guitar to a music store and they'll hook you up.