Yamaha A Series – Everything You Need to Know

You probably already know Yamaha for its quality yet fairly priced acoustic guitars. The Yamaha A Series is a lineup of acoustic-electric guitars for any budget. With uniquely handle able body shapes, a choice of Yamaha's SRT or SRT2 pickup system, and a choice of mahogany or rosewood back and sides, the A-Series is one most exciting collections among Yamaha Acoustic Guitars.

Pros and Cons of the Yamaha A Series

While this is a very versatile series of guitars, this collection may not be right for everyone. Here are some of the pros and cons of the A Series.

Pros

  • Higher-end models in the series use the upgraded Yamaha SRT2 pickup system, which combines a piezo with two different onboard microphones for truly customizable sound
  • You can choose between the A body (a traditional Western body with a cutaway and full lower bout) and the AC body (a smaller. concert-style body with a cutaway)
  • A5 and A3 models have solid Sitka spruce tops treated with Acoustic Resonance Enhancement (A.R.E.) which thermally ages the soundboard to make it play like a seasoned acoustic right out of the box
  • Each model lets you choose to pair the solid Sitka spruce top with rosewood or mahogany back and sides, and higher-end models include solid rosewood or solid mahogany

Cons

  • While more affordable models still have decent build quality, their laminate backs and sides won't give you the same acoustic sound as all-solid models
  • The SRT2 electronics found on higher-end A Series guitars have a very natural sound, but the piezo-only SRT pickups on less expensive models may not be ideal for everyone

What Sets the A Series Apart?

Before you commit to buying a guitar from the Yamaha A Series, it's a good idea to get a general sense of some of the features acoustic guitars in the series have. After all, Yamaha as a company is well known for innovation when it comes to building their guitars, and the A Series has several new features that many players will love.

Body Shapes

For players who want to go beyond the basic dreadnought, A-Series guitars offer exciting body styles with distinctive silhouettes. Players can choose between what Yamaha calls an "A body" and an "AC body."

Both shapes feature a Venetian cutaway for easy upper fret access. The A body looks a bit like a dreadnought--it has wide shoulders and a broad lower bout. Like a dreadnought, this guitar offers deep, focused lows and brighter highs.

The SC body is a concert-style body with a cutaway. This smaller, slimmer body is easy to handle and projects acoustic sound well. It doesn't have all the overtones of the A body, but this makes it more desirable for some genres. This video introduction to the series lets you see the different body shapes.

Bracing

Yamaha is continually changing its acoustic guitar bracing to optimize the sounds of its musical instruments. A-Series guitars feature scalloped bracing on the soundboard and shorter bracing on the back. Plain scalloped bracing tends to "scoop" out the midrange, but this new design emphasizes sounds in the low-mid range. The result is a full, balanced bass sound that isn't excessively boomy. This video details the key changes made to Yamaha's existing bracing when the A Series was created.

Tonewoods

In an era where sustainable, affordable tonewoods are becoming harder to find, you might be relieved to see that these guitars from Yamaha are made with top-quality woods.

Each model in the A Series has a spruce top of all solid wood. A3 and A5 models have a top that has been treated with Yamaha's groundbreaking A.R.E. technology. This technology artificially ages the soundboard, making it sound like an older guitar whose sound has opened up over time. This video offers a thorough explanation of the A.R.E. treatment and how it works.

A3 and A5 models also are made with either solid mahogany or solid rosewood back and sides. Models in the A1 line have laminated back and sides and a solid top. While many players might prefer an all-solid guitar, the high-tech, innovative bracing and included electronics make the A1 a great choice for new guitarists or for players on a budget.

Playability Features

If you've ever played an acoustic guitar with rough or uneven frets, you know how uncomfortable it can be. If you're a new customer of Yamaha, you may not be too familiar with their instruments' playability features. The Yamaha A-Series of acoustic-electrics includes only acoustic instruments with cutaways for easier high-fret access.

These guitars also have a unique neck profile. It has a relatively straight taper, making it easy and comfortable to play even at frets further down the neck. This neck profile also features a fretboard with rolled edges, which makes it supremely comfortable to play for hours on end. This video shows the process of rolling fretboard edges to create a more comfortable playing experience.

Electronics

The Yamaha A-Series is designed for modern performers, and each guitar in the series is an acoustic-electric. The A1 line, which is the most affordably priced, features Yamaha's award-winning SRT piezo pickup. Plenty of players find pickups designed this way to be somewhat artificial-sounding, as some piezos tend to "quack" when plugged in. The SRT undersaddle piezo pickup has separate elements for each string, resulting in a surprisingly natural sound. This system has an onboard preamp that's recessed into the guitar body.

However, the A3 and A5 models feature the upgraded SRT2 electronics. This system, like many top-of-the-line acoustic pickups, combines a piezo pickup and advanced microphone modeling technology. The sleek, minimalist preamp lets you choose any combination of piezo and microphones to custom-tailor your sound to each song you play.

Guitars with rosewood back and sides have different microphone models than mahogany offerings. A-Series guitars made with solid rosewood let you choose from (or combine) a Neumann U67 large diaphragm condenser microphone and a Royer R122 active ribbon microphone. The Yamaha A5M and other solid mahogany acoustic guitars come with a Neumann KM56 small diaphragm condenser microphone and a Royer R122 active ribbon microphone. If you're interested in seeing how this technology works, this video offers an interesting introduction.

Which A Series Model is Right for You?

Maybe you're a new customer when it comes to Yamaha acoustic instruments, or maybe you simply want to understand the differences between each guitar on the list before you commit. Here's a breakdown of each guitar in the new A Series.

A5R and A5M

If you want a guitar that's made with top quality appointments, all-solid tonewoods, and world-class electronics, you can't go wrong with the A5R or A5M. These guitars both have Yamaha's A body shape, which is very close to the shape of a dreadnought. Here are some of the specs for comparison:

  1. 1
    Both guitars have a solid Sitka spruce top--the A5R has a back and sides of solid rosewood, while the A5M has solid mahogany back and sides
  2. 2
    Each has a top that has been torrefied with A.R.E. technology
  3. 3
    Each has an African mahogany neck. Compared to a traditional mahogany neck, this material is lighter and stronger while still being tonally similar
  4. 4
    Both have the new SRT2 electronics system for incredibly clear live sound
  5. 5
    Gotoh open-gear tuners, ebony fingerboard, and a Tusq nut and saddle keep you sounding incredible

If you want the sparkling highs and focused lows of rosewood, check out the A5R. But if you prefer midrange-focused warmth, the A5M might be right for you.

AC5R and AC5M

The AC5R and AC5M are both built very similarly to the A5R and A5M, but with a very important distinction--both of these models have a concert-style body. This guitar shape is slimmer and smaller than the A body, making it very comfortable to play while sitting or standing. Like the A-body guitars mentioned above, each of these instruments has a solid top and solid back and sides. Here are some specs for comparison:

  1. 1
    All-solid construction offers superior acoustic sound, and A.R.E.-treated top sounds great right out of the box
  2. 2
    Straight-taper neck with rolled-edge ebony fingerboard makes each guitar highly playable, and understated snowflake inlays give it a unique touch
  3. 3
    Each guitar comes with the high-end, customizable SRT2 pickup system
  4. 4
    Wood binding gives each one a distinctive and memorable look

If you prefer a concert-body guitar with the classic look and sound of rosewood, make sure you check out the AC5R. If you like a warm-sounding smaller guitar, make sure you take a look at the AC5M.

A3R and A3M

While the A5 and AC5 lines are the flagship models of the A Series, the Yamaha A3M and A3R offer you the opportunity to purchase an all-solid guitar for a lower price. These models include the same innovative bracing, SRT2 electronics, and solid construction as the A5 line, but they instead have standard Yamaha tuning pegs and don't have Tusq nuts and saddles. They also come with hard bags instead of hardshell cases in order to keep costs down. Here's a list of specs for comparison:

  1. 1
    All-solid build and great electronics make these models a great choice for players who need a quality guitar but want to keep costs low
  2. 2
    Downgraded tuners, saddle, and nut compared to the A5 and AC5 line help keep costs lower, but these are all components that you can easily replace yourself
  3. 3
    Larger, Western-style body gives you classic dreadnought sound with excellent playability features
  4. 4
    Both rosewood and mahogany models come with ebony fretboards for comfortable playability

Many players shopping for a new guitar have to balance price and build quality, and the A3R and A3M make it easy to do just that. Check out the A3R for the balanced sound of rosewood, or select the A3M for the classic combination of spruce and mahogany.

AC3R and AC3M

The concert cutaway has long been a mainstay of many musical genres, and the AC3R and AC3M combine all-solid construction and SRT2 electronics for affordable playability. These models, like all guitars in the A Series, also feature Yamaha's distinctive pickguard shape. They come in your choice of Vintage Natural and Tobacco Brown Sunburst. Here are some of their important specifications:

  1. 1
    Comfortable concert-style body with cutaway a rolled-edge fingerboard is outstandingly comfortable to play
  2. 2
    Each model is treated with the relatively new A.R.E. technology to make it sound like a seasoned, high-quality guitar
  3. 3
    You can choose between solid mahogany and solid rosewood back and sides
  4. 4
    Versatile SRT2 electronics make this a stage-ready guitar at a musician-friendly price

If you've been in search of an all-solid concert-body acoustic that won't break the bank, these two models are worth checking out. If you prefer balanced, defined sound, the AC3R might just be your next guitar. For mellow, darker sound, check out the AC3M.

A1R and A1M

If you're like plenty of guitarists, you may be disappointed when you see a new series, only to find that it's too expensive. If you're on a budget but still want a guitar that sounds great, the A1R and A1M are worth a look. Each is built with a solid spruce top (although they are not treated with A.R.E.), and they come with SRT electronics. While these instruments still have quality Yamaha sound, they're made with laminated back and sides. Here's how they compare:

  1. 1
    Solid spruce tops offer you great acoustic sound
  2. 2
    Laminated rosewood or mahogany back and sides keep costs low while maintaining great looks and playability
  3. 3
    SRT electronics aren't as natural-sounding as the SRT2 in more expensive models, but they still work well in most live situations
  4. 4
    These models have rosewood fingerboards instead of ebony

If you need an affordable dreadnought-style guitar, make sure you check out these two models. The A1R gives you the look and sound of rosewood on a budget, while the characteristic warmth of the A1M is great for many musical styles.

AC1R and AC1M

These distinctive-looking, concert-body acoustic-electrics give you vintage-inspired looks and sound for a relatively affordable price. The piezo pickup can be controlled by a 3-band EQ, and the solid top found on each offers you very responsive sound. These guitars have the same straight taper neck design as others in the series for great playability. Here's how they compare:

  1. 1
    Affordable concert-body design makes these instruments a great option for singer-songwriters or those who prefer a smaller guitar
  2. 2
    Solid top builds and innovative bracing give you sound that's much richer than you might expect
  3. 3
    Included electronics with onboard preamp make it easy to plug in and play

If you need an inexpensive, concert-body guitar that sounds much more expensive than it is, these two models are worth a look. Make sure you check out the AC1R first if you prefer the luxurious grain of rosewood. Take a look at the AC1M if you prefer the understated elegance of mahogany.

Final Thoughts

Whether you're new to guitar or an experienced performer looking for an upgrade, you'll find something that's right for you with the A Series. Plus, if you're in the market for an instrument made with all solid wood and with world-class electronics, the higher-end guitar choices in this lineup offer you the chance to purchase one at a fraction of what most major manufacturers charge. Hopefully you enjoyed our list--let us know what you think in the comments and please share if you found it helpful!            

                                    

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2 thoughts on “Yamaha A Series – Everything You Need to Know”

  1. I am 81 & want to play guitar again. I have a line on a Yamaha APX-9C. Can you help with my decision? I.E. Is there laminate in the construction? Your opinion of this guitar. Thanks. Stay safe & well. Dennis McIvor Red Deer Alberta Canada

    1. Yamaha APX-9C has solid Spruce Top. Back and sides are made of Sycamore. Unless specifically mentioned solid in the catalog, consider it a laminate. Sycamore is used more for Flamenco guitars with Cypress being the most favored one for Flamenco.

      Attaching the link to the brochure from Yamaha site for the series. https://usa.yamaha.com/files/download/brochure/9/320289/apx5a.pdf. However, the guitar was superseded and you can only get a pre-owned guitar now. It was a very nice guitar with very good reviews all around, for tone and playability, by majority of the owners and users.

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