The New Yamaha L Series Acoustic Guitars Overview

Many of us know Yamaha for their highly affordable beginner guitars, but the company has been pioneering developments in acoustic guitar technology for decades. The Yamaha L Series combines interesting body shapes with high-end features to help create the ideal guitar for many performers out there.

Pros and Cons of the Yamaha L Series

Before diving into the many guitars offered, let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of the series as a whole.

Pros

  • This series is very versatile in terms of body shape--you can find traditional jumbo, medium jumbo, and smaller-bodied guitars here.
  • Each model has a solid top treated with Acoustic Resonance Enhancement (A.R.E.), which gives it a sound comparable to that of a well-made guitar that has been played for years
  • These guitars have Engelmann spruce tops and backs and sides made of mahogany or rosewood, letting you choose your ideal tonewood configuration
  • While many models are more highly priced than some other Yamaha guitars, there are also some surprisingly affordable models in the lineup

Cons

  • These guitars are all essentially variations on the jumbo body style, which may not be right for everyone
  • While some come with electronics, not all do, which may not be ideal for some players.

Series Features and Benefits

This is a guitar series that focuses on both quality sound and luxury appointments. Before we go any further, it's a good idea to mention that the series actually has three subseries--LL (standard jumbos), LS (concert-body guitars), and LJ (medium jumbos). Let's look at some of the universal features.

Redesigned Bracing

Yamaha is a company that regularly updates its bracing designs. For this series, the company opted for non-scalloped bracing. Unlike scalloped bracing, this design doesn't scoop out midrange frequencies. Especially for a jumbo guitar, you want enough midrange, as the bass can become overpowering. This video explains some of the key differences between scalloped and straight bracing.

Acoustic Resonance Enhancement

All L-Series guitars have solid Engelmann spruce tops that are treated with Acoustic Resonance Enhancement. This treatment effectively ages soundboard wood by controlling pressure and temperature. The result is a brand-new guitar that has a very "played-in" sound. This overview explains what the A.R.E. treatment is and how it can dramatically improve a guitar's sound.

SRT Zero Impact Pickups

These pickups aren't present on each guitar in the series. However, if you do plan on performing, investing in a guitar with a pickup may be a good idea. Yamaha's SRT Zero Impact pickup (demonstrated in below video). While it is a piezo pickup, it has separate piezo elements for each string. This may help eliminate the risk of the infamous piezo "quack" some players experience.

Taking a Closer Look

In this section, we'll give you a brief rundown of the models included in the L Series. We'll divide it based on the sub-series classification--LL Series, LS Series, or LJ Series.

The LL Series

This series is made up of Yamaha's full-size jumbos. These guitars have a full, booming sound that is ideal for some types of music, especially old-style country.

LL56 Custom ARE

This jumbo, like the flagship models of the LS and LJ Series, was created by a master luthier. The result is incredible attention to detail when it comes to both cosmetics and performance. The LL56 doesn't have the overly ornate look of some classic jumbos, but its top-notch build is sure to blow many of them out of the water when it comes to tone. Here's how it compares:

  • Hand-selected materials mean this guitar is made of some of the best woods available
  • Solid A.R.E.-treated Engelmann Spruce top and solid Indian rosewood back and sides give it unparalleled tone
  • Beautiful abalone inlays give it a truly distinctive look
  • Ebony fingerboard gives a crisp attack to the sound and helps make this guitar a visual standout

If you want a high-quality jumbo that outclasses many others, make sure you check this one out!

LL36 ARE

This high-end jumbo is very similar to the LL56 in terms of looks and specifications. However, since it isn't one of the models built by a master luthier, it's a it less expensive. The L Series was meant to create luxury guitars, and this is certainly one of them. Here's how it compares:

  • Solid Engelmann Spruce top and solid Indian rosewood back and sides give it classic acoustic sound
  • Redesigned bracing and jumbo body style give it balanced, full sound
  • Cosmetic touches like the abalone inlay let it stand out in a crowd

If you want an all-solid jumbo that's more affordable than a true Yamaha Custom model, then this guitar might be what you're looking for.

LL26 ARE

This model is designed for jumbo guitar players who like a bit more of a vintage look. Its open-gear tuners look more like those used on vintage guitars, and thanks to the A.R.E.-treated top, this guitar sounds like a great vintage instrument as well. Here's how it compares:

  • All-solid Engelmann Spruce and Indian rosewood build offers incredible sound
  • A.R.E. treatment makes it play like a seasoned guitar
  • Jumbo body has a slim enough waist that it's easy to handle and play
  • Given its quality, this guitar is an excellent value

If you want to add a vintage-style jumbo to your collection, make sure you give this one a look!

LL16 ARE, LL16D ARE, LL16L ARE and LL16-12 ARE

This collection of names might look confusing, but each one is based on the LL16. This guitar, like many in the series, has a solid Engelmann spruce top treated with A.R.E., as well as solid rosewood back and sides. It also comes with the SRT Zero Impact pickup, making it both a great value and a great option for live performers. This guitar is available in all three of Yamaha's color options.

The LL16D is essentially the same guitar, but it's designed to look more luxurious with enhanced abalone inlays. The LL16L is the left-handed version of the LL16, and the LL16-12 is the 12-string version. Here's how this collection stacks up:

  • Relatively low price for this series (plus the inclusion of a pickup) makes them a great value
  • The 12-string model gives players the option of the unique, chorus-like sound of playing a 12-string
  • A.R.E. treatment and specialized bracing gives each model incredible sound

If you've been looking for an affordable model in the L Series, make sure you check out the LL16, LL16D, LL16L, or the LL16-12.

The LS Series

This series is made up of guitars whose specifications are similar to those of the LL Series, but they have smaller, concert-style bodies. These smaller bodies are often more playable for smaller musicians, and their tight and focused sound makes them a great option for certain musical genres.

LS56 Custom ARE

While this guitar is likely to be out of the price range of many, it's a fantastic instrument to consider. Crafted by a master luthier, it has an A.R.E.-treated Engelmann Spruce top and back and sides of solid Indian rosewood. A luxuriant abalone inlay surrounds the soundhole. This guitar has been made with extreme attention to detail, and chances are good that if you start playing one, you won't want to put it down. Here's how it compares:

  • This model is made entirely by hand, so it's tonally and aesthetically a step above many in this series
  • Solid, premium tonewood construction ensures incredible sound
  • Ebony fingerboard and bridge adds an extra touch of quality
  • Bone nut and saddle help enhance the tone
  • Five-ply neck is made with volute for extra strength
  • While it has stunning acoustic sound, this guitar does not have electronics

If you want a custom, all-solid guitar and have a little extra money to spend, make sure you check this one out.

LS36 ARE

If you like the LS56 Custom but don't want to spend as much, the LS36 is a great choice. This guitar has many of the same specs, but it may not achieve the same tonal or aesthetic qualities of the custom model. The LS36 is made like many Yamaha custom shop guitars, and it's still an excellent choice for those who want incredible acoustic sound. Here's how it compares:

  • In terms of specs, it's virtually identical to the LS56
  • The price difference can be explained by the fact that this one hasn't been handmade y a master luthier from handpicked materials
  • Still, the solid Engelmann spruce and Indian rosewood build is sure to produce amazing tone
  • This guitar also does not come with electronics

If you want a guitar that is Yamaha Custom Shop quality but doesn't cost a custom shop price, make sure you check this one out.

LS26 ARE

This model is a little more affordable, and many players are drawn to its classic looks. Unlike many Yamaha instruments that come with chrome tuners, this one has open-gear tuners and a vintage-inspired appearance. The A.R.E.-treated top also offers a vintage sound that suits the aesthetic of the LS26. Here's how it compares to the rest of the lineup:

  • Solid Engelmann spruce top and solid rosewood back and sides give it a classic tonal profile
  • Five-ply neck keeps it highly playable
  • Unlike some other models in the series, it doesn't come with electronics
  • Classic aesthetics make it a great choice for folk musicians or others who prefer vintage-looking instruments

If you like the classic look of an all-solid, concert-body Yamaha, make sure you give this one a look.

LS16 ARE and LS16M ARE

These two guitars may be some of the less expensive options in the LS Series, but they offer incredible value. Both are all-solid with A.R.E.-treated Engelmann Spruce tops, and the LS16 comes with solid rosewood back and sides while the LS16M comes with solid mahogany back and sides. Both are excellent tonewood choices, but mahogany may be better suited to those who prefer the warmer, darker sound of mahogany. Both also come with the SRT Zero Impact pickup.

Here's how they compare:

  • In terms of price, these are some of the best values on the list
  • Included quality electronics make either one a good option for the performing musician
  • Choice of tonewoods lets you choose the right guitar for you
  • The LS16 comes in three color choices (natural, brown sunburst, dark tinted), while the LS16M comes only in natural

If you want an all-solid acoustic-electric that doesn't break the bank, either of these guitars is worth checking out.

LS6 ARE and LS6M ARE

These guitars are the most affordable Yamaha offerings in this lineup. Despite that fact, both have solid Engelmann spruce tops treated with A.R.E., Yamaha's redesigned bracing, and the same comfortable five-ply neck found on other models in the series. They also come with the SRT Zero Impact pickup for easy live playability. The only real difference here is that both come with laminated rosewood or mahogany back and sides (as opposed to solid). Here's how these two models compare:

  • Solid A.R.E. treated tops offer a tone that makes them sound more expensive than they are
  • Modified bracing gives them a loud, powerful sound
  • You get a choice of rosewood or mahogany back and sides, making it possible to choose what suits your musical style
  • Included pickup systems make either a good choice for playing live

If you want the big sound of an A.R.E.-treated top and Yamaha's redesigned bracing but don't have a lot to spend, make sure you give the LS6 and the LS6M a look.

The LJ Series

The Yamaha LJ Series is made up of medium jumbo guitars. These instruments are ideal for those who love the sound of a full-sized jumbo but who prefer something a little smaller and playable.

LJ16BC

This discontinued model is the signature guitar of Billy Corgan. It's based on the classic LJ16, but it has a few important tonal changes--this guitar was designed to highlight upper midrange frequencies in a way that complemented his style of playing. It also has a Tusq nut and saddle and Gotoh open-gear tuners. Here's how it stacks up to the rest of the LJ Series:

  • Yamaha's custom non-scalloped bracing emphasizes the mid-high frequencies while still offering plenty of bass
  • Solid Engelmann spruce top is treated with A.R.E.
  • Solid rosewood back and sides give you beautifully detailed tone
  • It comes with Yamaha's SRT Zero Impact pickup

If you're a fan of Billy Corgan or just want a great-playing acoustic guitar, make sure you check this one out.

LJ16 ARE

This medium jumbo is especially stunning--the pale, naturally-finished Engelmann spruce top is complemented by the ebony fingerboard and bridge. Between the Acoustic Resonance treatment of the top and Yamaha's specially-designed bracing, the LJ16 is a guitar with impressive resonance and great tonal balance.

It has a solid rosewwod back and sides and a comfortable five-play mahogany and rosewood neck for great looks and outstanding playability. It also comes with the SRT Zero Impact pickup.This guitar doesn't only come in natural, though--you can find it in brown sunburst or the unique dark tinted finish, which is essentially a slightly darker stain. Here's how it compares to the rest in the series:

  • Medium-jumbo body balances big sound with great playability
  • Ebony fingerboard and bridge give it a classic and high-end look
  • SRT Zero Impact pickup makes it a great option for performers
  • Comfortable neck profile will appeal to many guitarists

If you like medium jumbos and want one with timeless looks and great playability, check this one out!

LJ6 ARE

While this is the least expensive guitar in the LJ Series, it still has plenty of features that are almost never found on guitars at this price point. Its solid Engelmann Spruce top is treated with A.R.E., and it also has Yamaha's redesigned bracing and their renowned SRT Zero Impact pickup. The primary difference between this guitar and more expensive ones is the fact that its rosewood back and sides are laminated, not solid. Here's how it compares:

  • Modified bracing gives you a loud, powerful sound perfect for some genres
  • Included electronics make it an economical choice for a gigging guitar
  • It comes in natural, brown sunburst, or dark tinted finishes
  • Laminated rosewood back and sides don't have the same sound as solid rosewood

If you're a fan of the series but don't have enough cash to get one of the higher-end models, the LJ6 might just be the right choice for you.

Final Thoughts

This luxury-focused series is a great one for players who want to focus on guitars that look as great as they sound. We think you can't really go wrong with any model in the series. Did you enjoy our list? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don't forget to share if you found it helpful!                          

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