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.
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.
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:
If you want a high-quality jumbo that outclasses many others, make sure you check this one out!
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
If you want a custom, all-solid guitar and have a little extra money to spend, make sure you check this one out.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
If you're a fan of Billy Corgan or just want a great-playing acoustic guitar, make sure you check this one out.
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:
If you like medium jumbos and want one with timeless looks and great playability, check this one out!
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:
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.
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!