Yamaha is well-known for making high quality guitars at a cheap price and every guitar players benefit from this set-up. One of the guitar series they made that is very affordable is the A series. A Series is designed to be the ideal performance guitar so it means that it will be a great guitar onstage.
All guitar models can be group into two categories: Mahogany and Rosewood. While it will be up to you to decide which is better, today, we will take a look to a solid wood guitar with Mahogany back and sides. This is the review of Yamaha A3M and let’s see if it can be considered a premium guitar at this price point.
My Rating: 4.7 out of 5
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- Yamaha A.R.E pre-ages the Solid top wood and you can get a decade worth of sound
- Sound quality is warm and focused mid ranged with a quick response thanks to the combination of Solid Sitka Spruce top and Solid Mahogany back and sides
- Uses Urea nut and Saddle which are less things to upgrade
- Uses both piezo pickup and microphone that achieves studio sound onstage
- No notable cons except for the less decorations
Ideal Performance Guitar: Yamaha A3M
Yamaha A3M, in my opinion, is a Premium guitar that has a really low price. You can get it at less than $800 and you’ll have a great guitar for your gigs and performances. Yamaha A3M is an all solid wood guitar and this is one of the reason why this guitar is a real deal.
Yamaha A3M features a Solid Sitka Spruce top and Solid Mahogany back and sides. Sound quality is warm and focused mid range with a quick response and thanks to the Yamaha ARE Technology (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement – more to this below), the sound is very rich and it will be more powerful and have more clarity as it age. Unplugged or plugged, this guitar is a beast.
It also uses Urea nut and saddle which is not the best out there but not the worst either. It is much better than plastic which is typical in entry-level guitars but you can always get the best sound, in my opinion, when you use the bone material. But the Urea is decent and it’s up to you if you want to upgrade it.
Yamaha ARE Technology – Is this really a game changer?
We all know that solid woods tend to sound better as it age. And you can definitely see it here in this video, the difference of an old solid wood guitar vs a brand new solid wood guitar. The Resonance is very different and the volume is louder even if your strum is weak.
But do we really have to wait for a lot of decades before we can achieve that vintage sound? Yamaha did his researched and tried to achieve a vintage sound in a brand new tonewood, and guess what, Yamaha was able to achieve vintage sound even if you have a brand new guitar and that is the Yamaha ARE Technology (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement)
This technology is applied to Yamaha A3M and this means that even if you have a brand new guitar, you can expect a vintage sound right out of the box. There are same techniques that are used by some guitar makers which they subject the wood from heat or they “cook” the wood to open it up to have a better Resonance. But one thing I like in Yamaha is they apply it at guitars that are not even on the high-end level.
Studio sound onstage – is it really possible?
Yes it is possible thanks to Yamaha SRT2 System which is installed in Yamaha A3M. It uses both piezo and microphone to pick up sound and the amplified sound is superb. Yamaha did not install a big control panel but only 4 dials that are unobtrusive. This is a good call for me since not a lot of wood was cut unlike the guitars with big control panels.
The 4 dials are the volume control, treble and bass control, and blend control. The bass control dial (left dial) can be pushed to activate the AFR (Automatic Feedback Reduction) that, as the name suggests, reduces feedback. The blend control (bottom dial) can control whether you want the piezo pickup or the microphone to pick up the sound.
The blend control can also be pushed in order to choose what type of microphone you want to use. The microphones were modeled after Neumann KM56 Small Diapraghm condenser mic and Royer R122 Active ribbon mic. I am amazed by the electronics of Yamaha A3M and you can get the studio sound we all want even if we are onstage.
How about the Unplugged sound?
The amplified sound is great and I can’t stress it enough since the electronics system is superb. On the other side of the coin, the Unplugged sound is also great. Warm and lots of clarity. It also resonates well thanks to ARE Technology and can drive a song with power. Fingerpicking or Flat picking, it sounds great but it sounds better when strummed with power.
It is loud enough to be heard in a small room and it will sound louder and better as it age. So if you love its sound brand new, you’ll definitely come to love it better as the years come by.
Yamaha A3M is not eye-catching
Aesthetically, (except the pick guard) Yamaha A3M is not the best. It has less decorations and simple but this doesn’t mean it’s bad. Some people like simple and classic design but if you look closely to this guitar, you can definitely see the excellent workmanship of Yamaha with no uneven surface and a detailed pattern on the rosette.
Yamaha A3M vs A3R
If you have researched for a lot of guitars, I am sure that you encountered the Rosewood version of this guitar. M stands for Mahogany and R for Rosewood and you might be having a hard time deciding which is better. Both have almost the same specifications except the woods but the sound is different. Nothing is better, it will be up to your needs
The Rosewood model has well-balanced tone from low to high and the Mahogany model has focus mid-range. Even so, the Rosewood for me sounds a little darker and I am not a fan of that so I am more inclined with the Mahogany model since it’s a little brighter for me and definitely suits my needs. Here’s a video that compares both guitars.
Yamaha A Series Quick Guide
I know there’s a lot of models included in the A Series. Here’s a quick guide if you are wondering what’s the difference from each model:
A1 = Solid top + Laminated Back and Sides, made in China
A3 = All Solid wood, made in China
A5 = All Solid wood, made in Japan
R stands for Rosewood, M stands for Mahogany
C stands for Concert-Sized guitar and it is for fingerstyle players, while the Dreadnought guitars like the Yamaha A3M is best for aggressive strummer. No codename for Dreads if you’re asking.
Should you buy it?
I recommend it if you want an upgrade but lacks a bit in cash. I can’t say that this is better than those priced higher but Yamaha A3M is not really subpar when it comes in quality. Its sound is great and perfect for performance since the electronic system is fantastic. For playstyle, this can work in any but works best for strumming.
If you are a fingerstyle player, then you should not buy this but try the Concert-Sized version of this guitar and you’ll definitely be in awe. Same quality and same wood, just different body size.
Yamaha A3M is a great guitar. It can be even considered a Premium guitar at a very low price. Having an overall high quality, the electronics is superb, you can’t go wrong in having this guitar. This is a good buy for those who are playing onstage. But if you are not in need of the pickup system, then you might look for another so that you won’t waste your money from qualities you won’t need. Take a look at my list here that are on par with Yamaha A3M
If you have any question, feel free to ask and leave it in the comment box.
The Yamaha A3M A Series Review - A Premium Guitar We All Deserve
Yamaha A3M is ideal for onstage performances and its sound is great in both plugged and unplugged. Try this premium guitar which is also very affordable