The Yamaha LS16 ARE Review – Affordable Solid Wood Guitar for Fingerstyle Players

Yamaha guitars are great, not only because it is affordable, but also of the quality it can deliver at low price point. It is highly sought brand especially by those who are just starting out since their entry level guitars are very popular.

And in terms of mid-range to high-end guitars ($500 and up), they can hold their ground and can compete head-on to some top guitar makers out there. Because of their decades-worth of knowledge in guitar making, they have innovated their technique and applied it in their guitars and the results are remarkable.

One guitar series they relaunched is the L Series. They released their improved guitars last 2014 in which they applied some of their new technology that are not existing way back before. One of the guitars in that series is the Yamaha LS16 and that is what we are going to take a look now.


My Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Place to Buy: Amazon


  • Concert-Sized guitar which is good for fingerstyle
  • Punchy mids and bright tones
  • Relaunched last 2014 and made various improvements such as Yamaha A.R.E, 5-piece neck, and Zero Impact pickup
  • Features Engelmann Solid Spruce Top and Solid Rosewood Back and Sides
  • Modified non-scallopped bracing that enhances the low end tones


  • No preamp included means you have to use DI box or outboard preamp to achieve good amplified sound
  • Plastic Nut and Saddle

Yamaha LS16 Key Improvements

Like I said above, Yamaha L Series was relaunched at the beginning of 2014 and they have made some improvements in all of the guitars in this series. I will discuss how these improvements elevated the quality of the Yamaha LS16.

1. Yamaha ARE (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement)

As we all know, solid wood guitars tend to sound better as it age. More resonant, richer in tones, and louder because the structure of the wood has been change through time. Yamaha ARE Technology is scientifically replicating the effects of an aged wood in a brand new wood.

By altering the molecular structure of the wood, Yamaha has successfully pre-aged a new wood, making it like it has been played for a lot of decades. Because of this, Yamaha LS16 is more resonant, richer in tones, and louder compared to its predecessor. You can get a vintage tone right out of the box.

2. 5-ply neck

The neck of Yamaha LS16 is now using 5-ply which is 3-ply before. This means that the neck is now more rigid and it can avoid twisting and warping much better. Soundwise, it stays in tune much better than before and it has improved the overall resonance of the guitar.

3. Yamaha SRT Zero Impact Pickup

Before the relaunched, Yamaha LS16 is just a pure acoustic guitar. But because of the demand of Acoustic-Electric today, they have put a pickup in it on the relaunched. As the name suggests, Zero Impact means it has no impact on the guitar tone unlike to some that cut a part in acoustic guitar wood to put a bulky control panel.

Since Yamaha doesn’t want to compromise the structural integrity, they used the Zero Impact pickup with no controls included. You can just plug it in right away and amplify the sound. More to this below.

Let’s talk about the Body

Yamaha LS16 is a Concert-Sized guitar and it uses Engelmann Solid Spruce Top and Solid Rosewood on its back and sides. The Concert Body Size is best when used for fingerstyle rather than strumming it. You can expect that the tone is bright because of the small body and also because of the Rosewood.

When it comes to Low end tones, it is not that much but it is enhanced because of the modified non-scalloped bracing that was used in this guitar. Combine this with the Yamaha ARE, this guitar is much livelier and richer in tones. The character of the tones are expressed beautifully.

It is highly recommended for fingerstyle players since Yamaha LS16 is designed for those kind of players. You can still use it for flatpicking or strumming but you will find it lacking compared to a Dreadnought guitar.

The pickup is okay

Yamaha did not put any preamp in this guitar to avoid compromising the structural integrity of the acoustic guitar. However, the downside of it is that you can’t shape the tone right away. In my opinion, it sounds boxy and tinny and while it might work in some situation, I still want to be able to shape the tone to my liking.

This is Yamaha LS16 Acoustic Guitar in Natural Finish
Yamaha LS16 Acoustic Guitar

It is suggested that you use a DI Box or an outboard preamp to further shape your tone to your liking. The pickup is decent and I will not say that it is really bad, but I do hope that it was better. I understand that Yamaha has cut some corners to bring down the cost.

Unplugged Sound is Perfect

Unplugged sound is a killer. Slightly bright tones is perfect for the Fingerstyle and you can hear every tones with clarity. The character of each tone is very clear especially when you use it in recordings. The volume is not too loud because it has a small body and it can be either a good or bad thing depending on the situation.

The nut width is 1-3/4″ which is wide enough for fingerpicking. Spacing is enough and you can easily play without touching other strings unnecessarily.

Nut and Saddle is a Downer

Some people are not happy because Yamaha has used a Plastic Nut and Saddle in an all solid wood guitar. This is such downer since plastic materials is probably the worst material you can use. This is something you might want to upgrade first if you have decided to purchase this guitar. I would suggest to use a Bone material or synthetic material like Tusq to have better tone and sustain.

Yamaha LS16 vs Other guitar in the Series

Here are some comparison that you might want to know since most of the guitars below have the same quality as the Yamaha LS16.

1. Yamaha LS16 vs Yamaha LS16M

The only difference between the two is that the LS16M is using a Solid Mahogany on back and sides instead of rosewood. Nothing is better than the two since they serve different purposes. But if you want to know, let me help you with that.

This is the Yamaha LS16M Acoustic Guitar in Natural Finish
Yamaha LS16M Acoustic Guitar

Rosewood tends to have well-balanced tone from low to high, crispier highs and deep low end tones. Mahogany has focus mid range tone which result to beefy mid range and Warm tones. It all depends on what you prefer since we all have different perception. Again, nothing is better than the two.

2. Yamaha LS16 vs Yamaha LS6

Yamaha LS6 is a Solid top + Laminated back and sides while the Yamaha LS16 is an all solid wood guitar. Overall, solid wood is still much better in every aspect. It is richer, louder, and more resonant than the laminate wood.

However, pricewise, LS6 is cheaper and if you are really tight in budget right now and you need a guitar right away, it can be a great alternative. However, if you can still wait and save some more money, then go for the Yamaha LS16.

Should you buy it?

Well, if you rely on fingerstyle more often, then this guitar is a Premium. At an affordable price, given that it is a Solid wood guitar, it is a good bargain. There will be just some drawbacks since the nut and saddle are both plastic and the pickup is not really the best.

But if that is all right with you, then you won’t regret Yamaha LS16. After all, every guitar has their own drawbacks and the good thing is, the cons of this guitar can be upgraded. I recommend this guitar if you are looking for an upgrade.

Final Thoughts

Yamaha LS16 is a great guitar even if it has some drawbacks. It has to be done to bring down the cost and make it affordable for all of us. Most of its aspect is of high quality and it can be a best friend of every fingerstyle players out there. So if you are looking for a good upgrade, this is a good bargain.

If you have any question about this guitar, feel free to leave one in the comment box.

>>Check out Yamaha LS16 in Amazon<<

The Yamaha LS16 ARE Review - Affordable Solid Wood Guitar for Fingerstyle Players

Yamaha LS16 is a great fingerstyle guitar and its sound can be considered top notch. Very affordable yet it is not subpar on those high end guitars

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