Price paid: A$ 900
Purchased from: www.musoscorner.com.au
Sound — 9
I mainly play rock, progressive-rock (I play a lot of Thrice), folk, blues etc. I mostly finger pick, or play barre chords with a pick. This guitar handles everything I've thrown at it very well. There's oodles of deep, rich lows; a lovely warm, punchy, defined middle; and a crisp top end that projects very well. I've only played with it plugged in a few times, so I can't really quantify how well all the fancy electronics work at the end of the day; my impressions so far are very good. Overall I would say it has a very full, balanced, and warm sound. There's ample detail but I can imagine you would get more fidelity out of something like a high-end Taylor or Martin. It came with very light strings that I immediately replaced with some light/medium (0.012-0.056) gauge elixirs, it would probably sound a little brighter with lower gauge strings. I'll probably put slightly higher gauge strings in next time I change them as I think this'll help clear things up a little... And my fingers are much stronger than they were when I first got it!
Overall Impression — 9
I've been playing guitar for roughly a year(so I can't play a huge variety of styles, or particularly well); but this guitar has proven very capable of encompassing everything within my ability. I really love this thing. To me it's like the Nissan GTR of guitars, it's an under-priced over-performer. It's very balanced and versatile. I've played so many of my friends guitars since (some Matons and Taylors that cost significantly more), and while they aren't without their merits - they can do some things better - they've never left me feeling jealous. If it were lost/stolen I'd go through the whole process of finding the right guitar again and I'm confident I'd come to the same conclusion; you can't get a more capable, all-round acoustic guitar for less than a grand.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I must've played my A3R at least 200+ hours since I've got it, and It's held up very well so far. There are a few tiny scratches in the finish on back from friends playing it while wearing belts, but that's hardly the guitar's fault. This is a solidly built guitar and although I intend to look after it (as its sound improves with age), I think it's sturdy enough to withstand hard use. The ebony fret-board is a real boon here, it seems pretty much impervious to wear, which is more than I can say for my previous guitar which had a rosewood fret-board.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I was very impressed at the workmanship on this guitar. It's not an ornate work of art, but it's a very solid, well made, attractive guitar. The detailing is understated, but near flawless. At first I wasn't very taken by the pick-guard, which seemed a little out of place, but I've since warmed to it; it looks much better in real life than in photos and adds character. The action was set quite low, and I have noticed some very slight clanging of the lowest (tonally) strings when I'm strumming a low Chord VERY hard. I may get the action raised very slightly in future, but I may not. If you prefer a higher action, factor in the cost/effort of getting the action raised before buying one of these. The only things that weren't perfect about the factory setup (apart from the subjective action height) were things like the tuners being slightly uneven in terms of the amount of force needed to turn them - minor stuff that is easily remedied. Two things that may be an issue for some people are the sound-jack and general weight. If you're planning on playing this guitar with a strap, you may want to look elsewhere. It's heavy, and the audio-jack is integrated into the strap button on the rear of the guitar. Meaning you won't be able to install a custom strap lock.
Features — 10
I've had this guitar for about 5 months now; made in China, presumably in 2012. Features (taken from Yamaha.com and edited):