Price paid: £ 700
Purchased from: Kenny's Music
Features — 10
The guitar is made in China. It is a dreadnought with a cutaway body. It has a solid sitka spruce top, solid rosewood back and sides. It has a mahogany neck and an ebony finger board bound with rosewood. 20 frets. 650mm scale length, 43mm nut. Yamaha tuners. Yamaha System 63 SRT pre amp with: volume control, 3 band equaliser, built in tuner, mic modelling, resonance control and feedback control. Yamaha SRT Saddle/Piezo pickup. The guitar was supplied with a good quality hard case. Overall, the specifications are excellent for the money!
Sound — 5
I'm a long time "guitar dabbler" but play more on other fretted strings, e.g. mandolin. I mostly play folk.
Acoustically, I find this guitar a great disappointment. I have experimented with different strings (currently settled on D'Addario PB light gauge) but I find the instrument too bright and harsh on the higher strings. I also think it is a bit lacking in volume for a dreadnought. It has opened out and mellowed a little in the 9 months I've owned it but I don't imagine it developing into a guitar I really like. As it stands my very cheap concert sized Jay Turser outperforms the Yamaha (to my taste) tonally and is at least its equal on volume.
Plugged in: this is a very occasional secondary requirement for me. The electronics seem excellent but, despite all the adjustments available "on board," I don't seem able to get to a sound I like using this alone.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
It needed a slight truss rod adjustment to add a bit of relief to the neck and cure buzz when I received it but there were no other problems.
The guitar (mine is the "natural" model, it is also available in "sunburst" and "translucent black") is "understated" rather than being "ornate" but it looks attractive. The build quality is excellent. The instrument feels comfortable and plays well. I can't fault it in this department and I won't count the initial need for a minor adjustment against it in my rating.
Reliability & Durability — 10
As I spend more of my available music time on paying other instruments and only going out say once a week, its durability is unlikely to get tested that far by me. That said, the construction is solid and everything about it is well made. The instrument is stable and stays in tune well.
While I just play outside in informal events, I see no reason to believe that this instrument would not make a reliable workhorse for a working musician and I think this instrument would stand up to years of heavy use.
Overall Impression — 7
It's difficult for me to get to a music shop in the city to try an instrument and my purchase was based purely on reading reviews. I have been happy with a couple of other "unseen" musical instrument purchases but this is a case where I'm sure I would have bought something else had I tried one before buying.
It seems clear that the A3R is a winner for some folk but it hasn't worked out for me purey as I don't get on with it's sound. I'll keep it (probably until one day I finally get round to having my Fylde properly restored) but for my own tastes in tone and requirements of having something that can plug in but primarily for use in small informal acoustic folk sing arounds and mixed tune/song sessions mostly strumming chords but occasionally flat picking a folk dance melody line, this guitar simply isn't a good match for me.