Price paid: £ 650
Purchased from: Andertons
Sound — 9
This is without doubt the best sounding acoustic I have owned. It is quite a warm sound unplugged and I never tire of playing it. It has a real wow factor and all my friends tell me how great it sounds and plays. Plugged in the guitar enters another dimension. With the three mic settings that can be focus or wide, and then can be blended with the pickup and altered further with the eq and resonance knob, there really seems to be no end to the tones that can be achieved. In some ways there are almost too many! I have played this through several pa systems, an old keyboard amp (which I felt it sounded its best through!?) And a Marshall acoustic amp, and I still don't have any sort of default sound to use as a starting point. Many would see this as a good thing. My bandmates might disagree.
Overall Impression — 9
I have been playing for over 30 years and play anything from Paul Weller to Muse to name but a few. I'm not a big guy and I don't have big hands. The electric style neck on this suits me perfectly and I can't think of anything that might not sound good on this that would sound good on any other acoustic. I did a lot of research before buying this and it's main competitors were the Faith and the Taylor 214. For me this won out because the Taylor has laminate back and sides, and the Faith has the plastic looking finish and didn't sound as good. My other guitars are a Fender USA Strat, Squier Custom Tele, Yamaha Tele and modified Freshman 8 string acoustic. Amps: Marshall Master Sound 1980's, Vox 15w practise amp, Marshall Acoustic amp. Video from YouTube:
Reliability & Durability — 10
The finish if the guitar is immaculate. Lovely real wood bindings. Wood grain can be felt on the back of the neck. Mahogany has a deep, rich colour. Rosewood bridge and ebony fretboard match well with each other. There is a real sense that Yamaha wanted to leave the wood almost exposed on this model and it really works. The lacquer is on the guitar but it doesn't make it look laminated or too like plastic as some manufacturers do. This is my main guitar and I wouldn't hesitate to use it in any situation or at any gig. In fact, when it's in the Hiscox case I'd be pretty sure it would survive if I chucked it down the stairs!
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
I don't believe that many, if any, guitar shops set up their guitars much these days. Prices are similar or in many cases cheaper than 10 years ago and that has put the emphasis on volume of sales and cut down the amount of time the retailer can allocate to any single instrument. I was the first to buy an AC3M from the shop and I got it straight from the box. The guy couldn't even find the case as they weren't stored together! The action was too high, too much relief in the neck, fretboard very dry, bridge too high... All the things I would expect with a new acoustic. I therefore gave the guitar a couple of months to play in and then had it set up by Joe White of J White Guitars. What I got back from him was the guitar I had always dreamt about and it would be hard to Imagine what there is out there that could sound or play any better than it does now. I am still trying out different strings to find the perfect ones for it as the Martin SP's I used on my old Yamaha were good, but not quite right. I've so far tried Olympia as recommended by Joe White, D'Addario and even Rotosound and I'm still searching. 7 out of 10 out of the box, 10 now of course!
Features — 10
Purchased October 2011. Made in China. Solid sitka spruce top. Mahogany back and sides. 20 medium frets. Small dot inlayed fret markers. Tortoise shell pickguard with design based on an old red label guitar from the 1970's. Yamaha SRT series preamp fitted. Small Concert size body with cutaway. Preamp has 3 band graphic, tuner, anti feedback and resonance controls. SRT feature offers 3 preset mic sounds that can be used as focused or wide and can be blended with the under saddle pickup for more variation. Came with a fantastic Hiscox solid case.