Price paid: C$ 200
Purchased from: Dave's Drum Shop, Ottawa ON
Sound — 8
It has a very deep, very mellow, "sweet" tone. Full and resonant bass but somewhat muffled treble. On the whole, a pleasing tone, although not very well balanced. Good for rhythm playing and accompanying a group of singers, though I've also used it for finger-style and classical. As I say, the sound you most likely grew up with. I bought this guitar after comparing several other, brand new guitars (some of which solid tops) and this one jumped out at me as being superior in sound despite being half the price of the new guitars.
Overall Impression — 8
I bought this guitar because I had recently broken my old one and was in the market for a steel-string acoustic. I tried a number of different models, but both to my ears and fingers, this guitar was far superior to all the others I tried - even the ones with solid tops. I especially like the meaty neck, which is very friendly to people with average to large size and reasonably flexible hands. I recently installed a piezo-electric pick-up in it which sounds very nice, though I have yet to go gigging with it (I usually reserve the electric for that honour). Since I recently bought two other guitars that I like just as well, this guitar is currently for sale. Anyone want to buy it?
Reliability & Durability — 8
As many others have pointed out, the guitar is a tank. Mine has obviously been bandied about quite a bit, but has only minor cosmetic damage - a couple of nicks in the finish and that's it. The tuners were badly damaged when I got it and I didn't notice until I changed the strings. Mostly this is because the previous owner never checked the screws for tightness, but on the other hand the stock Yamaha tuners were pretty cheap so I'm glad I changed them. Part of this durability is no doubt in the use of laminate woods - especially laminates that are also quarter-sawn. This is the perfect guitar for hauling around - to your friends place, on summer vacation, to the camp-ground etc. It's made it this far, hopefully it should keep on trucking for another thirty years or so!
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Considering that the guitar is over thirty years old, I'm not sure one can expect too much. I've had to replace the tuners and the bridge and shim the nut. I also installed a spacer in the truss-rod so that it doesn't bottom out. No problems with high frets or any other problem that couldn't be fixed with standard adjustments. Yamaha has a well-deserved reputation for producing durable, well-made guitars. Top and back are very nicely book-matched, despite the fact that both are laminates. Kind of makes you wonder - must be at least as much work to make quarter-sawn laminates as to have solid quarter-sawn wood. But perhaps that's part of Yamaha's secret to quality.
Features — 8
Mine is left-handed. Dreadnought body-style, spruce top, mahogany neck, back and sides. Rosewood fingerboard, saddle looks like ebony, but may be painted rosewood. High-gloss finish and the neck and back are stained a deep chocolate brown. The top has also yellowed to quite a dark colour. While the construction is all-laminate, the guitar nonetheless has the appearance of being all solid as both the top and back are perfectly book-matched. Classic Yamaha guitar from the early '80s - the sound that most of us grew up with. If a group of people got together to sing and play music and one of them had a guitar, it was probably a Yamaha.