Price paid: $ 298
Purchased from: Best Buy
Sound — 9
This suits my musical style very well. The larger lower bout dimension gives this a little fuller sound on the bottom end than a standard dread, a necessity for a 12-string given the over-emphasis on the treble end with the extra strings. The nato wood in the back and sides also help to give the sound some warmth and balance. I find the sound of this guitar to be very pleasing: warm and full, not tinny like some lower-priced 12-strings tend to be.
Overall Impression — 10
I've been playing guitar for over 40 years now. I've been playing 12-string off and on for over 35 years. This will be used as backup for my Breedlove (a 6-string). I've owned several 12-strings over the years, from Ovations, to a Fender CD160S-12, to a Dean. My first 12-string was a Conn copy of a cross between a Martin D-35 and a D-41. So I compared this primarily to what I had owned before. But I also compared it to a Samick, an Epiphone, and an Alvarez. This won hands down especially since it evoked the sounds I was getting from the Conn I played in college all those years ago. If this was lost or stolen (God forbid!), I wouldn't even hesitate before replacing it with another Yamaha 12-string.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I purchased this for a "beater" to take on picnics and outings so I would not have to get out my Breedlove. The tuners seem to be well-made: Grovers, Gotohs, or clones of such. The strap button is well made. The construction of the guitar is such that I believe if I needed this for a gigging guitar with no backup, it would suffice.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Since I purchased this at a box store, I am assuming the only set up was done at the factory. Yamaha did a great job setting this up. The action was very easy all the way up the fretboard. I checked the insides with a dental mirror (every guitar player should take one with them when they go shopping for an acoustic). I found no misaligned bracing or evidence of loose joins on the inside. The kerfing was even and no signs of sloppy gluing. The fit of the saddle in its slot was perfect. The frets were filed perfectly, no overhang or burrs.
Features — 7
Made in 2010 in China. 20 Frets (14 clear of body) Solid Spruce top, laminated nato (eastern mahogany) back and sides, nato neck, rosewood fingerboard, bridge, and headstock overlay. The finish is gloss on back, top and sides, satin on the neck. Although classified as a dreadnought body style, it is actually more of a mini-jumbo since the lower bout is about 1/2-inch wider than the "standard" dreadnought size. The neck, while wider than a 6-string, is not so wide and clubby as to feel awkward to play. The only reason I am rating this in a high end of the average range is because it has no special features or cosmetics that make it stand out in terms of appearance. In all other attributes: sound, quality of construction, this is an outstanding guitar in its price range.