Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features — 10
A Yamaha FG800 is made in China. It has a solid sitka spruce top, which I don't think you can find on any other guitar that lists for $200. A Fender DG-8s, it's closest competition, has an Engelmann spruce top. I went to Guitar Center to get one of the last FG700s guitars, which they had on sale, but when I got there, they were all gone. I already had one, anyway, but they were selling them out at $159, an unbelievable deal for a guitar that good. Anyway, since I was there already, I tried out several of their other Yamahas. When I picked this one up, I played two chords on it, and felt the hairs raise on the back of my neck. I bought it immediately, and couldn't wait to get home to play it. It wasn't even a color I liked. But when I heard the first chord, I knew I had to have that one. Of all the guitars there, including the other 800s, this one stood out. Maybe because the setup on it was so good, I don't know. I have two FG700s, and one of them sounds better than the other, too.
Sound — 10
I've only recently started playing electric, but I've played acoustic for a few decades now, since the late seventies. I play a lot of different rock and folk. I'm not good enough to play jazz. But I'm playing a lot these days and getting better fast. My Yamahas have been a big part of the inspiration to play more. They sound better than my Art & Lutherie, which cost twice as much, and hold their own against my friend's Martin D-18 I think. The 800 is Yamaha's replacement for the 700s, with scalloped bracing, to give it a deeper bass. I don't think the highs are as good on the 800 though, whereas they sparkle on the 700s. I think it was a mistake for Yamaha to get rid of the 700s, the best selling acoustic of all time, they claim. They should have just offered the 800 as another choice. But I would hate to have to pick between them. I have to have both.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The setup on this guitar was perfect. There were no blemishes of any kind on it, amazing for having been out to play at Guitar Center. The action was perfect, everything. I would have preferred the lighter color, but this one sounded so awesome, I didn't care if it was purple. I don't know what the strings are, but I want to find out, so I can replace them with the same. You could put a better nut on this, as it comes with a cheap plastic one, but even though I have bone saddles and nuts, and ebony pegs, I haven't bothered to change anything, since it sounds great the way it is. I probably will try changing those things eventually, but for now, I don't want to risk it not sounding as good.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This is a very solidly built guitar, with hard laminate sides, and a solid top. The laminate will hold up better than solid wood, and you don't have to worry about too much or too little humidity on the laminate. The solid top is more fragile, though, and more effected by weather, so you should learn how to take care of a guitar with a solid top, kids! Everything on it seems like it should last if taken care of. I constantly bang my guitars against the kitchen table, wall, etc. because I sit at the end of the table where my computer is to practice. That way I can check out the latest tabs here on Ultimate Guitar. But I bang my Yamahas constantly, and have only a couple of minuscule dings to show for it. I think 2 of them are still like new. The varnish on them is pretty thick and hard.
Overall Impression — 10
I'll be the first to admit, I have heard better sounding guitars in my life. But not for anywhere close to $200. They were guitars in the $1,000 and up category. I'm sure there are guitars in the $300-$1,000 category that probably sound better. I just haven't heard them. I never go in the room where they keep the really expensive guitars at Guitar Center. And I haven't heard anything better in the main acoustic room. The only real competition I've heard there were more expensive Yamahas, and the Fender DG-8s, which is almost but not quite as good. I think that there probably isn't as good a deal in acoustic retail guitars. You can spend a grand on a Martin or Taylor and get a better sounding guitar, but it certainly won't sound 5 times better. If it was stolen, of course I'd get another. I own far too many other guitars to list here, but my favorite electric is my Schecter Diamond Series S-1+. I also love Les Pauls, but just have an Epi and a Oscar Schmidt copy. Just don't think the Gibson sounds 15 times as good as the others. I compared the 800 to pretty much everything in the $200 to $300 range at Guitar Center, and there was only one clear choice there. Admittedly, the setup on some of them was pretty bad, and they might have fared better if Guitar Center set them up. But I'm pretty sure the 800 would still have won. No, I don't wish it had a cutout and a pickup. My Takamine did, and I sold it. I never used the pickup, and I didn't think it sounded as good as the Yamahas.