Yamaha has new models of acoustic and electric guitars that are Made in Japan. Is it time to buy one? Let’s explore.
Yamaha is known as a leader in affordable quality instruments. But they sometimes release guitars that are made in Japan with a higher level of quality assurance and higher-end components. Yamaha’s team offered me two of these high-end ‘Made In Japan’ guitar models to review: the FG9R (‘R’ for rosewood, also available in mahogany), and the Revstar RSP02T (the P90 model). Both guitars provided for this review had to be sent back to Yamaha.
- The acoustic guitar is selling for $4,100, which puts it in the higher-end price range of acoustic guitars. Does it hold up to competitors in that class? The answer is yes.
- The Revstar is currently available for a little over $2,000 on Sweetwater. While that is still in a premium pricing category, it’s more affordable than most Gibson models in its class. Should you buy this guitar? I don’t think it would be a bad purchase, but I’m less enthusiastic about suggesting it.
Both models come with premium hard cases. They are brown leather (or faux leather), similar in style to the cases that Gibson sells with their premium guitars (electric and acoustic).
The FG9R is a surprisingly loud guitar with a deep, punchy, and bassy sound. The powerful and booming low-end reminded me of a Martin D-28, but it has noticeably more punch and note clarity than the softer tones of the D28. Another punchy guitar tonally to compare the FG9R would be a Taylor acoustic but in a reverse way. The FG9R has clarity and power like a Taylor. The high notes are also pronounced, but the mid-range is underwhelming whereas that is where a Taylor can often thrive. The mahogany model may be more pronounced in the midrange if it’s anything like the Gibson Hummingbird (which is also mahogany). But, I overall like the FG9R and I think that anyone who buys it will be happy with it.
The only big downside of the FG9R is that the tones clash with one another. Your mileage may vary. I can be heavy-handed when I play certain chord progressions. But if you’re not strumming hard, I don’t think you will ever experience this.
Some people may be reluctant to spend this amount on a Yamaha, and they have a reason to feel this way. For a long time, Yamaha has been seen as an affordable option with lower quality. This provides a hidden advantage: touring artists can bring a nice guitar on the road without it being a big target for thieves.
Both models feel worth their price tag, but it is easier to recommend the acoustic. The FG9R’s tone seems more unique to me compared to the Revstar. The Revstar, while sounding and feeling great, is still just a well-made electric guitar with P90s and could be more easily replicated by a more affordable model.