Yamaha A1M Guitar Review: Acoustics Under $1000 Review Series

Published Categorized as Dreadnought Reviews, Guitar Reviews, Guitar Reviews Under $1000, Laminate Back and Sides Wood, Mahogany Patterned Laminate Back and Sides, Sitka Spruce Top Wood, Solid Wood Top Wood, Yamaha Acoustic Guitars

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Hello and welcome to my Yamaha A1M guitar review, the latest in a series of acoustics costing less than 1,000.

In this review I will cover the A1M’s:

  • Sound qualities;
  • Playability; and
  • Value for money

The review will also include videos so that you can hear the guitar for yourself and links to user reviews from others that have played the guitar. My opinion is only one opinion so it’s a good idea to get a wide range of reviews to get a more accurate picture of what the guitar is like.

I will conclude by giving my opinion as to what type of guitarist this guitar is best suited to and how it compares to other guitars that I have reviewed in the same price range.

Right, let’s get straight into it!

Table of Contents

Yamaha 6 String Series A1M Acoustic-Electric Guitar-Mahogany, Vintage Natural, Dreadnought Cutaway VN

The A1M’s Tone

acoustic guitar's tonality

Firstly I will discuss the materials of this guitar and how they will affect the tone of the instrument and also give my opinion as to what I thought of its tone.

  • Body Type: The A1M is a dreadnought acoustic. This is the most common type of acoustic guitar shape and is known for a boomy sound with good volume and a bass driven sound. Unfortunately this guitar really didn’t really have that drive I would normally expect out of a dreadnought. It just felt there was something lacking or missing.
  • Top (soundboard): The A1M has a Solid Sitka Spruce top. This is the most popular choice for a top of an acoustic guitar – and for good reason, because it produces a great all round tone that picks up the tonal qualities across a broad tonal spectrum and expresses dynamics well.
  • Back & Sides: The back and sides are Mahogany laminate – though not solid wood, solid wood is not expected in this price range and if you are going to use laminate anywhere to save costs, the back and sides are the best place to do it (the top is more important tonally). In some ways I feel more comfortable seeing laminate back and sides in this price range. Solid back and sides on a $600 guitar makes me a bit nervous – where have they had to save costs in the production process to allow for solid back and sides!
  • Neck wood: The neck is made from Mahogany – no complaints there. This is the standard for acoustic guitar necks and for good reason. More on the neck in the playability section below.
  • Bridge wood: The bridge is a more important part of the guitar for sound than you might think. The vibrations from the strings need to be transferred through the bridge to reach the soundboard which then amplifies that sound. If the bridge wood is not suitable then a lot of energy can be lost in that transfer, affecting the quality and volume of tone. The A1M’s bridge is made from Ebony – this is a great material for bridges so this is a big tick.
  • Nut, saddle & Bridge Pins: I couldn’t for the life of me find out the materials used for the nut, saddle & bridge pins. I can never really tell from the naked eye. So if anyone knows the answer to this I’d love to know! (just leave a comment in the comments section below). Unfortunately I suspect that it may be plastic as the Yamaha LL6 that I also tried in the same session uses plastic and it’s in the same price range. Though this is something that can be upgraded it adds to the cost and the effort you need to put in.

Playability

My biggest complaint was that bending and vibrato wasn’t the easiest on this guitar – though that probably has more to do with the how the action was setup than the guitar itself.

  • Action: The action was set up a little high for my taste. Of course this is something that can be adjusted (by yourself if you know what you’re doing or by a trained professional) so this definitely shouldn’t be a deal breaker.
  • Neck: The neck width at the nut is 1 11/16 inches (1.69 inches, 43mm). This is really the standard on acoustic guitars these days – at least certainly on dreadnought shaped acoustics. In my opinion this is a really comfortable width but everyone has their own preference with this. Probably more suited to strumming than fingerpicking but still no problems finger picking with it. The curve on the neck is also relatively shallow which is something that has certainly grown on me and can make for a nice playing experience – but again everyone has their own preference on this.
  • Fretboard (fingerboard): The fretboard is made from Rosewood. Certainly no complaints with rosewood.

Other Features and Info

The A1M is part of Yamaha’s A series which also features a number of other models.

The M in the name stands for the Mahogany Laminate back and sides. If there is an R in the title it means the guitar has Rosewood back and sides and if it has a C in the title it means it’s in the concert size.

Namely the series includes:

  • AC6R
  • A6R
  • A3M
  • A3R
  • AC3M
  • A1M (this review)
  • A1R
  • AC1M
  • AC1R

Videos of the A1M

I found the tone of the A1M to be a tad too bright for my tastes but that’s a personal preference thing and may also be the way I play. This first video certainly highlights the brightness. Of course you never quite get the full appreciation of the sound from video but it’ll give you some idea.

This video starts with the guy playing the guitar plugged in and it sounds even brighter than what it really does in real life. Make sure to listen to him play when he plays it unplugged (around 2:40 into the video) to get a better idea of the sound.

Here’s another video, featuring an overview:

Who the A1M is Best For

The A1M is a pretty good all rounder for most players playing Rock, Pop, Blues, Country etc. It is of suitable quality to gig with and for recordings assuming it has the type of sound you are after.

If you have smaller hands this would also be a great guitar with that 43mm neck size and a fairly shallow curve in the neck.

It’s a dreadnought so it’s too big to be ideal for kids.

Value-for-Money

You get a solid sitka spruce top, ebony bridge and rosewood fretboard plus it is an electric acoustic so it’s all set up with SRT saddle pick up so it’s got some decent features for the price. I would say it is not a super bargain but it is definitely worth what you pay for it.

If you have no need for the pick-up then I would instead go for the Yamaha LL6 – it’s the same price – you don’t get the electronics but, in my opinion you get a better sound.

Compared to other Guitars in the Price Range

In the same session I also tried the Yamaha LL6 (as mentioned above) and the Martin GPCPA5K.

If you need electronics then the LL6 won’t have that but if you don’t then I just preferred the tone that came out of it over the A1M – the playability is probably a bit nicer on the A1M though, but not by much.

Sound and playability-wise I preferred the Martin over both of the Yamaha’s – this does come down to personal preference but for me the Martin was a pleasure to play and sounded awesome – particularly for the price.

You can check out my review of the Martin GPCPA5k here

Yamaha 6 String Series A1M Acoustic-Electric Guitar-Mahogany, Vintage Natural, Dreadnought Cutaway VN

More Info and Where to Buy

Disclosure: Links below are affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you.

If you are interested in learning more about the A1M or if you want to research prices and availability check out: Yamaha A1M at Amazon.com

If you want to check out some other options in a similar price range check out Six String Acoustic’s top 5 guitars under 1,000.

Over to You

I hope this review has given you a better understanding of the tonality and playability as well as value for money and player suitability for the A1M and I hope it has helped in your research for a new guitar.

If you have played or own this guitar it’d be awesome to hear your thoughts on it and as always any other questions or comments also very welcome.

FAQs

Are Yamaha acoustic guitars good for beginners?

Yes, Yamaha acoustic guitars are often recommended for beginners due to their quality and affordability.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

6 comments

  1. Can you tell me what strings come on this guitar? I just bought one and love the sound and want to make sure I get the same strings as replacements.

    1. Hey Michael

      Glad you are happy with your new guitar – nothing better than getting a new guitar!

      I’m pretty sure Yamaha’s typically come with their own factory strings which they get in in bulk and don’t think you can buy those particular strings. But they will be 80/20 Bronze strings and as far as I know all new Yamaha’s will have light gauge (.053 to .012) strings. If you want to get close to hwo they sound go for 80/20 bronze in a light gauge.

      But I also encourage you to experiment with strings – you might well find something you like even more – check out this post on choosing strings.

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