Yamaha FG800 Guitar Review: Acoustics Under $300 Reviews

Published Categorized as Beginner Guitars Under 300, Dreadnought Reviews, Guitar Reviews under 300, Laminate Back and Sides Wood, Nato 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 FG800 review.

This review will take a look at Yamaha’s FG800 guitar in terms of:

  • Tone
  • Playability
  • Materials the FG800 is made from
  • Who the FG800 is best suited to
  • The FG800’s value-for-money

I’ll also include videos of the FG800 in action so you can get a taste of the sound for yourself and some user reviews to give you more opinions other than just my own.

Table of Contents

YAMAHA FG800 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar,Natural,Guitar Only

The Tone


Let’s start the Yamaha FG800 review with going through the tone.

Even Yamaha’s lower priced guitars tend to have reasonable tone – and the FG800 is no exception. It has Yamaha’s typical nice even tone. It’s nothing exciting or unique but it’s solid and balanced.

This is what makes Yamaha one of the best low end guitar producers around. Though I do have some issues with their playability (more on that below) they typically produce really decent tone.

The FG800 is a dreadnought so you expect a full, boomy kind of sound. But it’s even fuller and louder than you’d expect from your average dreadnought – something else that Yamaha’s are good at.

it’s quite a bright tone I’d say a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being super warm and 10 being super bright. But everyone’s ear is different.

The Materials

Top: Solid Sitka Spruce

Back & Sides: Laminate Nato

Bracing: Scalloped

Bridge: Rosewood

Saddle: Urea (plastic)

Nut: Urea (plastic)

Great to see a solid top on a guitar this price – and this is one of the reasons why Yamaha manage such good tone at this price.

They could achieve even better tone, in my opinion, if they used something better than plastic for the saddle and nut. But this is something that you can replace.

The guitar has an attractive tortoiseshell pickguard that looks pleasing for many guitar players.

Electronics

This guitar does not have electronics – it is a straight acoustic guitar.

Videos

Check out the video below to learn more and to hear the FG800 in action.

Also check out this video for more on the FG800 and other guitars in the new 800 series.


Playability


My biggest complaint with Yamahas is that they tend to have a very high action. Some people prefer a higher action so this is partially personal preference but I definitely prefer a lower action.

The FG800 does suffer from this high action so if you prefer it low you will want to get it adjusted.

Otherwise the playability of this guitar is pretty good, and this guitar is actually one of the best acoustic guitars for beginners.

Action

Like I said above too high for my tastes. This is something that can be adjusted. If you like this guitar (and it’s price!) but you want a lower action it’s worth spending a little bit to get it set up lower – or if you know how to lower it yourself.

Nut Width

The width at the nut on the FG800 is 43mm (1 11/16″). This is a narrower width than the traditional width but it’s fast becoming the standard width on acoustic guitars.

The slightly narrower width makes it easier to play physically as you don’t have to get your hand around as much. It can also make it slightly more difficult to play finger style but I found this guitar was fine for finger style.

Fretboard (Fingerboard)

The fingerboard is made from rosewood. This is by far and away the most common material for acoustic guitar fingerboards – but definitely not a bad thing.

Scale Length

The FG800 is a full size dreadnought with a full size 650mm (25 9/16″) scale length.

By all accounts the FG800 is an improvement on the FG700 and that gets amazing customer reviews.

YAMAHA FG800 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar,Natural,Guitar Only

Who this Guitar is Most Suited to


This guitar is suited to anyone who likes the sound of a sitka spruce top dreadnought and enjoy that size for playing. And of course anyone looking for great tone but don’t want to pay too much for it.

The tone of this guitar is well beyond its price – but it can be difficult to play if you prefer a lower action. So it’s also best for those that prefer a higher action or anyone who doesn’t mind having the set up tweaked. If you like a low action and want a guitar straight out of the box it may not be for you.

I would say it’s a good beginner guitar IF you lower the action. This guitar would be difficult to play physically and technically for a beginner guitarist. So I wouldn’t say no for beginners, I would say yes if you tweak the setup to have a lower action.

If you need something that has great volume without plugging in this is also a great option.


Value for Money


Definitely.

The tone is far beyond what you’d normally get with a guitar of this price. And you wouldn’t normally see a solid wood top for this price either.

If you feel you need to have the action lowered and you have to pay someone to do it then it adds to the cost – but it also improves the guitar in my opinion so still value-for-money for sure. And the adjustment shouldn’t cost that much – usually around $20 to $70. Or you can do it yourself if you know how.

The other thing I would change is that I would change the nut and saddle to something else like bone, Nubone, Graphtech, Corian or the likes. So again a little bit of extra cost but not too much and would turn this into a guitar that’s way above its price-tag.

More Info and Where to Buy

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

YAMAHA FG800 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar,Natural,Guitar Only
Buy on Amazon Primeeligible

Check out the links below if you are interested in learning more about the FG800 or if you’re looking for where you can buy it online.

Thanks for reading my Yamaha FG800 review. I hope this has helped you to learn more about Yamaha’s new FG800 acoustic guitar.

If you’re looking for other guitar options in the under $300 range check out my blog post.

I’ve also reviewed the Yamaha LL6 and the Yamaha FG700S if you wanna check those out!

Yamaha FG800 FAQs

Is Yamaha FG800 hard to play?

In general, the Yamaha FG800 is considered to be a guitar with good playability and ease of use, especially for beginners and intermediate players.

Is Yamaha FG800 high action?

Generally, the Yamaha FG800 is known to have a relatively comfortable and playable action.

Does the Yamaha FG800 have a solid top?

Yes, the Yamaha FG800 has a solid spruce top. The solid top is one of the notable features of the FG800 and contributes to its overall sound quality. The combination of a solid spruce top and laminate nato back and sides in the Yamaha FG800 contributes to its reputation as a solid entry-level acoustic guitar with a well-balanced sound and good value for its price range.

When did the Yamaha FG800 come out?

The Yamaha FG800 was released in 2016. It is part of Yamaha’s FG series, which has been a popular line of acoustic guitars since its introduction in the 1960s.

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 :-)

29 comments

  1. Looks like an awesome guitar for a great price. My dad was a huge yamaha fan and had an acoustic that he loved. It did have good volume and he would sometimes play on the beach and everyone could hear fine. Great guitar for sure! Sounds like doing the upgrades you recommend would make this an even better value.

    1. Hey Christina

      Yeah these are really good value for money. Yamaha has a knack for making decent quality guitars for a really reasonable price. Definitely a few minor upgrades like lowering the action and replacing the nut and saddle at the same time, can make a big difference to both tone and playability.

      Thanks for your input

    2. I just bought one yesterday. As soon as I got it home, I loosened the strings, took the saddle out and sanded it to about half of its original height. This made it extremely playable and did not affect the tone in any way. I have arthritis in my fingers but I find I can play this instrument for hours on end without the fingers getting tired.

    3. I have this guitar. But I have the fg800 vintage. Darker top. Changed the nut and saddle to bone and put in unslotted bridge pins. And lowered action. Upgrade was $105. Guitar plays and sounds fantastic. Loud and bright. A bit too bright so compensating with pick. Using D addario medium gauge J17 strings. May try snother string to cut down more of the brightness. Hoping with playing and age it will mellow out a bit and not be quite as bright.

  2. Hi, the nut of this guitar seems to be really narrow. I assume this is for modern music and not suitable for classical peaces. Another thing which I am curious about is, do people really buy guitars online? I know that I would like to try it and to feel how it sounds. I did not understand the meaning of the term ‘action’ you use in the text. English is nit my native. But thank you in any case, this is a very useful text.

    1. Hey Jovo

      This nut width is pretty standard. Most modern acoustic guitars have either 43mm (1 11/16?) or 44mm (1 3/4″). This is for steel string acoustic guitars. For classical (Nylon string) guitars the nut width is usually around 2″. So this guitar wouldn’t be the best for playing classical music – for that you would want a classical guitar.

      Yeah a lot of people buy guitars online. Some try out in store and then buy online (to find a cheaper price) and others just buy on reputation – reading reviews etc. I have bought a couple of guitars online and was happy with my experience each time.

      Action basically refers to how high off the fingerboard the strings sit. An action that is too high can make a guitar difficult to play and can also cause intonation problems (when it’s really high) and an action that is too low – i.e. strings too close to the fingerboard – can cause fret buzz.

      Hope this answers all your questions – thanks for visiting.

    2. You can play classical stuff just fine, the string spacing is wide enough IMO. Obviously if you’re used to a classical neck it’s going to be a bit of a pain, but why get a steel-string then?

      And yeah trying it out first is ideal but not feasible for all of us. That said there shouldn’t be any problems less you get a lemon or something, in which case you just return it. If you order online remember to get it set up though (and that’s when it arrives – no point in getting it set up if it’s traveling half across the country, that’s going to throw the setup all outta whack).

    3. Action refers to the distance between the strings and the fretboard The lower the ‘action” the closer the strings are to the fretboard…

  3. Have you ever heard of or tried anything by Teton guitars?

    I’ve just started looking into them and they sound interesting. Hoping to try one in a store soon.

    1. Hey Schieftain

      To be honest I’ve never heard of Teton guitars so unfortunately I can’t offer any info on them. Let me know what you think once you’ve tried one.

  4. Second question: What would you suggest to lower the action on a Yamaha 800 series? Shaving the saddle? Adjusting neck tension?

    1. Hey

      It depends on how where you need the action lowered. I didn’t do any specific measurements with the FG800 – it just felt high to me. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then I would definitely suggest paying someone to do it for you. But if you want to learn more about it check out the link below.

      >>How to Lower the Action on an Acoustic Guitar

      Hope this helps

    1. Hi Jess

      Yamaha have discontinued the FS50BT strings so it’s likely that it will have the D’addario EXP11. The FG800 is a new model for Yamaha so it’s unlikely they would be using the discontinued FS50BTs. But that’s only a guess. They tend to use light gauge strings on all their guitars so they will likely be light gauge.

      To learn more about string gauges, if you’re not sure, check out the post at the link below.

      >>Best Acoustic Guitar Strings for Beginners

      Hope this helps.

  5. Bought my fg800 2nd week of jan. and have played it every day since. I love the tone and especially the volume. I understand action as I have a epiphone hummingbird with low action and this is the polar opposite. I left it alone because I get fret buzz from the low action and not at all with this guitar. My only complaint is I have to tune it about once a week. The hummingbird stays in tune forever it seems.

    1. Hey Tom

      Thanks for your message. Always great to hear what others think of the guitars I review here. The FG800 has got remarkably good tone especially for the price. Yeah fret buzz can be the price you pay if you go too low. If you enjoy playing it and the action doesn’t hinder your playing, then no reason to mess with it, IMO.

    1. Hi Steve

      I’m not entirely sure of this. From what I can tell the string spacing at the bridge is 2 3/5″ (based on specs I found here – http://ca.yamaha.com/en/products/musical-instruments/guitars-basses/ac-guitars/fg_fs/fg800m_nt/?mode=model – which gives string spacing at the bridge as 11mm – which equals 0.433″ which I then multiplied by 6 to get 2 3/5″). This is only an estimate and not an official string spacing. Though the string spacing on the FG800 is supposed to be wider than it was on the FG700 that it replaced so it makes sense since that had string spacing at the bridge of 2 1/8″.

      As far as string spacing at the nut, I’m not sure. I couldn’t find that information. It’s a pain that guitar manufacturers don’t post complete spec sheets.

      I know this doesn’t answer your question but if anyone else knows the answer to these feel free to chime in – I am also interested to know the answer.

          1. Hi Stan

            Thanks for that.

            I think that you would still need to do work to fit that saddle into the FG800 – they try to make their saddles a little longer and wider than you would typically need so that you can grind it down until it fits sungly into your saddle. But this is probably the best way to go about it if you are to change your saddle – because you don’t want to get something too small.

            Just be careful that when your sanding the length and width back to make it fit that you don’t make the bottom of the saddle uneven – you want to keep the bottom of the saddle completely level.

  6. thanks Nate for trying, if someone has a new fg800 and would measure from e to e at the nut it would be a help, I’m hoping it’s 1 1/2” .

    1. Hi Steve

      Apparently the spacing on the FG800 is 36mm (1.42″) and the FG700 had a spacing of 35mm (1.38″). So it’s 1mm (0.04″) wider. So it’s wider but only by a small amount.

  7. Thanks for the review. For the money (under $300), what guitar do you recommend for a beginner? I want a guitar I can learn with and also continue playing as an experienced player. I don’t want to replace my guitar in a year because I outgrew it. I’ve always had good luck with Yamaha instruments, but I’m open to suggestions. Thank you.

    1. Hi Joel

      For the under 300 range, I do think that this is the guitar to go for and will be something that you can still enjoy as an experienced player – it is my #1 under $300 guitar as you can see at the link below.

      And it’s a good bit under $300 too, even though the MSRP is $325, you can usually pick one up for closer to $200. Of course if you want it in the electronic/cutaway model (which is called the FGX800C), then you will pay closer to $300 but that’s still a great deal.

      Yamaha APX500III (as you’ll see is also in that list) is another great option if you wanted to stick with Yamaha – they are, IMO, the best in terms of quality vs price. They don’t, IMO, make the best high end guitars – but the quality you get in this kind of price range is better than other brands.

      If you are looking for one with electronics, then the Fender T Bucker 300CE is a great option for the price.

      Hope this helps

  8. I agree with all of your comments and I cannot say enough good about low priced Yamaha guitars. I played a dreadnought with solid Sycamore back and sides sometime ago. I was amazed at the quality for the price. I believe I could’ve bought it for $300 and it literally compared to guitars costing at least three times as much. Keep up the good work!

  9. I have been playing and gigging for some 40years .. My fav instrument has always been my 1980 Yamaha CJ838S, Yamaha’s first solid top accoustic. Any Yamaha guitar is great value for money …… I was brought up with the various FG series – all highly rated from back in the 1970’s……. but the CJ838S is a class above – see the many web articles…. It was difficult affording it in 1980, but one of the best investments I ever made, musically or otherwise. Cite 1980 – cost GBP225 – 2018 – value GBP1200-1700 … a very sought after vintage guitar… If you are a beginner and can afford upwards of GBP150, Yamaha would be my first choice… After many years I recently revisited my ‘classic ‘ years and bought a Yamaha C40 electo-accoustic classical guitar…. for GBP145 it was great value and tone for a not too serious classical guitarist who might prefer its wider fretboard for general finger-picking….. that’s my advice – hope it helps

  10. Hi Joel!

    I’m thinking of buying a Yamaha FG830. I’ve already read your review for the FG and thanks a lot for it! Can you tell me your opinion about it and what other guitar would you recommend at the same price range?

    Thank in advance

  11. Old post but still relevant. I am a beginner (47 years old) and picked up a Yamaha FG800 as my first guitar. I had trouble playing a note let alone a chord without struggle. The action out of the box was 4.5mm. I agree with your review 100%. If you are a beginner and want this guitar, you’ll need it set up by a pro or, figure it out yourself. I added a bone bridge, plugs and Ernie Ball Earthwood 10-52 strings sand worked on the bridge to get the action to around 2.5mm on the low E and 2mm on the high E. I love this guitar. I love the tone, I love the action. It’s not a lightweight but I do not see that as a bad thing. It’ll stand up to some bumps and oopsies if you whack a chair, drag it along to camp or even if you’re St. Bernard decides to jump on you while practicing.

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