Yamaha FG820 Guitar Review 2019 – is the Yamaha FG820 acoustic guitar worth the money? Review of features, pricing, design, sound and more.
- Newly developed scalloped bracing
- Traditional western body
- Solid Spruce Top
- Warm, strong sound!
- Mahogany Back and Sides
- Solid Sitka Spruce Top
- Mahogany Back & Sides
- Rosewood Fingerboard
- Rosewood Bridge
- Diecast Tuners
If you’ve been reading our guitar reviews for some time, you’ll know that we always highly rate Yamaha FG acoustic guitars and for good reasons, too. The overall quality that Yamaha provides on their budget, entry-level guitars is incredibly good and deserves praise.
We’ve already done a review of FG700S and the FG700 line has been around for some time now and has already enjoyed huge popularity among the guitarists. The good news is, however, that Yamaha has upgraded this series to FG800 without any increase in the price of the models.
FG700s and FG800
Most features on this new range of models remain, however, much the same as you used to get with FG700 guitars. However, one significant change that has taken place is that the 800 models now come with an improved scalloped bracing pattern (a little different from traditional scalloped bracings) in place of the straight or non-scalloped X bracing that was used in pretty much all Yamaha FG models.
The new bracing pattern has resulted in a lighter top, so guitarists will be a bit more comfortable playing these dreadnoughts. More importantly, the change has yielded a better sound quality especially in regard to response in the mid range richer harmonic overtones and across the low end in general. If this sounds too technical for you, we may simply say that the new bracing design is able to provide authentic sound with well-rounded tones without having to sacrifice on the strength and volume of the sound.
Another improvement that many guitarists have noted with the 800 series is that, in addition to the rich tones that were already a hallmark of Yamaha acoustics, the new models are able to give off a better projection.
Now, just in case you are new to the guitar world, the ‘projection’ does not only refer to volume, but it is about how focused the sound is. In other words, the term projection relates to the length and the direction of the sound. In a guitar with a better projection, the sound won’t disperse easily and the loudness and the clarity of the sound will stay uniform across the whole space. This is important if you are playing in a large room. Or, even if you are playing for people in a large hall or recording in a studio, etc.
Yamaha FG820 Guitar
Now that you have an overview of the new FG800 series, we may move on to the specificities of the FG820 model. Cost wise, this is the second model in the 800 series coming right after FG800 and the model has a current list price of $259 at Amazon.
The Body, the Build & the Sound
Like all FG models, Yamaha FG820 features a solid spruce top with thin and natural finish. It also comes in most number of color finishes among all the FG800 series models. So, choose from Black, Natural, Turquoise, Tobacco Sunburst, Sunset Blue and some more. Some of these finishes may have a thicker lacquer cover on the top, just in case that matters to you.
Our favorites are the black and the sunset blue, but you may make your own pick. But to come to more important things, the back and sides of this model are made of laminated mahogany. It is a common saying in the guitar sphere that a spruce-mahogany combination is a winner and so it is. The spruce top helps with crispness and articulation while mahogany is an excellent tonewood that provides great depth and resonance. The result is a warm and bright sound with rich tones suited to many different styles—but especially to rock and blues, at least in our opinion. And as with all Yamaha FG acoustics, the sound will retain its consistency even after years of playing, again something all to0 rare with entry level guitars.
As for the volume and loudness, the guitar gives off enough oopmph—as you can expect from a dreadnought—but, and do make a note of it, it is not overly loud. Rather, it has more of a sweet, smooth and rounded but mid range volume that may be of special appeal to some players.
Another important point regarding the build of the guitar is that the neck, also of mahogany, is of matte, satin finish. This ensures that there won’t be too much of a smudge as your hand slides up and down the back of the neck and as a result, you won’t experience that uncomfortable feeling of stickiness on your palm while playing.
Now, as to the more workaday matters, namely the specs, the features are pretty much similar to those you used to get with FG700S models. There are no electronics; the fretboard and the bridge are made of rosewood; there are quality die-cast chrome tuners; a 20-fret fingerboard but since this is not a cutaway model, you can effectively access about 17 frets; a tortoise-shell attractive-looking pickguard; quality factory strings (which you can always replace if they are not to your liking); Urea nut and saddle (which, again, you can replace with bone saddle and nut). Finally, the action is standard, neither too high nor too low, and which you can of course adjust via the adjustable truss rod. And the nut width, at 43mm, is fairly standard, too.
One thing to take special note of is that the FG820 model is available in four different varieties. The Concert and the Dreadnought varieties are pretty standard, but the model is also available in a 12-string version as well as a left-handed one.
As for the drawbacks of this guitar, there aren’t many when you consider the great value you are getting for your money. However, some users report that the model develops a buzz after few months of use. Now, whether or not this is a definite drawback of the model in general or is this due to defective models is something we cannot ascertain at this point. A second drawback, if you want to call it that, is something that we’ve already mentioned which is that this particular model is not suitable for high-range sounds.
Comparison with Other Models
To keep our discussion limited to the new FG800 series, we may compare the present FG820 model with FG830 and FG850. For the FG830, you’ll need to spend about 40 bucks extra and you do get a superior quality model. This is since the FG830 comes with a Rosewood back and sides. And you may already know this, that rosewood has been a traditional favorite with guitar players for its quality of being a warm, sweet tonewood (among older generations of guitar players, an all-rosewood model used to be a cherished possession). As for FG850 which is more of an intermediate level guitar, you’ll need to fork out about $400 and with its solid mahogany top coupled with mahogany back and sides, you do get value for all that extra buck you spend on the model.