We can remember the day very well.
It was a hot afternoon probably around 1968, and a few of us had gathered at Tempo Music store, just down the road from Jim Marshall’s shop in Hanwell, West London.
Nothing special, just coffee, music chat and maybe play a few of, at the time may be the best in London, his excellent stock of guitars and bass guitars.
Great guitars and the new breed of Sound City amps, later to become HiWatt gear.
Geoff Had His Contacts…
“Try this,” he said. “Yamaha? Don’t they make motorbikes?” was the reply. “See what you think…” he insisted. Our first experience of Japanese manufacturing, in guitars anyway.
What About Yamaha Acoustic Guitars History?
They had been making guitars for a number of years but only for the Japanese market. Japan at the time was very insular musically and not that interested in what was happening elsewhere. John, Paul, George, and Ringo changed all that.
Insular they might have been, but they recognize a market when they see one and know how to sell to it. Suddenly everyone wanted a guitar, and the manufacturing couldn’t cope. Yamaha was on the way.
Back to Tempo music. It was an Acoustic, pure, and simple. It was ok. A bit stiff maybe and the action a little high and tight but not too bad. The workmanship was excellent, it looked great, but it was the sound. We all agreed that it sounded great, and if they could sort out the action, it would be a great guitar. They did, and the now infamous FG range became just that.
Fast forward to today, and they have a reputation for manufacturing some of the best guitars around, especially in teaching guitars and instruments for players who are starting to learn.
They are known for making Yamaha acoustic guitars for beginners. They have earned their reputation.
This is a 3⁄4 size instrument based on the very successful Yamaha APX50. Therefore, it has been designed for a specific market although, in the light of looking at this guitar, it is hard to determine exactly what that market might be.
It could be a guitar for a learner or a complete novice. If so, it is very good. It could be a travel guitar, something easy sized to carry around with you as an experienced player. If so, it is excellent. Or, it could be just built for people with smaller hands who find the dreadnoughts et al. just too awkward, in which case it is a great instrument.
It fits all the scenarios, so let’s just say it’s a great three-quarter size that has many uses.
It has a reasonably orthodox body shape with a single cutaway that almost gives you access to the full fingerboard.
The body is made from Meranti wood which might be unfamiliar to some. It is sometimes called Philippine mahogany, and whilst it grows worldwide, the majority is imported from Southeast Asia. The top is a spruce laminate which gives it a certain resonance.
It is what you might call a thin line, not being as full-bodied as some. This, in the markets that this guitar operates in, is a big advantage as it becomes so easy to hold and play.
The Yamaha APXT2 Acoustic Electric is well made and finished in a glossy black with an understated decoration around the sound hole. It is a laminated finish on top, which will affect the natural sound a little.
It looks nice.
This guitar is manufactured with either a Mahogany or a Nato neck. Nato wood is sometimes referred to as eastern mahogany. It is a standard shape with twenty-one frets and a scale length of 22.8 inches. The fingerboard is Rosewood and has inlay dots.
It is interesting to note that the nut is wider than on the average three-quarter-sized guitar, thus giving a slightly wider fingerboard and making it easily playable for everyone.
Nothing too outrageous here but there doesn’t need to be. A Rosewood bridge and the nut and saddle material is plastic. The nut width is 1.6875 inches referring to our previous comment about the fingerboard width. It has covered tuners with plastic heads.
To allow you to plug in, there is Yamaha system 68 contact pickup and an ART or Acoustic Resonance Transducer-based preamp. For experienced players, it will be a little basic, but the pickup and preamp do their job adequately well. The preamp takes AA batteries.
All very basic with volume control but it also has a mid-range EQ boost which gives some options for tonal adjustment. Perhaps the best thing about the controls is the onboard tuner. Yamaha has included their proprietary tuner which is a great asset.
So there you are. We’ve covered the aspects of the guitar, but how does it sound and what does it play like?
Let’s begin by just reinforcing a couple of observations.
Firstly it has a laminated body, and that is going to affect the sound. If it was compared side by side to a natural spruce top, you would hear a difference.
Secondly, it is a three-quarter size guitar. With the best will in the world, you are not going to get the deep resonances of a full-size dreadnought let alone a jumbo style, and if that is what you are expecting from this, you will be disappointed.
However, if you are prepared to expect a slightly different sounding guitar, you will be pleasantly surprised. Despite its smaller size it does have a certain pleasant resonance to it and is nicely sound balanced whether strummed or playing fingerstyle.
Plugged in, the Yamaha APXT2 Acoustic Electric is very good indeed. The pickups and preamp combining to give you a nice sound that is warm but nevertheless cuts through. Some players play this guitar on stage plugged in, and you can hear why.
Crisp and clean and because the body size is slightly smaller a bit less boom than you sometimes get from bigger body guitars. We think it sounds good unplugged but very good when connected up.
So What Do We Think of The Yamaha APXT2 Acoustic Electric?
At the beginning of this review, we talked about determining exactly which market this guitar was aimed at as it seems to cross the borders.
Absolutely. The smaller body is light and easy to get your arms around. A child would find it so much easier than anything larger and the smaller fingerboard is going to give it great newcomer playability.
An adult learner also will benefit for the same reasons but also because the nut is quite wide there will be no issues about getting adult fingers caught up in trying to make chords on a small fingerboard.
Full marks then as a ‘learner’ but then we know Yamaha make acoustic guitars for beginners.
The Yamaha APXT2 Acoustic Electric is perfect. Small, easy to carry around, nice sound, you can plug it in if you have a portable amp with you. Perfect choice.
Very good. It is modest in the facility it carries apart from its very fine tuner, but the neck is good, and the overall sound is fine, so it fits the bill.
But there is another aspect we did not consider earlier. You could quite reasonably use this on stage. It is light and easy to play, and the electrics give you a good sound, so why not? We could quite easily see this being used as part on a stage set on the right song.