Hands-On Review:Yamaha FGX 730SCA Acoustic-Electric Guitar


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Premium woods and sophisticated electronics

Mike Fitch
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer

 

One of my first early, memorable encounters with Yamaha acoustic  guitars came some years ago when visiting a friend. He pulled out a  handsome Yamaha nylon-string classical guitar from its case. “Check this  out, man,” my friend enthused—“$100!” He strummed a few Spanish chords  for emphasis. The guitar indeed sounded and looked very good, especially  for the kind of money that usually would only get you a  difficult-to-tune, hard-to-play, toy-like instrument.

 

This encounter introduced me to what I later found is a cornerstone  of Yamaha's reputation—their musical instruments in general, and  acoustic guitars in particular, deliver a lot of quality for the money.

 

The FGX730SCA is the latest in Yamaha’s revamped, value-priced FG Series guitars.  This new member of the family will surely turn heads, even among  accomplished guitarists, with its solid Sitka spruce top, svelte  rosewood back and sides, and integrated electronics. This versatile  acoustic-electric hybrid is a natural for acoustic players who want to  plug in and rock out when the need arises. And when you do choose to go  electric with this guitar, you’ll find some unusually sophisticated  tone-shaping controls at your command.

 

First impressions

 

Taking the guitar out of the box, I took a moment to check out the  solid Sitka spruce top—the sample I played had a beautifully patterned,  almost quilted look to it. Sitka spruce has long been a favorite among  guitar makers for its strength and strong acoustical qualities. The  laminated rosewood back and sides are also luxurious in appearance,  seamless and solid looking even on the guitar’s inner surface. Very  cleanly executed non-scalloped bracing gives the guitar a lot of  strength.

 

The FGX730SCA is tastefully adorned with white binding on the body, neck, and  headplate, accented by cream and black purfling on top. The soundhole is  inlaid with abalone in a finely wrought design; and the headstock is  inlaid as well. The die-cast chrome tuners turned easily and held tuning  well.

 

The satin-finished neck is slim and fast, with a modified “V” shape  that plays easily and feels comfortable to fret. The neck is topped off  with a dark rosewood fingerboard with small abalone position-marker  dots. The guitar was comfortable to hold and play, its shape cradling  easily in the lap, with the cutaway providing easy access up to the 18th  fret. The action was suitably low, allowing fast, accurate fretting  without string buzz. A tortoiseshell pickguard keeps the body in good  shape, running around the whole lower edge of the soundhole to provide  scratch protection for a large part of the surface.

 

Unplugged and plugged

 

I went into audition mode and put the guitar to the test.  Finger-picking a simple bossa nova tune, the sound was extremely clear  and robust without being harsh. The spruce top and rosewood body  conspire to produce a warm, rich, dynamic sound with strong bass  presence, a full midrange, and a well-defined high register. Overall,  the instrument was a lot of fun to play; the cutaway shape allowed full  access to all the frets, and the neck had a fast, easy feel under the  fingers.

 

The FGX730SCA’s System 55T electronics add a whole other dimension to the instrument’s  capabilities, allowing you to plug it into an amplifier or PA system via  the 1/4" jack located in the endpin. The preamp’s compact control panel  is located on the side of the guitar’s upper bout, letting you tweak  the sound to your heart’s content with three-band EQ, including bass,  mid, and treble controls. The sound retained its clarity and integrity  even at higher volumes, without the harshness sometimes found in piezo  pickups.

 

An additional adjustable mid-frequency (AMF) slider control affects  the range from 80Hz to 10kHz, letting you add more mid presence and  sculpt the sound more precisely. I found that setting the AMF toward the  lower end of its spectrum produced a nice, fat, low-end chunkiness,  great for enhancing rhythmic playing styles and fat chords.

 

A built-in chromatic tuner means that you can leave your standalone  tuner at home. A simple touch of a button engages the tuner and lets you  easily tune the guitar silently using the visual display. A 9V battery  powers both preamp and tuner and fits into an unobtrusive holder on the  upper bout near the neck. Inserting a plug into the endpin jack  automatically turns on the preamp, while removing the plug turns it off.

 

Summing it up

 

At a street price of around $499.99, the FGX730SCA is another example of a Yamaha acoustic guitar delivering a lot of bang  for the buck. Yamaha has been making guitars for decades now, and  they’ve got the process down cold, continuing to introduce new models at  impressively low prices.

 

With everything you need to take it to the stage as well as the  comfort and playability one looks for in an instrument to have around  the home, the FGX730SCA is definitely another mark in the win column for Yamaha. It’s a guitar  you can wrap your arms around with pleasure while parting with  remarkably few of your hard-earned dollars.

 

Features & Specs


                                          • Top: Solid Sitka spruce
                                          • Body top: Cutaway
                                          • Back & Sides: Rosewood
                                          • Fingerboard: Rosewood
                                          • Bridge: Rosewood
                                          • Body Depth: 3-15/16" to 4-5/8"
                                          • String Scale: 25-9/16"
                                          • Preamp: System 55T
                                          • 3-band EQ
                                          • Adjustable midrange frequency
                                          • Chromatic tuner
                                          • Tuners: Die-cast chrome
                                          • Finish: Natural
                                          • Warranty: Limited lifetime
                                          • Preamp: System 55T
                                          • 3-band EQ
                                          • Adjustable midrange frequency
                                          • Chromatic tuner
                                          • Tuners: Diecast chrome
                                          • Finish: Natural
                                          • Warranty: Limited lifetime
                                          Yamaha FG Series FGX730SCA Acoustic Electric Guitar