Hands-On Review:Yamaha RGX A2
Yamaha RGX A2
Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee.
By Mikey Lank
Crafted with a revolutionary body design, the RGX A2 is perhaps the most comfortable guitar I've ever strapped on. Weighing in at a ghostly five pounds, six ounces, it's easier on the shoulder than my winter coat. It has amazing resonance that translates into endless sustain, and it sports some very futuristic cosmetic and functional enhancements. A low-mid price tag and never-failing Yamaha precision craftsmanship make it a hell of an axe that's within reach for almost any serious player.
Get up, stand up!
Call me a wimp, but lately I do most of my practicing sitting down. I've even been tempted to sit down at gigs (though propriety has prevented me). The problem is a nagging pain in the shoulder from that nine pounds of wood and metal hanging there. I keep fit but, even so, decades of enduring guitar drag have only made me more sensitive. That's why this RGX A2 was such a breath of fresh air. It practically floated up out of the case and danced in my hands.
I immediately strapped it on and was truly inspired by its vibrant resonance. I played it acoustically for ten minutes before plugging in. It was immediately obvious that this is one of those rare instruments that really brings the music out of me. And after standing around playing it for over an hour . . . miracle of miracles, no shoulder pain! Wahoo!
Yamaha calls their new design an Alternative Internal Resonance body. Though they're secretive with the details, it's apparently a very heavily routed, essentially semi-hollow design using a super-resonant tone wood with a high-tech synthetic top. Both the top and back are radiused so there are no hard edges digging into your ribs or forearm.
As I hoped, that lively acoustic resonance translated into miles of smooth sustain when I plugged into my half stack and cranked 'er up to 11. The Yamaha alnico soapbar humbuckers not only look cool, they sound cool. Designed for modern sounds with lots of higher harmonic sparkle, they crank out bold bass and a slightly attenuated midrange. They even passed my acid-test-for-tone with flying colors when I switched to the clean channel, dialed off the treble, and got into some serious jazz riffs. The tone was full-bodied and bold with no boominess or muffled sound. Bravo!
Looking at the back of the RGX A2, I noticed a 9V battery compartment and thought at first it must have active electronics. But I took the battery out and the guitar worked fine. The battery just powers green and blue LEDs on either side of the recessed translucent surround for the volume knob--a very cool cosmetic touch.
What looks like the tone knob is, in fact, a three-position pickup selector. When the bridge pickup is selected, a blue LED illuminates the bridge side of the knob surround. When both pickups are selected the blue light is joined by a green one on the neck side. The green light illuminates alone when the forward pickup is selected. This makes for an eerie look on a dark stage and is also handy for knowing at a glance which pickups are activated. The absence of a tone knob can be easily compensated for by using the tone controls on your amp.
The RGX A2's cylindrical die-cast tuners feel ultrastable. And you don't have to worry about them going out of tune if bumped. The unique Yamaha string-through-body bridge is definitely the best-looking design I've seen. It features individual saddles that are fully adjustable for height and intonation without having all their screws and springs hanging out. They make most other bridges look inside out.
The rosewood fretboard on a bolt-on maple neck with a tight joint features large frets for easier runs and silky feel. This one was set up perfectly when I got it and the action was super-low with minimal buzzing.
The design lines on the top; white soapbar pickups; white finish with gray back; and two-tone, 3-D headstock give the RGX A2 modern, high-tech visual appeal. The lighted volume-knob surround; futuristic tuners, knobs, and bridge; and smooth saddles complete the effect, making this guitar a true knockout to behold.
On its Lank report card, I give the RGX A2 an "A" for tone, "A" for playability, "A" for looks, "A+" for value, and extra credit for incredibly light comfort. Mikey definitely likes it!
- Alternative Internal Resonance body
- Bolt-on maple neck
- Rosewood fretboard
- Dual Yamaha alnico soapbar humbuckers
- Die-cast cylindrical tuners
- Die-cast volume and pickup selector knobs
- LEDs on volume knob surround
- White/aircraft gray finish
- 25-1/2" scale
- 5 lbs., 6 oz.