Hands-On Review:Yamaha FGX 730SCA Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Premium woods and sophisticated electronics
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.
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.