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If you glance at the list (below) of Yamaha acoustic electric guitars that will be featured in this review, you would think at first that there are 6 models from which to choose. Technically, you would be correct, but there are really only 3 different styles there.
You can probably guess by looking at the first letter of each model why this is so. In this article then, I’ll group similar models together but still show you the differences among them.
If you’re in a hurry and just want to check the pricing and availability of these acoustic electric models at Amazon, you can click the links in the list below.
If you want to skip ahead to a certain section of this article, you can click a link in the box below. Otherwise, just scroll and read as usual.
The APX500III and Its Relatives
Yamaha sort of claims that the APX500III is the world’s best selling acoustic electric guitar. Here’s the actual statement from the APX500III page on their website.
“The world’s best-selling acoustic electric guitar, the 500-series embodies the pure spirit of Yamaha guitars – the perfect balance of performance, value and dependability.”
I guess I’m not sure whether they mean that, if you took all the guitars in the 500-series into account, that would make them the world’s best sellers, or if they are referring to the APX500III in particular – since, as I said, they have this statement on that instrument’s page.
To further confuse the issue, Yamaha says, “APXT2 is a ¾ size of the world best-selling acoustic-electric guitar, APX500II.”
And then they also state, “APXT2 is a ¾ size of the world best-selling acoustic-electric guitar, APX500III.”
Note the difference with the “II” and the “III”.
In any case, this is a fairly popular guitar. Is it (or one of its relatives) for you? Let’s take a closer look by comparing the APX500III, the APXT2, and the APXT2EW in the table below.
|Top||Spruce||Spruce||Mango veneer on Meranti|
|Back||Nato / Okume||Meranti||Locally sourced Tonewood|
|Side||Nato / Okume||Meranti||Locally sourced Tonewood|
|Neck||Nato||Nato or Mahogany||Locally sourced Tonewood|
|Body Depth (mm)||80 – 90||65 – 75||65 – 75|
|Nut Width (in.)||1 11/16||1 11/16||n/a|
|String Length (mm)||650||580||n/a|
Both the APXT2 and the APXT2EW are ¾ size versions of the APX500III. I couldn’t find the nut width or string length for the APXT2EW, but they are probably the same as the APXT2 – 1 11/16 and 580, respectively.
Both these smaller models come with a gigbag. There is no mention of one for the APX500III.
The main difference between the APXT2 and the APXT2EW is the “grained exotic wood” used on the top of the APXT2EW – thus the “EW” in the model name.
Yamaha provides more information for the APXT2 (full review here) than for the other two models as shown below. I would expect that all of this applies to the APXT2EW as well.
Specs other than measurements may also apply to the APX500III.
- Scale Length – 22 13/16 inches
- Body Length – 15 3/16 inches
- Total Length – 34 ⅛ inches
- Body Width – 11 13/16 inches
- String Spacing – 10mm
- Fingerboard Radius – 15 ¾ inches
- Nut Material – Urea
- Saddle Material – Urea
- Bridge Pins – Black ABS
- Tuners – Covered Chrome
- Body Binding – Cream and Black
- Soundhole Inlay – Black or White
- Pickguard – None
- Body Finish – Gloss
- Neck Finish – Matte
- Controls – Volume / Tone / Tuner
- Connections – Line Out
- Accessories – Hex wrench, 2 AA batteries
One final note about the piezo pickup on the APX500III. Yamaha says, “This pickup uses individual elements for each string to give an ultra-clear, ultra-wide bandwidth signal with far better dynamic response and tonal accuracy than a regular, ribbon-type piezo pickup.”
I honestly don’t know if this is better or worse, more or less common than piezo pickups on other instruments. If you have more information about this, please let us know in the comments.
The FGX800C and the FSX800C Acoustic Electrics
The Yamaha FG line dates back to 1966. About 50 years later, they now produce the FGX800C which is “derived from FG800 which has the solid spruce top and nato / okume back and sides.”
The FGX800C is a dreadnought cutaway. It uses the same System66 as the APX500III above. It has Yamaha’s “proprietary under-saddle piezo pickup” to complete the electronics.
Compare it to the FSX800C Concert style model by examining the features in the tables below. I’m including the CGX102 in the tables as well, even though Yamaha doesn’t provide nearly as much information about it.
|Scale Length (in.)||25 9/16||25||25 9/16|
|Body Length (in.)||19 7/8||19 9/16||n/a|
|Total Length (in.)||40 7/8||40 3/16||n/a|
|Body Width (in.)||16 1/4||14 15/16||n/a|
|Body Depth (mm)||100 – 118||90 – 110||94 – 100|
|Nut Width (in.)||1 11/16||1 11/16||2 1/16|
|Top||Solid Spruce||Solid Spruce||Spruce|
|Back||Nato / Okume||Nato / Okume||Nato / Meranti|
|Side||Nato / Okume||Nato / Okume||Nato / Meranti|
|Fingerboard Radius (mm)||400||400||n/a|
|Pins||Black ABS with white dot||Black ABS with white dot||n/a|
|Soundhole Inlay||Black and white||Black and white||n/a|
|Pickguard||Tortoise Pattern||Tortoise Pattern||n/a|
|Electronics||System66 / SRT piezo||System66 / SRT piezo||System68N / Yamaha Contact|
|Controls||Volume / 3-band EQ / Tuner / Mid FQ||Volume / 3-band EQ / Tuner / Mid FQ||n/a|
|Body Shape||Western Cutaway||Concert Cutaway||n/a|
|String Spacing* (mm)||11||10||n/a|
|Connections||Line out||Line out||n/a|
|Strings||Yamaha FS50BT or D’Addario EXP11||Yamaha FS50BT or D’Addario EXP11||n/a|
* Measured from the center of one bridge pin to the center of the next bridge pin
|Yamaha APX500III||Yamaha FGX800C||Yamaha CGX102|
Conclusions about the Yamaha Acoustic Electrics under $300
If you want a full-sized guitar in this price range, you have 3 options: the APX500III, the FGX800C, or the CGX102. The smaller Concert style instruments have their place, but they very likely aren’t what you’re looking for.
Sometimes beginners who are still quite young and have small bodies themselves will benefit from a concert ¾ size acoustic electric guitar. As such a person grows, they may wish to trade up to a full-sized guitar later.
Even though the APX500III (or the 500 series) is very popular, don’t let that steer you away from the FG or the CG instruments.
Note that the CGX102 is not a cutaway. One owner raves above this model thusly: “The quality of this guitar is superb. A professional grade guitar at a discounted price.”
Perhaps that’s a bit of an overstatement, but it you may agree when you get your own CGX102.
About the FGX800C, another user says, “The sound is amazing. It has crisp highs, nice mids, and ample bass.”
So whichever Yamaha acoustic electric you decide to try, I think you’ll be pleased with your choice.