A concert size guitar is bigger than a parlor guitar, but smaller than orchestra and dreadnought guitars. As a result, we don’t generally expect concert guitars to have the big tone or the volume of their larger cousins. That’s why it’s surprising that Yamaha’s AC5M Concert acoustic-electric guitar produces the sound that it does. It has a vintage look, but sounds bigger than its body style would lead you to believe. Plus, for performing singer-songwriters or professional guitarists, the electronics in this guitar put it in the ‘must hear’ category.
The AC5M Concert acoustic-electric guitar gets more in the low-mids than other guitars its size, likely as a result of a new scalloped bracing technique used by Yamaha for the Sitka spruce top along with shorter bracing on the guitar’s mahogany back. There is also something to be said about Yamaha’s A.R.E. (acoustic resonance enhancement) process, a treatment they have developed over years of instrument building. A.R.E. makes the spruce top perform more like an aged, vintage wood. Having Tusq for nut and saddle material helps the tone, as well.
From my experience mic’ing guitars in the studio, I appreciate the difference between guitar sounds produced by an internal pick up and those caught by a good microphone. Along those lines, the AC5M’s SRT2 pickup system provides for some interesting options for recording and stage performance. Along with volume, treble, and bass controls (with auto feedback reduction), this guitar has a blend control that allows you to balance between the piezo pickup and a built-in SRT2 preamp. SRT stands for Studio Response Technology and lets you add in the sound of a professionally mic’ed guitar. The ability to mix the two sources means you can tailor the sound as you like to hear it and to whatever works best for your playing situation. With the pick-up and the SRT2 preamp you have huge spectrum of tone available to you.
I auditioned the AC5M with an acoustic amp set for a flat response, setting the guitar’s blend control all the way in the direction of pickup. The pickup alone produced good, full tone with brilliant highs. When I blended in some of the SRT2, I noticed the immediate addition of warmth to the sound. Moving the blend control more to the SRT2 side created a dramatic difference in the tone, adding more depth, resonance, and definition to low-mids. Without touching the amplifier tone controls or EQ, it was as though I had several different guitars at my disposal–a great advantage for songwriters and studio players.
The neck and fretboard of the AC5M were very comfortable, and the guitar played well strummed or fingerpicking. While a bigger sound than other guitars its size, fingerpicking still brought out its lively and responsive tone, and the guitar’s notable resonance made open strings sound great. With a stylish western cutaway, ‘snowflake’ fingerboard inlays, and an overall vintage look, the AC5M is a great looking and great sounding instrument with electronics that make it very versatile. The ACM5 comes with Elixir NANOWEB 80/20 bronze light strings and a solid hardshell case.
Street Price: $1299