The original Yamaha FG Red Label series of acoustic guitars were built in the 1960s and revered for their high-end Japanese craftsmanship and beautiful tone. Many players first started playing guitar on a Yamaha acoustic. If you’ve ventured away from the brand over the years, the company’s relaunch of the FG Red Label earlier this year will rekindle your love affair. The new series of models pays attention to the detail of the original instruments and adds new innovations and sound enhancements. From the first gig to my recent show, the Yamaha FGX5 seduced me and reminded me why I first wanted to play guitar: when the instrument is well-made and easy to play, it’s fun to play music.
Technological advancements in wood conditioning have allowed companies like Yamaha to age their wood and give it the tonal qualities and sweet sound that make vintage guitars attractive to experienced players. The Yamaha FGX5 proved to be a friend right from the moment I picked it up. The action right out of the box was set up just as I (and I would guess) most players like, whether you are a strummer, flatpicker or fingerstylist. Chords rang through in perfect intonation from the open position all they way up the neck.
Yamaha’s guitar specs reveal they use a pickup and preamp system which they call Atmosfeel™. Atmosfeel employs a three-way sensor setup to capture the guitar’s true sound: a piezo sensor captures sound where the strings meet the bridge, an internal microphone gathers the resonance inside the guitar body and a sheet sensor picks up the vibrations of the top of the guitar. All models in the FG Red Label line are crafted with solid Sitka spruce tops, mahogany back and sides, and ebony fingerboards. The top is reinforced with scalloped bracing, a specialized latticework to enhance tone and projection.
Like most musicians, I casually understand this tech talk. At the end of the day I’m a player and not a builder and how it sounds and feels is most important. The pickup system in this guitar really shines in live performance. I’ve had issues with some guitars where the individual guitar strings just don’t ring out evenly through the PA system. Sometimes the bottom strings are too boomy or the top too trebly and no matter how much tweaking I do it just doesn’t sound right. It can make for a frustrating performance. With the FGX5, I really enjoyed playing my gigs and it helped bring new life to my songs. The FGX5 is a smooth, comfortable player and worth a test drive. Its’ solid construction and easy playability will give you one less thing to worry about on your live gigs.