Yamaha FG830 Review – Better Than You Expect!
- Top: Solid Spruce
- Neck: Nato
- Body: Rosewood
- Fretboard: Rosewood
Yamaha’s FG830 is a dreadnought acoustic guitar built with a no-frills attitude. Its aim is to stay affordable while sounding like a guitar should, and it accomplishes this quite well. Although it doesn’t present its full capabilities fresh out of the box, with a little maintenance and fine tuning, the FG830 can be a versatile and reliable acoustic.
Yamaha FG830 is our editor’s pick on the list of the best acoustic guitar models under $300 there are few new guitars that offer a better overall value.
I’ll take a moment to say that depending on your luck, you might be able to find a used guitar for around the same price as a new FG830 that is miles better and already aged to honey perfection.
But even then, odds are the used guitar will be in need of repairs and maintenance that tip the cost too far out of value. It’s the same with guitars as with everything else– you pay for what you get.
At this price point, you can expect a guitar that will be nice to play for a long time, but probably won’t be the instrument you’ll want to stay with your entire musical career.
The FG830 is a great acoustic for those with a pretty solid idea that they want to learn to play guitar. It’s a bit more expensive than throw-away money, but if you’re ready to learn chords and scales and riffs and licks on a pleasant sounding acoustic, the FG830 is a good way to start.
If you’re a parent searching for an acoustic guitar for your kid, keep in mind this is a full-sized dreadnought, about as big as guitars come, and will be difficult for really young children. I started playing a dreadnought at age eleven, but even now I still enjoy to jam out on a small acoustic from time to time, so you might consider a smaller guitar for your kid to learn on.
- Loud, even tone
- Durable, well-built, solid top
- Stays in tune
- Badly needs a setup upon purchase
- Some sharp frets
- A big guitar, difficult for smaller players
Yamaha FG830 – in-depth review
A Yamaha was the first acoustic good acoustic I ever played. As such, they’ll always have a special spot in my heart. The Yamaha FG830 is a great guitar for me to introduce you to the guitar that set me on a long and rewarding musical path.
Despite a few issues resulting from mass-manufacturing without the quality control required to ensure each guitar ships flawless, the FG830 is a well constructed acoustic once its detriments are corrected.
On the outside, the Yamaha FG830 is a straightforward, to-the-point acoustic with a Traditional Western dreadnought body.
Its spruce top is paired with a rosewood back and sides in a classic, common tonewood combo used by many manufacturers of budget guitars. Notably, the top is solid spruce, an unexpected but welcome treat at this price point in which many models are made with cheap laminate tops.
The bridge is also made of rosewood, contributing to the sonic evenness prominent in this guitar. It is held at the seams with a cream binding, sports a faux tortoise shell pickguard, and has a black and white soundhole rosette inlaid with abalone.
At least that’s what Yamaha says. I haven’t checked their stats or independently verified any of their experiments, but I can say that whatever they did different, they managed to make a really nice sounding budget-friendly guitar.
As traditional materials become more scarce and the volume of guitar production increases, manufacturers have begun to turn to alternatives to the woods once common in all parts of acoustics.
Nato is an abundant and affordable alternative to mahogany, similar both in appearance and physical properties, and is the wood used for the neck of the FG830.
Never heard of nato and afraid to give it a try?
Aside from the nato neck, this acoustic is all spruce and rosewood, including the fretboard. Rosewood fretboards have been a common key to playing dependability since Leo Fender first used them on the 1959 Stratocaster, and remain that way for their resistance to wear, even responsiveness, and naturally oily playing surface.
I love the rosewood fretboard paired with the matte finished neck; it never feels sticky to play and bouncing from chord to chord is easy in any position.
Moving up toward the head we’ll come to the urea nut, a strong synthetic now commonly used for acoustic nuts and bridge pins. It’s 43 mm across, giving the FG830 11mm string spacing.
The headstock is of course nato, with what looks like a rosewood overlay. It has dependable die-cast chrome TM29T tuning machines that stay tuned and can be precisely adjusted with their 18:1 ratio.
The Yamaha FG830 acoustic guitar has a few key elements that make its sound stand out among budget beginner acoustics.
Firstly, it has a really even tone across all ranges, and has a nicely boosted middle range that is lacking in so many other models. It owes its bright and clear highs and overall volume to its solid spruce top and its large size in general.
With the special bracing designed for boosting the volume and adding complexity to the middle range, the FG830 acoustic guitar is perfect for learning with a pure sound and writing with an interesting tone.
Out of the box, this guitar really needs a setup. Don’t be turned off by that right away. You might luck out some day and buy a new guitar that doesn’t need a little work to improve its quality and intonation, but nine times out of ten your new instrument will need a little adjustment.
The best thing you can do if you plan to play for a long time and master the craft would be to learn to setup your own guitar. It’s a daunting task for a beginner, but once you get over the initial fear, it will really pay off and can save you hundreds of dollars at the guitar shop over the years.
Once everything is squared away with the setup and the FG830’s action is lowered, it’s a fun, fast guitar to play.
Rosewood is my material of choice for fingerboards, and the neck profile is narrow while not still giving me enough grip to hit the bottom barre chords. Starting near the 10th fret is a minor factory defect – a few frets overhang the fingerboard. It’s just enough to notice, but not a major problem.
I’ll file it down if it starts to distract me too much.
I like my guitars to have a cutaway so I can play high end chords with a capo on the 7th fret, but at this price point that would be asking a lot. On the FG830, I’ll try to keep my capo below the 5th.
One of the few non-utilitarian aspects of the FG830 is its variety of finish options.
It is offered in an orange Autumn Burst, a dark mahogany Tobacco Sunburst, a deep crimson Sunburst Red, and a creamy yellow Natural finish. Spruce will tan and darken with age, so if you opt for the natural look, you will get to watch your guitar’s face change as you travel together down your musical path.
If the specially-designed X-scalloped bracing still doesn’t give you the volume you need, you can opt for the Yamaha FGX830C, the acoustic-electric cousin of the FG830 with -SURPRISE! – a cutaway!
In addition to two more finish options, the FGX830C comes equipped with System-66 electronics, including an under-saddle piezo pickup, 3-band EQ, adjustable midrange frequency control, and onboard tuner.
As far as beginner guitars go, there are not many obvious disadvantages to the Yamaha FG830. The dire need for a setup can be alarming and annoying to the uninformed, but if you know what you’re buying and expect it, that becomes a non-issue.
Aside from that, the sharp frets are a pet peeve of mine that I wish no one had to deal with.
When compared to the wide range of acoustic guitars available, the FG830 has a couple more disadvantages. Its sound is nothing to complain about, but to my ears it becomes boring after a while. It’s the kind of tone that where I wish for my strings to age faster so that the warmness becomes more apparent.
And, as a singer-songwriter whose voice fills the midrange, I actually find the rosewood’s boost in this area to be a little too strong for my ideal.
However, talking about a guitar’s tone nuances as disadvantages smacks of conceit and pompousness, so I must really say: the FG830 sounds good.
Whether you like it, or whether you don’t, it sounds how an acoustic should.
- Yamaha c40 classical guitar – reviewed