I'm getting a sense of déjà vu… That's the thing about acoustic guitars – they all tend to look the same. As such, you might be forgiven for taking one look at the Yamaha FG700S and assume you've already been there, played that and bought the T-shirt.
If there's a more traditional looking model on the market than this entry-level dreadnought, we'll eat our pitch pipes.
No-one's pretending the FG700S looks as wild as your BC Rich, but that's not the point. When you sit down with this model you will soon start to appreciate why it deserves your attention.
Yamaha acoustics are all about providing the best playing experience and tone for the lowest possible price. That may not sound sexy, but our rendition of More Than Words certainly did.
So what do I get for my wad? Well, the Yamaha FG700S is a Chinese-made dreadnought with a solid spruce top and a deep hourglass body made from nato mahogany.
The neck is made of nato, too. It's attached to the body via a dovetail joint and topped with a rosewood fingerboard featuring the smallest fret inlays.
An unobtrusive rosette adorns the soundhole, and the sultry chocolate pickguard is as sexy as they come. Cast your eyes up the neck and you'll find a traditional three-a-side headstock with die-cast chrome hardware.
It was a breeze to tune this guitar to pitch and we didn't find ourselves constantly tweaking it after string bends or aggressive strum sessions, either.
Elsewhere, this guitar boasts the kind of build we have come to expect from Yamaha. This manufacturer has always paid attention to the little things, and the fact that this is the cheapest model in the FG range hasn't seen Yamaha spare the sandpaper.
So far, so good, then. They sound like decent materials… It's a great spec sheet for the price. While this does mean it will take a short period for the guitar's tone to 'bed in,' it should deliver a more characterful voice than its laminate equivalent and sweeten over time.
That aside, the combination of spruce and mahogany is a dues-paying partnership that is often used on acoustics, thanks to the balance it strikes between warmth and bite.
Rosewood is the most common material used for fingerboards, meanwhile, and shouldn't trouble anyone's fingertips. How does it feel?
According to acoustic guitar propaganda, there's nothing more relaxing than sitting around strumming Wonderwall on your dreadnought.
In reality, there are plenty of models whose necks have made barre chords a living hell. Compared to an electric, it can be hard to muster the requisite pressure to make your riffs ring out, and that's why the Yamaha FG700S made such an impression on us.
Yamaha's blurb is quick to point out that this model has a slimmer neck than most, and the difference won't be lost on you when you try some finger-twisting Nick Drake licks.
This is how playing an acoustic should feel, but so rarely does. It's effortless, despite the fairly hefty body size, and doesn't make you sweat to dig out the (considerable) volume. Can it cope with more than strumming?
Try playing anything other than open chords on many acoustic guitars and you will be rewarded with muffled notes and rattling strings. By contrast, the FG700S always encourages you to push yourself.
Admittedly, its lack of cutaways means the top frets are more for show than practical use, but the fretboard is welcoming enough to cater for fluid slides and moderate bends. Using your fingers feels just as natural as digging in with a pick, and both techniques supply the same authoritative level of natural volume.
So is it warm or jangly? There's a natural tendency towards the jangly side of things – fingerpicking through the strings is a particular pleasure – but much of the FG700S' tone hinges on how you play it.
Plucking with fingernails nearer the bridge supplies the snap and pop of a Turin Brakes solo, while picking out basslines over the soundhole with your thumb brings in a more rounded tone that will appeal to country and folk players.
We also felt this guitar lent itself particularly well to capo'd voicings, coaxing out the maximum Johnny Marr factor into an already shimmering tone.
Easy to play. Even good for barre chords!
A highly playable acoustic with a good tone.
Country of Origin
Guitar Body Material
Nato (Eastern Mahogany)
No of Strings
No. of Frets