As it's been well over a decade since these guitars got a refresh, Yamaha is going all out with these 2016 upgrades, and according to Yamaha, the aim is to create guitars that are tonally enhanced.
On the one hand that means a return to the original FG180, but with the addition of "a little more volume, a little more bass, a little more oomph". Now, us reviewers will always take such claims with a pinch of salt but a quick strum on this all-matt-finished guitar – the start of the new range priced just below the gloss- finished FG/FS800 (both £268) – has us double-checking our price list. But we've got ahead of ourselves...
The FG800M is a typically classy, clean build and those of us who like our guitars to look a little less posh will find a friend here: the matt finish gives a lived-in working guitar appearance. There's little ornamentation, the fingerboard dots are small and lack contrast but the white side dots are clear and bright.
The brand logo and fleur motif are simply silk-screened but it's the three-piece neck, with a roomy full C profile, that immediately engages. Tuners are quite generic but more than up to the job while the synthetic 'urea' nut and compensated saddle are well cut with a sensible, get-on-with-the-job action.
The fretting is also extremely tidy, while the fingerboard edges are actually bound creating, in typical Chinese-style, a very tidy job.
Dreadnoughts, of course, come in many different tonal shades but we should expect plenty of roomy lows, a strong thump in the lower mids, crisp highs: a big projecting sound. Well, the FG800M ticks those boxes and some and sounds dangerously close – albeit thinner, crisper and 'newer' – to our reference and well-used 16-Series Martin dread' that costs an awful lot more.