NAMM 2023: Yamaha launches flagship MIJ FG9 dreadnought, “the pinnacle” of its steel-string acoustic guitar know-how

NAMM 2023: Yamaha has unveiled its new flagship FG9 acoustic guitar, offering the super classy dreadnought with a choice of two builds.

The FG9M pairs its solid Adirondack spruce top with mahogany on the back and sides, the FG9R offers an Adirondack spruce and Indian rosewood cocktail. Both look sublime, redolent of the minimalist craft the brand has become renowned for.

The FG9 models are made in Japan, and if you look closely you’ll find some subtle nods to traditional Japanese culture, such as the kumiki-insired fretboard inlays and the ebony and rope inlay and purfling pattern on the rosette. 

The design is subtle and clean, with natural gloss nitrocellulose finish to let the wood shine, and a tortoiseshell pattern pickguard. That nitro should age nicely over time, as should the all-solid wood build. Acoustics like this only sound better with age. And that sound, says Yamaha, should be right up any songwriter’s alley. 

It’s calibrated to complement your vocals. Yamaha has tapered the edges on those Adirondack spruce tops, which it says provides “structural strength while also allowing the body to vibrate more efficiently”. As ever with dreadnought acoustic design, the secret lies in splitting the difference between articulation and power, and holding the both in equilibrium.

The one-piece mahogany neck has been redesigned with a high-precision bolt-on/glued-in hybrid construction to improve both body vibration and the maintenance of the instrument. It has been given a semi-gloss poly finish. Under the hood, the FG9 models feature scalloped X-pattern bracing. 

Their scale lengths measure 25.56”, with both guitars measuring 44mm across the nut. Both saddle and nut are bone. Fingerboards and bridges are ebony. Yamaha has opted for a set of open-gear Gotoh SXN510 tuners in Cosmo Black for both models. 

There are no electronics, so if you want to go amplified you will need to get yourself an acoustic guitar pickup – this being NAMM season, there are new options all the time, with LR Baggs announcing a non-invasive stick-on HiFi pickup system this week that features a dual-bridge plate sensor system that could do a job here.

The FG9 ships in a hard-shell guitar case, and strung up with a set of Elixir Nanoweb 80/20 Bronze Lights – great acoustic guitar strings, sure, but isn’t the first thing we all do when we get a new guitar home is change the strings? That’s part of its initiation. Anyway... Both FG9 models are priced £3,299 street. 

For more information and pics – including some of the tech-informed design process – head over to Yamaha.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.