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Yamaha FS850 review

The FGs little bro'

  • £398
  • €418

Our Verdict

While it may suit younger players, it's a very cool piece for electric players, too: its more Gibson-like string spacing and scale feel very familiar - a plectrum player's tour de force.


  • Supremely comfortable.


  • Size will put some off.

The FG monicker apparently, stands for 'folk guitar', but the FGs are deadnnought-sized, and if you want an actual 'folk'-size guitar, you'll want this FS -sitting somewhere between Martin's 00 and 000 sizes - the genesis of which seems to date back to the Yamaha FG1500 of the early 70s.

The FS has a shorter 635mm (25- inch) scale length, a reduced body width of 381mm (15-inch) and shallower depth by about 8mm.

It retains the same width and string-spacing at the nut as it's bigger bro' but - importantly
- reduces the string spacing at the
bridge from 55mm to 50mm. This is why when you start playing this lil'
chap things feel rather cramped.

For many players a smaller 000-size is the perfect fingerpicking guitar and many
 a more 'serious' model has a wider nut and bridge string spacing. So, here, FS doesn't really stand for 'FingerStyle': it more accurately equates to 'For Student' or 'For Small (people)'. Ahem.

But while the new FSs start with the wallet-friendly FS800 (£268), this one, along with the FG850 dreadnought, tops this new range. It's certainly classy in style with its solid mahogany top and wood edge-binding, abalone soundhole inlay and fine white coach- line inside its black-bound fingerboard and headstock; its more compact dimensions also make for an extremely comfortable seated player.

Sound-wise the combination of its reduced size and its hardwood top give it a slightly narrower sound with a little less bass oomph and slightly rounded, almost compressed, highs but it's not as 'bluesy' or powerful as Martin's only slightly smaller-bodied new, all-sapele Dreadnought Junior.