Yamaha A Series
Yamaha recently unveiled its new A Series line of handcrafted acoustic/electric guitars, available in eight models. The line includes dreadnought and concert-sized cutaways, boasts a new headstock design, and is offered in mahogany or rosewood with a range of options. Designed with the gigging musician in mind, the A Series aims to bridge the gap between beginner/intermediate models and extreme high-end models.
“Yamaha has long been a well-established name in the guitar market, especially the under $500 acoustic and acoustic electric market, but many people do not realize that Yamaha has also made prestigious, high-end guitars,” says Dennis Webster, marketing manager, Yamaha Guitars. “Yamaha had been very limited in the products that were offered between the $500 and the $2,000 price points and did not service a very large market segment, which consists of gigging musicians and recording guitarists who demand professional playability that sounds incredible live on stage or in the studio. That is where the Yamaha A Series comes in: it’s a professional-grade instrument, built to be the workhorse in a guitarist’s arsenal, without the break-the-bank pricing.”
Developed in – and for – America
Following two decades of U.S.-based technology development, the A Series is the first product line that Yamaha Guitars has developed in the U.S. for the U.S. The company’s Artist Services and Research & Development department, launched in North Hollywood in the 1990s, has worked over recent years to refocus the Yamaha guitar line and establish special sales/marketing programs for dealers. Yoichi Oba, assistant general manager and co-director of Yamaha Artist Services Hollywood, explains: “The U.S. sales and marketing team researched and developed the specifications of the A Series and teamed up with the R & D team to work very closely with the designers in Japan and the factories to produce this new series. The A Series is the first product line developed by the U.S. team, but definitely not the last. We are already working together on more guitar products we will be launching over the next 3 years.”
“Since the U.S. market is the largest and most influential, it only makes sense that products developed here would also be accepted worldwide,” says Webster. “Three years ago, we understood that the acoustic guitar player has changed over the past 20 years, but our product offering and specifications did not change with the market. Today’s acoustic guitar player is looking for an instrument that combines looks, feel, and sound in a very versatile instrument. Whether they are playing the acoustic on stage all night, or just for a few songs during their set, they demand the easy playability without the sacrifice of sound quality.”
With the A Series, Yamaha has also increased the string spacing and lowered the action to accommodate today’s player. “We consulted with professional guitar artists, including Lee Ritenour, top guitar dealers in the U.S., and most important, hundreds of gigging guitar players, and listened to exactly what they are looking for to help us refine the A Series,” Webster explains. “In the A Series, we did move away from some of Yamaha’s traditional FG Series or L Series specifications because the A Series player is looking for something different. The A Series differs with a new mahogany neck with a slim tapered profile, wider string spacing, lower action and a new semi-open pore finish on the neck. Most definitely, Yamaha will utilize key features first implemented in the A Series into some current and future products.”
A New Sound, Variety of Options
Yamaha also promises a new sound with the A Series. “Yamaha is well-known for incredible balanced and crystal clear clarity,” says Webster. “The A Series embodies the same bracing pattern as our $5,000 L Series, which gives us a balanced sound everyone loves Yamaha for. What is new for Yamaha in this market segment is the use of mahogany for back and sides. In the Yamaha acoustic electric line up, everything in the $500 and up price point always had rosewood back and sides. With the A Series, the player now has the choice of woods to get the sound they are looking for.”
The higher-end A3 models feature a new preamp that incorporates a piezo pickup system with a built-in microphone modeling technique specific to each guitar model. Called S.R.T. (Studio Response Technology), it allows the player to choose from three different mic settings that can be blended with the piezo pickup, and its feedback detector cancels feedback frequencies in live situations. The A3 also features a Rosewood and Mahogany rosette.
The lower priced A1 models come equipped with the new S.R.T. piezo saddle pickup and a traditional Yamaha rosette. “The main differences between the models are back, side and fingerboard materials, preamp, and rosette,” says Armando Vega, product manager, Yamaha Guitars. “The A3 Series features solid back and sides (either mahogany or rosewood) with an ebony fingerboard and bridge. The A1 series offers laminate back and sides (either mahogany or rosewood) with a rosewood fingerboard and ebony bridge. Both guitars offer the same buzz-free, low-action and the most comfortable neck profile in today’s guitar market.”
A Series guitars are set to begin shipping in May and will retail between $599.99-$999.99, depending on model and options.