Best 2022 Guide: Yamaha FG800 vs FG830 vs FG820

Melissa
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Is the Yamaha FG830 a better-sounding guitar than the Yamaha FG820 and FG800?

I’ve been a Yamaha lover for years (played a lot of them) and got caught up in the debate about the F830, FG820, and FG800. That’s why I decided to take all three instruments for a spin and provide you my findings.

In this article, we’ll be comparing three Yamaha acoustic guitars – the Yamaha FG800 vs FG830, and FG820.

yamaha fg800 vs fg830

All three of these guitars are great-sounding instruments, but which one sounds the best?

The Yamaha FG830 is a dreadnought guitar, that features a solid Sitka spruce top and laminated rosewood back and sides. It has a slightly brighter sound than the FG820, with excellent projection and volume.

The Yamaha FG820 is a dreadnought guitar but it features a solid spruce top and laminated mahogany back and sides. It has a warm, full sound with plenty of volume and projection.

The Yamaha FG800 is a smaller concert-style guitar that features a solid Sitka spruce top and Nato/Okoume back and sides. It has a warm, rich sound with good volume and projection.

So, which one of these Yamaha acoustic guitars sounds the best?

It depends on what you’re looking for in a guitar sound, and of course, your budget. If you want a warm, full sound, then the FG820 is a great choice. If you’re looking for a slightly brighter sound, then the FG830 is a great option. And if you want a warm, rich sound with a good projection, then the FG800 is a great choice.

Whichever one you choose, you can’t go wrong with any of these Yamaha acoustic guitars.

After all, there is a reason the Yamaha FG Series is one of the best-selling lines of acoustic guitars in the world!

Let’s take a closer look at each of these (fantastic) acoustic guitars in greater detail to help you make the right buying decision, based on your wants and needs.

Let’s get into it!

A Quick Snapshot of the Construction Materials

(Complete specifications are provided below)

Yamaha FG830

Rich overtones and improved sustain, thanks to the rosewood back and sides, deliver improved sound through greater depth.

  • Traditional Western Body
  • Solid Spruce Top
  • Scalloped Bracing

Yamaha FG820

In addition to warmer and stronger sound, thanks to the mahogany back and sides, the body and fingerboard binding are cream plastic for an upgraded look.

  • Traditional Western Body
  • Solid Spruce Top
  • Scalloped Bracing

FYI: The FG820 Series is also available in these models

FG820L – Left-handed version of the FG820

FG820-12 – 12-String version of the FG820.

  • Traditional Western Body
  • Solid Spruce Top
  • Mahogany Back and Sides
  • Scalloped Bracing
  • Warm and Strong Sound
  • Traditional Western Body
  • Solid Spruce Top
  • Mahogany Back and Sides
  • Scalloped Bracing
  • Warm and Strong Sound

Yamaha FG800

  • Traditional Western Body
  • Solid Spruce Top
  • Nato/Okoume Back and Sides
  • Scalloped Bracing

The Yamaha FG series, 50+ years in the making

The Yamaha FG series was first introduced to the market in 1966. 54 years later, it is the best-selling acoustic line in the world. The company worked on the model trying to find an affordable alternative that would sound and look just as good as the competition.

What Changes Were Made to New The FG Series?

Concerning the three models being compared here in this article, the FG830 replaces the FG730. The FG820 replaces the FG720. And the FG800 replaces the FG700.

Yamaha has been listening to its customers and making improvements on all aspects of the series. They recently introduced scalloped bracing, which provides a more full sound with rich details that you can’t get from other instruments!

This bracing allows the top of the guitar to sound more responsive. This translates into effortless strumming and enhanced dynamics.

In case you are not familiar with what bracing is, you can check this

What to look for on an entry-level acoustic?

Let’s take a look at the three most crucial elements I believe you should be searching for when purchasing your next guitar.

Laminate VS Solid Top

A laminated top is common on entry-level acoustic guitars. What does this signify? Furthermore, is this feature a game-changer?

Yes, it is a game-changer.

Because laminated wood is composed of many planks or layers bonded together with glue, it does not vibrate in the same way solid wood does. Glued planks don’t move together as solid wood does, so they struggle against the strings. The sound is monotonous, unharmonic, and rapid decay as a result of this.

Solid-top guitars, such as the Martin DSM Dreadnought, are more resonant because the top part vibrates harmonically with the strings. The sound is far closer to what you hear on a record, and there’s much more decay (sustain).

  • Decay is how sound ends in audio. Attack, internal dynamics, sustain, release, and decay are all components of an acoustic signal or waveform envelope that contribute to the signal’s or waveform envelope’s distinctive character.

If your budget allows, solid wood, especially for the top of your guitar, is usually preferred instead of laminated. Here’s a video that compares the differences with sound examples.

Neck binding

The neck binding is a strip of plastic that runs the entire length of the neck, from the body to the nut (and sometimes over the headstock as well).

Although it may appear to be merely ornamental, this binding serves an important purpose in ensuring that the frets are completely round and making playing more pleasurable.

If you’ve ever seen Jimi Hendrix or John Mayer fretting with their thumb, that technique is much easier on the thumb when there’s binding on the neck.

If it’s within your budget, an entry-level guitar with neck binding will give you superior results.

Glossy or satin finish for the neck?

The neck of the guitar needs to allow your fingers to move rapidly and effortlessly. Glossy-finished necks tend to be sticky and difficult in places where humidity levels are high.

You might find it difficult to move up and down the neck as your thumb might get stuck.

On the other hand, satin-finished necks are easier to play regardless of the weather. Whenever possible go for satin-finished necks, especially in entry-level acoustics.


Yamaha FG800 Review

Now that you know the fundamentals of what to look for in an acoustic guitar, let’s take a look at the first one.

The Sitka spruce top and Nato back and sides of the FG800 make it a great choice for beginners. The sound is bright and clear, with a good bass response.

It’s not nearly as loud as many other instruments in its price range, but it can still fill a room without having to be played too loudly.

It also looks wonderful in a dark, glossy hue that will catch your attention right away.

Best 2022 Guide: Yamaha FG800 vs FG830 vs FG820 1

The glossy neck might be a little sticky in humid climates, and the lack of binding on the neck can make the fret edges unpleasant. We may describe it as excellent for playability since it is small and comfortable.

On the low end of things, this acoustic guitar has a lovely voice and will sing proudly and loudly. Although it does not have the same level of focus or richness as mahogany, Nato does an excellent job on the lows.

It sounds better when you strum full chords and utilize the scalloped bracing to allow the solid top to vibrate more freely.

If you are looking for a well-built acoustic guitar that will not break the bank, the Yamaha FG800 might bring you years of enjoyment.

What I liked

  • Scalloped bracing enhances vibration
  • Solid Sitka spruce top
  • Nato works well on the lows
  • Neck tuners stay in tune

Not so much

  • No binding on the neck
  • Sticky, glossy finish on the neck

Yamaha FG820 Review

The Yamaha FG820 has all of the requirements to be a winner on its own. Despite its closeness to the FG800, it has some distinguishing characteristics.

The Nato back and sides of the FG800 are replaced with mahogany back and sides, improving the ringing quality of the lower strings. You may hear that the bottom end is round and full when you play an E major chord and allow the guitar to ring until the sound fades away.

The overall sound is thickened by the presence of mahogany, which emphasizes the lower registers. You’ll notice that the lower register is more focused as well; you can fingerpick and arpeggio with plenty of success.

Best 2022 Guide: Yamaha FG800 vs FG830 vs FG820 2
Color: Autumn Burst

The neck is the second major difference. The feel of the crowned frets improved considerably, owing to the binding that was applied from the body to the nut.

Furthermore, the fact that your thumb may easily roll over the top and perform the John Mayer trick on the sixth string is rather enjoyable.

Finally, the neck is now a satin finish, rather than glossy, making an enormous difference in terms of playing feel.

The FG820 also has a top made of solid Sitka spruce, scalloped braces, and diecast closed tuners like the FG800.

There’s only one thing I’d improve about this guitar: a better saddle and nut. They’re made of plastic, which takes away from the sound the FG820 is capable of.

This may be the guitar for you if you’re searching for a fantastic intermediate entry-level instrument that sounds and plays great.

What I liked

  • Mahogany sides and back
  • Non-stick, satin-finished neck
  • Neck binding from the body to the nut

Not so much

  • Plastic nut
  • Plastic saddle

Yamaha FG830 Review

The Yamaha FG830 is a mid-range acoustic guitar that has many of the features that you would expect to find on a higher-end instrument.

It has a hand-finished Sitka spruce top, rosewood back and sides, and a mahogany neck.

This guitar also features a new scalloped bracing pattern that Yamaha has developed, which they say gives the guitar a louder and more balanced sound.

The neck binding now covers the headstock, which is a nice touch. The size is on the small side (like most Asian guitars), and it’s quite pleasant to play.

Best 2022 Guide: Yamaha FG800 vs FG830 vs FG820 3

The finish on this guitar is a beautiful natural satin that brings out the grain of the wood. The satin finish also makes the neck much easier to play, even in humid weather.

This is a great guitar for the intermediate player who is looking for an upgrade from their beginner guitar. It has a beautiful sound and is very well-made.

If you are looking for a keeper, a guitar that can give you many hours of playing bliss, then this model might be your best choice.

What I liked

  • Hand-finished Sitka spruce top
  • Rosewood back and sides
  • Mahogany neck
  • New scalloped bracing pattern
  • Satin finish
  • Limited lifetime warranty

What I didn’t like

  • None!

Specifications for Yamaha FG830, FG820, and FG800

ModelFG830FG820FG800
Body ShapeTraditional
Western
Traditional
Western
Traditional
Western
Scale Length650mm
or 25 9/16″
650mm
or 25 9/16″
650mm
or 25 9/16″
Body Length505mm
or 19 7/8″
505mm
or 19 7/8″
505mm
or 19 7/8″
Total Length1038mm
or 40 7/8″
1038mm
or 40 7/8″
1038mm
or 40 7/8″
Body Width412mm
or 16 1/4″
412mm
or 16 1/4
412mm
or 16 1/4
Body Depth100 -118mm
3 15/16″ – 4 5/8″
100 -118mm
3 15/16″ – 4 5/8″
100 -118mm
3 15/16″ – 4 5/8″
Nut Width43mm or 1 11/16″ 43mm or 1 11/16″ 43mm or 1 11/16″
String Spacing11 mm11 mm11 mm
Top MaterialSolid SpruceSolid SpruceSolid Spruce
Back MaterialRosewoodRosewoodRosewood
Side MaterialRosewoodRosewoodRosewood
Neck MaterialNatoNatoNato
Fingerboard MaterialRosewoodRosewoodRosewood
Fingerboard RadiusR400 mm (15 3/4″)R400 mm (15 3/4″)R400 mm (15 3/4″)
Bridge MaterialRosewoodRosewoodRosewood
Nut MaterialUreaUreaUrea
Saddle MaterialUreaUreaUrea
Bridge PinsBlack ABS w White DotBlack ABS w White DotBlack ABS w White Dot
TunersDie-Cast Chrome
(TM29T)
Die-Cast Chrome
(TM29T)
Die-Cast Chrome
(TM29T)
Body BindingCreamCreamCream
Sound Hole InlayAbalone w/
Black + White
Abalone w/
Black + White
Abalone w/
Black + White
PickguardTortoise PatternTortoise PatternTortoise Pattern
Body FinishGlossGlossGloss
Neck FinishMatteMatteMatte
ElectronicsNoneNoneNone
ControlsNoneNoneNone
ConnectionsNoneNoneNone
StringsYamaha FS50BT or
D’Addario EXP11
Yamaha FS50BT or
D’Addario EXP11
Yamaha FS50BT or
D’Addario EXP11
AccessoriesHex WrenchHex WrenchHex Wrench
CaseNoneNoneNone
All data from Yamaha website

Check out this video to hear all 3 of these guitars in action

Summary

Now we come back to where we began and sum up my assessment at the top of this evaluation. Is the FG830 a better-sounding guitar than the FG820 or FG800?

Better-sounding acoustic guitars, like all things in life, have a steeper price tag. So, yes, the FG830 is a higher-sounding acoustic guitar. The difference between the three of them isn’t outrageous when you consider how different entry-level guitars they are.

If the price isn’t your driving concern because you plan to continue playing for some time, buying either the FG820 or FG830 is a fantastic choice.

However, if your budget is limited and you simply want a cheaper instrument that sounds good and looks cool, the FG800 is a decent alternative.

Whichever of these Yamaha FG series guitars you choose, you’ll be rewarded with years of joy. My recommendation is to go for the FG830 if you can afford it.

RUNNERS-UP

We also compared these three guitars in case you’d like to explore more options. If the guitars in the review above are out of stock, or not quite what you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with either of these 3 guitars below.

Music is life itself.

Louis Armstrong

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