How-to Buy Smart | Yamaha FG800 vs FG830 vs FG820

by | Dec, 2020 | Acoustic Guitar

Yamaha FG800 vs FG830 vs FG820

QUICK ANSWER…

If you’re rushing off to your next gig and want an answer to the question of which of these three models is my top choice, here’s my quick answer:

Is the Yamaha FG830 a better-sounding guitar than the YamahaFG800? In my opinion, this is an easy answer: yes, it is better sounding. But it is also and more expensive. Is the price difference worth it? My verdict is that it is perfectly worth it. If you can afford the price difference, buying either the FG820 or FG830 is a great idea. If you just want a cheaper instrument to play around that sounds good and looks cool, then the FG800 is a good option too.

 

HOW I ARRIVED AT THIS ANSWER…

Yamaha FG800 vs FG830 vs FG820

 Buying a new guitar, for us, guitar players, is a long road to bliss. Indeed, we cherish that moment in which we can spend our hard-earned money on a new 6-string beauty. In the case you are looking for a new acoustic to strum the afternoon away as you admire the sunset, you are in the right place.

I have been a Yamaha fan for years (played many, many of them) and got lost in the whole Yamaha F800 vs FG830 thing too. That’s why I decided to go try them both and come up with a verdict that I would love to share with you.

Are you ready to learn everything you need to know about the Yamaha FG series so we can compare the Yamaha FG800 vs FG830 vs FG820, and help you pick your next strumming companion?

Buckle up, because here we go!

 

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 really worked on the model trying to find an affordable alternative that would sound and look just as good as any competition. Furthermore, I’m writing this Yamaha FG800 vs FG830 piece because all the line sounds killer and it’s easy to get lost.

Among other minor changes recently made to the series, Yamaha improved the bracing to create a fuller, richer, and crisper sound. They started using technology from much more expensive instruments (such as Martin’s HD series) called scalloped bracing. 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 video.

What to look for on an entry-level acoustic?

Before we go deep into every model, let’s take some lines to do a little “buyer’s guide”. These are the three most important aspects I think you should look for on your next guitar.

Laminate VS Solid Top

Entry-level acoustics usually features a laminated top. What does this mean? Moreover, is this feature a game-changer? Well, the answer is yes, it is a game-changer. The reason is that laminated wood is made from several planks or layers held together with glue. Glued planks don’t vibrate together with the way solid wood does; in other words, it fights against the strings. The resulting sound is dull, non-harmonic, and rapid decay.

On the other hand, solid-top guitars, such as the Martin DSM Dreadnought, are richer-sounding because the top part vibrates harmonically with the strings. The resulting sound is much closer to what you hear on a record and the decay (sustain) is much longer.

If you can afford it, always pick solid wood over laminated, especially for the top of your guitar. Here’s a video explaining differences with sound samples.

 

Neck binding

The neck binding is a strip of plastic that covers the entire length of the neck, from the body to the nut (and sometimes over the headstock too). Although it might seem like an aesthetic feature, the binding works great in keeping the frets perfectly round and making the playing experience much better. If you’ve ever seen Jimi Hendrix or John Mayer fretting with the thumb, that technique is much better when there’s binding on the neck.

If it is within your budget range, you will have better results with an entry-level guitar with neck binding.

 

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 what to look for on your acoustic, let’s look at the first guitar in the rundown. We’ll do a Yamaha FG800 vs FG830 duel with a bonus track, which is the FG820.

To begin with, let’s say that the FG800 features a solid Sitka spruce top and Nato back and sides. Nato is also known as a less expensive replacement for mahogany and does a good job providing the lows for the ringing Sitka spruce top. Also, it looks great in a dark, glossy color that will catch your eye immediately.

Playing-wise, the glossy neck can be a little sticky if you live in a humid place and the absence of binding on the neck can turn the fret edges into a bad experience. Regarding the neck shape, we can say that it is incredibly good for playability since it is small and comfy.

In the sound department, this guitar really sings proud and loud and, while not as focused and rich as mahogany, Nato does a good job on the lows. It sounds better when you strum full chords and make the scalloped bracing work by allowing the solid top to resonate at its fullest.

If you are looking for a well-built acoustic guitar (diecast, closed tuners, rosewood bridge, and solid top) that will not break the bank, this Yamaha might bring you years of enjoyment.

 

What I liked

  • Scalloped bracing enhances vibration
  • Solid Sitka spruce top
  • Nato works well on the lows

 

Not so much

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

 

Yamaha FG800 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar
  • Solid sitka spruce top
  • Nato back & sides
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Rosewood bridge
  • Diecast tuners

 

Yamaha FG820 Review

This is the bonus track in our Yamaha FG800 vs FG830 rundown. First, I can say that the FG820 features all the needed specs to be a winner all on its own. Although it is remarkably similar to the FG800, some critical features set it apart.

To begin with, Nato is replaced by proper mahogany extending the ringing quality of the lower strings. For example, if you happen to strum an E major chord and allow the guitar to ring until the sound is gone, you’ll notice that the bottom end is round and rich. That is the effect of mahogany in the overall sound, thickening the lower registers. Also, you’ll find that the lower register is more focused, you can do fingerpicking and arpeggios with great results.

The second big difference is the neck. Yamaha did apply binding on it from the body to the nut and the feel of the crowned frets improved drastically. Furthermore, with such a slim and easy to play neck, being able to roll your thumb on top and do the John Mayer thing playing the sixth string is quite pleasurable. Finally, the neck is no longer glossy, but satin finish, which makes the world of difference playing-wise.

The solid Sitka spruce top and scalloped bracing available in the FG800 are here too as well as the diecast, closed tuners. The only thing I wish this guitar had were an improved saddle and nut. They are plastic, which takes away part of the sound the FG820 is capable of.

If you are looking for a great beginner to an intermediate guitar that sounds great and plays beautifully; this might be it.

 

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 FG820 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar, Natural
  • Solid Sitka Spruce Top
  • Mahogany Back & Sides
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Rosewood Bridge
  • Diecast Tuners

 

Yamaha FG830 Review

We’ve come to the end of the Yamaha FG800 vs FG830 rundown. It is time to tackle the top of the crop, the Yamaha FG830.

To begin with, we can say that while the solid Sitka spruce top with the scalloped bracing is still the same, the rosewood back and sides are a completely different level. Nato is mahogany’s affordable replacement and rosewood is the next level from both.

Every guitar made with rosewood on the back and sides projects a powerful low end that is as focused as it is loud. With a guitar made with these wood types, you can easily do your best Americana fingerpicking and every note will come out clear on the other side.

The neck binding now goes all the way to cover the headstock as well which is a nice touch. The size is on the thin side (like most Asian guitars) and is very comfortable to play. The satin finish made its way into this model as well and was a very welcome feature.

Also, the ornaments around the body and the rosette were quite fancy for the price tag. Although the body binding wasn’t perfect and some black filler bled through the mother of pearl, it looks beautiful from under the stage.

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

  • Rosewood back and sides
  • Rosette inlays
  • Binding all the way to the headstock

 

Not so much

  • Body binding showed some bleeding

 

Yamaha FG830 Solid Top Folk Guitar, Natural
  • Solid sitka spruce top
  • Nato back & sides
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Rosewood bridge
  • Diecast tuners

 

Verdict

Now it’s time to circle back to where we started and recap my verdict from the top of this review. Is the FG830 a better-sounding guitar than the FG800? Again, that is an easy answer: it is better sounding and more expensive as well. And is the price difference worth it? Again, my verdict is that it is perfectly worth it.

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. But if you just want a cheaper instrument to play around that sounds good and looks cool, then the FG800 is a good option too.

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.

 

 

 

 

Pick wisely, play it a lot, and enjoy life at its best.

 

Happy playing!

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