Posted by Teja Gerken
Fueled by reader requests for an overview of currently available small-body guitars, Acoustic Guitar invited manufacturers to send us samples of their small-body instruments with list prices between $500 and $1,000. We ended up with 11 guitars that are surprisingly diverse in sound and feel, some inspired by vintage instruments and others with more modern body and neck shapes, materials, and appointments. In checking out these guitars, I was assisted by Pete Madsen, a San Francisco Bay Area fingerstyle blues guitarist, teacher, and frequent Acoustic Guitar contributor. Here’s our review of the Yamaha LS6.
For many years, especially in the 1970s and ’80s, Yamaha was virtually synonymous with inexpensive, good quality flattop guitars, and the LS6 lives up to this reputation. Yamaha has always had its own styling, and the LS6 combines an original design (a slightly modified body shape, original bridge and headstock designs, etc.) with dimensions that are very similar to those of an OM, including a 15-inch body, long scale, and 1 3/4-inch nut width. The guitar is made with cosmetically attractive materials; the mahogany used on the neck is especially beautiful. The neck is reinforced with a rosewood center strip, which, combined with separate heel and headstock pieces, creates a five-piece design. The guitar has massive back braces, and, in typical Yamaha fashion, the intersections of the top braces are reinforced with pieces of cloth. The LS6’s rounded and relatively thin neck profile gives it a contemporary feel and easy playability. Tonally, the guitar had a bright voice with great presence, though digging in hard with a pick resulted in a bit of compression and a loss of some richness. But with a lighter attack, the guitar had an even, balanced strumming sound with excellent clarity.
SPECS: Solid Engelmann spruce top. Laminated rosewood back and sides. Three-ply mahogany and rosewood neck with dovetail joint. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. X-bracing. 25.56-inch scale. 1 3/4-inch nut width. 2 1/8-inch string spacing at saddle. Gold enclosed tuning machines. Light-gauge Yamaha strings. Made in China.
PRICE: $835 list/$499 street.
MAKER: Yamaha: (714) 522-9000; usa.yamaha.com.
See more 11 Affordable Small-Body Flattops articles.