A solidly made and good sounding 12 string acoustic guitar that holds up well compared to more expensive brands.
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The Yamaha FG410-12A is a well constructed twelve string acoustic guitar, with a rich rounded tone. The FG410-12A is nothing particularly special in the world of 12 string instruments, but it sounds good and plays well. Futhermore, it is a well made and reliable instrument.
Originally available new from 1989 through to 1995, there are no active/piezo elements (which were gaining popularity at the time) and there is no cutaway. So this is a low to medium price range instrument, originally selling for around USD $360 (quite likely around AUD $500 in Australia).
The FG410-12A that I have was purchased from the 1st owner for around AUD $200 back in 2000, and it came with a good collection of scratches and dings. Fortunately none of the damage has any impact on the guitar's sound or playability.
I've more recently seen the FG-410-12A listing for around USD $250 in good condition (without a case) online. Not bad after all that time. In Australia expect to pay anywhere from AUD $175 (plus shipping) to AUD $350 for one in really good condition. Beware of low list prices and rediculous shipping charges ... and try to get one with a case or at least a decent bag ;-)
Playing the Yamaha FG-410-12A
I have noticed that some US web sites refer to the Yamaha FG410-12A as a 'campfire guitar', well, I think it deserves a slightly better status than that. While it's not in the league of some more expensive and/or exotic guitars, the FG410-12A is still a nice guitar to play (for a 12 string ;-) and that is after all a very important reason for owning any instrument.
Overall neck dimensions are the same as a six string guitar, so this is not a fat or wide necked guitar. This does place a little more emphasis on fingering accuracy (anyway, that's what she said).
If you can build up a bit of left hand strength to deal with the additional six strings, you will find this guitar amenable to some fast 12 string licks (on a set of lighter guage strings ;-)
I have included measurements with the FG410-12A specifications below.
Yamaha FG-410-12A Sound
While it's not a Martin or a Maton, the Yamaha FG410-12A still has a very good and balanced sound for what it is. This is probably another example of aging timbers adding to the quality of the instrument's sound. Being a D sized twelve string it can be quite loud, though generally not in a harsh way.
The Yamaha FG410-12A records well when mic'd up close in stereo with a crossed pair of mics pointing just before and after the sound hole. The guitar projects cleanly and you can give it a thrashing without it getting boomy. As with many dreadnaughts low frequency feedback may however be an issue with live playing.
Build Quality / Workmanship / Reliability
The Yamaha FG410-12A is a well made D sized instrument, showing no adverse signs of ageing, even after the better part of years . Given that this is a 12 string with additional tension on the neck and braces, it is good to note there is no neck twisting or unwanted bulges in the body.
The workmanship and attention to detail is excellent for a small run, but still mass produced instrument. The fact that it was made in Japan probably increased the level of quality control.
The one I have has rarely seen the inside of a guitar case. So, for everything to be in order and 100% playable with essentially zero maintenance over well, draw your own conclusions. All I do is play this guitar every other week or three and occassionally tune it up.
A mod I would recommend (and have implemented) is a piezo pickup / EQ / tuner, preferably with a 5 channel EQ and a low impedance output option. The 5 channel EQ is very useful on a 12 string (much more practical than a 4 channel EQ version). The low impedance output lets you dump it into any available balanced mic input, if required.
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Strings for the FG410-12A
My general personal preference for guitars that are played regularly, are the light gauge D'Addario EJ41 Phosphor Bronze series strings. Nice and bright but can also deliver a rich tone. They do oxidise fairly quickly, but I'm prepared to put up with some dark smudges on my finger tips to get the sound that I want.
However, for instruments that are played less often, particularly 12 stringed guitars there is are coated 'long life' strings available that are made specifically to NOT oxidise. Well not as quickly anyway. Thereby also keeping their tone a little better, for longer. This comes, of course, at generally double the cost of standard string sets. I have used both the plain D'Addario and treated Cleartone (still) on the FG410-12A and both have performed admirably.
Value for Money
The Yamaha FG410-12A was good value for money in it's day. You could pay a lot more for major brand acoustic 12 string guitars that didn't play nearly as well as this one.
The problem with finding a used one in good condition, is that they were not a top of the range guitar. Many Yamaha FG410-12A's probably spent most (if not all) of thier existance outside of a guitar case (you know, as campfire guitars ;-) and will no doubt have the scars to go with (just like the one I have). If nothing else this does atest to the durability of these instruments and if you don't mind the rough cosmetics, that will almost certainly make for a cheaper purchase price.
Yamaha FG410-12A Specifications
There is also the FG410 6 string version with very similar specifications.
|Year(s) Sold:||1989 - 1995|
|Outer Binding:||Ivory colour|
|Machine Heads:||Chrome Diecast|
- Playability - 7 / 10 (it's a twelve string after all)
- Sound - 8 / 10 Nice but not special
- Build Quality - 10 / 10 Hard to fault
- Durability & Reliability - 10 / 10 Time proven
- Value for Money - 8 /10 It's a nice guitar, not high-end
- Overall Average Score ... 8 / 10
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Incept Date: Wizard - 190600
Last Update: Wizard - 190905