Yamaha has been making sweet music for several decades. The brand is associated with instruments that provide excellent value for money. They have proven that consumers don’t need to shell out thousands of dollars just to get high quality guitars. Beginners don’t have to practice on cheap items that sound terrible due to their limited budget. They can get a Yamaha acoustic to start their musical journey with a reliable companion. There are plenty of options from acoustic guitars to electric guitars to hybrids. Most will probably want to get an acoustic to learn the basics and Yamaha’s FG 800 Series offers incredible choices.
In 1966, Yamaha came out with the FG180. It’s a high performance dreadnought guitar with a low price tag. It quickly became a hit selling countless units and spawning a devoted fan base. The best thing that the company did was to keep improving their products with each succeeding generation. As great as the FG180 was, the FG800 series is even better. The eight generation models include the FG800, which is the base configuration, and the FG820, which is a step up in terms of material, styling, and variations. In this article, we do a head-to-head comparison of the Yamaha FG800 vs FG820.
The two models come from the same mold. They have more similarities than differences so any buyer should be aware of what remains constant across this series. First is their size and shape. The FG 800 series are all dreadnoughts which is one of the biggest types of guitars. The shape is a traditional hourglass figure while the proportions are large enough to generate significant volume without amps. As a consequence, you don’t need to strum so hard just to be heard when playing for others. Even soft fingerpicking can be easily detected. If you plan to go acoustic all the way, then this is a good option. Those who want the same models in a smaller form factor can look into the FS series which contains concert size guitars.
The overall look is identical as well. It’s rather basic compared to the more expensive guitars with inlays, graphics, strategic holes, cutaways, unique heads, and other things that tend to get a double take. This is as plain as it gets but that’s not bad at all. There’s a certain charm about an honest guitar that focuses on the music and does exactly what it’s supposed to do. With Yamaha, you can be confident about the quality of these products no matter what you pick. The craftsmanship is better than you might expect. You can take them anywhere and play them every day knowing that they will hold up.
1. The Price Points
The first thing that will jump out at you when comparing these models is the difference in price. Some might think that the difference is negligible but others might consider this a massive gap. If they are going to take the leap, then they want to make sure that it’s worth the money. Whether it is or not really depends on the individual and what he values. The FG820 is a bit flashier for sure, and there are substantial upgrades that are worth a look. However, these are nice extras rather than necessities.
2. Finish Options
Among the reasons for the higher price tag for the FG820 is the range of colors that people can choose from. The FG800 is usually found in a natural finish, although you can hunt for the occasional variant online. Meanwhile, FG820 comes in multiple official finish options such as natural black, turquoise, ruby red, autumn sunburst, and brown sunburst. Some of these might be hard to visualize with only their names. Try to look at pictures of these so you can see exactly how they look and what shades you can expect. Maybe you will like some more than others.
Go for a natural look with a cream-colored top and darker brown sides. It never runs out of style. If this is too boring for you, then go for autumn burst for a bright orange screamer. If you would like to express your individuality, then go for something that is fairly rare such as turquoise which matches the color of clear waters at tropical beaches. If that’s a bit too bold for you, then consider sunset blue which is basically the same except for the fading black trim around the edges. You could also go for a classic look with the all-black finish.
3. 12-String and Left-handed Options
The FG800 only comes with a 6-string configuration which is what most people will want anyway. The FG820 has a 12-string variant which is quite rare. This would be six pairs of strings that come together to create a chorus effect. It’s handy when you want a fuller tone and a louder sound. It’s hard to replicate this with only six strings. In electric guitars, this effect is achieved through the use of chorus pedals. This is for advanced guitar players such as those who wish to mimic the style of early blues musicians. The FG820 also has a left-hand option so that lefties can strum in comfort.
4. Back and Sides Material
The material used in building a guitar has a great deal of influence on its sound. For both models, you will see a solid sitka spruce top instead of the cheaper laminates that tend to permeate this price range. You will also get rosewood at the fingerboard and the bridge. They only differ if the back and the sides as the FG800 uses nato while the FG820 boasts of mahogany. Some might dismiss this as a minor divergence while others will mark it as a game changer. Nato is a combination of different types of wood that are glued together like plywood. It’s a budget option for those who don’t mind. Mahogany is considered as a superior wood in guitars.
Yamaha provides compelling options for those who want quality guitars for less. The FG800 is good enough for most but those who can splurge a bit more can go for the FG820 for interesting colors, better materials, and additional options.