Rarely does a guitar come along that boasts as many features for the price as this one in today’s review. The Yamaha APX600 is an acoustic guitar designed with electric players in mind, and upon review, is one of the most affordable of its kind.
Yamaha Offers an Affordable & Capable Acoustic-Electric in the APX600
The Yamaha APX series has been around for ages, remaining a staple in the brand’s production lineup. Part of its appeal inevitably begins at price: for under $400, you can score a high-performing acoustic-electric guitar in the current APX600. Entry-level pricing makes it perfect for first-time players, as well as gigging guitarists who need to pick up an acoustic for the stage but don’t want to shell out a ton of money.
It’s also a comfortable and familiar feeling instrument if you’re coming from playing electric almost exclusively. The scale length, upper fret access, and thin body all give it the trappings of a buttery smooth playing electric. These characteristics make it a somewhat unique instrument. It’s neither purely acoustic nor all electric, but a nicely executed hybrid with appropriate compromises made in the ideal places. The Yamaha APX600 is an attractive acoustic-electric no matter which way you slice it.
A Reputation Over 30 Years in the Making (A Brief History of the APX600)
The original APX lineup debuted in 1987. That’s 36 years ago as of 2023, in which Yamaha has had ample time to watch the APX sales data and continue improving upon the instruments or axe them altogether. It’s safe to say the series isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, since we’re coming at you with a Yamaha APX600 review nearly 40 years in the making.
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Even with a history that long, the unique elliptical soundhole and cutaway body of the APX instruments hasn’t changed at all. Yamaha clearly had a hit on their hands at first crack, which is impressive to say the least. The series has naturally undergone minor improvements in each iteration, but the core of the acoustic-electric guitar hasn’t changed since release.
Yamaha APX600 Review: How Does It Sound?
Scale & Construction
The APX600 features a 25″ scale length that electric players will feel right at home playing. Compare that to a Les Paul’s 24.75″ scale, a Strat’s 25.5″ scale, or a PRS Custom 24’s — right on the nose — 25″ scale length. The neck also has narrower string spacing for additional playability and comfort.
The APX600s have a sitka spruce top, rosewood fretboard, and sustainably sourced anonymous “tonewoods” for the body and neck. Internally, Yamaha utilizes a specialized bracing pattern to increase the low-end output of the guitar. This is largely to make up for the reduced resonance of the instruments’ thin-line body.
A major selling point of the APX600 is how it plays like an electric guitar. Big-bodied dreadnought acoustics with minimal upper fret access and shorter scale lengths require a slight adjustment to play if you’re coming from shredding an Ibanez RG all day, everyday. The APX’s purpose is to give guitarist’s a seamless transition between electric and acoustic when the song or gig calls for the latter.
The thinner body also helps the guitar sit closely and ergonomically to the player. In many ways, the APX600 is a means of achieving authentic acoustic sound with electric playability.
How Does It Sound?
Yamaha includes a System 65A preamp piezo pickup system for amplification. The piezo system gives the guitar a natural and shimmery acoustic quality that you’d be proud send out to send to an audience. The amplified sound of the APX600 is ultimately where the guitar shines. It even includes a built-in tuner.
Unplugged, the APX600’s spruce top helps it resonate and bloom like a dreadnought-style acoustic would, but it certainly doesn’t have the same depth or richness. That’s understandably the biggest compromise this guitar makes. Realistically, someone purchasing this instrument would plan to have it plugged in most of the time. There are numerous alternatives when you need a more conventional acoustic sound in the studio.
The APX600 Is Deceptively Affordable Given Its Features
Onboard preamp, built-in tuner, access to Yamaha’s Player Port mobile app, electric playability in an acoustic instrument…there’s a lot to love about the APX600 before even mentioning its cost. And once we get to that, it seems like a no-brainer for anyone seeking an acoustic-electric guitar.
Our Take: The Yamaha APX600 Is an Excellent Workhorse Guitar
All things considered, the Yamaha APX600 is an unbeatable value. It includes everything you’d want from a workhorse guitar that you don’t have to baby or worry about getting dinged or dented. Electric players especially would love how easy it is to transition to this instrument for realistic acoustic tones amplified. It’s safe to say Yamaha has at least another 40 years of success with the APX series on the horizon.