Yamaha Pacifica 611VFMX
By Phil O'Keefe |
Yamaha Pacifica 611VFMX
Impressive playability meets sonic versatility
by Phil O'Keefe
Yamaha says their motto is "never standing still" and the latest Pacifica model is testament to that philosophy. First introduced in 1990, their Pacifica line has long been a player favorite, with a design that developed from the needs of studio players for a reliable and sonically versatile instrument. The latest version of the Pacifica, the PAC611VFMX, refines the basic concept and offers it in a new limited production version. Let's see what this S-style double-cutaway guitar has to offer.
- Built in Indonesia, the Pacifica 611VFMX comes with a matte finish in translucent blue, translucent black or root beer, the color of the review unit I was sent to check out.
- The review 611VFMX has a three-piece alder body that is capped with maple, and a flame maple veneer adds a bit of flash to the top's appearance, although the satin finish and dark colors that the model is offered in don't particularly highlight the flame; making it somewhat subtle, depending on the viewing angle.
- The rear of the body has black plastic covers over the control cavity and tremolo spring routes, as well as a tummy contour for playing comfort.
- The top of the body also has a forearm contour.
- According to my digital calipers, the yellow-tinted, satin-finished maple neck is 41.27 mm (1.624") wide at the nut and .825" thick at the first fret. It feels smoth, sleek, thin and fast, and it's very comfortable to play. It's capped with a rosewood fingerboard with a 13.75" radius and 22 frets, and it has simple pearloid dot position indicators, as well as white dot position indicators on the side of the fretboard.
- The face of the headstock is finished in flat black, with a Pacifica decal as well as a raised Yamaha "tuning fork" badge.
- The nut is a Graph Tech graphite nut, and the twin string trees are also Graph Tech graphite units. The nut slots were well-cut.
- The six tuners are made by Grover, and they lock from the top. Tuning stability of the Pacifica 611VFMX is excellent.
- The neck is attached to the body with four bolts and a Yamaha-stamped neck plate. The neck pocket / neck joint is nice and tight, without any visible gaps.
- The 611VFMX has a cool looking black anodized aluminum pickguard.
- The pickups are from Seymour Duncan, with a SP90-2N in the neck, and a hot Custom 5 humbucker in the bridge.
- A three-position blade style switch allows for pickup selection, while master volume and tone controls, complete with chrome dome style knobs, round out the electronics.
- The tone control has a push / pull pot - pulling it out splits the bridge humbucker, allowing you to get single coil tones from the bridge pickup too.
- The output jack is side mounted using a small metal plate.
- The Yamaha Pacifica 611VMFX comes equipped with a Wilkinson V550 tremolo bridge that has six adjustable saddles. Yamaha includes a set of allen wrenches to allow you to do your own intonation and string height adjustments, but the factory setup was quite good right out of the box.
- The tremolo arm doesn't screw in like with some vibrato bars - you just push it straight in, making it faster to set up. The tremolo bridge on the review unit was adjusted flat to the body of the guitar, which means you can only lower pitch with it, and not raise it - which I personally prefer since it also tends to stay in tune better when you're bending one string while holding other unbent notes than a floating tremolo setup would. If you prefer the later, a good tech can adjust it to suit your preferences.
- Return to pitch after using the bar is quite good, in no small part due to the straight string path, locking Grover tuners and the Graph Tech graphite nut and string retainers.
- This is a limited edition model and it may be harder to track one down. Yamaha said that there's only 200 examples being made for the USA, although I'm not sure if that's 200 for each color, or 200 total.
- There was a small dark blemish (approximately 5-6 mm long) on the back of the neck near the headstock on the review unit.
- While one shouldn't really be expected to be thrown in at this price point, no case or gig bag is included with the Pacifica 611VFMX, so you'll need to plan and budget accordingly.
- The tremolo arm tends to droop and doesn't really stay where you last left it - this can be fixed by tightening an adjustment screw, which is located under the bridge plate near the tremolo shaft. Doing so requires you to depress the bar a bit to reach it, and it can be a bit tricky to do both simultaneously. The good news is that Yamaha does include the allen wrench that you need along with the guitar.
What I like most about the Pacifica 611VFMX is the easy playability - with both tummy and forearm contours it's not only a very comfortable guitar to wear, but the neck is also smooth, fast, and effortless to play. Plus, the double cutaway design provides perfect balance when it's hanging from a strap, and excellent upper fret access. The other thing that really impressed me is the tonal versatility, which is really quite good for a two-pickup guitar. The humbucker is on the hot side and sounds really good, and even when pulling up on the tone control and using it as a single coil, the sound doesn't get anemic or drop way down in volume. In fact, I liked the single coil sound quite a bit. The neck pickup is also a winner, with a thick tone that works well by itself for more rootsy sounding parts, and the combination tones utilizing both pickups are well worth exploring too. The factory setup was flawless, and the guitar played great right out of the box with no adjustments needed. Once I tuned it up, it tended to stay that way, even when doing fairly heavy bends and tremolo bar workouts.
My complaints were minor. The mystery blemish on the neck is impossible to feel and really not a huge concern, although as with any finish flaw, it needed to be pointed out. The slightly tricky to reach adjustment screw to tighten up the vibrato bar only has to be tightened occasionally, so that's not a big issue either. As a whole, this is really a fun, well-built guitar. While there's an obvious Fullerton influence to the Pacifica, it's far from just another clone. Yamaha has taken the basic S-style guitar design and have done their own thing with it; both in the way it looks and sounds - and the end result is very cool. If you want something a little different than what everyone else uses but you still need a great playing, cool looking guitar with a lot of sonic versatility, you should definitely check out what the Yamaha Pacifica 611VFMX has to offer. Give one a try for yourself. At $650 bucks "street", this is a lot of guitar for not very much money. -HC-
Want to discuss the Yamaha Pacifica 611VFMX or have questions or comments about this review? Then head over to this thread in the Electric Guitar forum right here on Harmony Central and join the discussion!
Yamaha Pacifica 611VFMX electric guitar ($1,050.00 MSRP, $649.99 "street")
Yamaha's product web page
Yamaha's Pacifica line web page
You can purchase the Yamaha Pacifica 611VFMX from:
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer/producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician, and Guitar Player magazines.