Yamaha Storia III Acoustic Electric Guitar
By Chris Loeffler |
Everyone needs a little color in their life!
'What kind of guitar should I buy for a new player?” is a question most players have been asked by friends and family, whether for themselves or their kids. There are typically dozens of follow-up questions you may want to ask, but the most critical considerations are likely the accessibility of price and playability. For decades, “learner” guitars walked the gamut from unplayable to “has potential”, but improvements in the quality and oversight of affordable construction have made most entry-level guitars at least worthy of the first year of learning.
That said, when it comes to exploring a new passion, being inspired is as important as being accommodated, which is why you will rarely hear a recommendation for a $99 Walmart guitar. My experience is the person buying their first guitar wants it to look cool and be told it sounds good by people they look up to. While most acoustic brands show up in the $300-$500 range with extremely good options, and many less prestigious brands have solidly flashy models that lack in tone, the new Yamaha Storia series aims to appease both wants.
What You Need to Know
The Yamaha Storia III acoustic-electric guitar is designed to be an upscale entry-level option for newer players, with a lighter body and slightly shorter scale than many quitars, and ships with lighter strings. Yamaha’s take on the Concert body shape, the FS, is slightly less bulky than many starter guitars without falling into the realm of Parlor-style or sacrificing too much bass.
The Yamaha Storia III (one of three appointments offered in the Storia series) is a solid-top acoustic guitar with an undersaddle-mounted passive pickup. I’ll dive into the appointments of the Storia I and II later, but for now it’s enough to know they are differentiated by their tops (spruce for the I, mahogany for the II and III) with different stains, rosettes, and bindings to create a unique look for each offering.
The Yamaha Storia III I evaluated played comfortably right out of the box, arriving well set up with light-gauge strings, a well profiled, medium-sized neck, and dressed frets. The acoustic tone was balanced, with enough low-end to fill out the sound, clean, soft highs and a focused, round midrange that leaned slightly to the upper mid frequencies. I found it especially articulate with finger picking and light strumming, and there was the expected acoustic congestion when I really dug in on power chords (“sawing wood”).
Plugged in, the sound was well translated through the under saddle passive pickup (with the expected piezo characteristics in tow), and I was pleased while demoing that even with aggressive strumming I couldn’t overwhelm the pickup. The quality of the amplified sound was, of course, heavily dependent on the quality of preamp I ran the guitar into.
Having covered the legitimacy of the Storia as a playable, tone-rich instrument, the aesthetics of the guitars are clearly meant to be a primary selling point, or at least point of differentiation. The Storia I and Storia II (neither which was reviewed) feature solid spruce and mahogany tops (respectively), with light blue or ultramarine stain inside. The result is highly stylized and fits the bill for something that looks good in a room when it isn’t being played.
The Storia III has a chocolate stained, glossy mahogany top and sides with well-defined figuring and a wine-red stain in its interior. The rosette is a matched black (binding), wine red, and ivory inlay, and the tuners and pins are matching champagne gold to tie the piece together.
The passive under saddle pickup will want a preamp and basic EQing to sound great amplified.
The Yamaha Storia series of acoustic-electric guitars are an interesting entry into the category, seemingly targeted at casual players who want a quality-built guitar that is highly playable and eye-catching. $399.99 may push the envelope for a starter instrument (at least for young people who don’t have a player buying their instrument), but the look, feel, and sound are everything I look for when asked to recommend a good guitar. -HC-
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.