Everything You Need to Know About Yamaha A-Series Acoustic Guitars

The Yamaha A-Series is one of the company's higher-end acoustic guitar lines, though it does include some more accessible models. Known for its great tone and road-worthy build quality, the A-Series offers excellent value in all configurations. Here's what you need to know about this popular seller and how to make an informed purchase.

Decoding Model Numbers

Like a lot of acoustic guitars, A-Series model listings read like a jumble of letters and numbers. However, once you understand how to read them, they're easy to decode. Let's look at one guitar — the AC3M — and break down what its code means:

  • A, of course, signifies that this model is part of Yamaha's A-Series
  • C denotes that this particular model features a concert body style, as opposed to the standard western dreadnaught body
  • 3 signifies that this instrument is an A3 model — the A-Series is broken down into three sub-series, ranging from the budget-oriented A1 to the high-end A5
  • M means that this guitar has a mahogany back and sides, as opposed to rosewood models, which are marked R

 Using this breakdown, we can tell that, for example, the A5R is a dreadnaught A5 model with rosewood back and sides.

Regardless of their configuration, all A-Series guitars offer quality construction that's designed for the rigors of the road but equally at home being pampered in the studio. Beyond that, however, individual models can vary considerably both in specifications and in price. Let's look at each sub-series one by one.




Yamaha A5 model guitars contain all the premium features the A-Series is known for, including: 

  • Powerful sound thanks to a unique scalloped bracing system and Yamaha's proprietary A.R.E. (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement) process. Yamaha A-Series guitars will deliver a rich, vintage-inspired tone with well-balanced lows and mids and a natural resonance that stands out in a full band setting.
  • Solid wood construction with a Sitka spruce top and your choice of mahogany or rosewood back and sides. Solid backs and sides give the A-Series a distinctive tonal footprint that many prefer to laminated guitars.
  • SRT2 electronics. The SRT2 system features a proprietary piezoelectric pickup with a clear, wide response and an integrated preamp that allows you to dial in the perfect sound for your playing style.

 Yamaha manufactures all A5 acoustic guitars in its Japanese factory. The A5 line includes premium features such as a TUSQ nut and saddle, ebony bridge and fingerboard and open-gear Gotoh tuners. As well, all A5 guitars come with a hard shell case.

The A5 series consists of four models: 

  • A5R
  • AC5R
  • A5M
  • AC5M



The A3 is the mid-range entry in the Yamaha A-Series acoustic guitar family. Though priced lower than the A5, it contains many of the higher model's most notable features, including a solid back and sides and SRT2 electronics.

This model lacks some of the embellishments of the A5 — the nut and saddle are made from urea, the tuners are a die-cast chrome model from Yamaha and the hardshell case is replaced by a hard bag. In addition, A3 models are made in China rather than Japan, though they undergo a rigorous quality control process before leaving the factory.

All things considered, the A3 series offers a great compromise between premium features and a budget-friendly price. Four models are available:

  • A3R
  • AC3R
  • A3M
  • AC3M



Finally, the A1 is the most economical iteration of the Yamaha A-Series. It retains the solid Sitka top of its more expensive cousins but features laminate back and sides and a rosewood fingerboard. As well, it contains a simplified preamp with fewer tone controls and lacks the A.R.E. processing found on the A3 and A5.

Although it doesn't have the full feature set of other A-Series guitars, A1 models are still a great choice for anyone from a beginner to a working pro. With an MSRP starting at $815.00 — and street pricing even lower — it's a guitar that's well worth every penny. The four models in the A1 series are:

  • A1R
  • AC1R
  • A1M
  • AC1M

Other Models

While the A1, A3 and A5 make up the core of the A-Series, Yamaha is always introducing new models — such as the limited edition A4K and AC4K, which feature a solid Hawaiian Koa top, back and sides.

The best way to stay on top of the latest offerings is to stop by one of the two Bananas at Large® locations and speak directly with one of our acoustic guitar specialists. We'd be happy to show you the latest additions to our inventory and help you find your next purchase. Call, email or visit us in person today!

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