Yamaha is one of the most popular brands for student grade instruments, but few give them the credit they truly deserve for their higher end instruments. Yamaha makes quality guitars with some of the best QA in the business, and they are definitely worthy of your attention.
If you’ve recently acquired a Yamaha guitar and you’ve broken a string, or the stock set has just come to the end of its useful life, you might find yourself wondering which strings Yamaha installed on the guitar at the factory. There is a lot of discussion online, with few definitive answers.
We reached out to directly to our contact at Yamaha USA to bring you this information directly from the source:
|Pacifica Models||D’Addario EXL120 / 0.009-0.042|
|Revstar Models||Elixir Electric Nickel-Plated Steel with Nanoweb Coating/0.010-0.046|
|Revstar Model RSP20CR||D’Addario EXL110 / 0.010-0.046|
|SG Electric Hollow Body Models||D’Addario EXL110 / 0.010-0.046|
|FG/FGX, A Series and Lower Level L Series Acoustic Models||Elixir NANOWEB 80/20 Bronze Light|
|LL26-LL56 Acoustics Models (Made In Japan)||Yamaha FS50BT Strings|
It’s evident that even on lower end models, Yamaha, true to form, does not load their guitars with cheap, unbranded parts. This is one of the many reasons that makes me believe Yamaha is one of, if not the, most underrated guitar brand out there.
So, if you want to try and keep your guitar sounding as close as possible to the original sound, you can absolutely check the table above and order the exact same strings. Otherwise,
How Do I Know When to Change my Guitar Strings?
Whether you’ve got a Yamaha guitar or any other brand, the signs of dead strings are almost always the same. Keep reading to learn more about how to spot them and keep your guitar sounding its best at all times.
A Change in Color
This is most noticeable on acoustic guitars, but you should still be able to notice a distinct difference in the color of a fresh set of strings and an aged set on any guitar. When strings are new, they literally shine. As you play your guitar, sweat, dead skin cells, oil, and dirt from other sources begins to collect and makes the strings dirty, which is immediately apparent as a loss of shine.
Even if you clean the strings after each use, you’ll still lose shine after continued use – particularly with nickel plated steel. The more you play, the more you’ll wear through the shiny nickel coating, revealing the mild steel underneath. Mild steel is susceptible to corrosion and won’t appear shiny like new strings.
A Change in Tone
There’s something special about how a guitar sounds with a brand new set of strings. The tone is bright, note separation is great, and intonation is perfect. As we know, this isn’t destined to last forever. As your strings age, the brightness, intonation and note separation all start to subside.
This isn’t a quick process though, and some factors including string alloy, how often you play, and where you play (among others) will all influence how quickly you begin to lose tone, but when you can hear a noticeable difference, you should change the strings at the earliest opportunity.
A Loss of Stability
If your guitar is typically rock solid when it comes to tuning stability, and you suddenly start finding that it can’t hold pitch, there’s a very good chance that it’s because your strings are past their best.
When strings are brand new this can happen as they stretch, and as the winding around the tuning post settles, but with old strings, this is most often down to the wire wrap around the ball end beginning to come apart.
If your strings are more than a month or two old and suddenly start to lose tune, it’s time to change them.
A Change in Feel
This is most obvious if it’s been a while since you picked your guitar up, but when you go to play, run your fingers along the length of each string. If they feel rough and uneven, or even gritty, there is a good chance that they have oxidized and begun to rust.
Even if your strings don’t necessarily have that gritty feel, they could still be starting to corrode. If you notice that they don’t bend the way they used to, or that vibratos are difficult to play, particularly on the wound strings, the inner core could be compromised.
Not only do corroded strings look terrible, sound bad, and feel awful, but they are working on borrowed time, and are likely to break. If you suspect from this description that your strings are beginning to oxidize, change them out.
Recommended Strings for Yamaha Guitars
If you’re planning to branch out from the OEM strings, take a look at the below recommendations.
Solid Body Electric
The Pacifica series is Yamaha’s best selling lineup. They make everything from budget bundles to pro grade instruments in this series, but no matter which model you play, a set of Ernie Ball Super Slinky (.009-.042) will sound fantastic. They come in nickel plated steel, they’re incredible value for money, and offer great comfort and playability. If you’d like to go a gauge up, then Ernie Ball Regular Slinky (.010-.046) will also sound fantastic.
Yamaha’s semi-hollow archtop guitars are made in Japan to some of the world’s most exacting standards, so it seems only fitting that you equip them with the best replacement strings. My recommendation here is Elixir Nanoweb in .010-.046. These are coated strings that will provide a huge lifespan and consistently great feel throughout the life of the strings.
My recommendation when it comes to acoustic strings is our best overall winner in the KillerGuitarRigs Best Acoustic Guitar Strings shootout – Ernie Ball Aluminum Bronze in .013-.056. These strings are bright, hard wearing, articulate enough for fingerpicking, but hold up well for heavy strumming, too.
Final Thoughts on Strings for a Yamaha Guitar
While Yamaha did confirm the strings that they currently equip their guitars with, they were also clear about the fact that they do change from time to time for a number of reasons. So, if you bought your Yamaha guitar recently, there’s a good chance that the strings listed earlier in this guide will match, but if you have an older instrument, this may not be the case.
It’s not uncommon for manufacturers to change string brands periodically, in fact it affords them flexibility if they need to change production, which keeps prices and inventory under control.
Of course, many guitarists want to keep the OEM equipment on their instruments to keep them sounding the way they did when they first bought them. So, whether you choose to go with the original strings or try something new, there are a lot of great options out there to keep your Yamaha guitar, whether acoustic or electric, sounding great.