Yamaha guitars have long been the underdog in pretty much every category, but one thing they’re renowned for regardless of price is their quality. The Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V, for example, offers far more to the guitar shopper than its price tag suggests it should.
While the likes of Squier and Epiphone attract the most attention when it comes to budget electric guitars, this Yamaha sits quietly to the side, waiting for the savvy buyer who realizes that they’ll get much more guitar than they would in other brands for this amount of money.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we got the chance to try out the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V. This budget S style guitar was seriously impressive across the board, so this is one review you won’t want to miss.
Who Is This For?
When the PAC112V was first launched, it was the first budget guitar to use a solid wood body, rather than the plywood or fiberboard bodies being used in similarly priced competitor’s models at the time. Since then, the model has really grown into something pretty special.
With that in mind, we think that the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V is suitable for a wide range of players. It’s a fantastic choice for beginners looking for a quality guitar, but it’s equipped well enough that working musicians on a tight budget could realistically use this guitar to perform with.
Appearance / Features / Controls
The model we received for this test was finished in a lovely “Vintage White”, and if white isn’t your thing, there are a number of other finishes available. The finish on our test model was really nicely applied, with gloss lacquer on the body.
The body itself was light weight, and made from solid alder, which is more in line with what you’d find on a Mexican made Fender Strat than a similarly priced Squier Affinity, which would usually feature a basswood or poplar body.
It features a maple neck, which we really loved. The profile was a slim C shape, which felt great in the hand, and paired with the satin finish, it played fast. The fretboard was rosewood, which isn’t common at all at this price point, a big plus for the Pacifica. The fretwork was solid, too, with nicely beveled edges, and no sharp edges whatsoever.
As for electronics, it featured a humbucker in the bridge position with push pull coil splitting, and 2 single coil pickups, one in the middle, and one in the neck position. There was a 5 way selector switch, a single volume control, and one tone control.
The hardware was all great quality, too. It had a vintage style 6 screw trem system, and the sealed die cast tuners were some of the best we’ve ever reviewed at this price point.
We found that this Yamaha was pretty addictive, and found it hard to put down. The playability was superb, starting with the light weight and the fast neck, it was just incredibly comfortable. The contours on the body were super ergonomic, and it was just obvious that a lot of thought and effort has gone into the design of this guitar, and it’s not simply a Strat copy.
The action was set perhaps a little higher than we’d have liked, but that’s an easy fix, and with a proper setup, we think this guitar would rival just about any Mexican made Stratocaster – from playability, to the hardware quality and the fret finish, it was just a joy to play.
Tonally it was fantastic. It was loaded with a trio of alnico V pickups, which is rare to see at this price, with cheaper ceramic pickups typically being used on budget instruments. In the bridge position with the coils in humbucking mode, this guitar screams. It handles overdrive like a champ, remaining clear even with heavy distortion. Split the coil and you get the crisp clarity of a single coil in the bridge, too – incredibly versatile stuff, especially for under $350.
The “in between” positions (2 & 4), had all the quack you’d hope for from a Strat style guitar, especially with the bridge pickup split, and up in the neck, we got smooth, bell like tones that are just perfect for blues lead work.
As for the hardware, our only gripe with this guitar was the trem system. It comes from the factory locked down to the body, meaning you can only slacken the strings. It can be adjusted to be floating, but this might be beyond the capabilities of many beginners, and they lose the benefit of having vibrato effect from the trem.
Otherwise, we found that the tuning stability was fantastic, even with a vintage style tremolo system – something that isn’t easily achieved. The tuners themselves worked well, engaging properly and allowing fine control over the tuning.
Other Guitars to Consider
The Epiphone Casino Coupe is a genuinely great guitar with a lot to offer gigging musicians and bedroom players alike, but if you’d like to compare it against some other hollow body options, these are the guitars we’d recommend taking a look at.
The Affinity Series Stratocasters have come a long way in the last couple of years, with huge improvements to both overall build quality as well as tone and playability. This particular model is priced similarly to the Yamaha, and also offers a HSS pickup selection. One outstanding feature of the Squier, however, is the availability of the guitar with a flamed maple top, a first for Squier, and a touch that we must admit, looks phenomenal.
The Focus is Kramer’s entry level model, and offers a Strat style body and HSS pickups, but costs about half of what the Squier and the Yamaha do. It has some surprisingly premium features, including a solid mahogany body, and like the Yamaha, Alnico pickups. It’s a great starter guitar, and while it might not suit the working musician as well as the Yamaha, it’s worth a look if you’re a beginner looking for this style of instrument.
Final Thoughts on the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V
The Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V is a genuinely brilliant guitar. It offers so much, and even at double the price would still represent excellent value for money. Obviously, the choice of components and hardware has a lot to do with why it’s so great, but Yamaha’s superb QA processes also have a big part to play. The fit and finish were absolutely flawless, almost impossibly so for a guitar at this price.
We highly recommend that anybody looking for a sub $500 Stratocaster style guitar takes a long look at this Yamaha. We’d even go so far as to say that it’s gone beyond being a Squier killer, and is biting at the heels of Fender’s base models.