Yamaha FG850 Review – Is This Guitar Worth It?

As a guitar instructor for over 20 years, I always hear this from my students: finding the right guitar is never easy, especially when shopping online. Without strumming the strings for yourself, it is hard to determine the fullness of the voice at different frequencies. You want something that makes every chord come to life.

The Yamaha FG 850 acoustic guitar may offer the sound that you need for your performances. For over 50 years, the FG series has been a staple of the industry. With the latest 800 series, you get a fuller tone and louder sound compared to the previous FG guitars.

While this full-sized guitar features an improved design, you should find out how it stacks up compared to other acoustic guitars under $500. Here is a closer look at the Yamaha FG 850.

Highly Recommended
A great choice that produces rich, deep tones and a crisp sound.
  • All-mahogany body
  • Scalloped bracing
  • Rosewood fingerboard
See Customer Reviews

Yamaha FG 850 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar Overview

It features a smooth, natural finish that helps bring out the richness of the mahogany.
  • Warm and woody design
  • With Tuner and Strap
  • Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD
See Customer Reviews

The Yamaha FG 850 is a solid-top mahogany acoustic guitar and available with a dreadnought or concert body. It features a smooth, natural finish that helps bring out the richness of the mahogany. This is paired with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge.

The guitar is made by Yamaha, one of the leading manufacturers of musical instruments and sound equipment. It is a recognizable company and you likely already have at least one or two items with the Yamaha insignia.

The first Yamaha FG guitar was released in 1966. The FG 850 guitar includes several features that justify the release of a new series in the FG family, including:

  • All-mahogany body
  • Scalloped bracing
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Standard-shaped neck
  • Right-handed design

While earlier FG guitars are still popular, Yamaha felt that there was room to improve the design. The newer FG 850 has improved low to mid-ranges, due to the new scalloped bracing and all-mahogany construction.

The solid top and improved bracing help deliver a richer sound that works well for vocal accompaniment, especially when selecting the dreadnought-style body. Due to the richness of this mahogany guitar, the concert body is also a great option for beginners.

Pros of the Yamaha FG 850

  • Manufactured by a trusted company, Yamaha has produced FG guitars for over 50 years
  • Offers a deeper, fuller tone compared to other guitars in the same price range
  • The new bracing system helps create a richer sound, especially for low to mid-range tones
  • Features a natural finish, highlighting the beautiful texture of the all-mahogany body
  • Available in a dreadnought or concert body
  • Suitable for musicians of all skill levels, from beginners to pros

Cons of the Yamaha FG 850

  • The included strings are stiff and detune easily
  • The straddle may be a little high, depending on your preferences, but can be sanded down

Does the FG 850 Guitar Really Feature All-Mahogany Construction?

One of the selling points of this guitar is that it features all-mahogany construction, yet several customers have pointed out that it includes a rosewood fingerboard and bridge.

The all-mahogany construction refers to the body. Inexpensive guitars may use a quality wood on the top or bottom and an inferior wood on the sides. The top, back, and sides of the FG 850 are constructed entirely out of mahogany, which produces a more balanced tone and sound.

What Is the Difference Between the FG 800 and FG 700 Guitars?

Yamaha has produced over 200 guitars in the FG family. The FG 800 series is the latest and the FG 700 is the previous series. The main improvement over the 700 series is the scalloped bracing.

Both sets of guitars feature solid tops, durable construction, and standard-shaped necks. However, improved bracing enhances the natural characteristics of the guitar. It offers a louder sound with more bass and warmth.

What Is the Difference Between Concert and Dreadnought Guitars?

The Yamaha FG 850 acoustic guitar is available with a concert or dreadnought body. These are two of the most popular guitar body shapes, but beginners may have trouble choosing the right option.

The concert guitar features a smaller body and more curves compared to the fuller shape of the dreadnought guitar. With this shape, you get more balanced mid-tones, making it a versatile guitar for different play styles.

The dreadnought body is bigger and broader, which also describes the sound that it produces. You get deeper, warmer tones. These guitars are made to project more volume and produce a bigger sound.

Typically, the concert guitars are recommended for those that are learning to play or younger players. As the guitar is smaller, it is more comfortable for those with shorter arms.

The dreadnought offers more sound, making it an appealing choice for live performances and accompanying vocals.

Benefits of Playing with the Yamaha FG 850

While it’s important to review the main specs, you really want to know how the guitar plays and why you should choose it over other acoustic guitars under $500.

The brand name is one reason to consider getting the FG 850. Yamaha is a well-known company in the audio world.

From home audio electronics to professional-grade stage gear, they have experience producing all types of sound equipment. Yamaha is a brand that you can trust, giving you peace of mind that you are getting a quality instrument used by professional musicians.

The improved range of the Yamaha FG 850 is also beneficial for musicians of all skill levels. Whether you are just learning to play the guitar or a seasoned pro, you should appreciate the warmer, deeper tones that you get from the scalloped bracing and all-mahogany body.

Last but not least you can also purchase Yamaha FG850 bundled with a bunch of cool accessories such as hard case, tuner, straps, strings, instructional DVDs, Pick and Polishing cloth

Testimonials – What Do Customers Say About the FG 850 Guitar?

When looking at customer reviews, most people enjoy the warm, full sound. Several customers were also surprised by the overall range of the dreadnought version, due to balanced low and mid-tones.

Customers generally love the FG 850, but there are a few common complaints. While the guitar is designed for use with steel strings, some customers believe that the provided strings do not break in well, requiring you to retune the guitar before each session.

The strings are more of an accessory and not part of the guitar, as they eventually need replacing anyway. However, there is one part of the guitar that some customers disliked.

Several customers have mentioned that the straddle is too high for their tastes. While the bridge straddle is not made to be adjustable on the acoustic guitar, you can carefully sand it down if it does not match your preferences. Keep in mind that most customers were fine with the design.


If you want to produce a fuller sound, the Yamaha FG 850 dreadnought is a top choice. For younger players, consider choosing the concert body, as the smaller size accommodates smaller arms.

With either choice, you get the richest, deepest tones for a guitar in this price range. However, it is not the only option.

The Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar is a close competitor. It features a mahogany top with wild cherry back and sides, giving the guitar a crisper sound, but reducing some of the broad range compared to the FG 850.

You also have several other guitars in the 800 series to consider. While they are a step down from the 850, they also cost a little bit less.

It features a smooth, natural finish that helps bring out the richness of the mahogany.
  • Warm and woody design
  • With Tuner and Strap
  • Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD
See Customer Reviews

In the end, the Yamaha FG 850 guitar offers a rich, warm tone that is hard to match, especially for an acoustic guitar under $500.

For a detailed comparison of this model with other models from the Yamaha FG8xx series click here.

Article Name
Yamaha FG850 Review - Is This Guitar Worth It?