Review: Yamaha Pacifica 612 VII FM Guitar

(Image credit: Yamaha)

Yamaha’s Pacifica series guitars have remained best sellers since their introduction way back in 1990 for several very good reasons, but the main reason for their popularity and longevity is that every Pacifica model—from the most inexpensive entry-level instrument to the top-of-the-line artist signature guitar—provides unbeatable value for the money.

The new Yamaha Pacifica 612 VII FM is no exception, offering an alluring combination of high-quality tonewoods, hardware, and electronics along with superior craftsmanship and playability that’s well beyond most other solidbody guitars that also sell for street prices well below $1,000.

However, one important distinction with the 612 VII is that Yamaha is limiting availability of this model to only 100 guitars in the US market, so if you want one of the best values on today’s electric guitar market you’ll need to move very fast.

Like most other Yamaha Pacifica models, the 612 VII FM features a sleek, modern “super Strat” design with deep, sweeping cutaways and comfortable contours. The body is a slab of lightweight alder topped with a layer of flame maple (612 VII FM only; the regular 612 VII is alder only), and the bolt-on neck is crafted from maple and features a rosewood fingerboard. Other neck features include a 25 ½-inch scale length, 13 ¾-inch radius, 22 medium-jumbo frets, and an “aged” tinted finish.

What’s really impressive about the Pacifica 612 VII FM is its first-class hardware and electronics, which make the usual pro-quality upgrades unnecessary, unlike most other guitars in its price range. Pickups consist of a Seymour Duncan SSL-1 single coil at the neck, a reverse wind/reverse polarity SSL-1 single coil in the middle position, and a Seymour Duncan TB-14 Custom 5 humbucker with a chrome cover at the bridge.

The chrome-plated knurled knobs control master volume and master tone, the latter also providing a push-pull coil split function for the bridge humbucker. The five-position pickup selector switch provides an impressive range of Strat-like tones in addition to ballsy humbucker bridge tones. Other hardware includes a Wilkinson VS50-6 vintage-style vibrato, Graph Tech Black TUSQ nut, and Grover locking tuners.

The first time I played a Yamaha Pacifica guitar in the early Nineties, I was very impressed with its sleek playability and overall comfort. Those attributes are still a big part of the Pacifica’s appeal today, and the 612 VII FM truly performs like guitars costing three to four times as much in every imaginable way.

If I have one complaint, it’s a minor one: the neck heel is not as slim or contoured as many modern super Strats, but this is no big deal if you’re still comfortable with a vintage-style neck heel. The neck profile is slim, but not overly so, providing the ideal balance between shallow depth for speed and ample bulk for tone. Every construction detail damn near perfect, from the tight fit of the neck joint to the silky feel of the fretwork.

Thanks to the Seymour Duncan pickups, the Pacifica 612 VII FM is a tone monster as well. The single coil pickups deliver impressively fat and harmonically rich tones, and their output is perfectly matched to the humbucker so there is no volume drop when changing pickups. The reverse wind/reverse polarity SSL-1 middle pickup provides absolutely noise-free performance when the neck/middle or bridge/middle setting is selected while still delivering the desirable out-of-phase “quack” that Strat players adore.

This results in a surprisingly versatile selection of tones that most players can rely upon for an entire set or gig. That, and the Pacifica’s comfortable feel and playability, makes it a guitar that’s hard to put down once you’ve plugged it in.

LIST PRICE: $1,050

• Seymour Duncan SSL-1 (neck and middle) single coil and Seymour Duncan TB-14 Custom 5 humbucking (with coil split) pickups provide a useful variety of tones.

• Pro-quality hardware includes a Wilkinson VS50-6 vintage-style vibrato, Grover locking tuners, and Graph Tech Black TUSQ nut.

With its immaculate craftsmanship, comfortable design, and pro-quality hardware and electronics, the Yamaha Pacifica 612 VII FM is the best bargain on today’s market, but numbers are very limited.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.