Yamaha’s LL6 ARE has no right to look and sound as good as it does, but the Japanese company has a reputation for putting together immaculately finished acoustic guitars with a voice and feel that transcends the modest price tag.
The LL6 ARE appears high up in our guide to top beginners acoustic, but this guitar wouldn't be out of place in the hands of intermediate players, too.
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Yamaha LL6 ARE review: Build
The LL6 ARE is built in China and features a solid Engelmann spruce top that has been treated with an Acoustic Resonance Enhancement process (hence the name), using heat, humidity and atmospheric pressure to artificially age the top and give it a vintage quality.
It’s a smart move. After all, there’s nothing better than the sound of a decades-old acoustic guitar whose top has been worn in over the years. Not many of us can afford a vintage instrument, and nor can we afford to wait until our acoustic turns vintage, so ageing processes such as ARE are ideal.
The top is a lovely piece of spruce, high-gloss but not drowned in lacquer, with a subtle silk figure running across its top. Yamaha offers a choice of laminated mahogany or rosewood on the back and sides. Our review model has the former, and this is complemented by a bound, 5-ply mahogany and rosewood neck, with ivory white binding extending across a headstock equipped with gold die-cast tuners that set the Brown Sunburst finish off nicely.
There’s a subtle bit of abalone around the rosette, but with acoustic guitar design discretion is the better point of valor, and the LL6 ARE wears borderline minimalism well.
The neck is carved into a very soft V profile that fills the palm nicely, and with hand-rolled fingerboard edges we really are flying in business class. The dimensions altogether are spot-on, with Yamaha playing the percentages when it comes to a relatively generous 1.75” nut width that should be a happy medium for strummers and pluckers alike.
Yamaha LL6 ARE review: Playability
This compromise is played out in the LL6 ARE’s tones. Jumbo by nature, it’s loud, letting open chords really pop out and resonate. Yamaha introduced its modified non-scalloped X-bracing in 2014 with the fourth generation of the L series acoustics, and the results are all over a bass response that doesn’t take anything from the top-end.
That clarity is all there where you need it. With all the top-end being supported by that bass, the LL6 ARE can take on an ever-so-slightly scooped voice that is dependent on where you are on the fretboard, but it’s nonetheless musical, and a perfect launchpad for upping your cowboy chord game.
Now, the electronics are super discrete, with the strap button doubling as the 1/4” instrument jack. Hidden under each string there is a passive piezo pickup. You’ll need an outboard preamp, but there’s something fitting about keeping the aesthetic clean and old-school.
The amplified tones are naturalistic enough and make the LL6 ARE a very decent option for open mic night. It’d sound great with a condenser mic in front of it too. It has been shown a lot of love, from the drawing board until it left the factory, with a slinky setup that’s tailored for today’s player’s tastes.
Yamaha LL6 ARE review: Verdict
The LL6 ARE’s acoustic tones are exceptional, with all the bass and lower mids we’d expect, and a lovely brightness in the upper mids that we didn’t. The neck feels exceptionally solid, with a profile that feels just right for a contemporary jumbo. It’s hard to think of a better jumbo at this price.
- Price: $539/£582
- Origin: China
- Shape: Jumbo
- Body top: Solid Engelmann spruce
- Body back and sides: Laminated mahogany (rosewood optional)
- Bracing: Non-scalloped X-bracing
- Neck: Mahogany and rosewood five-ply, Traditional shape
- Nut width: 1.75" (44mm)
- Scale: 25.5” (650mm)
- Frets: 20
- Fingerboard: Rosewood with dot inlay
- Hardware: Urea nut, rosewood bridge, gold die-cast tuners
- Electronics: SRT Zero Impact passive pickup system
- Contact: Yamaha