Electric guitars tend to fall into one of two main camps. In one corner there’s the infinitely cool. In the other, there’s the perfectly functional.
If a hotrodded mojo machine is the guitar equivalent of the weathered drifter who hangs around the bar at your local, encourages you to take up smoking and shows you how to cheat at sweep picking, then a Yamaha Pacifica is the respectable guitar teacher in your town.
Perhaps not bursting with danger on the exterior, but it’ll see you right for years, and won’t try and replace you in your band...
It’s been three decades since Yamaha unleashed its answer to the west coast mod shop boom of the late-'80s/early-'90s, and the PAC612VIIFMX is the new flagship version of one of the most popular electrics out there. Granted, you won’t find pre-aged finishes. There’s no retro-inspired quirks or clunky period-correct hardware.
What you do get, though, is a cocktail of everything you need to cover as much musical ground as possible. There’s the medium-weight, double-cut alder body, 25.5” scale length, 22-fret neck and a versatile HSS pickup configuration. It’s backed up by a barrage of third party features, too, including Seymour Duncan pickups, Grover locking tuners, Wilkinson vibrato and a GraphTech TUSQ nut and string trees.
All of that means very little, of course, if it doesn’t ﬂoat your boat when you pick it up to play. Straight away, there’s a familiarity. The 13.75” radius maple neck has a comfortable ‘all-rounder’ feel, which is as suited to rhythm work as it is big bends.
The tension on the strings is slinky without becoming too loosey-goosey, and our review model comes perfectly intonated with a low-but-not-buzzy action. Meanwhile, that Wilkinson vibrato reacts smoothly, returning to pitch without any problems under general use. The Paciﬁca’s everyman approach has paid oﬀ.
This is continued with the types of tones it produces as standard. Those single-coils are Seymour Duncan SSL-1s, and they produce a very nice balance of punchy bass and spiky top end.
The neck and neck/middle positions in particular are where we found ourselves a lot of the time - funky and tight when clean, round and bluesy with a bit of drive. Moving to the Custom 5 TB-14 bridge humbucker is almost like having another guitar at your disposal.
Here, you’re into fat, smooth, mid-heavy rock territory with a voice that contrasts from the other positions brilliantly. As a bonus, you can split the humbucker’s coils via the push-pull tone pot, giving you even more versatility. Speaking of which, we love the fast response of the volume control, coupled with the higher friction of the tone pot, which both allow for quick changes/stay where you park it respectively.
If the Paciﬁca needed more evidence as to why it’s become such a standard, this is it. It’s an unashamedly shiny, contemporary guitar that can tackle a wide range of styles.
- PRICE: $649 / £899
- BODY: Alder with flame maple veneer
- NECK: Maple
- SCALE: 25.5”
- FINGERBOARD: Rosewood
- FRETS: 22
- PICKUPS: Seymour Duncan SSL-1 (x2), TB-14 humbucker
- CONTROLS: Volume, tone w/push-pull coil split, five-way selector
- HARDWARE: Wilkinson VS50 vibrato, Grover locking tuners
- LEFT-HANDED: No
- FINISH: Fired Red, Matt Silk Blue, Yellow Natural Satin
- CONTACT: Yamaha (opens in new tab)