1994 Yamaha FG-411-12
Another Yamaha punching well above its weight. Lovely early-run FG 12-string. If you've always thought you've wanted to try out a 12-string, then this is the one for you.
One of our neglected beauties for the simple reason that this sounds like a far better guitar than its low sales price would ever give you reason to believe. Sure, it's not a Gibson or a Martin. But it's a Yamaha, and Yamaha have put out some wonderfully finished and tuneful guitars over the years (see more about the Yamaha story with our 1997 Yamaha LA-8).
And this is no exception to the Yamaha rule. This was my first 12-string, when I didn't really know whether I wanted a 12-string or not. Dumb doubt, in retrospect. I've kept it ever since. Great bright sound, with all of that perfect chime you get from the 12 strings. Nice low action. Straight chords or picking, a lovely player. Norwegian Wood, Wish You Were Here?, Stairway To Heaven, That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore - all magically brought to life when played on a 12-string. Talking of magic, check out singer/songwriter Lawrence Taylor below, with a one-take acoustic version of his 2021 release Too Close To The Sun, playing this guitar . . . no longer Neglected, now As Played By!
Yamaha introduced the FG (Folk Guitar) flat-top range in 1988, and, with various modifications and remodels, have kept the range going ever since. If it ain't broke . . . modify it only slightly.
The FG-411-12 was part of a 4-year run, from 1994 - 98, building on the success of previous 12-string FGs, the 410 and 420.
The FG-series is often described as Yamaha's "economy market" range. Seems a bit sniffy to me. It may be a great entry-point guitar, with a price to match. But Yamaha draw their quality bar pretty high, even for their entry-level guitars. So, you get a lot more for your money than an "economy market" guitar.
This one's a good case in point. Lovely build quality, and, while fairly lacquered (try photographing it without reflection . . .), uses quality rosewood, spruce and mahogany woods to give you all the sparkle and resonance you'd expect from a higher-end guitar. Big-bodied for a full sound, nice low action, stays in tune (which is often a challenge for a 12-string). If anything's missing, it may just be the response on the lower strings - but that's just the sound you want when you're playing through the intro to Wish You Were Here?, so no complaints there.
And just in case, this one comes with a pick-up installed at the bridge end of the sound-hole. Which seems a bit redundant given the volume this guitar can produce. But, if you're going to be playing Wembley, then I suppose it may come in handy.