Shown to the left is my trusty Yamaha APX900. When I bought it a couple of years ago, what sold me was the Acoustic Response Technology pre-amp which, at the time, I felt was unmatched for playing live and plugged into an acoustic amp. Before I finally chose the APX900, I had evaluated several acoustic guitars from high-end Martins, Taylors and Collings to the low-end. The cheapos just wouldn’t do even though some sounded pretty good, they were set up pretty poorly. I almost sprung for a Martin dreadnaught, but would’ve had to install a pickup system in it. I didn’t want to go through the hassle. So I narrowed my search to purely acoustic-electric guitars.
The first time I played an APX900, I knew my search was over. My primary criteria for choosing an acoustic was not for its acoustic sound, but how good it would sound plugged in as I would use the guitar as my on stage acoustic. Nothing, and I mean nothing sounded better than the APX900 plugged in; everything else sounded flat and mid-rangy. It was the Acoustic Response Technology (ART) pre-amp on the APX900 that completely sold me on the guitar. The only drawback of the guitar was that acoustically – without sound reinforcement – the guitar being a thinline concert jumbo didn’t have much oomph, and I knew that if I was going to use in the studio, I’d have to do a lot of tricks to make it sound bigger (like close-micing). But studio work was going to be a secondary use for the guitar, so it didn’t really bother me too much that its acoustic performance was okay at best. The guitar by no means sounds bad acoustically, but it has a higher voicing as compared to a dreadnaught or even a full bodied concert jumbo. Besides, it got me thinking that where the guitar was lacking could be made up with the purchase of a higher-end guitar where I didn’t really care much about the electronics. Just more gear… 🙂
In any case, a couple of months after I got my APX900, I started looking for a higher-end guitar. One of the first places I sought out was the Yamaha site, and what should I discover but a line of higher-end Yamaha guitars that included a new pre-amp system called the Studio Response Technology (SRT). This pre-amp system was even better than the ART, upon which I didn’t think could be improved. With SRT, Yamaha introduced microphone modeling as well as multiple pickups, and the recordings they provided got me salivating to try out a guitar that had this system. On top of that, the SRT system included a knob to adjust the amount of body resonance the system picks up. OMG! To me, it was absolutely ground-breaking! Unfortunately at the time, you could only get the the model that I wanted to try out – the LJX26C – via special order. Even the LJX16C, which is their “Professional” model wasn’t available in the States except via special order, or from small, online dealer of whom I had never hear. The end result is that I’ve just had to drool at a distance all this time. But no longer.
When I first started writing this article, it was going to be an article about the APX900, but more of a discussion of how I use the guitar on stage and in the studio. In the process of writing, I wanted to see the current price of the guitar, and it is now incredibly priced at $549! I paid $799 for it two years ago, and was happy as a clam that I got the guitar at that price. Figuring that Yamaha had come up with an upgrade, I perused Musicians Friend and discovered the new APX1000 which sports the SRT system!!!!! Folks, this is big, Big, BIG news, and as the APX series guitars are Yamaha’s mid-range commercial guitars, there’s a high probability that I can try one out at my favorite local music store! It’s hard to describe the excitement I’m feeling. The ART system totally blew me away when I first played it, and I thank the stars every time I gig with my APX900 that I have a pre-amp system like the ART. But the SRT system promises even better plugged-in performance, and I just can’t wait to try it out!
But on that note, I’M TOTALLY PISSED AT YAMAHA because they do such a crappy job of marketing their incredible products technologies. Those of us “in the know” understand just how good Yamaha instruments are, but Yamaha has always been rather modest about its products. You have to actively search out what they’re doing. Had I known about the APX1000, I would’ve written a review a long time ago! Perhaps “annoyed” is more accurate, but if Yamaha was more active in marketing, I think a lot more people would be using their equipment!
All that said, here is a GREAT demo of the SRT. Read the comments on YouTube, they’re hilarious!