Looking for an affordable spruce top guitar?
Well, the Yamaha CG-TA might be your new best friend!
Maybe you’re a performer who wants a brighter sound or maybe you’re a complete beginner.
Either way, we’re going to figure out what this classical guitar is all about.
If you’re working with a budget of under a grand, the Yamaha CG-TA could be the one!
Let’s find out…
At a Glance…
✔️ What we like: Brilliant value for money and a beautiful tone
❌ What we don’t like: Doesn’t come with a gig bag or case
- Solid Engelmann spruce top
- Yamaha trans-acoustic technology
- Use reverb and chorus effects without plugging in
Our Verdict: If you’re looking for an affordable spruce top guitar, the Yamaha CG-TA is a great option. It has the brightness and clarity you’d expect from a spruce top guitar but if you add a little bit of chorus it sounds incredibly rich in tone. The fact that you can use the effects with or without an amp is great as well. This is one of the best classical guitars under $1000.
Who is the Yamaha CG-TA Best Suited To?
The Yamaha CG-TA is incredibly easy to use so it would be ideal for any level of player, including complete beginners (if you want to splurge on a mid-range guitar). I also think it would be a great on-stage or busking buddy for performers because of its actuator.
So, if you’ve been looking for an affordable spruce-top guitar to spice up your set, the Yamaha CG-TA could be the one! In terms of age, I don’t think this model would be suited to younger players (kids under 10) because they could fiddle around with the controls and wind up with a disastrous sounding guitar.
Once I was helping out at a classical guitar competition and one of the kids changed the settings on his acoustic-electric before he went on stage. It was such a shame! So, yeah, a word to the wise… If you’re shopping for your kids maybe stick to a completely acoustic model, or keep an eye on them while they practice!
Features & Benefits
Body & Neck
Okay, we all know I love a bit of Spanish heel construction so that caught my eye when I was researching the Yamaha CG-TA. Spanish heel construction essentially makes the guitar vibrate as one piece, giving it more sustain and volume. Usually, with guitars at this price point would be made with dovetail construction which I’m not the biggest fan of. So, construction gets 5 points from me.
I have to say, finding a good quality spruce-top guitar for less than $1000 (or even under $2000, for that matter) is a pretty hard task. So, it’s safe to say the Yamaha CG-TA surprised me. Usually, I would recommend sticking purely to Cedar top guitars in this price range because they have a much better response.
However, I think the actuator in this guitar gives its spruce top the response that most mid-range cedar top guitars have. All in all, I think this is a very well-crafted model.
So what exactly is a trans-acoustic classical guitar? It’s basically just a guitar with an actuator. This is a nifty bit of kit if you’re looking for an affordable solution to an acoustic-electric model. The actuator sits on the back of the guitar’s inner surface and senses the vibrations made by the strings.
It then feeds the vibrations back into the body and air surrounding the guitar, creating reverb and chorus from the inside (without the need for any amps).
I’m not sure many classical guitarists (as in guitarists that play classical music) would use reverb but the chorus effect can add a beautiful dimension to your tone. Plus, it makes the spruce feel a little less stiff. The actuator alone won’t give you much more volume you can plug the Yamaha CG-TA into an amp if you fancy!
The controls are super easy to use as well. I mean, they are a little bit fiddly because they’re so small but small controls are better for sound quality (they fit into smaller holes so less sound is lost). If you’re wondering, the third control is just for volume in case you do want to amp up the guitar.
As with most spruce top guitars (especially more affordable models), the Yamaha CG-TA has quite a bright sound when no effects are applied. It’s nice, but it’s not my favorite tone. However, when you add a little bit of chorus it gets this gorgeous richness.
I wasn’t sure how much of a difference an actuator would make but, let me tell ya, the dimension it adds is insane. It’s probably karma after all the times I’ve told people those things aren’t worth the money… Oops.
If you’re looking for a guitar with the richness of a cedar top but with the clarity of spruce, I think you’ve found it.
- Body Material: Solid spruce top, Ovangkol back and sides
- Neck Material: Rosewood
- Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
- Pickups: Actuator
- Bridge: Rosewood, hardtail system
As much as I love the Yamaha CG-TA, it does have some limitations. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t come with a gig bag which I think is a real shame. If you’re spending over $500 on a guitar, it’s good to know it’s protected.
On the flip side, at least you know all of your money is spend on the guitar itself, rather than the added extras. The second limitation isn’t exactly a limitation but I think the Yamaha CG-TA would be so much better if it had a cutaway.
I know some people prefer the traditional shape but I love the added playability that comes with a cutaway. Plus, I think it would make this model more suitable for pros!
Looking for an acoustic-electric with a cutaway? The Takamine TH5C is a bit more expensive but it has great playability!
Popular Questions about the Yamaha CG-TA
No. Unlike electric guitars, acoustic-electric guitars need battery power to boost the signal. The actuator also needs battery-power, even if you’re not using an amp.
Yes! The chorus and reverb effects still work when plugged into either a PA or an amp.
No, you don’t have to use a preamp with the Yamaha CG-TA but you can if you like!
The Yamaha CG-TA has a solid spruce top and laminate Ovangkol back and sides. For reference, Ovangkol sounds a lot like rosewood! If you’re looking for an affordable classical guitar with all solid wood construction, you might have to up your budget. Check out these classical guitars under $2000 if you want to find a great solid wood model.
Spruce Has Never Sounded So Good!
The Yamaha CG-TA is a great model for anyone who’s been on the search for an affordable spruce top guitar. I mean, spruce has never sounded so good! Well, at least not at this price point. I think Yamaha’s trans-acoustic technology is really innovative and will suit a lot of players.
Sometimes it’s nice to switch up your sound a little! If you’re not a fan of an overly electronic sound then I think you’ll love this model.
The Yamaha CG-TA gives you the benefits of a great electric-acoustic classical guitar without the hefty price tag!
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Fiona is a musician and writer. When she’s not working, she’s either playing the ukulele or finding another instrument to add to her collection.