Originally launched in 1974 as a companion range to the established FG Series, the L Series focused on the traditional virtues of the instrument, but with the up to date needs of players in mind. Every so often, the series has enjoyed a refit as music trends have changed over the years. As such, the latest revision was in 2004, but as the industry has moved on and a new breed of player has emerged, another revision was thought to be timely.
Recent years have seen the emergence of what is being termed as “neo folk”, epitomised by bands like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers who are miles away from the introverted solo singer songwriters of previous folk generations. There’s a new enthusiasm there with the acoustic guitar often sitting in the mix with vocals, drums, bass and a whole host of other folky instrumentation. Yamaha recognised the fact that new music trends called for fresh ideas to suit the needs of the contemporary player and so the new L Series began its rebirth. This didn’t just mean a few cosmetic retouches or a Hollywood style makeover, either; Yamaha took the series back to the bracing patterns, timbers and sound reinforcement and re-engineered the lot.
Renowned for their bright, sparkly sound and amazing clarity, research revealed the need for a warmer response, especially in the lower mids and bass. So a revised bracing system was detailed, aimed at delivering the goods without the basses or lower mids becoming too overpowering in the process. The result is a timbre that will allegedly sit within a live or studio mix well, without encroaching on the frequency range of the other instruments or vocals.
Another thing introduced to the range is Yamaha’s ARE wood treatment which sees the top woods heat treated to alter their physical makeup and mimic the effects of ageing. This way, even a new guitar can be imbued with the same tonal maturity that would normally take years to develop.
Neck profiling and depth have been readdressed, as has the string spacing at the bridge, broadening it slightly to a fingerstyle friendly 11mm. But possibly the most noticeable difference is when you come to plug the new guitars in. Yamaha have now fitted their passive pick-up range to all the models in the series, meaning that there is now no intrusive on board preamp and battery compartments cut into the side of the guitars. Instead, these have been replaced by passive under saddle piezo sensors that need no circuitry – or batteries – to make them work.
So whereas the body shapes of the L Series may be familiar to you, there’s a whole lot going on under the surface that is brand spanking new…