Published On: Tue, Jul 7th, 2009

Yamaha CPX15 West Mark II Electro Acoustic Review

Reviewed the CPX15 West Mark II Electro Acoustic by Yamaha.Violin sunburst in colour and a super clean finish.

Description: Cutaway minijumbo electro-acoustic. Made in Japan
Price: £1299 incl. Hiscox case
Build: Solid spruce top, laminated walnut back and sides, mahogany neck with 20-fret cream-bound rosewood fingerboard, rosewood bridge, gold diecast tuners, two strap buttons. Three ART under-bridge sensors; System 59 preamp with individual level controls for Bass Side, Main and Treble Side, Master Volume, Low, Mid and High EQ, battery status LED, separate quick-release battery holder. Soundhole cover included
Options: Spruce/rosewood CPX15-II (£1199), sycamore/sycamore CPX15 South II and spruce/quilt mahogany CPX15 East II (£1299 each), and sycamore/rosewood CPX15 North II (£1599). All have new 3-way ART system and prices include Hiscox case
Left-handers: No
Finish: Antique Violin Sunburst (gloss body, satin neck)
Scale length: 650mm (25.5")
Neck width: Nut 43mm, 12th fret 54mm
Depth of neck: First fret 21.5mm, 9th fret 23.5mm
String spacing: Nut 36mm, Bridge 53mm
Action as supplied: 12th fret treble 2.0mm, 12th fret bass 2.2mm
Max rim depth: 115mm
Max body width: 401mm
Fingerboard radius: Approx 15"
Weight: 2.2kg/4.8lb
Contact: Yamaha Music UK 01908 366700

Since their introduction in the late 1990s Yamaha’s CPX15 Compass electro-acoustics – including the cosmetically themed North, South, East and West versions – have been powered by a two-way mic/piezo blender system. This Mark II incarnation, however, now see them adopting the company’s proprietary ART transducer technology first used in 2006 on the APX and CPX 700 and 900. This is based on multi-layer contact sensors that detect both body and string vibrations. For the 700s there’s a single dual sensor located just forward of the underside of the bridge and, on the 900s, two additional sensors either side of the rear of the bridge, tuned for low and high-frequency duties, respectively.
The CPX15-IIs involve the 900 multi-sensor arrangement, but this time it’s all linked to a new audiophile-grade System 59 preamp, which provides individual gain control of the auxiliary sensors (as on the preamp of the 900), a dedicated gain for the main sensor and a master volume. In effect, this acts like a mini onboard mixer, supported by a three-band EQ that is operative on all three signal sources. One thing it does sacrifice against the cheaper ART preamps is no tuner. An important, maybe contentious aspect of the specification is an array of internal trimpots on the rear face of the preamp housing, but we’ll deal with them in a minute.
Like its themed stablemates, the general look of the CPX15-II West has changed little from the old model. Indeed, the only easily identifiable modifications are rosewood instead of ebony for the bridge and fingerboard and smaller pearl rosette position markers (a double rosette at the octave rather than the previous single oval motif). The main theming comes in the form of cattle horns within the wood-inlaid soundhole rosette, plus, of course, the generic points-of-the-compass inlay on the headstock. It’s all quite subtle, and none the worse for that.
Finished in a deep-hued antique violin sunburst (each Mark II has its own dedicated colour and timber combination), the West comprises a solid spruce top with walnut back and sides. The latter, not bursted, aren’t solid timber but they look like genuine laminations because the innermost veneers are certainly walnut, too. The body carries a discreet see-through scratchplate, and the guitar comes strap-ready with a second button at the heel. As is invariably the case with Yamaha acoustics, the presentation is super clean and includes matching cream binding for the body and neck, as well as a maple centre strip down the back and across the baseblock.
The satin-finish mahogany neck – a one-piece affair plus separate heel portion – is a dream player of the regular-width variety. Profiled to a snug C section with a touch of V’ing, it feels superbly slick thanks to our sample’s highly polished fingerboard and fretting, and an excellent action set-up over the gently cambered fretboard. One minor negative for fingerpickers is Yamaha’s usual predilection for tightish string spacing at the bridge. But you quickly adapt to it, and the instrument is far more than just an upmarket strummer.

Build Quality ………………………19/20
Playability ………………………….18/20
Sound ………………………………. 17/20
Value for money …………………..16/20
Vibe ………………………………….15/20
TOTAL …………………………….. 85%



Not wishing to tinker with the West's trimpot settings, this reviewer can't say if a revision would result in an external control interface whose range of adjustment both tonally and gain-wise allowed to get a sound that corresponded more closely to his own liking. One thing is for sure, though, even if Yamaha does end up blanking off those pots, theres more than enough to delve into on this new ART system. And, generally speaking, its hugely expressive. It's easy to overlook the guitar itself because of the focus on the ART system, but its a very nice instrument, indeed.

Build Quality Playability Sound Value Vibe Score

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