An accomplished and good looking Dread that can deliver fine sounds. Jerry Uwins samples the brand that rarely misses.
Aside from the very expensive, handcrafted Japanese-made ‘The FG’, this new FGX is the flagship of the family, and it discreetly looks the part. The solid sitka top is close-grained and nicely cross-silked; the back and sides are good-looking laminated rosewood. The instrument largely shares the FJX’s body and neck binding, but here it edges the peghead too, with a coachlined lower border. The soundhole rosette, meanwhile, is treated to an abalone ring, which the 720s don’t have. Like the FJX, the FGX comes in two other gloss colours as well as our natural sample, and finishing throughout is again excellent. As far as the neck is concerned it’s pretty much identical to the FJX‘s, the only minor variation being a smidge more depth under the low positions. The grip and action are equally fast and obliging, and the string spacing at the bridge is the same.
Clout-wise, the two instruments are acoustically similar. Where the FGX arguably scores an extra brownie point or two is in having a slightly smoother, more fluid delivery and a subtly richer midrange… both attributes, presumably, of the rosewood back and sides. It’s a very pleasing sound, and suitably dreadnought-like.
As good as the ART system is – especially in offering absolutely even output across the strings – it does need careful EQ’ing. There’s an intrinsic hint of nasally upper-mid/trebly hardness that is not entirely pleasant, and I’ve experienced it on nearly all ART-equipped Yamahas I’ve played. Fortunately, this is where the flexible preamp again proves its worth. It’s not necessarily just a case of reining back the treble band, but rather tinkering with the mid and sweep settings so that the less desirable tonal aspect can be disguised. It can be got rid of, but it takes a bit of work.
Undersaddle piezo systems come in for stick for quacky' sounds, but the FJX's is much more intuitively easy to work with than the FGX's lauded ART - which, with tweaking, can deliver fine sounds. Try them both: like all Yamahas they're as reliable as the sun rising in the morning, and excellent players to boot.