Since its introduction over 25 years ago the AXP range has undergone a number of design and style changes. We review Yamaha's latest offering and look at it's new features in detail.

Yamaha APX500 II GuitarThe first of the notable changes that have been introduced is the new pickup system. What’s particularly interesting is the move away from the old ‘square’ 9v battery which has been replaced by the more convenient 2 x AAs. Yamaha has cleverly managed to boost the battery voltage to an impressive 11v to give it a ‘wider dynamic range’ and lower distortion levels when the batteries are running low. There is also a new Piezo under-saddle pickup which contains 6 individual elements on a wider strap for improved clarity, definition and balance.

The pre-amps retain the same functions of a 3-band EQ and wide-range mid contour facility and an auto-chromatic tuner which we tested and found to be very accurate and a vast improvement over the older models. Simplicity and clarity are the key here and Yamaha have certainly got it right in this case. The only down-side we see is that you cannot mute the guitar ‘live’ on stage for mid-set tuning, an opportunity missed yet again perhaps.

This particular guitar is widely considered to be the entry-level model. The rosewood fingerboard is edged in body-matching cream plastic binding and, like all APX and CPXs, there's a second strap button at the heel. In common with all steel-strung, six-string APXs, the span across the nut is 43mm, while the nato neck has a moderate-depth 'C' profile with just the hint of a 'D' along the shoulders, and width graduates only modestly further up.

Aided by a fine set-up, well-dressed fretting and a shorter 634mm scale length, this is eminently playable and comfortable, yet bridge string spacing is perverse. One change from the standard 53mm at the nut is the reduction to 43mm. This may hinder some fingerstyle players as the strings are now much closer together, we reckon that Yamaha is targeting this guitar towards 'strummers' and hence the change.

Features Summary:

  • System 65 electronics with under saddle piezo pickup, 3 band EQ and built in tuner
  • Thinline body gives this guitar a sleek look and very comfortable fit
  • Oval soundhole thickens lower-mid response and gives a more open low end
  • Non-scalloped X-type bracing allows the guitar's top to sing and maximizes the resonance
  • Spruce top with nato back and sides for a warm tone with great clarity


Overall this guitar is a very capable performer with its blastingly loud acoustic volume, smooth tone and good dynamics for it’s body size. The new pick-up system pays dividends and there is a distinct lack of the Piezo ‘quack’ which leaves the guitar sounding natural, flowing and open. The build quality is excellent and with a high finish standard leaves us to conclude that this guitar offers a huge improvement over the previous APX500 in a variety of ways. And the best news is you can buy it for €300 in Dublin which is much less than our usual 'go-to' on-line retailers for a change (ahhem...! 

Keep an eye out for Liam on Grafton Street this weekend as he tests what the public think of the APX500II and whether he can convert songs into cash with it's much improved sound performance. 

by Liam Carey @Bandpages_ie