Before we even go any further, we want to tell you straight away that both of the guitars we’re going to be talking about today- Yamaha JR1 Vs JR2, are very similar. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise looking at their names.
The Yamaha JR2 is simply a slightly improved version of the Yamaha JR1. If you don’t have the time to read through the whole article, check the next three sections. They will help you decide quickly, whether the Yamaha JR2 is worth the extra couple of bucks.
Without further ado, let’s get straight into the review.
Comparison Overview — Yamaha JR1 Vs JR2
Both of these guitars represent the two “Junior” acoustics in the FG lineup. From that name, you can already tell that this was designed for kids. If the name doesn’t give it out, it’s small form factor, as well as its weight, definitely will.
Both of these guitars have a spruce top which is an excellent choice by Yamaha. Spruce is a very traditional guitar-top wood because of its strength and excellent tonal properties. Compared to cedar, it produces a very bright sound with each note being highlighted as an individual.
If you want a great sounding guitar, then you’ve got two here. They both also come with steel strings. Now, unlike Spruce tops, steel strings are quite controversial, especially for kids and beginners.
The argument is that the strings are quite painful for the fingertips of these groups of people. Now, while it is true that steel strings will hurt slightly more than nylon strings, it is also to be said that nylon strings too will hurt at the beginning.
Another thing that is to be said is that you would easily get used to this pain after a few weeks of practice. So, since the pain is not that severe, we are of the opinion that it is better to take something else into consideration when picking a string, and not just the pain, or lack thereof.
That “something else” is the type of music you want to play. Steel strings are best for strumming. So, if you intend to play music that has a lot of strumming, genres like- rock, metal, and country, for instance, then you definitely should get steel strings. If you want something more mellow for classical, blues, and jazz, then you might prefer nylon strings.
Finally, talking about strings, you also need to consider the price. Steel strings are much more affordable and accessible than nylon strings. And being that this is mainly for children, you have to keep in mind that they can be destructive and you might have to replace the strings a number of times.
The only difference between these two guitars is the type of wood used to make the back and sides. For the Yamaha JR1, Meranti is used. And for the Yamaha JR2, Mahogany is used. Mahogany is better than Meranti in tone and looks (because it’s easier to finish).
However, the overall difference between the sounds of these two guitars is so small that you would have to hear them side-by-side to notice any difference. All in all, whichever you pick would definitely be a great choice.
Cost To Performance Ratio
These do what they were designed to do and for their price, you simply cannot find anything better. Professional musicians have compared the JR series to other small guitars from other companies that cost two to three times more and have concluded that there is simply no competition.
The JR series wins every single time.
So, in terms of cost to performance, Yamaha definitely did a fantastic job on these two guitars. Just check out the price of these guitars, then test the sound after you get them and you would understand why we are so hyped!
Comparison Table — Yamaha JR1 Vs JR2
|Side/Rib||Meranti||Ultra-thin Mahogany Finish|
What Scenario Is What Guitar Best For?
| Because of how similar these two guitars are, they would excel in the same situations. There are two main scenarios. |
The first scenario is for a child. If you’re trying to get your kid to start playing guitar, this is a great ¾ acoustic for them to start with.
| The second scenario where these guitars are absolute legends is for experienced musicians who want something to play with. |
As a guitarist, your love for guitars would make you want to play no matter when or where you are.
| The brilliant thing about this guitar is that unlike many other ¾ guitars out there, this one actually sounds like a full-sized acoustic guitar. |
Yes, there might be some tonality differences here and there, but side-by-side, they are very similar.
This means that whatever your kids ears gets accustomed to while playing this, he won’t need to unlearn too much when he grows into a full-sized guitar.
| So it sometimes sucks when you want to travel and you have to keep that expensive acoustic because you don’t want it to break, or you want to carry a small luggage. Or you’re going to the beach and a full-sized acoustic just looks kinda out of place. |
Because of how small and compact these guitars are, you wouldn’t have to worry about that. You can easily throw this into your luggage or the backseat of your car and be fine.
Features Common To Both Guitars — Yamaha JR1 Vs JR2
Like we mentioned at the beginning of this article, these two acoustic guitars have a lot of similar features. In this section, we would be looking at all of those similar features and how each of them affects both of these guitars.
Size, Scale Length
Both of these guitars- Yamaha JR1 Vs JR2 are ¾ guitars. What that basically means is that the distance between the nut and the bridge saddle is ¾ of the distance between the same on Yamaha’s full-scale guitars.
In simpler terms, it has a smaller neck compared to full-scale guitars. This smaller neck results in an overall smaller guitar body, scale length, and weight. Which is why we grouped three of them in this one section.
For size, both of these guitars are 33 ½ inches, full length. While their scale measures 21 ½ inches in length. The two of them also share the same nut width, which is pretty small at 1 11/16 inches.
Although both of these use high-quality wood like spruce, rosewood, and so on, they are still very lightweight, because of their size. They both have a weight of 4.5 pounds (lbs).
These guitars being small, have two major uses. First, for younger players. The meaning of the “JR” featured in the names of these two guitars is “Junior”.
This would make a lot of sense as the major target for these ¾ guitars is children. If your child wants to start learning the guitar at a young age, a full-scale guitar would most probably be too big and uncomfortable for him.
So, you want something that’s small and light enough that he can play comfortably on but also produces good sound so he can enjoy his learning process. That’s what Yamaha was going for with these two guitars.
Another reason you would want to get this is for an adult, but as a travel guitar. If you love to move around a lot and just want an acoustic guitar to follow you everywhere you go, chances are that a full-scale guitar would be too much load. So, something this small and light should do a wonderful job.
Both of these guitars are very similar in terms of design. In fact, at first glance, you might not be able to tell them apart. However, upon close inspection, you would begin to notice the slight difference in their colors.
The first thing you would notice is the back and sides on the JR2 is a little bit darker and more elegant looking than that of the Yamaha JR1. That is thanks to the fact that the back and sides of the Yamaha JR2 are made of Mahogany, which carries those looks.
However, the one thing that is the exact same about these two guitars in terms of design is that neither of them have a cutaway. Depending on the style and make, some guitars have one cutaway, while some others have double-cutaway.
Apart from making the guitar look cool, cutaways are necessary for certain types of guitars because of the music those guitars are used for. If the music you’re playing requires that you get those very high notes at the base of the neck of the guitar, then you definitely want a cutaway. That way, you can easily reach those thin notes.
However, if you are cool with just playing the notes that are easily reachable, then you won’t be needing a cutaway and would be fine with either of these two acoustics.
The most important part of a guitar is the fretboard (otherwise known as the fingerboard). Why? Because this is the part that you interact with the most, with your fingers. If something doesn’t feel right about the fretboard, you would seriously lack the motivation to play the guitar.
This is why many guitar manufacturers often take ample time to create the best feeling fretboard. In fact, because the fretboard s not as involved in creating the sound as the top, back, and sides of the guitar, the feel of the wood is often considered first, before even the sound it produces.
For these two acoustics, Yamaha went with rosewood for the fingerboard.
There are two types of rosewood- Brazilian rosewood, and Indian rosewood. Brazilian rosewood is a lot more elegant and exotic. However, it is also a very rare wood, and as such, very expensive. Which is why Yamaha opted for Indian rosewood instead. It’s not as exotic but is readily available and also affordable.
The other popular fretboard wood is ebony. For most luthiers, only ebony and rosewood are considered good enough for their fretboards. Comparing ebony and rosewood, a lot of musicians believe that rosewood produces a much warmer sound, compared to ebony.
This is great as both of these guitars are made with a spruce top, which has a bright sound to it. So the warmness of this sound will help balance things out.
However, as we mentioned earlier, for a fretboard, the feel is considered more than the sound produced. Which leads us to the second reason why rosewood is preferred to ebony. It’s a more natural feeling wood.
This natural feel is great for your fingers. Trust us when we say that you’ll absolutely love it!
Nato wood, otherwise known as “Eastern Mahogany” is called that because of its similarities with Mahogany in look, feel, and sound. Although, these two are totally unrelated.
It’s used as the wood for the neck of affordable guitars as a more affordable option to the expensive Mahogany. It’s materials like this that keep these two guitars- Yamaha JR1 Vs JR2, affordable, but still of top-quality.
Nato is a pretty tough and dense wood. This means that your guitar neck would be able to survive a few drops to the ground without shattering. Also, with this wood, you don’t need to worry too much about looks. The wood finishes well.
Laminated Spruce Top
This is the most talked-about part of any acoustic guitar and for good reason. The wood used to make the top of an acoustic guitar is the one that acts the most to affect the sound produced by the guitar, as that is where the sound comes out from.
There are two main woods used to make the tops of many acoustic guitars and you hardly hear one being talked about without being compared to the other. That second wood is “Cedar”.
Compared to cedar, spruce is a more traditional wood top. Spruce is more popular with classical guitars and has been so since the first-ever classical guitar was created. However, cedar, on the other hand, only started gaining popularity in the mid-1960s.
The great thing about this rivalry is that one is not rightly better than the other. In fact, most of the time, it just comes down to what you want to hear as a musician because they have such different sounds.
Speaking of sounds, spruce tops produce a very distinct sound. Every note is heard as an individual. On a cedar top, the sounds are fuller and notes are not so distinct. Spruce tops produce a sharp sound, similar to that of a bell.
Furthermore, the sounds produced from spruce tops have longer sustain than the sound produced by cedar tops. If you’re playing jazz, rock, or classical music, the individuality and technicality needed for each note will have you tilting towards spruce tops.
What Does Laminated Mean?
Laminated basically refers to multiple layers of thin processed wood that have been joined together using a strong adhesive. So in this case, multiple layers of thin processed spruce were joined together with a strong adhesive, as opposed to just using one solid piece of spruce top.
Laminated Wood Vs Solid Wood- Which Is Better?
There are four main factors we would need to look at to find out which of these is better. Let’s quickly look at all of them-
There are some solid woods that simply look amazing, one of which is the “Brazilian rosewood” that we mentioned earlier. These exotic looks just cannot be replicated on the laminated tops.
However, compared to more affordable woods like Mahogany and Indian rosewood, laminated tops look exactly the same.
This is because they can be made to take up certain color differences, and also grain patterns.
Now, many people simply overlook this category with the thought “there’s no way a cheaper laminated top can be more durable than strong solid wood”. While most of the time they are right, there are some situations where they are not. So you should definitely not overlook this category.
Yes, solid wood is stronger and more durable than laminated wood. However, only if it’s left at the same temperature and humidity. This is because solid wood relies on its natural resins, as well as, the guitar’s bracings for stability.
So, massive fluctuations in humidity and temperate can cause the wood to develop cracks or compromise the joints.
On the other hand, because laminated wood depends on overlapping grains and wood for stability, they can withstand a lot more drastic change in temperature and humidity. This makes them a better travel companion compared to solid wood.
Well, this is one area that solid wood trumps laminated wood. A laminated guitar cannot resonate as freely as a solid wood would. Also, the higher quality solid wood produces better harmony, overtone balance, and airy quality that is just amazing to listen to.
But is the difference in sound really worth all those extra dollars? Which brings us to our next point:
One thing we like to say here is that “good instruments are not getting cheap, but cheap instruments are definitely getting good”. So with such a large price gap between solid wood and laminated wood, it’s definitely very difficult for us to tell you to go out and spend all your money on one.
Yes, the sound might be better than that of laminated wood. But really, the difference won’t be noticeable from a mile away, but the price definitely will.
With the technology of today, laminated woods definitely get a lot better than they were in some time past. So, they are definitely the better economic decision for us. Which is why you can see them being used in such affordable guitars as the two we’re looking at today.
There is a heavy misconception when it comes to what type of strings beginners are meant to use. Most people think that nylon strings are a lot better because they are more gentle and tender on their fingertips.
While that is true, the difference is not as much as they would want you to think. In fact, whatever type of string you use, at the initial stages of learning, your fingertips would hurt. However, that should not bother you too much as it would easily go away with practice.
When picking a type of string, rather than what’s softer on your fingers, your main focus should be the type of music you want to play. If you are titling towards playing the music that requires a lot of strumming, things like rock, metal, and country, then steel strings should be your preferred option.
On the other hand, if you want fuller sounds like you have on classical, R&B, and so on, then a nylon-stringed guitar is your best option.
10 Centimeter String Spacing
Because this is a small guitar, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the strings are tightly packed. If you’re getting this for your kid, this shouldn’t be a problem. Their fingers are tiny, and so it won’t be so difficult for them to play this accurately.
However, if you’re getting it for yourself, especially if you’ve played a full-sized guitar before, you might have some trouble getting used to the tiny spacing. So, that’s something you definitely want to consider.
Features Unique To Each Guitar — Yamaha JR1 Vs JR2
The only difference between these two guitars is the wood used in making the sides of the guitars. While the Yamaha JR1 makes use of Meranti, Yamaha JR2 makes use of Mahogany. Let’s look at these two different woods closely to find out what differences it yields between these two guitars.
Meranti belongs to the Genus Shorea. It has about 196 different species, which most includes rainforest trees. Because it has so many different species, Meranti also goes by a large number of different common names.
Meranti has been commonly linked to Mahogany. Although it is not Mahogany, they both bear similar characteristics in both sound and looks. However, upon close inspection, you would notice that the grains on Meranti are a lot shorter than the grains on Mahogany.
These short grains lead to the first inferiority that Meranti has when compared to Mahogany, it’s brittle. Although a very dense wood, Meranti is more likely to break easily, compared to Mahogany. This means that you might not be using your JR1 for years to come.
Another problem with Meranti is that it has a lot of empty pores. These empty pores usually restrict the vibration of the wood. Also, they can be very hard to finish.
Meranti is often used as an affordable alternative to Mahogany because of its stability, as well as, structural integrity, not so much its tone.
Mahogany is a really popular tonewood. In fact, it’s so popular that the sound of a bunch of other tonewoods are described in relation to the sound produced by it. It has a peculiar sonic profile that shows itself off in the midrange frequencies. Although this is true for most acoustic guitars, Mahogany just tends to show more character.
Another reason why Mahogany is so popular is that it sounds well across a wide range of players, and also suites a lot of various musical styles. It’s great for people who love well-balanced tones, good dynamic range, and good overtones.
In terms of strength and structural integrity, Mahogany still trumps Meranti with its cross-grained structural pattern. This makes it stable and also pretty easy to carve. This is why a lot of luthiers love working with Mahogany.
Mahogany is not all great, though. In fact, some people do not like it because they think it’s just a cheaper version of tonewoods like maple and rosewood. And while it’s true that Mahogany isn’t as good as either of those two, as an affordable option, it’s definitely not a bad tonewood.
Finally, Mahogany seems to blossom more in tonality as it ages. So, instead of your guitar to sound bad after a few years, it would actually keep sounding better and better.
Unique Pros — Yamaha JR1 Vs JR2
- It’s slightly more affordable.
- It comes with Mahogany back and sides which give it a richer, fuller sound.
- Mahogany has better structural integrity than Meranti, and so, would last longer.
Unique Cons — Yamaha JR1 Vs JR2
- The tone produced by Meranti is not one to be admired.
- Meranti, although a hardwood, has a lot of pores which reduce its stability and make it hard to finish.
- It’s slightly more expensive.
Common Pros — Yamaha JR1 Vs JR2
|It’s Great for children|| Both of these guitars come in a small form factor. Because they are ¾ the size of full-scale guitars, these small, cute-looking guitars are great for children who want to get into playing the guitar. |
Children from around ages 5 to about 11 would greatly benefit from this. If you give them a full-sized acoustic at that age, it might be too big and uncomfortable for them to play.
With these two guitars, you get something with a smaller form factor that sounds almost the same as a full-sized acoustic.
Apart from this small factor being great for children, it’s also good for people who like to travel with their guitars. If that’s you, you’ll definitely like the fact that this up very small room in your luggage, unlike a full-sized acoustic.
|Same as the Yamaha JR1.|
|Portability|| Apart from being small, this guitar is also lightweight. Both of these together make this a very portable instrument. |
You won’t have any troubles carrying this from one place to another. Heck! Even your 5-year-old can lift this comfortably.
|Same as the Yamaha JR1.|
|Fretboard feels nice|| Both of these guitars come with a fretboard that’s made out of rosewood. |
Rosewood is a strong wood that has a natural feel to it. The feel of your fretboard is one of the most underrated but important features of a guitar.
Because you interact with your fretboard the most, if it doesn’t feel nice, you wouldn’t be motivated to play often.
|Same as the Yamaha JR1.|
|Spruce Top|| Spruce is an excellent choice for a guitar top. First, it shows that this is a high-quality acoustic. |
This is because there are only two major tonewoods that are considered as high-quality when it comes to acoustic guitar tops- Spruce, and cedar.
Spruce has been existing for longer and is the preferred option by some people because of its bright sounds.
Each note that comes out of a spruce top sounds individual and distinct. The overall sound is striking, kind of similar to the sound of a bell.
|Same as the Yamaha JR1.|
|Steel strings|| Steel strings work very well with spruce tops to provide that sharp, striking sound. |
It’s great for rock, metal, and even country music. Yes, steel strings will hurt your fingers at the beginning.
However, with a little practice, all that will definitely go away.
|Same as the Yamaha JR1.|
Common Cons — Yamaha JR1 Vs JR2
|No Cutaway|| Neither of these guitars comes with cutaway design. This means that it would be very difficult for you to get to the notes at the bottom end of the guitar.|
Being that the scale on this guitar is small, it would have been nice to have those few extra notes.
|Same as the Yamaha JR1.|
What Do People Think About Them?
| For what it was made for, people were very impressed with this acoustic guitar. One professional musician highlighted that the JR series featured the best sounding small guitars. |
This statement he made comparing them to the likes of small LC martins, as well as, Taylors. A lot of people consider the sound produced by this guitar to be balanced overall, offering a good mix of both low-ends, as well as, high-end.
| It’s the same thing with the JR2s, people are absolutely loving it! In fact, the only problem one gramps had with this guitar is that it sounds better than his older acoustics which he got for a lot more back in the day, lol. |
If you have a small kid who’s just learning to play, this is a great instrument for them. A lot of customers bought this for their children between the ages of 5- 10, and they absolutely loved it.
| One problem a lot of people are having, though, is that the description says ¾ guitar, but what arrives is a ½ size guitar. You would need to be careful about that. |
But in terms of sound and tone quality, a lot of people seem to think that this is definitely one of the best small guitars around.
| One thing music teachers like about this small guitar are that unlike some others out there, these are closer sounding to the real acoustic instrument. |
One music teacher even made a point to warn “avoid those Walmart or Target instruments, they are closer to toys!”. Quite harsh, but his opinion, not ours.
What Do We Think?
These two guitars are absolutely great! Not only are they small enough to just throw into a car and not worry about it, they are also lightweight so even your kid can lift it without any issues. Both of them are definitely great first guitars for your kid, or a great travel guitar for yourself.
Choosing between either of these two guitars shouldn’t be a problem, because of just how similar they both are. If you have the few extra bucks, definitely get the Yamaha JR2. Its Mahogany back and sides with Ultra-Thin Finish would give it a slightly better sound than the Yamaha JR1.
However, if you go for the Yamaha JR1, instead, you definitely would still get value for money. We mean! For under $200, there’s really nothing to complain about with these two guitars.
So what are you waiting for? Get yours now!