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Acoustic guitars are hard to travel with; temperature and weather can affect the sound, as well as its structure. Even in a gig bag, the size can be a bit ungainly, and while there are new rules for flying with an instrument, those overhead bins aren’t getting any bigger. The new Yamaha SLG200N Nylon-String Silent Guitar brings that acoustic sound and feel, in an-easy-to transport instrument. Plus, with the elimination of the traditional sound hole, feedback can be virtually eliminated in live settings, which is great for on-stage performances.
As mentioned, our test model was the Yamaha SLG200N, their nylon string version (a steel string version is also available). It looks as though a modern art museum designed it. The headstock to the end pin composes the bulk of the instrument, while the exterior “frame” is a wooden floating rim that also has a leg rest built in. Using the strap pins as connection points, the top rim is detachable for transport in its compact gig bag. It balances well, either in a sitting or standing position, and is amazing light. The body and neck are mahogany, with a rosewood fingerboard. Inside the “body” is an electronics suite that contains a battery compartment, Volume and EQ controls, and on-board tuner.
An effect selector allows the player to add variations on reverb as well as chorus. There is even Aux IN, which allows the performer ability to play along with and mp3 player. Its primary tone comes from Yamaha’s SRT modeled acoustic tone, which can even be blended in conjunction with the onboard piezo pickup. A standard 1/4” output jack, as well as a headphone out for quiet practicing. All of this is can be powered by 2 AA batteries, which is perfect for travel.
The overall construction is spot on, with excellent fit and finish. The neck has a traditional classical feel with a width that isn’t too cumbersome for standard acoustic/electric players, and came right out of the box with excellent action and playability. With no top soundboard, it might throw off some purists looking to anchor fingers or thumbs, but the center beam can also provide support in this way, with just a little adjustment.
While the Yamaha SLG200N is billed as a “silent guitar,” it resonates nicely on its own, louder than an unplugged electric, but not super loud or as boomy as a traditional acoustic. It’s perfect for bedroom playing when not wanting to disturb others. Plugging in a set of headphones, it really comes to life, blending in some reverb, as well as fine tuning some EQ. The SRT blend control works great, as well. The piezo side of things can really bring in the overall attack, but at extreme settings can feel a tad brittle. Blending in the SRT brings in more overall depth.
Running it through a PA system brings the same amazing tone, and all without feedback or any microphones to set up. And that’s where the “silent” part of the name really comes into play, and makes this one of our favorite features of the SLG200N – the utter elimination of feedback issues while still retaining the general tone of an acoustic instrument.
For a player who thinks nylon strings are only meant for classical for flamenco, this might change your mind. Session players like Tommy Tedesco was known to flat pick a nylon string, so has Willie Nelson. Anyone who’s looking to get that nylon string feel and tone “on the go,” this is a great way to do so, in a small package that’s super easy to take anywhere. It’s not a travel guitar, per se, but for someone who wants to hit the road with a full size instrument, this may prove to be a better option.
Great feel and playability, excellent tonal options, travel friendly, no feedback!
Unorthodox looks and body style may require some adjustment for traditional players.