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If you want a Strat-style guitar and can fit more than a Squier Bullet into your budget, you'll love the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V. When it comes to electric guitars, Yamaha isn't always the first brand that comes to mind, but they're certainly no slouch when it comes to creating amazing instruments. Yamaha's Pacifica PAC112V is the embodiment of value and versatility. Even at a glance, it's obvious to see how much attention to detail was paid to the design: a body contour provides comfort for your strumming arm, knurled metal knobs give you maximum grip, and a direct-mounted humbucker captures all the fullness and tone of your playing. This 22-fret Strat is meant for the serious beginner or intermediate guitarist.
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You won't have any problem finding a color you like. The Yamaha PAC112V comes in almost every shade of the rainbow. Black, Violin Sunburst, Silver, Sonic Blue, Silver, Raspberry Red, Natural Satin - it's almost as if Yamaha brought in a consultant from Crayola when designing this guitar!
The iconic Strat shape, along with a white pickguard, rosewood fretboard, and unfinished headstock provide visual interest and an exciting contrast no matter which color you choose. The gloss polyurethane finish is durable and looks great while protecting your guitar from minor nicks and wear.
The Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V is made of alder. Alder is a lightweight, dense wood that imparts both sustain and brightness to your tone. Commonly used in Fender guitars, you can be sure it's a quality, durable tonewood that sounds great. The guitar itself weighs about 8 pounds give or take, so it's not the lightest guitar ever made. However, though 8 pounds is a bit more than average, it's still light enough for guitarists of all builds and ages - especially if you play sitting down most of the time.
The iconic Strat shape is great for upper fret access. As you advance your guitar skills and start playing solos, you'll find it quite comfortable and very easy to access any fret on the guitar thanks to the narrow heel and large cutaways.
You'll notice contouring on the upper body. This is a great comfort feature that prevents the guitar from digging into your picking arm while playing. After a long practice session, you'll be thankful for it!
The Pacifica's scale length (distance between bridge and nut) is a very common 25.5" - right on the money for Stratocaster-style guitars. It's slightly longer than Les Paul type guitars, which means the strings are stretched a bit more and give the guitar its bright, iconic Strat tone.
Bolted-on to the Pacifica's body is a maple neck. Maple is a hard, durable wood that makes for a rock-solid, stable neck. The profile is a comfortable 'C' shape that's a bit slimmer than the usual Strat necks, but it's only really noticeable if you have a Fender Strat to compare it to. Because the neck is a bolt-on, the Pacifica still has that iconic Fender-y twang.
Standard dot inlays help you find your way around the 22-fret rosewood fretboard. The fretboard has a radius of 13.75", meaning that it's flatter than the standard Fender Stratocaster necks. Great for beginners, a flatter fretboard means playing lead guitar is a little easier, so it's great for the aspiring lead guitarist who wants to play soulful solos without breaking a sweat.
The HSS (Humbucker-Single-Single) pickup configuration is one of the most versatile available. Having a humbucker in the bridge will open up a world of possibilities for you. If you play high-gain music like rock or metal, you'll appreciate the extra warmth and thickness in your tone compared to a single-coil pickup. Don't think you're missing out on having a single-coil in the bridge though. For extra versatility, Yamaha has added a coil-split feature to the humbucker. If you pull up on the tone knob, you'll turn the bridge humbucker into a single-coil, great for when you want to play jazz or clean blues licks.
A rarity among budget guitars, the pickups on the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V use the more expensive Alnico V magnets. Great for both clean and distorted music, these pickups punch well above their weight. Again, this is a budget guitar, so it won't sound exactly like an American-made Fender, but you'll get darn close. Yamaha has designed the bridge pickup to mount directly onto the body of the guitar, capturing more of the fullness and resonance of the wood than if it were mounted to the pickguard like other budget Strats.
Non-locking tremolos can tend to be a bit fussy. Bad bridges can rob a guitar of its tone and sustain. A recurring theme with the Pacifica is attention to detail. Does the bridge live up to attentiveness found in other parts of the guitar? Absolutely!
The Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V vintage-style, non-locking tremolo is of very good quality. Yamaha has beefed up the saddles on the bridge, preserving sustain and allowing your guitar to sing. Thanks to the six-screw tremolo design and the heavier saddles, your guitar's intonation and action should stay rock solid.
The screw-in tremolo bar is comfortable and smooth. While it won't have the range of a Floyd Rose tremolo found on rock and metal guitars, it's also not as big a hassle to deal with! If we could change one thing on the Pacifica, it would be replacing the standard tuners (which we'll talk about next) with locking tuners for even more tuning stability. Not a huge deal, however. The vast majority of the reviews we've seen of this guitar have nothing but good things to say about how well the guitar stays in tune.
Die-cast, standard tuners keep the Pacifica pitch-perfect. Though they aren't stable as locking tuners, they will still keep you sounding great as long as you don't abuse the tremolo. Tuning stability seems to be quite impressive for this budget guitar according to many reviews on Guitar Center and Musician's Friend. Poor tuning stability is usually because the guitar wasn't set up well at the factory. As we know, Yamaha's attention to detail is second-to-none, so a Pacifica that doesn't stay in tune is most likely defective and should be exchanged.
You won't find cheap plastic knobs here. Further differentiating it from the other budget guitars, Yamaha's attention to detail shows up yet again. They've outfitted this Strat with knurled metal volume and tone knobs. Though they don't have numbers on them like cheaper plastic knobs, you'll find the added grip lends a high-quality feel to this budget guitar. However, you may find your guitar has loose knobs, which is a common complaint about the Pacifica series. This isn't usually a fault of the knob itself, but of the potentiometer that it covers. It should be simple enough to pull off the knob and tighten the head of the potentiometer with a small screwdriver. It's super easy and should take you no more than a minute or two!
A standard 5-way switch allows you to quickly select the right pickup configuration for what you're playing. With the combination of the 5-way pickup switch and the push/pull coil-split feature on the tone knob, you'll be able to find the perfect tone for any style of music. Yamaha went for simplicity here - there's only one tone knob to control three pickups. On other Strat-type guitars, you'll find at least two tone knobs, but that's not a huge deal for a beginner. You might that find having a single tone knob is easier to wrap your head around than two, letting you focus on your playing rather than dialing in the perfect tone. Regardless, this is one versatile beginner's instrument.
Installed with .009 - .42 gauge name-brand D'addario strings, the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V plays great out of the box. If you prefer higher gauge strings, you'll need to adjust the action and intonation a bit. If you need help with this, check out a local guitar shop for a good technician that can get your guitar playing perfectly.
Unfortunately, the Pacifica doesn't come with any accessories.
The sheer range of tone you can produce with the Pacifica is massive. Thanks to the tremolo bridge, HSS pickup configuration, 5-way switching AND coil-split feature, you can cover basically any genre of music. Check out this demo of both clean and crunchy sounds that the Pacifica is capable of:
Reviews on Amazon, Guitar Center, and Musician's Friend are overwhelmingly positive for the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V. Reviewers praise the great factory set-up, the versatility of the HSS configuration, and the surprisingly good tuning stability. One of the main complaints we've seen is that the tone knob can be a bit loose, but that's easily fixed by tightening the nut on the shaft of the potentiometer. It's super simple and should be quite obvious what needs tightening once you remove the knob. Not a deal-breaker in the slightest.
Reddit posters praise the Pacifica series as one of the best for beginners due to Yamaha's spectacular quality control and the overall value for money. We only wish the Pacifica came with locking tuners. That is one upgrade that would take this guitar from 'amazing' to 'perfect' for the beginner, but everyone else seems to agree that this guitar is astounding for the money.
Not often do you come across a budget guitar with so much attention paid to the details. The Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V is an extreme value for the money. It even looks great and comes in almost any color you could want. The Pacifica is an instrument that you can grow with as your taste and skill evolve. Paired with the right amp, your sonic pallet can be virtually limitless.