Yamaha APX500III Review – Built for the Stage

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AudioRumble rating 90/100

  • Excellent onboard electronics with a great built-in tuner.

  • Multiple color options.

  • Ready for the stage appointments.

  • Plastic nut and saddle.

  • Case is not included.

Yamaha’s APX500III is built with the stage in mind. Plug into an amp or mixing board, add a strap, check your tuning, and you are ready to bring the house down.


The Yamaha APX500III is a cutaway thinline acoustic/electric built for live performance. It is designed to be plugged or played to a small intimate group.

It has a spruce top with nato/okume back and sides. Specially designed non-scalloped X-bracing maximizes the resonance of the thinline body. There is white binding around the body and neck. Yamaha’s oversized bridge is made of rosewood, and designed to transfer as much of the string vibration as possible to the soundboard. The bridge has smooth lines and curved edges to not get in the way of your strumming hand.

The nato neck has a satin finish for quick easy playing. The truss rod is accessible through the oval soundhole. The fingerboard is made of rosewood, and has 22 reachable frets thanks to the body’s cutaway. The black headstock has six die-cast chrome tuners with the Yamaha name and logo in mother of pearl.
The body is thin, but the size of the guitar is standard at 25.6”, and it weighs about 4lbs.


The APX line has been around since 1987, and the APX500III is the third iteration of this model. Upgrades from the APX500II are an improved preamp and new combination of tonewoods for the back and sides.

The System 66 preamp features an under the saddle piezo pickup, 3-band EQ, an adjustable midrange frequency control, volume, and built-in tuner. The system uses AA-batteries to power it. The battery box is located on the upper bout just above the neck for easy access.

The distinctive soundhole is not just aesthetic, but thickens the lower-mids and bolsters the lows.

Two strap buttons continue the stage ready theme of APX500III, because there is no sitting at a rock show.

The color options are: Dusk Sun Red, Natural, Black, Vintage Sunburst, and Oriental Blue Burst. All the colors have a gloss finish. In my opinion, the more traditional colors clash with the more modern looks of the guitar.

It is available in a left-handed model in the older series, the APX500IIL, but only in the natural finish.

A case is not included with the guitar.


As an acoustic, the guitar is not very loud and it does not have a strong bass presence. The sound is thinner than a dreadnought, but that should not come as a surprise. With that said, it does have a nice natural voice, with a good balance between the strings. It is bright, but not jarringly so. You would only play this guitar unplugged to a very small audience.

The nut and saddle are made of plastic, which is a bit disappointing.

Plugged in is where the APX500III really shines. Yamaha’s System 66 preamp is very good. There is plenty of control to dial in your sound. It can make up for any of the acoustic inadequacies of the slender body shape.

It also has one of the best built-in tuners of any acoustic guitar preamp I’ve tried. It has a very clear display, and it is very accurate.

Our Final Verdict

Yamaha APX500III Review – Built for the Stage The Yamaha APX500III is a stage performer. Its voice wants to be amplified, and it has the electronics to do it. The cutaway gives good access to the fast neck that is ready to play your favorite rock licks.

AudioRumble rating 90/100

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