Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 146
VG APPROVED GEAR
Yamaha's LL-TA TransAcoustic
very once in a while, an instrument or
piece of gear emerges that knocks the
socks off. Yamaha's TransAcoustic is one
The TransAcoustic is a dreadnought (the
company calls it Original Jumbo) with
solid rosewood back and sides and a solid
Engelmann A.R.E. spruce top (Yamaha's
Acoustic Resonance Enhancement aging
treatment). The box sports a mahogany neck
with two decorative rosewood stripes in the
back and a scale of 259/16". Maple binding on
the body is a nice touch that complements
a black/white/abalone rosette.
The guitar's 20-fret fingerboard is ebony
with a flat 235/8" radius and abalone dot inlays.
Other features include a urea nut and saddle,
gold tuners, and a transparent pickguard. In
all, this is a decent acoustic with an excellent
neck and moderately lively top.
But what about that "secret weapon?"
Three controls on the upper bout are part
of the TransAcoustic's System 70 preamp;
push and hold the bottom one to activate
the under-saddle piezo pickup (powered by
two AA batteries mounted in the endpin
jack), then increase the other two knobs and
suddenly the mellifluous sounds of reverb
and chorus waft through the air. But wait....
Where's the amp? The TransAcoustic actually has its own amp inside its body. Shine a
flashlight through the soundhole and you'll
spy a mini speaker/driver strapped between
two of the back braces. In effect, the driver
uses the dreadnought body to amplify and
project the sound.
Cool idea, and it works incredibly well.
In tests including private practice and a full
solo-acoustic gig, the Trans LL-TA proved a
workhorse. For solo jams, it's something of
a game changer for its ability to go on the
back porch and play with full-on reverb and
chorus effects - without external cables. It's
harnessing new potential in a guitar.
The Line Out Volume knob acts as a blend
between fully acoustic and processed tones.
The reverb is surprisingly lush and warm,
while chorus is sweet-toned and not harsh.
All this would be moot if the LL-TA itself
wasn't a nice acoustic, especially the neck.
With that flat radius and excellent
setup, the fingerboard is super-fast,
comfortable, and has a low, buzz-free
action. The guitar's natural projection
is good though not remarkable, but
when you combine the superior neck
with the speaker and preamp, you
may only play it unamplified on rare
Speaking of, the preamp supersedes
the speaker when you plug a 1/4" cable
into the endpin and send it to a PA or
acoustic amp. This gives the player the
option of using the Yamaha's internal
effects through the PA or turning them
off for outboard processing. The
Price: $999 (street)
chorus and reverb work equally well
internally or externally.
Like the first time you surfed the
internet or talked cross-country on a
smartphone, with the TransAcoustic
you might sit back and realize the
world has changed. Other companies
are experimenting with methods to
combine amp-free digital effects
with acoustic/electric guitars, but the
LL-TA does so hassle-free and with
a price tag that's hard to beat. Just
push down that Volume button and
wait for the effects and driver to kick
in. After that, it's almost magical.
Bravo, Yamaha. - Pete Prown