Review: Yamaha Pacifica 611H

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When Yamaha introduced the first Pacifica-model, way back in the 1990s, no-one would have thought that this guitar would become such a runaway success, spawning a whole range of Pacificas over the years. Originally the Pacifica was developed as a sort of test instrument by Yamaha’s West Coast Custom Shop, with its fathers being Rich Lasner and Leo Knapp.

Over the years different guitars have carried the Pacifica monicker, but most Pacificas were (and still are) loosely related to the Strat – just like the current top production-line model, the Pacifica 611H.

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Unbelievable as it may sound: This beauty of a guitar comes out of Yamaha’s Indonesian factory, which explains the Yamaha Pacifica 611H’s very moderate price (current price at F-Musiikki 595 €).

The Pacifica sticks with traditional tonewoods: The bolt-on neck has been carved from hard rock maple and carries a rosewood fingerboard. The body is almost entirely made of alder – three pieces in our review sample’s case – with just a beautiful bookmatched flame maple veneer glued onto its front for embellishment.

The deep chamfers on the body make for a very comfortable feel.

Vintage-type specs seem to be on the rise again – the Pacifica 611H’s neck comes with a tinted gloss finish.

The headstock matches the body with its flame maple veneer and Root Beer finish.

The top nut, as well as the string trees, are made from Graph Tech’s Black Tusq. This Teflon-impregnated ceramic material is hard and slippery, resulting in better tone and improved tuning stability.

Even though this model isn’t equipped with a vibrato bridge, Yamaha have nonetheless chosen to use a set of Grover locking tuners. The biggest advantage of the Grover units is that you don’t need any tools to change strings. You simply thread the string through the tuning post, and then turn the tuner head. This first engages the locking mechanism, and once the string is locked, the tuning post starts to turn.

Whatever Yamaha do regarding their quality control, they must be doing it dead right! The fret job on our test sample is remarkably clean, which makes the guitar feel far pricier than it really is.

A traditional neck joint – why change something, when it works so well?

The faux-tortie scratchplate is the perfect companion to the 611H’s Root Beer finish – yummy.

Yamaha uses Graph Tech’s String Saver bridge saddles on this Pacifica-model. This self-lubricating material prolongs string-life and takes away some of the nasty twang of many metal saddles.

This quality guitar comes loaded with quality pickups: The P-90/humbucker-combination seems to be en vogue these days – in the case of the Pacifica 611H we find a Seymour Duncan SP-90 in the neck position, with the same manufacturer’s Custom 5 -humbucker mounted next to the bridge. Seymour Duncan say the SP-90 is their most authentic reproduction of a Gibson P-90 from the late Forties, while the Custom 5 is an Alnico V -powered humbucker with a moderate output level.

The controls comprise a master volume and a master tone control, plus a three-way blade switch. The tone control sports a push/pull-switch, splitting the humbucker in the ”up” position.

Clean and competent workmanship can also be found in the control cavity, which has been thoroughly shielded with conductive paint.

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The Pacifica 611H feels great, thanks to the fine fret job and the very comfortable, oval C-shaped neck profile. Our review sample was also nicely lightweight.

The Yamaha’s clean and transparent acoustic character translates into a healthy amplified tone. In the Pacifica’s case combining a P-90 with a humbucker works exceedingly well. The fat singlecoil easily holds its own against the bridge humbucker, and keeps the signal devoid of any trace of muddiness.

Both soundbites start with the neck singlecoil, then switch to both pickups with the humbucker split, and lastly to the split humbucker on its own. The last two motifs are the combined setting, followed by the bridge pickup on its own, both with the full humbucker switched on:

Yamaha Pacifica 611H – clean

Yamaha Pacifica 611H – crunch

In my opinion the Yamaha Pacifica 611H represents fantastic value-for-money. I wouldn’t hesitate dragging one onto stage (or into a studio) straight out of its shipping box!

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Yamaha Pacifica  611H

Current price at F-Musiikki: 595 €

Finnish distributor: F-Musiikki

Pros:

• great value-for-money

• locking tuners

• Graph Tech -nut and -bridge

• workmanship

• playability

• sound

• versatility

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Yamaha Pacifica 611H – the track from the video

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