2016 Yamaha LL-TA TransAcoustic Guitar in Natural Finish with Built in Chorus & Reverb – No amp Needed!

Yamaha introduced the TransAcoustic Guitar at 2016 Summer NAMM with a ship date of September. Once I saw the demo I had to try one for myself. It is a very cool and fun acoustic guitar.

Yamaha’s LL-TA TransAcoustic is a China built acoustic guitar that has an innovative twist. Sometimes playing an acoustic guitar in a small room or outside may lack some inspiration. Yamaha has added some pretty cool technology that comes from its piano division. It has the ability to make a small room sound like a much larger one. It achieves this by adding two reverbs and a chorus without the need of an amplifier. Yes, the effects come right out of this acoustic guitar!

Yamaha’s TransAcoustic Guitar recreates the incredible experience of playing in a rich, live room without needing any external amplification or effects – just the guitar itself.

How Does It Work?

An actuator installed on the inner surface of the guitar back vibrates in response to the vibrations of the strings. The vibrations of the actuator are then conveyed to the body of the guitar, and to the air in and around the guitar body, generating authentic reverb and chorus sounds from inside the body.

The Yamaha LL-TA – the TA stands for TransAcoustic. This acoustic guitar is a nicely built all solid wood guitar at a lower price point. The built-in effects processor uses a metal actuator that is mounted inside the guitar on the back that is hidden on one side. It basically turns the acoustic guitar body into a speaker and uses Yamaha DSP technology. There are three control knobs located on the side of the guitar – Reverb Room/Hall, Chorus and Line Out Level/On-Off for effects.

Note the plastic overlay is removable

The guitar has a built-in SRT piezo pickup provides nice plugged-in tones and can also route the effects to the line-out at the endpin jack. There is a rear mounted AA battery box that powers the electronics. To “activate” the effects you just hold down the TA switch for more than 0.3 seconds on the top side of the guitar. The entire system is very quiet with a green light inside the guitar body indicating when it is on.

Yamaha LS-TA concert and LL-TA dreadnought models in two different finishes

Yamaha offers the TransAcoustic on two guitars – LL-TA handcrafted dreadnought and the slightly smaller LS-TA concert acoustic guitar. The two models are available in Vintage Tint and Brown Sunburst finishes, with clear pick guards and ebony fingerboards. They each feature a solid Engelmann spruce top that has been aged with Yamaha A.R.E. technology (some makers call this Torrification), as well as rosewood backs and sides, which translates into a warm, yet powerful vintage quality tone. Five-ply mahogany and rosewood necks are climate resistant, and they intonate and stay intonated over time.

From Yamaha Site:

The body is an all-solid guitar based on the L-series. A modified non-scalloped bracing design retains the L series’ characteristic bright tone while enhancing the low end. Treating the tops with Yamaha’s exclusive A.R.E. process gives the instrument a rich, vintage quality tone, making it sound as though you’ d been playing it for years, from the very first moment you pick it up. The fact that this guitar has been designed with an insistence on sound quality is what allows it to produce effected sounds that feels pure and natural.

Battery box integrated into the end-pin jack. This requires fewer holes in the body, thus reducing acoustic sound loss. Connect the cable from the jack to a PA or amp to use as an acoustic electric guitar.

The edge of the neck and the frets are rounded, making it smooth all the way across the instrument. The fret work is pretty good. The LL-TA is great fun to play, whether or not its effects are engaged. The neck relatively shallow and the factory setup is good, with low action and clean fretwork. The neck has rolled fingerboard edges give it a broken-in feel.

The idea of built-in effects on an acoustic guitar is innovative and reminds me of the Virzi Tone Producer that Lloyd Loar used on some early Gibson mandolins and guitars put in 1920. Of course National made resonator guitars with Alminum cones as well. While these early innovations were to improve resonance and add volume, the Yamaha innovation on the LL-TA TransAcoustic marks the first modern acoustic designed to sound as if it’s amplified with effects when unplugged.

Actuator installed on the inner surface of the guitar back vibrates in response to the vibrations of the strings.

The vibrations of the actuator are then conveyed to the body of the guitar, and to the air in and around the guitar body, generating authentic reverb and chorus sounds from inside the body and then sends them back out the guitar’s sound hole. The setup essentially turns the guitar body into its own amplifier and speaker. Without any outboard amplification, you can alter the sonic environment in which you’re playing to create, into a great sounding room.

It is incredible to hear the big hall sound flowing out just the guitar, especially when you’re in a less-than ideal environment like a small room, a campfire, or just about anywhere else outside a concert hall. Ramping the reverb up sends those long vibrato notes and held chords glistening into the air, while a bit of chorus gives you a studio sound right from the couch. Sounds like a recording of a nice acoustic would.

Three simple knobs allow for control, including the Reverb dial for both Room and Hall reverb, the Chorus dial, and a power/volume dial which powers the actuator on with the press of a finger, and also acts as the volume control when you may want to plugin to an external amplifier using the built-in piezo electric pickup. Two AA batteries in an easy-access battery case beneath the strap holder powers the electronics. Battery life is estimated at about ten hours.

Additionally, keeping the controls small minimizes the area of the holes in the body material, reducing acoustic sound loss. (A) Chorus Control (B) Reverb Control (Room / Hall) (C) TA Switch / Line Out Volume Control * Pressing the TA Switch for more than 0.3 seconds activates the TA function.

* When a cable is connected to the line-out jack, the lineout volume can be adjusted by rotating the (C) knob. * The reverb type switches from Room to Hall around the 12:00 position.

TransAcoustic system using the metal actuator and electronics delivers effects that are quite convincing—and very musical. The reverb control from 0 to 12 ‘clock position is room and after 12 ‘clock allows for hall reverb which is rich and adds a generous amount of sustain, while the chorus lends a gorgeous shimmer that’s especially nice for playing ringing arpeggios or getting the sound of old school recorded acoustic guitars. The effects can be used individually or simultaneously. The effects also sound impressive when the guitar is plugged into my Fishman Acoustic Amp. The built-in Yamaha pickup system is pretty good and produces a nice natural sound through my Fishman Acoustic Amp, giving you the choice of the guitars built in effects or the Fishman amp’s effects.

The guitar weighs about 5-lbs 12.5-ozs as the actuator and electronics add a bit of weight (also the laminated neck). Nothing that is any real issue. Still pretty light compared to most solid body guitars and not much heavier than my Taylor 914CE. A very nice acoustic guitar especially at this low a price point. I can see the Yamaha LL-TA being a great song writer’s tool.

The Yamaha LL-TA has a slightly larger lower bout than my Martin HD28 Dreadnaught as it is has a Jumbo body. Body depth is about the same. The LL-TA tuners seem good enough and held tuning stable. The tuner buttons physically look like my Martin’s Grovers. The Grover tuners could probably be a direct replacement, but the stock tuners look to be pretty good.

Yamaha LL-TA and Martin HD28

There’s simply no other way to get a sound like the Yamaha TransAcoustic guitar on another guitar without plugging into an acoustic amplifier PLUS adding effects.

Specs for Yamaha LL-TA:

  • Body Shape: Yamaha Original Jumbo
  • Scale Length: 650mm (25 9/16”)
  • Body Length: 513mm (20 3/16″)
  • Total Length: 1046mm (41 3/16″)
  • Body Width: 415mm (16 5/16″)
  • Body Depth: 100-125mm (3 15/16″ – 4 15/16″)
  • Nut Width: 44mm (1 3/4″)
  • Top Material: Solid Engelmann Spruce A.R.E.
  • Back Material: Solid Rosewood
  • Side Material: Solid Rosewood
  • Neck Material: Mahogany + Rosewood 5-ply
  • Fingerboard Material: Ebony
  • Fingerboard Radius: R400mm (23 5/8″)
  • Bridge Material: Ebony
  • Nut Material: Urea
  • Saddle Material: Urea
  • Bridge Pins: Black ABS with White Dot
  • Tuners: Die-cast Gold(TM29G)
  • Body Binding: Maple + Black
  • Soundhole Inlay: Abalone + Black + White
  • Pickguard: Transparent
  • Body Finish: Gloss
  • Neck Finish: Matt
  • Electronics: SYSTEM70 TransAcoustic+ Piezo Pickup
  • Controls: Reverb(Room/Hall) / Chorus / TA Switch / Line Out Vol
  • Connections: LINE OUT
  • Strings: .012/.016/.025(or.024)/.032/.042/.053
  • Accessories: Hex Wrench, 2 x AA Batteries
  • Built in China
  • Case: Hard Bag