So if you’ve been looking for some good budget electric guitar options you’ve probably run across the Yamaha Pacifica name a few times. It stands alongside the Fender Squier series of guitars as some of the most popular in the price range due to its high value and excellent playability.
But what’s the difference between the Pacifica 012 and the Pacifica 112? Should you consider the PAC112J or the PAC112V?
While there have been many different series models over the past couple decades, currently there are only 6 guitars in the Yamaha Pacifica Series – the PAC112V, the PAC112J, the PAC012, the PAC1611MS, the PAC212VFM and the PAC212VQM. Below we’re going to do a quick review of the series as a whole and then break down the differences between the individual guitars.
At the end, hopefully you’ll have a good idea which model in the series is a good fit for you.
Yamaha Pacifica Guitar Review
Originally developed in the 1990’s, the Yamaha Pacifica series has become one of the company’s best-selling entry-level electric guitars. They sound great, the price is excellent (many under $200) and they look awesome.
Although the guitars are constructed in Asia, a fact which is often considered a negative, the level of quality in production is amazing. It’s probably the main reason it’s such a popular guitar – they are consistently good no matter which one you pick up.
It’s obvious that Yamaha has put a lot of effort into the design and production of this guitar, leading me to believe that with the right amount of care this guitar could last you a lifetime.
Yamaha Pacifica vs the Fender (or Squier) Strat
Most of the Pacifica’s you’ll see are modeled after the Stratocaster body although there are quite a few differences that are worth pointing out. First, while the body is similar, if you look closely you’ll see that not only are the horns longer on the Pacifica but the contours are also not as pronounced. Instead of plugging the guitar in on the face as is common on the Strat, with the Pacifica the plug is on the side.
Finally, one of the biggest differences between the Stratocaster and the Pacifica is in the pickups. While Stratocasters are fitted with three single-coil pickups, the Pacifica works with two single-coils and one humbucking pickup (which can be configured to act as a single coil).
It’s hard to say which guitar – the Squier Strat or the Yamaha Pacifica – would make a better entry-guitar purchase. Players have noted that they have their own unique tones and since some of the models are similarly priced, it’s really up to the individual player to decide which style he or she prefers.
Yamaha Pacifica Playability and Sound
If I were to describe the Yamaha Pacifica in a few words I would probably choose words like “versatile”, “bright” and “classy”. Because of the coil-split facility for the humbucker near the bridge, which you can change by pushing or pulling one of the knobs, you have the option of a brighter country sound or a deeper rock sound. Both have a character that is both surprising and nice.
The changes in tone when playing with the various pickup settings is often subtle, but the balance of mid-range, bass and highs doesn’t disappoint.
The Pacifica lends itself to more lead playing thanks to a slightly different fret radius. It has a rounding at the top edge of the fingerboard and a satin finish. The neck is smooth and comfortable and feels incredibly stable.
Obviously the sound of each model within the Pacifica Series will vary. But overall you can be confident that it is a well-constructed, well-sounding electric guitar. It looks both modern and classy at the same time.
Yamaha Pacifica Series Comparison
Now we’re going to dive into exactly what differentiates the six different models in the Pacifica series of electric guitars. We’ll dive a bit deeper into the details below, but here’s a snapshot of the guitar specs.
|Body:||Agathis||Alder||Solid Alder||Alder (Quilted Maple Top)||Alder (Flamed Maple Top)|
|Pickups:||Factory pickups||Factory pickups||Alnico-V||Alnico-V||Alnico-V|
|Switch:||5-position||5-position||5-position w/ coil tap||5-position w/ coil tap||5-position w/ coil tap|
|Controls:||Master Volume & Tone||Master Volume & Tone||Master Volume & Tone||Master Volume & Tone||Master Volume & Tone|
Yamaha Pacifica 012 Notes
The Pacifica 012 is differentiated from the rest of the pack primarily by its Agathis body and Sonokeling fingerboard. It’s not a bad option if your budget is severely limited. But, if you’re able, it’s much better to start off with the 112 series.
Yamaha Pacifica 112 Notes
The 112 is the next step up from the 012 and is generally a more popular electric guitar. Aside from sporting the standard Alder body and Rosewood fingerboard, the 112 also comes with more color options.
The difference between the Pacifica 112J and the Pacifica 112V is the use of the Alnico-V pickups. They are a higher-quality piece of installed equipment. Aesthetically, there’s also a slight difference in the size of the pick guard. As well as the use of plastic knobs (112J) over the classier metallic (112V).
Click for more details on the Pacifica 112J
Click for more details on the Pacifica 112V
Yamaha Pacifica 212 Notes
The 212 series uses the same high-quality Alnico-V pickups, hence the “V” in the name. But, it then adds two very unique visual elements to the body. While the “VQM” sports a beautiful quilted maple top, the “VFM” is a more subtle flaming maple top.
Both are excellent guitars that improve upon what makes the original 112 so desirable.
Click for more details on the Pacifica 212VFM
Yamaha Pacifica 1611MS Notes
You’ll notice this particular guitar missing from the table above. The reason is that it’s just a completely different guitar. I’m not even sure why they put it in this series. Not only are there differences in the construction, Yamaha uses Ash in the body. But there is an incredible gap in pricing: the PAC1611MS starts at $1,799!
Yamaha crafted this guitar for legendary jazz guitarist Mike Stern (hence the “MS” in the name). The PAC1611MS is a beautiful-sounding guitar that utilizes the absolute best materials and production technology available.
Click here for more details on the Pacifica 1611MS
While Yamaha isn’t well-known for their lineup of electric guitars, the Pacifica is one excellent exception to that rule. They are well-made and have endured almost three decades of scrutiny and use.
For those who are looking to buy their first guitar and don’t have a lot of money to spend, the Pacifica 012 is an excellent option that you won’t be disappointed with (comes in black, dark blue and dark red). If you can manage to squeak out a bit more in your budget, however, upgrading to the 112 will be a better investment in the long run. Colors offered include Black, Lake Blue, Metallic Red, Natural, Old Violin Sunburst, and Translucent Green.
As for the Pacifica 212, if you’re drawn to the beauty of Quilted Maple or Flamed Maple you’ll love the VQM and the VFM – both quality guitars.