If you’re looking for good budget options for an electric guitar, you’ve probably come across the Yamaha Pacifica name a few times.
It ranks alongside the Fender Squier series of guitars as one of the most popular in the price range due to its quality construction and excellent playability.
The Yamaha Pacifica has long set a benchmark for quality and the 112V remains one of the best guitars for beginners.
- Alder body
- Maple neck
- 25.5″ scale length
- Rosewood fretboard
- 22 frets
- Alnico V humbucker in the bridge position, 2 Alnico V single-coils in middle and neck positions
- Volume and tone pots (with push-pull coil split on the 112V)
- 5-position pickup selector switch
- Vintage vibrato bridge with block saddle
- Left-handed: Yes (Pacifica 112J only)
- Natural Satin, Sunburst, Raspberry Red, Sonic Blue, Black, Metallic Silver finishes
Far from being a luxury guitar, the 112 just focuses on the bare necessities of life, which is what you want if you don’t want to spend too much as a beginner.
Nevertheless, the construction is of excellent quality. Believe me, if you take good care of it this will be a guitar for life and one of my beginner guitars (the second one I ever had) was a pacifica, but a telecaster model.
The design makes it a more modern, brighter and lighter take on a hot-rod Strat. But when I say brighter, it doesn’t mean overly shrill.
The bridge humbucker will pleasantly surprise most; it’s beefy without being too mid-tone heavy, and has a coil split on the 112V, which essentially transforms its bridge humbucker into a single coil, for more versatility.
The single-coils have great twang and tone with plenty of percussion for funky style licks, and are easily moldable with a little extra gain from your amp to get a nice growly blues sound.
Neck and middle combined produce a nice modern Strat-esque mix and the added clarity will cut nicely through a multi-FX patch.
- Ideal for beginners
- Impressive build quality
- Modern sounds
- The vibrato could be a bit better and I wouldn’t use it too much
Originally developed in the 1990s, the Yamaha Pacifica series has become one of the best-selling entry-level electric guitars.
They sound great, the price is excellent (much under $ 200 although I wouldn’t recommend those) and they look great.
Although the guitars are built in Asia, which is often considered a negative, the level of quality in the production is astonishing.
It’s probably the main reason it’s such a popular guitar, they are always good no matter which one you pick up. Provided you choose the right series.
Clearly, Yamaha has put a lot of thought into the design and manufacture of this guitar, leading me to believe that with proper care, this guitar will last a lifetime.
What’s the difference between the Pacifica 112J and the 112V?
The PAC112JL is left-handed guitar, meaning that it has a reversed headstock, so lefties can play just as easily as righties.
Basically, the 112J is the left-handed version of the 112V, but they’re not exact copies. The 112J has a few cheaper components like plastic buttons, and it doesn’t have the Alnico 5 coils like the 112V.
The main difference between the Pacifica 112J and the Pacifica 112V is the use of the Alnico-V pickups. They are a higher quality choice that you pay a little more for.
Aesthetically, there is also a slight difference in the size of the pickguard. As well as the use of plastic buttons (112J) over the classier metallic (112V). Is this a deal-breaker? Not really, the Pacifica 112J sounds great for a budget guitar, and it’s built to last, just like the 112V.
The bottom line is that when it comes to appearance and tonality, these two Pacifica models are extremely similar.
Yamaha Pacifica vs the Fender (or Squier) Strat
Most of the Pacificas you will see are modeled after the Stratocaster body, although there are quite a few differences worth noting.
First, although the body is similar, if you look closely, not only are the horns longer on the Pacifica, but the contours aren’t as pronounced either.
Instead of connecting the guitar to the pickguard on the front as is usual on the Strat, the Pacifica has the plug on the side.
Finally, one of the biggest differences between the Stratocaster and the Pacifica is the pickups.
While Stratocasters are equipped 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 on the 112V).
It’s hard to say which guitar – the Squier Strat or the Yamaha Pacifica – would be a better entry-level guitar for you.
Guitarists have noted that they have their own unique tones and since some models are the same price it really is up to the individual player to decide which style to prefer, but in particular the difference will be in whether you want the humbucker.
If I were to describe the Yamaha Pacifica in a few words, I would probably choose words like “versatile”, “bright” and “stylish”.
Due to the coil split for the humbucker at the bridge, which you can change by pushing or pulling one of the buttons, you have the choice between a brighter country sound or a deeper rock sound.
Both have a character that is both surprising and fun. Please note that this is possible with the 112V, and not with the 112J.
I must say that the only sad thing is that when you switch between a single coil, for example in the neck position, to the humbucker in the bridge, the volume also gets a bit louder.
You might be able to use this in your solos, but I find it a bit annoying to keep the same volume level.
The changes in tone while playing with the different pickup settings are often subtle, but the balance between midrange, bass and treble doesn’t disappoint.
The Pacifica lends itself to more lead play thanks to a slightly different fret radius. It has a rounding on the top edge of the fingerboard and a satin finish. The neck is supple and comfortable and feels incredibly stable.
Of course, the sound of each model will vary within the Pacifica Series. But overall, you can trust it to be a well-constructed, great-sounding electric guitar.
The 112 is the next step up on the 012 and is generally a more popular electric guitar. Aside from the standard alder body and rosewood fingerboard, the 112 also comes with more color options.
While Yamaha isn’t known for their line-up of electric guitars (the most popular Yamaha guitars I’ve reviewed here are almost all acoustic), the Pacifica is an excellent exception to that rule.
They are well made and have endured nearly three decades of research and use.
For those looking to buy their first guitar and not want to spend a lot of money, the Pacifica 112 is an excellent option that you won’t be disappointed with (comes in black, dark blue, and dark red).
If you manage to get a little more out of your budget, upgrading to the 112V will be a better investment in the long run.
Yamaha 112V alternatives
Squier Classic Vibe 50s
A little more expensive but also more versatile is the Squier Classic Vibe 50s (full review here).
I think the Yamaha 112V is a lot better than the cheaper Squier Affinity series, but with the Classic Vibe you get a lot more bang for your buck.
So that’s also one to take a look at if you don’t mind spending a little more and not having a humbucker in the bridge position.
Ibanez GRG170DX GIO
These are only comparable in price as they couldn’t be more different.
If you know you want to play heavier styles of music like metal, the Ibanez GRG170DX (full review here) is a great guitar to look at. Very affordable and the humbuckers sound excellent.
For all other styles of music, I would advise getting the Yamaha over the Ibanez.
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.
Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:Subscribe