Yamaha Revstar Standard Review: Amazing New Additions To The Gorgeous Lineup!

By Christoper Horton •  Updated: 03/21/22 •  23 min read

The new Yamaha Revstar Standard comes in two different variations, and today we take a look at both! How do they stack up to the Element Series?


Yamaha Revstar Standard: Two New Amazing Models!

Last week we took a look at the Revstar Element Series which is a budget version of the Revstar. I went into that review with no expectations at all, since it is a budget friendly model, but I came out completely surprised! I was not ready to be taken aback by such a cheap guitar. Immediately after that review, I knew I was going to take a look at the Yamaha Revstar Standard next, and I honestly couldn’t think of how Yamaha could possibly improve on an instrument like the Element.

Yamaha is trying really hard to break the reputation it has for being a “beginner brand”. You can look over guitar forums and see just how many times the Yamaha Pacifica will come up as the answer to getting a good beginner guitar. In fact, I even included it on our list of the best beginner guitars, because I used a Pacifica for years as my backup guitar. When you play in a band, having a backup is a wise idea since you never know what may happen on stage. I only needed to use the Pacifica a few times, but I was glad to have it to finish the gig. I also used that Pacifica to record a few times, when my Les Paul just didn’t have the tones I needed.

Yamaha tried to break into the mainstream with the Pacifica Series, by making more high end versions of the model. These had flame finishes, name brand hardware, and Seymour Duncan pickups. I was lucky to play these models a few times, and I think that Fender had some serious competition from Yamaha. The Pacifica 612VII was a huge leap in quality for the regular Pacifica, and I was very surprised that these guitars were under $1000. Unfortunately, the high end Pacifica never really took off. Which is a shame, because I would gig with one of those guitars, or record with them with zero complaints.

Now acoustic players would tell you differently, that Yamaha is not just a beginner brand. For some reason, Yamaha always focused its energy on the acoustic lineup, and these have been popular with the pros. But the electric guitar models always seemed to fall flat, even though they are really well made guitars. Since the merger with Line 6, Yamaha looks to be changing that business structure for the better!

So today we take a look at the Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS20/RSS02T lineup that is brand new for 2022. The reason I talked so much about the “Pro Grade” Pacifica models, is because that is exactly what I think the Yamaha Revstar Standard is trying to be. While the Revstar Element Series seemed really nice for the price, the Standard is supposedly the “Pro Model”, a workhorse guitar for the gigging musician that needs a little more than what the Element can offer.

These two Standard models have a ton of features and specs that professional guitarists are going to love. Both models are a little different, and we will talk about them separately. But the Revstar DNA is the same in both of the Standard Series models. Both share the same main features, while appealing to two totally different types of players, tone options, and feel. From afar, they might look similar…but the devil is in the details.

We will go over the features and specs of both variants of the Yamaha Revstar Standard models, and talk about the differences between both. Really, the only thing that is different is the pickups and bridge configuration, but depending on what kind of music you play, one may be vastly better than the other for your style. So let’s take a look at the features first, and then discuss the more intricate details of each model. Is it worth the extra money, or is the Revstar Element a better buy? If you already know the features, skip down to “Testing”!

Let’s dive in, and find out!


Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS20: Features And Specs

Yamaha Revstar standard

The Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS20 is the dual humbucker model, that we have already become pretty familiar with since the Element Series is based on this model. You have 4 different color options to choose from, and they retain some of the same color schemes of the Element Series, but that’s where the comparison ends. The features for the Yamaha Revstar Standard are much better than the Element:


Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS02T: Features And Specs

Yamaha Revstar Standard

Like I said, these can be deceptively alike at first glance, but the Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS02T has a few different tricks up its sleeve that make it much different than the RSS20. The P90 pickups are definitely the first thing to note, as well as the Trapeze style bridge that you usually see on Epiphone guitars and other classic electric guitars from the 1940’s and 50’s. These features give you a totally different vibe:


Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS20/RSS02T: Testing

For both guitars, I used two different amps while testing these models. I used the trusty BOSS Katana 100 since I am so familiar with it. For the second amp, I chose something completely different and used a Fender Blues Jr. I use the Katana these days for most live situations just because its easy, but I used a Blues Jr for years, so I have pretty good knowledge of both. I know how to dial in tones really well on both amps, and they were available at our affiliate site where I test gear for reviews. I always like to use a tube amp, and a modeler for reviews and these are both amps that guitarists would use considering the Revstar guitar’s price range.

Construction: Both Yamaha Revstar Standard variants have the same main construction features. I’m going to try really hard not to gush too much, but the quality of both models is just insane. The finish on both is flawless and amazing, without any smears or streaks. The back of the neck has been sanded back to satin, while the rest of the guitar is all glossy. The cream binding is also on point with both models, and the binding is one of the aesthetics that set this model apart from the Element Series.

The neck is the same carve as the Element, but it feels a little slimmer on these models. The neck still feels like a slightly fatter Stratocaster to me, but it is super comfortable. The stainless steel frets make a huge difference, and the fretwork was perfect on both guitars. There were no dead frets or fret sprout, and the neck binding all looks great as well. The nut material is not listed, but I am guessing this is graphite, and the nut was cut properly on both. The fretboard is a lighter Rosewood than I am used to, but it really makes the “thin line” mother of pearl inlays pop.

The dual carbon fiber rods that stabilize the neck was something I honestly didn’t put a lot of thought into. That is, until I started playing. With most guitars that have no trem option, I will often do the “bend the neck” trick to get the same bendy effect. You absolutely cannot bend this neck. This means, as a gigging guitar, you will have to spend less time adjusting the neck for setups. This may not seem like a huge selling point, but it really is an amazing feature. This neck is stable as hell, so once you set it you can forget it. It would take a huge change in humidity to make this neck shift at all, and it will probably never warp.

You have a Gibson style 24.75” scale length with all of the Yamaha Revstar models, and a 14” fretboard radius. So the neck is pretty flat actually, and I think this works really well with the whole design of the guitar. It feels like a Fender in some ways, but it also has the familiar feeling of a shorter scale Gibson guitar. The frets are in the “medium” category as far as the way they feel to me, and I couldn’t find the actual fret size mentioned in the paperwork.

The body is again chambered, the same way that the Element is, but there are a few changes. The Yamaha Revstar Standard has a chambered body that was designed to add resonance, and reduce weight just like the Element. But the Standard Series also has a maple top, and I think this adds a little more to the resonance, especially strumming it acoustically. The guitar is still very balanced with no neck-dive issues. Both models that I played weighed in at about 8.5lbs. I usually don’t buy into the “tone wood” stuff, but as far as chambering the body? It makes a difference, because these are bright sounding guitars.

Without the chambering, you would have your usual Mahogany body/Mahogany neck guitar. Even with the maple cap, I would not call this type of build a bright guitar by any means. I think the chambering is what makes this guitar so resonant, and so treble-focused. The pickups also play a huge part in this, of course. But as a base design, the chambering certainly isn’t a gimmick. Finally, a wood difference I can actually hear!

Yamaha Revstar Element
Yamaha Revstar Standard Body Chambering

The gig bag is a very nice addition, and this is not just some thin, useless gig bag. I was very impressed with the bag that the Yamaha Revstar Standard comes with. It has ample padding, a headstock rest, and plenty of pockets. The straps allow you to carry it with a handle, or wear it like a backpack. Now this is not as nice as a MONO or anything, but this would be as good as a $50 Gator Brand bag at the very least. The gig bag is even nicer than what PRS offers in my opinion!

Overall, when it comes to how these guitars are built, I would say that these are probably expensive guitars if I didn’t know the price. I was surprised by the price, for sure. For $800, you very rarely see features like stainless frets and neck through construction. The only thing that is missing for me, is locking tuners. I know that locking tuners have nothing to do with tuning stability, but they make string changes so much easier. The Yamaha Revstar Standard has everything a gigging guitarist could want as far as stability. Why skimp on locking tuners, Yamaha?

Other than that one gripe, these guitars are pretty much flawless in build quality. I know we have all been burned by Indonesian made guitars at some point, but Yamaha really delivers with these models. As far as the construction goes, these are built like a tank. Yamaha had no idea that these would be “review models” either. The Revstar is definitely built for the stage and the studio. But I have came across plenty of guitars that are built well, but sounded subpar. These may be able to survive a nuke blast, but how do these guitars sound?


Yamaha Revstar Standard: Sounds

The Yamaha Revstar Standard comes in two different models, while the Element series only has one. The RSS20 is a dual humbucker guitar, while the RSS02T is two medium output P90 single coils. Since both of these produce totally different sounds, we will talk about them separately. They both share the new “Focus” switch, and have a 5 way pickup selector…but they work totally different depending on the pickups. So let’s get started!

The Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS20: This is the same guitar as the Element model, with a very classic dual humbucker design and a standard TOM tailpiece that you would expect on this sort of guitar. From first glance this looks just like the Element, and it is totally unassuming. But the 5 way switch is where this assumption changes. It can be a little hard to describe how the 5 way works, as well as the new “Focus” switch, but I will do my best.

The Alnico V pickups are just as bright in the Standard series as they were in the Element. But these are definitely a step up in sonic variety. These are bright and mid-focused pickups that I would assume are name brand, but apparently Yamaha tried out over 100 pickups before deciding on these! All of that work paid off, because these sound amazing both clean and distorted. They are super clear, and the string separation under high gain is surprising. Every note in a big chord rings out, and I even got it to chug a little with the Katana. These pickups will cut in just about any kind of mix, since they push the mids so hard.

The neck humbucker sounds great clean, or with a little gain applied. The bridge is hot enough to handle some serious distortion, while still remaining very clear. I found myself turning down treble on both amps, which is something I almost never do. Most stock pickups can be a little muddy, but these are so punchy that dialing back the amp was necessary. All three “regular” positions sound great clean, crunchy, and even with high gain.

You would assume the 5 way switch is for coil tap positions, since this is a humbucker guitar. But Yamaha did something totally unique. This 5 way works more like a Stratocaster, with the “in between” positions being out of phase options. This opens up a whole new world of tones, both clean and dirty. These in between positions give you an almost “cocked wah-wah” sound. It can make the guitar have a vowel-like quality to individual notes, and can even be a little “honky”. This sounds really cool when you go into a solo, and with chords…I honestly have no way to describe it! The effect is definitely not subtle, and it gets even deeper…

Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS20
$799.00

A tone machine! Its sound is driven by dual humbucking pickups, as well as a passive focus switch for further tone sculpting. Additional appointments to the Revstar Standard RSS20 include a gloss body finish, satin neck finish and rosewood fingerboard with 22 stainless steel frets. Comes with a gig bag.

BUY NOW

Basically what the 5 way switch is doing, is causing a delay between the two pickups with the in between positions. I would call it “out of phase” but really it sounds like something completely different. It almost has a single coil quality to it, but without the loss of volume that a coil tap would give you. One pickup is slightly delayed, which gives it the different sound. It is just a few milliseconds off, and not even something you can hear. Yet this is how Yamaha explained the 5 way switch to me, and I have never seen something like that on any guitar. But wait…it gets crazier!

The Focus switch acts like a passive EQ adjuster, no battery needed. When you pull the switch, it dials out a lot of the treble, while boosting the lower midrange, and the bass. On the neck pickup, this gives you an automatic Slash/Santana creamy tone. This is usually done by turning down the tone knob, but this EQ switch does it for you! It tames the high end clarity of the bridge pickup, which I could hear being used for jazz. Now I know why these humbuckers are so punchy to begin with. The bridge pickup may sound dialed back, but the neck pickup is where the Focus really shines, giving you that buttery lead tone.

Technically, you have 10 different tones to choose from with the Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS20. The out of phase sounds also work with the Focus switch, allowing you to dial up some really interesting tones. I was disappointed with the lack of coil split, until I played with the 5 way a little more. You can really attain some sounds that you would usually buy a pedal to get. The EQ Focus is perfect for solos, since it does boost the signal a bit while it dials out some top end. This could even replace a clean boost pedal!


Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS02T: I will be 100% honest with you here, I am not usually a fan of P90s and I’m definitely not a fan of the Trapeze style bridge on this model. If I am going to use a single coil guitar, I prefer the regular Fender style. But that is just personal taste, and what we are here for is the tones you can get. I put my personal bias aside, and again used the Katana and Blues Jr. However…

Sticking with the honesty, I ditched the Katana for this part of the review because these P90s were made for a tube amp like the Fender Blues Jr. I was not prepared to completely fall in love with these pickups, but I absolutely have! These Yamaha designed P90s were born to play blues and jazz, so using the Katana for high gain was out of the question. I am sure it could do high gain, but that isn’t where it really shines. Under high gain, these are just too noisy and brittle. They really aren’t made for that kind of style, so while the other model excels under high gain…this one is the opposite.

The neck pickup through the Fender clean with a splash of reverb was absolutely gorgeous. These P90s have a lot of midrange, and they get close to mimicking a Telecaster. The bridge pickup is extra punchy as well, and with a little AC/DC style crunch dialed… in it really came to life. The middle position has that dual single coil ‘acoustic” quality that I love from Telecasters. I suppose this means I need to try out more P90s, because these are amazing for clean/crunch tones. The bridge pickup has enough bass response for solos, but never gets too woof-y or shrill. Like the humbucker version, these pickups definitely “punch”.

The 5 way switch here is more like a traditional Strat. The “in-between” positions give you that quack that you want out of a single coil, and it can also get that “nasal” sound as well. The 5 way switch worked completely different on the dual humbucker Revstar! Here you can get a lot of those classic sounds, but they are brighter and more full because the pickups are so punchy. This is the “biggest” I have ever heard single coil pickups sound, and there’s only a moderate amount of 60-cycle hum. You can get the classic single coil tones from the neck position, but you can also get Les Paul Jr-style sounds from the bridge.

Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS02T
$799.00

What a piece of art! Its sound is driven by dual single-coil pickups, as well as a passive focus switch for further tone sculpting. Additional appointments to the Revstar Standard RSS02T include a gloss body finish, satin neck finish and rosewood fingerboard with 22 stainless steel frets. Comes with a gig bag.

BUY NOW

The Focus switch works completely different on this model as well. When you pull the Focus switch with the P90s, it shifts the EQ the same way by removing some of the top end and boosting the lower Mids. If I owned this guitar, I would probably keep the Focus enabled all of the time. The Focus really tames these pickups, and makes them incredibly smooth, with a chime-like quality. In the middle position, I got an almost piano-like tone with some reverb. The Focus acts more like a “taming” switch than a boost on this model, while still boosting the signal in volume.

Add the focus with some of the “in between” switching positions, and you can just about nail the tone from “Bohemian Rhapsody”. That’s the best way that I can explain the sound of the 5 way switch mixed with the Focus. It just smooths everything out, giving you 10 tonal options in total, just like the dual humbucker Yamaha Revstar Standard…but in a completely different way.

I don’t particularly like the Trapeze bridge on these. But that is a personal taste, as it would make it more of a pain to restring. I play a lot, so I restring every couple of weeks, and even more if I am recording. So this tailpiece would be an obstacle for me. Aesthetically, I like the tailpiece. But to be completely honest with you, this is something I could overlook with this guitar because it sounds so sweet. I did eventually plug it into the Katana for cleans, but it paled in comparison to the tube amp sounds. This is one fight the Katana can’t win!


Yamaha Revstar Standard Models: Which One Is For Me?

This is usually a hard question to answer when it comes to two models that are similar, but with the Yamaha Revstar Standard models, it has never been more clear which one belongs where. Both of these guitars are punching way above their weight class when it comes to quality and features. The binding and inlays make it more sophisticated than the Element models. The Maple top also adds a different dimension when it comes to resonance. The next step up is the “Custom” models that are made in Japan, and quite pricey. The Standard Series is the “best” of the imports, and it’s a steal at 800 bucks.

If you play rock or anything with a lot of distortion, I think the dual humbucker model is going to be more your speed. Not only do you have the traditional dual humbucker sounds, you also have the 5 way switch to color your tone differently. The Focus switch is the perfect booster for leads, or for a totally different tone without hitting a pedal or changing the amp settings. The RSS20 is a versatile guitar, and makes for an ideal gigging guitar. It also looks the part, with the sharp horns it will fit right in a rock/metal setting.

The dual P90 RSS02T is a totally different animal. I always say that one day, I will give up playing heavy stuff and start a blues trio. This is exactly the guitar I would pick for that project! The RSS02T is amazing for blues/jazz and rivals other brands that feature dual P90s at twice the cost. But I could also see this guitar working in an indie/folk style band as well. This thing is single coils on steroids, and the look/aesthetics would fit on just about any stage.


Wrapping Up….

Going into this review, I really didn’t think I would be any more impressed with the Yamaha Revstar Standard, than I was with the Element. But this is a whole new level from the Element series. Sure, the Standards are prettier to look at, but the added features are more impressive than the “look” by far. Over the last two days, I have kind of fallen in love with both models! These are well crafted, and they offer features that I have honestly never seen on another guitar unless it was customized.

These are professional-grade guitars that are aimed at the working guitarist from all of the marketing I have seen. I think the Yamaha Revstar Standard could be a great replacement for the expensive axe that you probably play at bar gigs. I feel a lot better playing something like the Revstar, instead of one of my more expensive guitars. I was always afraid of someone spilling beer on my expensive guitar, or it getting stolen on tour. This is why I recorded with my expensive guitars, and played shows with budget ones.

I think Yamaha is really onto something with the new Revstar guitars. It’s like we have awoken a sleeping giant that always had the potential to be something greater. These are guitars that are made for the gigging guitarist in every way. They are built well, with a super stable neck that can survive touring. They even come with a pretty nice gig bag to get you started when it comes to playing some shows. I would totally gig either of these guitars, and other than the lack of locking tuners…they are ready for the road.

If I were to become a Revstar player, I would want one of each model to gig with. These are both the “Standard Series” but the models are so incredibly different, and can cover so much tonal territory. I would love to have each in the studio as well! Both have some very unique sounds to offer, and I can’t imagine just having one, since I have played both now! Thanks, Yamaha. As if I need to be buying more guitars!

“To be fair, I only own 6 guitars…I mean 7…wait…”

Me, probably

I really hope that Yamaha keeps up this trend. Now that Yamaha and Line 6 are the same company, I think we will continue to see some different marketing tactics and some extraordinary guitar designs. I would love to see a Revstar that has a P90 in the neck, and a humbucker in the bridge. Something else that is missing for me is a trem system. I use my whammy bar so much, that is has become a part of my style. really, this may just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the Revstar series could become.

Yamaha has proven that it can make a high quality guitar that is ready for the stage. Now that we know what Yamaha is capable of, I hope this trend continues. I would love to see what Yamaha continues to do if the Revstar Reboot is a massive success. Maybe then, we will see more Yamaha models later this year that will appeal to all kinds of players, with more features and options for the Revstar range. You’re on to something good Yamaha, keep it up! Give me locking tuners and a whammy bar, and you may have a new customer!

Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS20
$799.00

A tone machine! Its sound is driven by dual humbucking pickups, as well as a passive focus switch for further tone sculpting. Additional appointments to the Revstar Standard RSS20 include a gloss body finish, satin neck finish and rosewood fingerboard with 22 stainless steel frets. Comes with a gig bag.

BUY NOW

Does The Yamaha Revstar Standard Come With A Case?

The Standard series comes with a deluxe gig bag that should work great for most guitarists. This is a well made bag that will protect your precious axe.

Does The Yamaha Revstar Standard Have a Coil Tap?

It does not. But it has a “Focus” switch that acts as a passive boost that not only brings up your volume, but also adds bass and midrange to your sound.

Christoper Horton

Christopher has been playing guitar and piano for 27 years. He has been active in the professional music industry for over two decades. He has toured for years with several bands and music projects. He worked in LA as a studio musician and engineer working with bands like IAMSOUND, Baroness, Kylesa, Black Tusk, Reflux, and Tripping Daisy. In between giving private lessons, he is recording a solo album for 2022-2023. Christopher plays Schecter guitars, BOSS amplifiers, and uses STL Tones in the studio.

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