Picture of a Yamaha F310 acoustic guitar with customisations including pickup and strap buttons

Above is my customised Yamaha F310 guitar. A while back I had a justifiable excuse (I know who needs an excuse?) to buy another acoustic guitar. I’d just heard about Nashville or high strung tuning. Since this involves fitting a custom set of strings it’s just easier to have a guitar permanently set up that way than continually changing strings when you want that sound. Since doing that I find I pretty much always want that sound anyway. Here’s how the guitar has evolved. 

I’ve written a separate article all about Nashville tuning but briefly speaking you replace the low E, A and D strings with the octave strings from a 12 string set. If you buy a 12 string set you can basically string your “Nash” and your standard acoustic. If you play both together you get a tighter sounding 12 string sound. But the high strung guitar on its own has a unique, half guitar, half mandolin sort of sound. You’ve probably heard it on many songs but could never quite place it. 

Nashville Time

I learned about this on a favourite Youtube channel of mine Produce like a Pro. Channel owner Warren Huart also suggested that a cheap guitar is actually best for this application. That works for me. So to the guitar choice.

Well I’m ok with cheap but as we all know that can also mean shit. I decided therefore to look at reviews of budget guitars that were also half decent. The Yamaha F310 came across as an ideal prospect and I decided to get a used one on Ebay. It arrived in great condition and sounded pretty nice with the standard strings. £90 well spent.

At the same time I ordered a set of D’Adarrio Nashville High Strung strings. Alternatively you could get a 12 string set and use the octave E, A , D and G strings. The B and top E are the same as standard (Don’t even think about  trying to stretch standard strings an octave. At the very least they’ll break but you’ll also damage the guitar and possibly yourself. 

I loved this tuning form the start. My partner and I recored a number of songs with it. Sometimes we doubled standard tuned acoustic parts with it, other times we just used the Nashville tuned sound. It can either be beautiful background tinkle or an up front mandoguitar. Lovely.

Yamaha F310 Project- Pickup Time

Picture of Yamaha F310 acoustic guitar which has been fitted with a Fishman Neo D single coil pickup

The next stage for this guitar was to fit a pickup of some kind. I prefer to record acoustics with mics but I wanted to be able to add some effects to this sound. I’ve never much liked the piezo or soundboard type of pickups for acoustics so decided to fit a single coil soundhole pickup instead.

Again a bit of research highlighted the Fishman NEO D as a good contender both in terms of price and sound quality. It was easy to fit and sounds great. There’s no EQ however so that needs to come from your interface or soundboard. The pickup just clamps onto the edges of the guitar’s soundhole. Cork protectors prevent any scratches. It popped straight into the Yamaha F310’s sound hole nicely. One more customisation was needed though.

The Fisman NEO D comes with a long lead with a jack plug which is supposed to just hang down under the strings. I felt this not only looks untidy but leaves the cable free to scrape against the guitar body – not a great sound. You could also trip over the damn thing or snag it on mic stands. So I decided to fit a jack plug and keep everything inside the body. 

Finishing Touches

Since I’d also fitted a strap button to the neck heal (the Yamaha F310 doesn’t have one) I decided to replace the plastic body strap button for a combined jack socket and strap button. If this had been an expensive guitar I’d have trusted the drilling to a professional luthier. As this was a “sacrificial” guitar I  did it myself. I still didn’t want to ruin it though so I bought a step cone drill bit and took my time. 

If you do this  here’s a great tip. Once you have measured and cut the pickup lead to size you’ll need to feed it all the way through the guitar body and somehow get it through the hole you’ve drilled. Get an old guitar string (ideally a would bottom E or D) and feed it through the hole into the guitar. Even with the strings on its pretty easy to pick it up at the soundhole and pull it through. Then you can tape the pickup lead to it and pull both back through the strap button hole. Solder the pick up wires on to the end pin jack, push in in and screw it into place. Nice.

So now I have a dedicated Nashville tuned guitar with a nice pickup and a comfy strap for under £150. I really like this guitar. Even if you are just looking for a decent cheap acoustic I’d recommend the Yamaha F310. I recently added a partial capo to my arsenal (read my article on partial capos here) and on this guitar it provides yet another palette of sounds to our music. I hope this inspires you to go out and create your own custom guitar. 

Buy Yamaha F310 on Amazon


I'm Dave Menzies a digital entrepreneur, photographer and guitarist. I live on the Argyll coast of Scotland. My partner and I write, record and produce our own music and videos in our home studio. I love to help individuals discover the lifestyle freedom offered by the digital world and guitarists to develop their own style.